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    How plumbers can use review sites to increase business

    Thu 21st May 2015 - 9:31am Press How plumbers can use review sites to increase business

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    The Internet, with it’s great variety of social media sites and directories, means there are a huge number of results that come up if you type ‘plumber’ into Google. While this shows that the plumbing industry is doing well across the UK, it doesn’t actually help a homeowner with finding a decent plumber that they can trust.

    Recent statistics released the heating industry show that 60% of people feel nervous about hiring a tradesman they have never met before and a further 50% are worried that they will be ripped off or have a sub-standard job done.

    Another piece of research showed that the main way people seek to get around these nerves and trust issues is to find a plumber via an online review site. The figures showed that 70% of people believed review sites were important in helping them to make a decision and 90% consult or have consulted review sites before making a decision on who to bring in.

    As these sites have become so important in generating business, it’s vital for plumbers who want to get ahead of the game, to use these sites correctly in building trust amongst the public.

    Having an open and honest profile, with plenty of information is an excellent way of building a sense of trust with customers. Naturally, including good photos of previous jobs and describing past experience is vital for a plumber to show they are an authority within their field. However, equally important is to show a human side, as it’s human nature for people to feel an affinity with people they think are just like them. This can be done by adding a couple of personal photos with family or to include some details about your interests or spare time. Being able to display professionalism, whilst also being relatable, is a great way to generate trust and therefore extra business.

    Getting good reviews on the review sites is the best way to get more and more business. Whether it’s booking a hotel or buying something on an auction site, we all look at what other people have said and booking a plumber has become no different. Although you should be giving your best at every job, if you have built up a good relationship with a customer, don’t be afraid of asking them to submit a review. Satisfied customers are usually very willing to give public praise and these positive reviews are incredibly important in encouraging others to leave reviews and in gaining further trust from people browsing your profile.

    If you are contacted by a customer, it’s important to create a good impression straightaway, as this can set a positive tone for how a customer views your final work and can reflect in the type of review they give you. One of the best things you can do is to call or email them back as soon as you can to speak about their problem and to plan a home visit. This will display a high level of professionalism and also showing that you are genuinely concerned with resolving their problem.

    Bearing in mind the results of the survey that showed 60% are nervous about booking a tradesman they have never met, make sure you turn up to an appointment on time, be well-dressed, have a clean and serviceable vehicle and be attentive to the problem that they have. After you visit, you may also wish to follow up with a phone call regarding your plan of action. After a job, 58% of customers have said they left a review on a review site, so taking the time to create a good initial impression and giving good customer service is as important as solving the actual problem.

    Because people will often find a plumber due to positive feedback on review sites, it’s an area that any entrepreneurial tradesman needs to spend a reasonable amount of time on. Review sites are an excellent way to gain and keep loyal customers and provide an excellent opportunity to grow your business in ways that were not possible as recently as 5 years ago.

    Article by Benjamin Clarke

    How plumbers can help customers achieve greater energy efficiency

    Tue 19th May 2015 - 9:44am Energy and Heating How plumbers can help customers achieve greater energy efficiency

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    Technology in the heating industry has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and, as a result, customers are much more aware of the fact that heating products can help them save more money on their heating bills than any time in history.

    It’s therefore very important that plumbers and heating installers are able to meet the increased demand for energy efficiency from homeowners, by being well-versed in a multitude of options, information and advice.

    A very important point that should always be communicated to customers is the process that naturally occurs when water comes into contact with metal. As all heating systems are made up of metal pipes and radiators, it is vital that customers understand how adding chemical inhibitor to their system will prevent internal corrosion and the build-up of sludge, helping to extend the longevity of the system and ensuring the system is running efficiently.

    Systems without chemical inhibitor cause the system to clog up with tiny pieces of corroded metal, which leads to the boiler and pump working extra hard to circulate water. This means that the system is using extra energy to heat the home (causing higher heating bills) and also increases the chances of a boiler breakdown due to it having to work harder.

    Plumbers need to explain the benefits of chemical inhibitor very clearly to customers so that they are in no doubt it will help them in the long run, ensuring that they schedule annual system checks which includes a top-up of inhibitor to the system.

    Another important point to communicate is the importance of insulating bare pipework. While not mandatory under building regulations, research by the Energy Savings Trust shows that lagging bare pipes can save money as well as a considerable amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, it can provide great protection during the coldest months when pipes are at their most vulnerable to freezing and bursting. Insulating pipes is not a big financial outlay, but the long-term beneficial effects should be emphasised to customers.

    The tips mentioned above are very important, but their effectiveness can be completely undone if the customer either doesn’t understand their heating system or uses it incorrectly. The benefits of having thermostatic controls should be explained because, if used correctly, they can have a large impact on efficiency and lower heating bills. As well as understanding the benefits, plumbers need to make sure customers know how to work the controls properly, so this requires a decision to be made on the best type of heating controls to match the lifestyles and needs of the customers involved.

    Article by Benjamin Clarke

    How to be clever when designing a small bathroom

    Thu 14th May 2015 - 12:02pm Home Interiors How to be clever when designing a small bathroom

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    As we increasingly move to towns and cities, more and more of us are living in smaller and smaller areas.

    An extreme example of this came back in September 2014 when a 7ft-wide house went on sale in Harringay for £235,000 and was then followed a few days later by the ‘smallest house in the world’ going on the market in Islington for £275,000.

    While these tiny houses are obviously not the norm, it highlights the fact that people are prepared to sacrifice space if they are in the right location. One of the areas in the home that suffers most is the bathroom, with the average bathroom now measuring a mere 1.8m by 1.8m.

    However, bathrooms are arguably the most important room in the house and, while people are willing to sacrifice space, they are usually less happy to sacrifice style and functionality. This presents a huge challenge for plumbers and installers who have limited space to work with and customers who expect the area to be maximised to the highest standards. For these reasons, it’s important that bathroom installers are aware of products and tricks of the trade that make the most of bathrooms with limited space.

    Making the most of wall space can help to make a small bathroom look bigger and there is a wide variety of bathroom furniture available to make this possible. Wall-hung basins and toilets that use specialist frames give the impression of extra square-footage and are also very easy to install. It’s also very common for toilet cisterns to be hidden, which not only saves space, but gives a stylish and streamlined appearance to the bathroom.

    Bathroom furniture with ‘short projections’ (i.e. they don’t stick out far from the wall) have become increasingly popular as an inventive way to save space. Having short projection cupboards saves space and also hides clutter such as shampoo bottles, bleaches and other toiletry products. Smooth, clean, uncluttered services will help to make even the smallest of bathrooms or ensuites look bigger.

    Additionally, choosing vanity units that are mirrored and have a light-coloured finish will help to give the illusion of space. Dark finishes always makes a room feel more ‘closed in’ so they are not recommended for small rooms. Mirrors and light colours will reflect light, giving a bright and open feel, especially important if it’s a windowless room providing no natural light.

    If installers keep themselves updated with small bathroom fashions, they will be able to offer homeowners fantastic advice and customer service when it comes to designing the smallest but most important room in a house. Not only will customers end up with a fantastic bathroom, but it will reflect well on our knowledgeable and cutting-edge industry.

    Article by Benjamin Clarke

    How Push-Fit technology has helped the plumbing & heating sector

    Tue 12th May 2015 - 10:58am Energy and Heating How Push-Fit technology has helped the plumbing & heating sector

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    In 1987, engineer John Guest entered the Interbuild Exhibition with his Speedfit Plumbing & Heating System. Not only did it win the Best Product prize, but it also unleashed a concept that would revolutionise the plumbing and heating industry in a way that is still being felt today.

    Guest invented the plastic Push-Fit system back in the 1970s, originally as a pipe connection system to meet the needs of the construction industry. Since it went mainstream in 1987, it has permeated a wide range of industries, including the automotive, telecommunications and water purification industries.

    In terms of plumbing, before the Push-Fit method was invented, joining pipes was very time consuming and required a lot of effort and tools. Now, installing and assembly times for piping takes place in a matter of seconds and with minimal effort.

    It has had a huge impact on new-build projects as the Push-Fit concept greatly reduces the total time spent to construct houses compared to years gone by. Push-Fit is also very beneficial for making upgrades to existing buildings because it doesn’t cause too much disruption to the interiors. Installation can be completed with a simple twist and lock, establishing a watertight system of pipes in seconds.

    This technology has been used in over 30 million applications worldwide and has assisted in heating homes across the UK and beyond. Additionally, Push-Fit has been used by heating manufacturers in radiator valves, which has added a further 10 million heating installation fittings.

    The Push-Fit concept has led to a wide range of breakthroughs and advances in technology, which is mainly due to the fact that it is incredibly simple yet unbelievably useful, as well as being flexible, reliable and low cost. Not the most exciting of inventions, but its impact across a huge variety of industries is immeasurable.

    Article by Benjamin Clarke

    How heating controls can overcome fuel poverty

    Thu 7th May 2015 - 11:15am Energy and Heating How heating controls can overcome fuel poverty

    Benjamin

    Benjamin Clarke

    Recent data released by Which? suggests that there has been a large increase in families living in fuel poverty over the last few years.

    The figures show that, on average, people are paying over £400 more per year on their energy bills than they were ten years ago. Not only are they paying much more, householders are using considerably less energy than they were a decade ago. With fuel costs set to continue to rise, the heating industry is concerned that more and more people will not be able to afford to heat their homes.

    Fortunately, this issue has been recognised and acted upon by many heating manufacturers and they have invested a lot of time and money into heating control products. Heating controls are rapidly increasing in popularity because they are environmentally friendly, fairly cheap and easy to install and provide potential for huge savings on energy bills.

    One important feature of these new heating controls is known as ‘weather compensation.’ A sensor is fitted to a north facing wall on the outside of the building and it can detect the air temperature outside, adjusting the boiler performance accordingly. Not only does this improve the efficiency of the boiler, the sensor can also be fitted to many of Britain’s existing heating systems, without the need for expenditure on brand new components.

    Large homes, or homes with multiple occupants, can now benefit from splitting the house into zones. Zoning allows for different rooms to be heated when required, rather than when they are left empty. This is great for student homes or homes inhabited by young professionals who have busy lives and operate completely independently from other members of the household. It’s also great for those with particularly large homes where many of the rooms are unused. Being able to heat rooms only when they are needed will have a large impact on the amount that is spent for heating bills.

    Having the technology and the necessary products are great and a real step forward from the past, however, they are all rendered useless if the public is not actually aware of their existence.

    According to recent figures from a separate survey, it’s estimated that around 6 million UK homes don’t even have the most rudimentary of heating controls installed, namely the room thermostat. As we have said before on this blog, installing thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves can bring down annual heating costs by up to 40%, so it’s important that people are made aware of these products and their potential for savings.

    The most effective way of helping to reduce fuel poverty by bringing down heating costs is not to wait for some sort of miracle policy from the government, but by the education and passing on of knowledge by heating installers to householders.

    It’s important that heating engineers start to position themselves as energy advisors to customers, actively analysing the components in place in a homeowners’ heating system and advising of the options for increased energy and money saving opportunities.

    Adding heating controls should be shown to be a long-term beneficial investment, rather than concentrating on the upfront costs. If consumers can be shown that smart heating controls will benefit their standard of living and reduce their heating bills, they will enthusiastically install them. However, for customers to develop this mindset, the heating industry, and in particular heating installers, need to drive these products forward, presenting and explaining them positively and in ways that appeal to the customers!

    Article by Benjamin Clarke