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How to protect your roof from metal thieves – Part 3

Mulberry Day Service roofing lead replacement

This is the third part of our week-long series of articles on metal thefts. Click here for part one and here for part two.

Lead is a traditional material used in roofing and custom leadwork installations continue to be a high-prestige commodity, and for very good reasons!

Lead is one of the most versatile assets a roofer can work with, due to its incredible durability and the beautiful decorative touches it can add to any property. However, it is also one of the most valuable materials in the entire construction industry, making it a common target of thieves. Luckily, there are ways to gain most of the benefits of a lead roof with far fewer risks.

Recently, Maxiflow were at the Mulberry Day Service centre in Chester and we were able to offer them a custom solution to their roofing needs.

We were tasked with renewing the top-edge flashing around their atrium-style skylights and wanted to enhance the attractiveness of the feature. Traditionally, lead would have been employed for this purpose but we opted for a different solution.

We deployed an artificial lead system which looks strikingly close to the real thing and has no resale value, rendering it useless to thieves. This anti-vandal system offers competitive durability and flexibility, retaining many of the advantages of a traditional lead roof.

But what if such a solution isn’t practical for your property? Over the next two days we will be finding out the problems that are faced by heritage properties and how we believe they can be solved.

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How to protect your roof from metal thieves – Part 2

Prevent roof thefts effectively

This is part 2 of this article. For part 1, click here.

If you are thinking of ways to prevent access to your roof, there are several options that spring instantly to mind. Barbed wire and security lights are effective in most circumstances, because the majority of thieves are low-level opportunists who are easily deterred from accessing areas that appear secure.

However, from what we’ve seen, the current crop of metal thieves are significantly more organised than the average ‘chancer’ who attempts a crime just because he sees the opportunity.

The unfortunate reality is that traditional deterrents can be effectively neutralised by criminals who plan ahead. We saw a case recently where barbed wire had simply been cut away from the area it was protecting. Sites with security lighting have found it to be ineffective because it can actually help the criminals see what they’re doing!

Remember, if you can get up onto your roof, so can criminals.

So, what can you do to ward off savvy crooks from stealing your roof metals? The best answer may seem intimidating, but it’s surprisingly simple: Stay ahead of them with technology.

Continue reading this blog every day this week to find out how the latest roofing technology can effectively protect your property and deter criminals.

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How to protect your roof from metal thieves – Part 1

Maxiflow preventing criminals from damaging your roof

The theft of valuable metals from public and private buildings has grown into a major problem over the last few years in the UK.

Initiatives such as a Metal Theft Taskforce have been enacted by the Home Office, helping to throttle thieves’ revenue sources by cracking down on the existing supply chains.

Although measures such as these are sensible and practical, and very useful in increasing public awareness of the problem, they can be little comfort to the businesses owners who have had their livelihood threatened because of the extensive damage that has resulted from metal theft.

We have covered a large number of lead thefts on this blog, and we have witnessed everything from a flooded library to shops with gaping holes through their ceiling, demonstrating that buisnesses have more to fear from vandalism than mere cosmetic damage.

At Maxiflow, our motto has always been prevention is better than cure. When installing a new roof, we follow three simple guidelines:

  1. SECURE the property as far as possible
  2. MINIMISE potential threats
  3. TRACK criminals back to the crime

What do we mean when we say we can track criminals? How do we recommend our clients secure their roofs?

Each day this week, Maxiflow will be giving advice on how to protect your property from metal thefts.

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Controlling infectious animal disease with Defra

Defra Training

It’s not often that a company receives a potentially high-profile government contract and hopes that they will never receive the call to enact it.

Since February 2006, Maxiflow has held a Contingency Contract with Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) for providing time-sensitive services in the event of an outbreak of infectious animal disease.

The contract covers the majority of North West of England, including Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria & Shropshire, in addition to North Wales. Maxiflow have continuous provisions in place which ensure that we are prepared to react quickly upon receiving notification from Defra, guaranteeing that our control methods are enacted within 24 hours.

Defra Training 2

The duties Maxiflow would carry out in a time of necessity include:

  • Provision of trained operatives, equipment and materials for disinfecting farm premises.
  • Taking measures to control environmental pollution, including the construction of temporary wheel wash sumps and water-collecting lagoons.
  • Set-up of site provisions, including cabins, pressure washers, waste disposal and generators.

Under the direction of Defra, Maxiflow would essentially be responsible for the logistics of getting a large team of personnel to the site and coordinating the transportation/hire or any required vehicles and equipment, including airtight full-body suits and airmasks. Even though our contract officially covers the North West, there is the possibility that we may be called to anywhere in the UK, so we are required to maintain a national network of contacts who can locally source anything we could potentially require.

Our operatives receive intensive specialist training in the most effective methods to disinfect everything along the chain of contact with an infected animal, from livestock transportation and barns up to the farmhouses and personal vehicles of farm personnel. We are periodically kept up-to-date with new techniques, training and information by Defra’s practice of running test drills – simulated outbreaks which are treated as 100% authentic, to the point that we have no idea if the call is legitimate until we have every measure in place.

Defra Training 3

The risks of uncontrolled infection in our animal population are severe. We have witnessed the devastating effects that the Foot & Mouth epidemics have had upon local agriculture, while the dangers from diseases that can transfer to humans were tragically demonstrated by how swiftly Swine Flu spread across the country.

We are prepared for whatever may come next, but we sincerely hope it won’t happen any time soon.

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Lessons builders and roofers can learn from Twitter

Twitter bird with tool belt

We’ve all heard about how social media is an incredibly powerful tool for businesses. Services such as Twitter allow you to stay connected with customers, clients & contacts at all hours of the day, broadcasting every snippet of your news to a willing audience and receiving instant feedback. There’s no denying that it’s been a game-changer for public relations and many businesses have taken the wise step of dedicating personnel and resources to monitoring social media in order to protect and promote their brand.

For the past month or so, I have taken on the duty of manning the Maxiflow Twitter account and quickly found the value in programs such as TweetDeck and Seesmic, which enable you to organise the constant steam of information into something more manageable. In addition to displaying your lists of followees in columns, a lesser-known feature is the ability to store search terms and have the results returned to you as they happen.

An example of TweetDeck's columns

“Great!” I hear you cry, “I never have to worry about missing someone complaining about me on Twitter!” which is an obvious, and very useful, application of this technology. However, there is much more that we can learn about the public’s perception of our industries than can be gained from simply monitoring for mentions of our company name or products.

By setting up columns which search for terms related to your business (but non-specific to your company) you can catch a huge amount of worldwide chatter on the subject(s) of your choice. Now, I’m not going to pretend that this will instantly expose a rich seam of data which can be mined for your marketing purposes, as 90% of the results will be irrelevant or spam. Sometimes it will seem like you’re listening to a hundred people talking at once but only hearing half of each conversation. But if you keep returning to the data, glancing at it during the course of your normal Twitter activities, you’ll start to notice patterns, attitudes and opinions which can help to inform your strategies.

Because Maxiflow is split into several divisions (Building, Roofing, Drainage and Solar) I have quite a lot of search columns set up for each speciality and have gathered together a few lighthearted observations related to our trade. All of the example tweets are from public accounts and none are aimed at or are referencing Maxiflow:

1. Unless you’re a body builder, keep your shirt on

The cliché of construction workers ogling and wolf-whistling at passers-by has been neatly inverted in the digital age. Nowadays you’ll find plenty of women (and more than a few men) heading online to critique the attractiveness of the strangers they’ve invited into their homes. But before you start thinking of taking a Diet Coke break, it’s worth bearing in mind that Tweeters are quick to point out that desiring their tradesmen is a rare exception rather than a rule.

Had never come across a builder who wasn’t ten stone overweight and old until a second ago. YUMMMMY! #hotpieceofmeat

2. Be respectful to all of your customers’ senses

Ew the creepy roofer was in my livingroom. It smells like roof now.

Building, roofing and drainage are tough trades, and it’s normal to spend long, uninterrupted stretches up to your neck in dirt and grime. When you take as much pride in your work as we do, there isn’t time to scrub up and freshen yourself constantly – you stay on the roof or in a ditch until the work is done properly. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that your customers may not share the tolerance towards unpleasant odours. Acknowledging the problem and keeping your distance will likely do wonders for your customer relations.

3. We’re early risers, but not everyone else is

If anyone gets in the roofing business, implement a strict no roofing before noon policy and you will have my business

The problem with roofing is that there isn’t anywhere to do it expect above peoples’ heads. And people generally don’t appreciate the banging that accompanies roof work, no matter how necessary and unavoidable it is. Oh, and they are especially touchy when it’s being done while they’re trying to sleep.

Keep people awake and they won’t have much else to do except complain. No matter how urgent the job may be, for the brief window in their lives while you are performing your duty, you will become the single most hateful thing in their universe. Extending as much courtesy towards them as possible probably won’t stop this, but it will hopefully reduce the amount of vitriol they spit over Twitter.

4. People won’t mention your name if you do badly

You may have noticed that in all of these examples the tweeters don’t mention any company names. This is a remarkably common thread linking together most of the negative service-related tweets I have monitored. Except for extreme cases, people tend to prefer the path of least resistance and avoid confrontation, even when it’s as indirect as a message on a social networking site.

Made a cup of tea for the builder & he complained because it wasn’t a full cup. I’m filling it up with orange squash.

If you’re thinking that this is a good thing because your mistakes won’t be traced back to you, well, for one, that’s a terrible attitude, and two, you’re not taking full advantage of the medium. In the age of social media, every job is an opportunity for publicity. You should be aiming to produce such high-quality results that your customers will want to mention you on Twitter, like your fan page on Facebook and subscribe to your blog. Every time you underperform in a job you’re missing out on another piece of the social media puzzle.

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