With the growth of remote-controlled multi-zone heating control systems, Andy Mansfield talks about the importance of specialist training to gain the confidence to offer consultancy and expert advice to homeowners.
When looking to have new heating controls fitted, the installer is a homeowner’s first port of call. It is imperative therefore that installers have the knowledge of existing and emerging heating control technologies. This means that they are in the position to talk comfortably to homeowners about their features and benefits, which in turn adds that all-important value to the customer experience.
In the past, installing old-fashioned heating controls may have meant that an installer could just ‘fit and forget’ the product, without having much interaction with the homeowner. However, with the dawn of the ‘smart home’ era, internet-enabled modern heating controls require much more investment of time from an installer – both before and after installation.
For example, with remote-controlled multi-zone heating control systems, the installer will need to survey the property prior to installation to carry out wireless signal strength testing in order to find out whether the wireless controls would work effectively within the building.
While modern heating controls are extremely smart and intuitive, time still needs to be taken to demonstrate to the homeowner how to make the most out of the various energy saving modes and features.
Many modern heating controls, for example, have a number of sophisticated functions and buttons that the customer might not be fully aware of if they haven’t been shown. For example, the control may have an Eco Button, which can set back the whole house by 3°C to maintain a comfortable temperature and save energy, while the presence of a ‘Holiday Mode’ can allow homeowners to turn off their system and turn it back on ready for when they return. These features are ultimately there to save homeowners money so time should be taken to explain to them how they work.
It is also advisable to set up a consultancy appointment with the homeowner to discuss their lifestyle and heating needs and goals. In doing this, a heating programme schedule tailored to that homeowner’s specific requirements can be created, which helps form the basis of the system set-up. After all, there is no point investing in energy saving technologies if they have not been adjusted to suit the homeowner’s individual needs.
One way installers can make sure they keep abreast of modern heating control technologies – and therefore confident enough to provide consultancy to homeowners – is through training. Training not only improves an installer’s knowledge but also their efficiency and productivity, which gives them an advantage over their competitors.
Over the years, the way we learn has changed and in a bid to make training more accessible, affordable and flexible for installers, good manufacturers are now offering the opportunity to attend their training courses via dedicated online training portals.
This is not to say that face-to-face training isn’t still highly valuable. However, the arrival of online training courses means that installers needn’t take a whole day out of their busy schedules or worry about getting to and from a venue in rush hour traffic. Online training is extremely convenient and cost-effective and offers installers immediate results with a great return on investment from the comfort of their own home or office.
Installers should also take advantage of other collateral and useful information that their manufacturers can offer them. A number of manufacturers provide lots of information in many different formats to help installers talk confidently to homeowners about the benefits and features of modern heating controls and enable them to build relationships with their customers.
Information can come in the format of downloadable PDFs and articles on manufacturer websites, short video animations and apps compatible with tablets and smartphones, which installers can access instantly and while working.
With heating control technology changing quickly before our eyes, and with homeowners becoming more savvy, installers are under increasing pressure to step up and expand their skill-set through training. Gone are the days of simply fitting a product and leaving the homeowner to get on with it – advances in heating control technology mean that installers must now adapt and, not only deliver a great service in terms of fitting the product, but also offer their consultancy to the homeowner, advising them every step of the way from specification to installation.