The Importance of PPI in Chimney Sweeping

At this time of year, as Spring gets well underway and the Jackdaws make The Importance of PPI in Chimney Sweeping 1themselves comfortable, things steady right down for us here at Katie Sweep Chimney Services and we move to a much steadier pace of work. Ticking over nicely still, but we are now working to a lead time of around ‘1 week to a few day’s’ for bookings for standard household sweeping opposed to the ‘5- 8 weeks’ bookings ahead we have in the busy (silly) season.

Queue our Spring contract work. To keep us all busy, in March we pick up with our contract work that we now carry out every year for the likes of large country estates and other organizations who have lots of properties with of course lots of chimneys.

We offer them a slightly discounted service for being able to carry out all their sweeping work in batches in the spring. This has proven to work really well for everyone over the years.

So thankfully we manage to keep fairly busy in what can be a worryingly quiet time for a Chimney Sweep.

There are still a couple of down sides to this. The first being Tenants! It is our job/Alison our lovely receptionist’s job to contact the tenants and co-ordinate their chimney sweeping appointments. This is far from a simple task. Most are ok but there are some who like to make life difficult. Some claim it does not require doing or they have done it themselves, some are just never in, and some are just incredibly rude! Not an enviable task getting them all rounded up. Then there is the paperwork!!!

Certificates-all fine, Invoicing – all fine, but then for some clients we are also required to complete ‘Work reports’ and ‘Construction Phase Plan’ forms, sometimes detailed pictorial reports and most commonly RAMS! (Risk Assessments and Method Statements).

After all that effort of the pre-job paperwork, the sweeping itself and then some more paperwork, it is all submitted. Then the long 30 day wait for payment begins! … All good fun, but even for all the hassle I deem it is definitely better to be busy working than not.

The Importance of PPI in Chimney Sweeping 2Some of our very favorite work is ‘On-Site’. From time to time we are asked by a company who carry out building and development work for Network Rail properties, to quote for and carry out some chimney sweeping work for them.
These are always busy and active building sites that are strictly managed and regulated.

Before getting anywhere near site, there is the afore mentioned serious paperwork that needs providing, a lot of form filling and generally a lot of jumping through hoops.

On-site we are required to wear full PPE, Hard hat and to be dressed in full Railway Orange Hi-Visibility workwear. Quite a spectacular sight.

In the past when doing work for this particular company the hi-visibility workwear has been provided for us on arrival at site, but for this most recent work we were required to provide our own, meaning Val Sweep who works for me was treated to a brand new outfit that she was exceedingly pleased about after she was booked to attend site.

The onsite job of course ran seamlessly and all paperwork submitted successfully. We really like an unusual sweep job from time to time and although it is rather a faff with the admin, it makes a nice change to the norm, a bit of an adventure and as the saying goes, ‘A change is as good as a rest’.

September to January, we really wouldn’t entertain such work as demand is too high for standard domestic sweeping with not enough time in the day for chasing tenants or filling in RAMS, but it suits a steadier spring pace just fine.

With this last month celebrating International women’s day (8th March 2017) I find myself feeling exceedingly thankful that I live in such a time and society that allows me ‘a Woman’ to be able to merrily go on my way, doing the work I love, and being so readily accepted and fully supported by everyone around me from friends and family to customers and fellow sweeps alike.

Although female sweeps are still quite rare the people in and around the York area where I live and work have over time grown accustom to seeing a group of smiley and occasionally, quite sooty Ladies, dressed in our black workwear, going about our sweeping business.

This is something that most days (apart from the Hi-Vis Orange workwear days…they are still very much a novelty) we give The Importance of PPI in Chimney Sweeping 3very little thought to, as after all what we do and wear is completely normal to us.

Occasionally I do still feel a little out of place if having to pop to do some City centre sweeping. Town centre dwellers are not really accustomed to seeing a chimney sweep at the best of times, let alone a lady Sweep., There is normally quite a bit of staring and second glances, but then again the team and I have grown used to that.

We carry out sweeping and servicing work for many different estate agents and from time to time we are asked to pop in to one of their central offices to collect keys for empty properties.

Here is where I feel a little more image conscious than usual!  When key collecting, there are all the very nice and very glamourous estate agent ladies always highly preened… and then there is me, stood in stark comparison! with soot on my face in contrast to their blusher, my work boots in comparison to their high heels, and my powdery hands from my latex gloves, compared to their pristine nails. The Glamorous life of a chimney sweep!

We are, of course all beautiful and unique in our own individual way, dressed appropriately for our work and there’s certainly no snobbery, we are always warmly greeted and have a really good working relationship with our estate agent friends.
All good stuff.

I am massively looking forward to the upcoming NACS Exhibition. Whoop, I can’t wait to see all the latest products on offer and all the friendly faces. I have my shopping lists, on it so far is…. a few super scrub deluxe sweeping heads, mole brushes and a very smart looking black buttoned sweep uniform top (look’s very posh)…So here’s hoping some of that contract work we have been doing will have been paid in by then (fingers crossed!)

I look forward to seeing everyone there and redeeming my NACS member Happy Hour voucher. Please do say hello if you see me, I like nothing better than talking about all things sweep with sweeps.

See you there!

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