Don’t get left out in the cold this winter

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With snowfall already hitting much of the UK, Richard Harvey, Commercial Director for Plumbing and Heating at Wolseley Plumb & Parts, looks at how heating engineers and plumbers can prepare themselves for the winter ahead.

Cold snaps put extra pressure on boilers, which in turn puts pressure on both your business and your customers – with breakdowns topping the list of winter stresses for many. According to BoilerGuide.co.uk, 15.5% of boiler breakdowns and repairs happen in January each year. December is the next busiest month with 12%. With heavier use comes more strain on a boiler’s components — and if the boiler is suffering from wear and tear already, this is the time where homeowners are likely to push it beyond its capabilities and cause breakdowns. Frozen condensate pipes can also be a major cause. For heating engineers and plumbers, being prepared for the cold snap can increase your first-time fix rate and allow you to squeeze more jobs into the day.

Get the van kitted out

Being armed with popular boiler spares can make a huge difference to your first-time fix rates and make a big impact on your bottom line. Not only does preparedness mean less time spent ordering parts, less time on the road and less time at the merchants, and can you provide a quick and effective for your customers. You can’t keep spares of everything on the van however always keep a healthy number of smaller lightweight parts such as pressure relief valves, gaskets, O-rings, and diaphragms. Be careful not to leave tools in your van overnight, however — not only are there increased risks of theft during the darker winter period, leaving tools out in the cold can make plastics brittle, metal susceptible to rust and power tools likely to have a shorter lifespan.

Make use of digital tools

The Covid pandemic meant a change in the way heating engineers work with merchants. As a result of reducing branch visits and face to face contact, Wolseley Plumb & Parts launched a range of digital tools on its website to help installers get the parts and products they need more easily. PartsArena, the industry’s leading parts identification tool, can be accessed on the Wolseley website, helping installers identify what they require more quickly. Free to all Wolseley Trade account holders, PartsArena offers access to over 20,000 exploded diagrams and over 10,000 images from all the leading manufacturers, helping to ensure installers are ordering the right parts first time. Once the parts have been identified, account holders can add them directly to their online basket, check online stock availability at the local branch, and place the order for click and collect. Click and collect means installers can collect the parts they need in just 60 minutes from ordering, and access to fast-lane queuing so there is less time spent in branch and more time repairing boilers.

Know your market

As the expert in your field, your customers will expect their installer to know the best products available on the market. Winter brings with it additional costs for many of us, with the expense of Christmas an added financial burden at this time of year. For both of these reasons, it pays to familiarise yourself with the best deals on the market. Many larger merchants, such as Wolseley, have additional money-saving offers and boiler packages available online during the winter months. Whether you plan to pass the cost-savings on to your customer, or simply make a bit more margin on parts, it is worth checking out the best deals so that you’re armed with the facts when the time comes.

The truth is, you’re never truly off the job in winter – at any given moment someone’s boiler could break down or their pipes could freeze and burst thanks to the cold weather. Take the time to get your business winter-ready and don’t get caught out in the cold when boiler breakdowns strike. For all of your boiler spares needs this winter, visit www.wolseley.co.uk or visit your local Wolseley Plumb & Parts branch today.

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