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To help support the installer community, Vaillant has created a programme of online business clinics to cover the issues that matter to the heating sector. From business planning to sales techniques and digital marketing to revenue optimisation; the clinics are just one of several ways installers can interactively access support, guidance and information when they need it most. Spencer Clark, commercial director at Vaillant, explains more.
Like many other trades, installers are navigating through previously unknown business challenges as they strive to keep their enterprises operating whilst the country gets to grips with a national health crisis. While the way the sector is having to undertake business and keep commercial relationships afloat has altered dramatically, it is also important to recognise that there are still many positive methods installers during this time to strengthen their future business prospects.
This includes looking to access the various levels of support manufacturers have instigated to help installers build stronger businesses, further enhance professional installer knowledge and enable the trade to proactively take care of personal wellbeing during troubling times.
Good use of time
In normal times, the pressure of work and limited time availability means that installers do not always have the capacity to sit back and review their critical business strategies. Time off from installation or servicing work can provide the headspace to relook at areas such as marketing strategies or review current business models to identify any commercial gaps. Installers can use the current time to make sure digital platforms – websites, social media profiles and online local directories – are all up to date and that they showcase new and best work.
It’s also worth contacting recent customers who were satisfied with work to encourage them to write online reviews and testimonials. Finally, installers should take the chance to replenish branded materials with logos such as stickers, workwear and stationery which, if they are a member of a manufacturer’s loyalty programme, could mean they are able to get to items for free or at a reduced cost.
Knowledge is key
In addition to undertaking business reviews in vital areas such as marketing to help strengthen and improve prospects for the future, installers can also access a range of educational, advisory and technical support that is available from manufacturers to enhance business know-how.
With a view to supporting the installer community, we have committed expert resources to create a programme of online business clinic webinars. Lasting for one hour, each one provides insight into the topics that matter to installers. Tackling subjects such as business resilience, financial advice and business safety in difficult times, spotting up sale opportunities, optimising revenues, marketing and business planning, the clinics are a key component of our wide package of knowledge support for the industry.
The exclusive podcast series is also designed with the installer in mind. Experts from different fields share unique insights into themes such as workplace mental wellbeing, as well as providing practical hints and tips to fuel a company’s marketing programme. Convenient and easy to listen to, tuning into one of our new podcasts can help the installer community make the most of shared knowledge and access it when time is more freely available.
CPDs are another great way of building product expertise and industry knowledge and can be accessed in a way that suits the individual. We are currently running a series of online courses covering important and diverse topics such as the role of hydrogen and how green gases will be pivotal in meeting future carbon reduction targets, as well as investigating the decarbonisation of heat.
It is an excellent forum by which installers can increase their understanding about some of the big environmental challenges the heating industry faces and how all stakeholders can play their part in overcoming them.
Finally, our website also includes a section targeting support and advice specifically for the self-employed installer.
For installers still undertaking projects and essential work, our pledge of support has seen the extension of the popular serviceASSIST free trial period (currently compatible with vSMART thermostats only). The solution enables installers to remotely monitor customer boiler installations with access to detailed performance data, fault code history and other essential diagnostic insights at the click of a button. We have also prolonged the offer period for the 10-year warranty on our ecoFIT pure when installed with an eligible Vaillant control and registered on Advance.
In addition, exclusive to Vaillant Advance loyalty members, we have partnered with TradeGaze.com, an online tool, which allows installers to carry out a survey remotely. With homeowners simply uploading photographs of the job, installers will be able to provide a quote without the need to visit the property.
With ongoing disruption and marketplace uncertainty comes the increased possibility of a rise in mental health issues that can affect heating installers as much as anyone else. Worries about a business, family members, colleagues or friends can fester, develop and lead to problems in the future.
It is important to recognise the signs of mental health struggles and to actively seek the help that is readily at hand. According to Lauretta Wilson, psychologist and guest on episode one of The Vaillant Podcast, disrupted sleep patterns, appetite changes, drinking more than normal or a lack of enthusiasm for hobbies or interests, are just some of classic markers that indicate potential problems. Taking these issues seriously can help to eradicate them before they spiral into something far more serious. Talking about them to a family member or close friend can help bring worries out into the open, put them into context and find resolutions.
The prolonged uncertainty caused by the current health crisis will eventually pass. But taking a positive stance on wellbeing matters, business strategy reviews and professional development, with the support of manufacturers, can assist heating installers transform a current period of uncertainty into one of future business building opportunity.
For more information on Vaillant’s range of support for installers, please visit: www.vaillant.co.uk