Time of good cheer
Winter is often the most lucrative period of the year for installers. Here, we offer six phrases that will help you exploit the heating season to its full potential.
Heating season is well under way, but as we approach the festive period and the freezing temperatures of the new year, it is fair to say that the most lucrative period is yet to come.
While the inevitable boiler breakdowns of winter happen every year, strategic business-savvy installers still see it as a time of opportunity for the growth of their business and, of course, their bottom line. It doesn’t matter whether you are a heating-season veteran or a newcomer to the abundance of business prospects offered up by the colder weather, ‘tis the season to rethink your game plan and give your service levels, diary planning and customer base a serious boost.
To get you started, here are six phrases that could make you money this heating season:
‘I’M ON CALL OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD, SO STORE MY NUMBER IN YOUR PHONE’
Did you know over half (56 per cent) of installers say they have rescued a customer’s Christmas Day by attending an emergency call-out and fixing a problem? In fact, around 22 per cent of installers will be working on Christmas Eve, 14 per cent plan to do so on Boxing Day and a quarter on New Year’s Eve.
Working over the Christmas period may not be for everyone, but there is money to be made – as well as loyal customers for life – for those installers willing to swap the Christmas sherry for a cuppa on the off-chance that the phone might ring.
If you’d like to optimise emergency breakdowns over the festive period, set aside an hour in the next few days (maybe with a free coffee at your local Wolseley Plumb Center branch) and send a text message to all your recent customers telling them that you are on call over Christmas. Suggest that they store your number in their phone for quick access and consider letting any fellow installers know of your plans too so that they can refer any calls they get to you.
Are you online? Tweet regularly over the Christmas period telling people you are on call and even send out a few messages to Facebook feeds that are local to your area, asking them
to post about your emergency call-out services.
‘I HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED IN STOCK’
Leading merchants will now have additional stock of all key parts, so make sure you stockpile the essentials and keep them topped up.
Consider other purchases that could make the day job easier too, such as the latest equipment that could make regular fixes more efficient. Smart technology is a great example of a trend which is continuing to evolve and for this you may need to consider VDE screwdrivers, which are electrically insulated.
You might see the benefit of investing in a single battery platform for all power tools too. This technology can power all your tools at once, which could save you money over a period of time.
Remember, having what you need in stock makes your day more efficient, allowing you to squeeze in an extra job or provide an inspection or quote at short notice.
‘WHEN A CENTRAL HEATING SYSTEM IS OVER A CERTAIN AGE, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ASSESS THE ENTIRE SYSTEM TO PREVENT FURTHER FAILURES’
When you are called out to fix a ‘zombie’ heating system in the middle of winter, it is likely that other parts of the heating system will be similarly aged and in need of some help.
Convincing a home owner to part with more cash than they originally anticipated is no mean feat at any time of year, but at Christmas it can be an especially arduous task.
Explain to your customer that focusing purely on the boiler and ignoring the rest of the ageing system could be a costly mistake. Take the time to help them understand the inconvenience and additional expense they could avoid by treating the system in its entirety, leaving them to enjoy the rest of the festive season worry-free.
While it is always best to visit a property well prepared to fix all the system’s problem areas in one go, it is important to remember that for some home owners the unexpected expense of a boiler breakdown can seem catastrophic at this time of year, so be prepared to write out a clear list of additional works that should be carried out in the spring in order to spread the cost.
Remember to give them your contact details and perhaps offer an incentive price should they chose to use your services later in the year.
If you have decided to work on call over Christmas, ensure these customers have your details in case the zombie system fails again.
‘I CAN GET THIS BACK UP AND RUNNING FOR YOU IN NO TIME’
With access to a world of information on our phones, faster ways to communicate and numerous ways to instantly purchase what we need, we have become a society of impatient home owners. A simple way to impress new and loyal customers alike this heating season is speed.
Answer the phone promptly, or return calls straight away – don’t leave people waiting. Have the parts you need, and a well-ordered diary so that you can deliver results and fast. While these standards may have been viewed as exceptional service a few years ago, for the modern home owner, they are simply expected.
‘HERE’S MY GAS SAFE CARD’
Earlier this year an online poll delivered the shocking statistic that 87.5 per cent of Gas Safe engineers are only asked to show their official card around once every year, with many more installers asking if ‘never’ could be added to the voting board.
The #RegardTheCard campaign began last year as a way of encouraging installers to wear their Gas Safe cards in a visible place, or make showing their card a formal part of their introduction upon entering a property.
Why not go one step further and educate your customers on the importance of asking to see the Gas Safe card whenever they have a fitter out to work on their gas appliances? Showing your commitment to best practice and safety in this way is a positive step towards making sure that customers always call you before anyone else.
‘I ONLY USE GENUINE MANUFACTURER APPROVED PARTS, SO I CAN GUARANTEE THE SAFETY OF MY WORK’
The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council has recently called on installers to be vigilant and report the use of any fake spare parts. Their presence in the marketplace is increasing, with some claiming to be exact replicas of manufacturer parts, and even carrying a CE mark.
The message is clear: all fake heating components should be reported to Trading Standards and safely removed and replaced with the customer’s consent. Explain to your customer that fake parts are often manufactured using substandard materials and may not have been rigorously tested on the actual boiler they are being sold for. The result is an invalid boiler warranty and a potentially dangerous installation.
Remember, installers are liable for all the work they carry out on a central heating system, and this liability extends to the replacement parts you purchase and fit, so staying ‘fake free’ is the best way to protect yourself and your customers.
For more information or advice on making the most of heating season, visit your local Wolseley branch or go to www.wolseley.co.uk
Helping customers manage their heating more efficiently can not only reduce bills, but can also create new opportunities for installers
Over the past four decades Robert Barkwell has transformed his father’s business into one of the UK’s largest plumbing and heating firms, specialising in the new-build domestic market
Most people would love to make energy-efficient improvements to their home, whether it’s buying a new boiler, sorting out insulation or fitting double glazing.