How the online world has changed the way installers work

Victoria Willis from Geberit looks at how the online world has changed the way in which plumbing and heating installers operate – how they engage with one another, find out information and learn new things about their job.
The internet has become a ubiquitous part of all of our lives, in and outside of work. We catch up with friends on Facebook and Instagram, use apps to track exercise goals, find good places to eat and generally use Google to answer every question or query.
Information on any subject is never more than a click away. Where would we be with no internet? It seems impossible that we ever lived without it – how did we cope when we couldn’t find information instantly, when paper instruction manuals had to be lugged from job to job, and chatting to your friends could only be done via a phone (and I mean ‘phone’, not internet-enabled smartphone).
You’re probably all using the online world at work in one way or another, but as technology is ever-evolving, we could all be doing more – to make our jobs easier and keep up-to-speed with the latest industry trends and developments.
Peer to peer
The online world doesn’t just allow us to more easily connect with our friends. It also helps users reach out to other installers and product manufacturers who might be able to impart advice or generally provide support relating to your daily job. Increasingly, it’s where we let you know about things like awards, new products and training.
Twitter and installer forums have become melting pots of information – to find out about the latest training and product developments, and also feel part of the online community. If you’ve encountered a problem on the job, it’s likely a fellow building services engineer has too – there’s probably someone out there with just the answer you’re looking for.
As a manufacturer, we can now respond quickly and easily to your queries, we welcome feedback, and through social media find out more about our customers and what they actually want from our products.
Free marketing
In the past marketing was one-way and its channels were expensive, meaning many small and one-man-band businesses were excluded from reaching a large audience. Social media has changed all that, and if you can be helpful to customers both online and offline, there’s no reason why you can’t pick up new work – a digital way of attracting referrals. Online reviews are critical. Encourage your satisfied customers to say something nice on your website, Twitter or Facebook and be sure to tag in relevant manufacturers to spread that good word even further.
When people comment, take the time to reply, the social world is a friendly one, where a ‘thank you’ goes a long way.
With pictures uploadable to the internet in all its many forms – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc – it provides a great way to show the good work you’re doing, in real time. By interacting with Geberit on Twitter and the extremely popular Geberit Pro page on Facebook – posting pictures of your jobs, asking good questions, etc – we can help with marketing your services.
Companies such as Geberit have a huge following and a retweet from us will reach a massive audience.
Linking back to @GeberitUK with good news stories will gain you retweets too. Why not set up a blog on your own website documenting the work that you do? You can then direct social media posts to it and anyone visiting your site direct will get a better feel for your work.
All in the palm of your hand
You’re on a job and you need to refresh your memory on the best way to complete a certain task – you may be well trained, but some things don’t crop up that often, and a bit of technical support will ensure you get the job done right, first time. In the past, you would have reached for the manual or picked up the phone to speak to manufacturers’ technical support.
Increasingly, manufacturers are making it easy to access knowledge on any internet-enabled device – through the use of apps which provide immediate access to product information. These apps will help identify products installed and find technical and installation details of the products about to be installed, putting know-how literally in the palm of your hand.
On Geberit’s ProApp, suitable spare parts can be easily found via the product identifier, and ordered, directly from an installer’s smartphone. And those paper installation manuals that all too often get thrown out with the packaging? They’re a thing of the past thanks to the barcode feature, which enables installers to get all the product details required for installation by scanning the product barcode on the box.
Apart from apps, there are thousands of online tutorials on YouTube – we have our own channel, again accessible via Geberit ProApp.
As the saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’, and with access to more knowledge than ever before, it’s never been easier to be a well-informed installer. All this information and support should make your working life easier and your customers happier. Embrace the internet, used well it will change your job, but definitely for the better.