Why contractors should check umbrella company reviews

Before selecting a payroll provider for your temporary assignments, it’s important you check umbrella company reviews to ensure you’re only considering the very best in the marketplace, writes Ciaran Woodcock, a director at Umbrella Company UK.

After all, the umbrella sector is crowded, and you are spoilt for choice! Therefore, umbrella company reviews could seriously help you make an efficient and well-informed decision. Here, exclusively for ContractorUK, we’ll explain more and provide you with some tips about umbrella company reviews.

Umbrella company reviews help you paint a picture

When looking for an umbrella company, you will have certain expectations. For example, you’ll expect the customer service to be efficient and the people you speak with to be polite.

You’ll also expect the umbrella company to have a competitive margin and pay you on time. The best way to gauge whether an umbrella company is likely to meet your expectations is to carry out some research into reviews on the companies you’re interested in. It will help you paint a picture of the organisation.

Reviews of umbrella companies will speed up the vetting process

There are hundreds of umbrella companies in the UK, so where do you begin searching for a reliable payroll provider?

Online reviews of umbrella companies are very handy because you can instantly rule out umbrella companies with a poor reputation – allowing you to focus on the most ‘liked’ or high-performing originations. Doing this will help you identify a small selection of companies to consider, making your overall decision more straightforward and quicker.

Take the number of reviews into consideration

Delving into umbrella company reviews is essential and should be done before you join a payroll provider.

However, the quantity of reviews is important when making a decision. For example, an umbrella company might have a 4.8 / 5.0 rating, but it might have received only ten reviews in total. Is this umbrella company going to provide a better service than an umbrella company with a score of 4.5 after 10,000 reviews? Possibly, but 4.5 after 10,000 reviews shows you that the umbrella company is very well-established and has provided a high level of service to plenty of workers consistently. 

Have reviews for the umbrella company got better or worse?

Most established and trustworthy reviewing platforms will allow you to filter reviews by the time they are left.

This can be very helpful because you can see if a company is getting better, worse, or providing a consistent level of service. Suppose a company has a selection of negative reviews from a few years ago, but everything has been positive since then. Maybe they have implemented new procedures to improve their overall service. 

Every company can have a bad day

Bad reviews are part and parcel of life, and no company is perfect. However, by checking recent reviews for umbrella companies, you can identify any patterns or consistencies with complaints. For example, if an umbrella company is constantly being criticised for making late payments – you may be better off looking elsewhere.

Some reviews are written by those with a vested interest  – so beware

It’s difficult to prove, but some reviews are fake and are written maliciously by competing businesses. Therefore, don’t always take every comment you read literally, and some should be taken with a pinch of salt. Where malicious or vested interest reviews are written, staff from the umbrella on the receiving end often reply. The nature of how they reply; their tact and tone for example, might give you a further insight into whether this is the umbrella for you.

Remember, even the wonderous can get one star

It's also worth remembering that some customers are just tough to please, and in the internet age, ‘People are far more likely to leave a negative review than a positive review.’

To put this into perspective with an example outside of contracting, a recent review for Machu Picchu -- one of the wonders of the world -- gives the site one star. The reviewer criticises it for being "only" a mountain with "nothing else to see". Another reviewer also gives the site one star and claims the entire place is a "scam". Unsurprisingly, Machu Picchu has achieved tens of thousands of positive reviews. But if you only focused on the negative feedback it's been given, you would probably avoid the place altogether! And probably to your disadvantage. The same applies to umbrella companies. Naturally, some people will have negative experiences. It's a shame, but it's reality.

Take in a few umbrella review sites, not just one

To help reduce the effectiveness of maliciously written reviews, try more than a single umbrella company review site. For example, look at reviews on both Google My Business and Trustpilot. If the umbrella you are assessing was the victim of an unfair review, the vested interest party possibly only posted on one site.

Accreditation is usually a good start

Seasoned contractors tend to initially consider umbrella companies with an accreditation from the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association or Professional Passport. There are hundreds of umbrella companies in the UK, and it’s vital that you only consider using bonafide, compliant ones, because the risks associated with tax avoidance schemes are severe.

But keep in mind, just because a professional body accredits an umbrella, it doesn’t guarantee the service you receive will be to the high standards you expect!

Go multi-layered in your research

Therefore, just as you would for most other important purchases, conduct some multi-layered research into the umbrella companies you’re interested in. And carry out this research even if the umbrellas do have an industry body’s stamp of approval!

Then, use a mix of review resources before you commit. So reviews on Google My Business and Trustpilot perhaps alongside checking out an umbrella worker or contractor forum, where you can engage with existing, real-world users of the umbrellas you like. It is these actual employees of the business you’re considering who will likely give you the most honest review going of their umbrella company’s performance!

Tuesday 25th Jan 2022
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Written by Ciaran Woodcock

Ciaran Woodcock is a Director at Umbrella Company UK, an FCSA accredited umbrella company based in Hertfordshire. With a BA (Hons) degree in Marketing & Accounting, Ciaran has over seven years of experience working in Senior Marketing and Sales roles for organisations within the contractor payroll sector.

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