Practice makes perfect

The quality of installations and the products used can have a huge impact on a business as word of mouth continues to be the quickest way to gain new customers and more work. Therefore, employing best practice is essential to building a strong local reputation.

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ecent trends suggest that an increasing number of homeowners are doing in-depth research on the internet before undertaking a project – whether that’s choosing products, comparing brands or vetting installers. As customers become more discerning and more knowledgeable, it is increasingly important to offer the highest level of service and work.
While price continues to be a key issue when choosing to undertake home renovation, the popularity of websites and services that rate the work of installers shows that customers – above all – want someone they can trust. For that reason, it is essential that all installation businesses focus on the whole process of an installation.
“Installers understand that offering reliable expert advice to their customers is what builds trust, and that trust is the foundation for repeat business and recommendation,” explains Kelvin Stevens, Managing Director of ADEY Professional Heating Solutions. “That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of ‘best practice’ and confidently offer solutions that are most likely to save customers money on heating bills, protect their new investment, while improving their energy efficiency and even helping their environment.”
Hot Topic
The concept of best practice is one that is becoming increasingly talked about in the heating industry. Rather than concentrating on getting the job done as quickly as possible and moving onto the next one, installers are being encouraged to shift their focus on providing a more complete service and offering the right solution to each problem they encounter. The image of a heating engineer simply turning up, banging a new boiler on a wall and then leaving is one that should be relegated to the past.
“Best practice to us means keeping up to date with the latest technology. In the past, a boiler might last 20 years. Today’s boilers are the most efficient ever, but narrow waterways make them vulnerable to the damaging effects of magnetite sludge. The importance of flushing a system, using chemicals, and installing a quality filter every time you install a new boiler is clearly best practice. It’s being recommended, and I believe will become a requirement of a number of manufacturers in the future to enable them to offer longer guarantees on their boilers.”
Forget ‘fit and forget’
Previously, many manufacturers promoted this idea of ‘fit and forget’ to highlight both the ease with which a product could be fitted and its long-term reliability, now the emphasis is on encouraging installers to build longer term relationships with their customers through offering additional services as well as promoting the use of ancillary products that will maintain and even improve the performance of a system. But Kelvin believes that for this approach to be successful, the installer needs both confidence in the products he’s promoting and the trust of his customers.
“This is not about giving the ‘hard sell’, a replacement boiler or heating system is a big investment and consumers want to protect that investment. For example, the ADEY Installers’ Club gives help on how to easily demonstrate the benefits of best practice when it comes to magnetic filtration. Gone are the days of ‘fit and forget’. But that represents a great opportunity for installers to build a relationship and gain repeat work. Sound advice and expert knowledge will help win a new customer; cleaning the filter during an annual service protects their investment and helps you grow the relationship; reliable heating and reduced energy bills will keep the customer happy and make you top of their list of trusted professionals to recommend to others.”
Naturally, there will always be some customers who will be happy to pay more for better products and a better service. The struggle comes when faced with a customer on a very clear budget or when competitors are not offering the same quality of install. At this point, sticking to the best practice approach of advising system flushing, chemical inhibitors etc may seem difficult.
One option is always to itemise the quote so that the homeowner can see how much he/she will pay with and without the additional services. This allows them to then pick and choose what they can afford to do rather than immediately being priced out of the job.
Time well spent
It could also be expected that the extra hours spent building a loyal customer base and strong local reputation should help to convince potential customers that everything being recommended is an essential part of the installation – especially when the customer has invested a bit extra in a higher specification appliance.
Unfamiliar practices
“Many of these practices (powerflushing, system filtration etc) are totally unfamiliar to the vast majority of home-owners. The installer heavily influences the decision to purchase, and sales in the UK reflect that the highest sales are in the most expensive boilers, so quality really matters. This suggests that customers are choosing quality, with the reasonable expectation that quality will last longer and offer better value. Installers hold the crucial knowledge that most home-owners don’t possess – for example, their new ‘A’ rated boiler will immediately deteriorate if it’s fitted to a system that hasn’t been effectively flushed and given the protection of a quality filter.”
[author image=”” ]A hugely respected personality and voice within the heating industry, Kelvin Stevens joined ADEY Professional Heating Solutions as Managing Director in 2011 having taken PTS – one of the country’s largest merchants – into one of the most successful periods in their trading history. A champion of energy-saving technology, Kelvin was the first influential industry decision-maker to recognise the potential of magnetic filtration.[/author]