Despite the recent findings that plumbing and heating engineers are busier than ever, 2/3 of installers still fail to regularly schedule in a return maintenance visit and are missing out on added business opportunities. The results from the latest PHEX Chelsea survey showed that 40% of installers leave the customer to schedule the call back. This opens them up to the risk of losing customers to competitors.
Tip 1: Try and book in a service with the customer on the day. This will be put in both of your diaries to ensure it isn’t forgotten.
Tip 2: If you cannot secure a date there and then, set yourself reminders on your work phone or computer. Although time consuming, calling back round your customers from earlier in the year could mean extra revenue to your business.
A survey by Plumbfix has revealed that qualified plumbing and heating engineers are working harder than ever and are expecting a business boost over the next 12 months. 81% of plumbers have stated that they have more than enough work to keep them busy which has grown year on year from 2012 (73%). As well as this, over 1 in 10 tradesmen currently have too much work to handle!
We hope that this is the start of a profitable and prosperous year for you all and with more than 1/3 of tradesmen already providing more quotes than they did last year and only a minuscule 2% stating that they don’t have enough work lined currently, we’re sure you’ll continue to grow.
For more information, click here
Chancellor George Osborne’s statement this week has caused a mixed reaction across the industry with regards to the future of apprenticeships.
From April 2016 the government will make it cheaper for employers to take on an apprentice by abolishing employer National Insurance contributions for apprentices aged under 25.
“Clearly, this is going to be very beneficial for employers and apprentices. When you look at the savings an employer will make over a three-year period, it’s quite substantial. It will also encourage more employers who were doubtful about taking on an apprentice to take that first step” Kevin Wellman, CEO for the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE).
On the contrary, Brian Berry, the chief executive of the federation of Master Builders is concerned about the uncertainty of the apprenticeship funding following the new statement. “Apprenticeship funding still hangs in the balance with no clarity offered by the Autumn Statement… uncertainty around apprenticeship policy is the last thing our industry needs when facing an ever-growing skills gap”.
We want to hear your opinion:
Are you happy about the abolishment of the employer National Insurance contributions? Would this persuade you to take on an apprentice now? Do you have any concerns over uncertainty?
Tell us here: http://bit.ly/1GI06Pk
The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) is calling on installers to be vigilant over the authenticity of spares they fit this winter.
Fake parts bearing the CE conformity mark are being sold to installers even though they haven’t been properly tested and could even be made from the wrong material. The HHIC also wants to remind installers that they are responsible for all parts and spares they purchase and fit. Therefore, should any problems occur as a result of a fake part being fitted, the installer is personally liable for any damage and/or injury caused.
Roger Webb, director of HHIC, likened the trend to the afflictions of other industries, “Unfortunately, just like cigarettes and handbags, there are a lot of heating spares that are fake, with many carrying a CE mark and claiming to be an exact replica of the manufacturer’s own part.
“But these fakes won’t have been through the rigorous testing process or be made of the correct material – which at best invalidates the boiler warranty and at worst could be dangerous. If a problem occurs as a result of using them, the installer is liable. Heating engineers are liable for all of the work they carry out and this liability extends to any replacement parts they purchase and fit.”
Any parts that are found to be fake should be reported to a local Trading Standards office.
Tip – Always be vigilant when purchasing parts and make sure they’re genuine. Report any suspicions to a local Trading Standards office as soon as possible. Of course, genuine mistakes do happen so make sure your insurance is up to date and fully covers you.
Around a quarter of homeowners have admitted to being worried about boiler failures this winter. With Christmas rapidly approaching, only 27% of those surveyed actually have money set aside for an emergency like this.
Tip – Why not take this opportunity to recommend a boiler service to your existing and lapsed clients to ensure they have no nasty surprises over the winter season.
This will not only protect your customers but position you and your business as a proactive and customer-focused company.
A recent survey by WaterSafe has revealed that a staggering 54% of homeowners would trust a tradesperson based on first appearances rather than professional credentials.
As well as this, 30% of people stated that they feel the choice of clothes a tradesperson wears affects how trustworthy they are.
“Of course when we let someone into our home to carry out work we expect them to look professional, but it’s very important that consumers check the qualifications and experience of the individual. When it comes to plumbing and heating, a lot of damage can be caused by someone who has not had the correct training – it is estimated that rogue plumbers alone have cost the nation £2.6billion in recent years.” Danny Davis, Operations Manager, CIPHE
We all know that appearance is important but it is worrying to think that some homeowners are swayed easily by looks. Ensure that your current clients are aware of your qualifications and let that speak volumes.
Tip – Make sure your website and social channels display your qualifications. You can link them back to the association websites as well. There are a lot of free website tools such as Weebly, so you don’t need to spend money to keep your business image up to date.
Installation of plastic covered tube
Experienced, time-served, plumbers are familiar with the installation of copper tube systems since they have been used for very many years and are considered the standard material against which all others are measured. The Kuterlex and Kuterlex Plus products are increasing in use and some comments on their installation follow.
Kuterlex and Kuterlex Plus tubes are Yorkshire copper tubes sheathed in a continuous plastics cover.
The covering on Kuterlex Plus has air channels on its internal surface. Although Kuterlex and Kuterlex Plus are primarily designed for protection against external aggressive materials, the Kuterlex Plus cover reduces heat loss from buried hot service tube and condensation along surface fixed cold service pipework.
Kuterlex Plus tubes are particularly recommended for domestic hot water and heating services, especially if the pipes are to be buried in plaster or screed, or for cold water services exposed to conditions of high humidity where condensation may be a problem.
Kuterlex and Kuterlex Plus are primarily intended for internal / underground applications and outdoor surface fixing of these products is therefore not recommended.
Gas Safety Week is over for another year, but having raised such a great deal of awareness, it is important we keep the message all year round.
Follow our quick Gas Safe check list for installers:
- You must be Gas Safe registered to fit, fix and service gas appliances
- Ensure customers have an annual boiler service
- Look for warning signs; Lazy yellow/orange flames instead of blue, black marks on or around the boiler, excessive condensation
- Encourage customers to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in the home
- Advise customers to have all gas appliances safety checked every year
- If a problem arises, follow the Gas Safe Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure
BS EN 1057:1996 was adopted across Europe in 1996, “Copper and copper alloys – Seamless, round copper tubes for water and gas in sanitary and heating applications”. It replaced the previously familiar standard BS 2871 Part 1: 1971, “Copper and Copper Alloys – Tubes – Copper tubes for water, gas and sanitation”.
In drawing up this standard, the opportunity was taken to rationalise tube sizes across Europe. At first glance to UK users, familiar with BS 2871 Part 1, the changes to the standard may have seemed quite large and the available options quite confusing. Yorkshire Copper Tube simplified this process by branding their products as Yorkex, Kuterlon and Minibore in line with Tables X, Y and W in BS 2871 Part 1.
Under BS EN 1057, temper condition (material strength) is designated with an ‘R’ number, the higher the number indicating a stronger material. Soft condition is denoted R220, half hard R250 and hard R290. Because of the variety of sizes both diameter and thickness should be specified when ordering to BS EN 1057. For example when ordering half hard copper tube with an outside diameter of 15mm and a thickness of 0.7mm (formerly 15mm BS 2871 Part 1 Table X tubing) the official designation is EN 1057 – R250 – 15 x 0.7mm. More simply it can be ordered as 15mm Yorkex.
It’s only 46 days until Gas Safety Week and we’re beginning to get excited!
Gas Safety Week is a great opportunity to reach millions of homeowners and installers alike and raise awareness of gas safety.
The national safety campaign joins thousands of organisations, UK wide, raising the profile of your company, as well as spreading the important safety messages.
Have you pledged your support yet? Sign up here.
We all wanted to say a huge congratulations to Jack Barker – the National Apprentice of the Year 2014! Well done to all the runners up and we hope this has inspired apprentices for next years’ competition!
Great work Jack!
It doesn’t seem five minutes ago we were eagerly awaiting the start of the regional heat for the National Apprentice of the Year 2014 competition and now the final is nearly here! The two-day final will take place at the ADEY Conference & Training Centre this week from the 30th April – 1st May.
We want to take this opportunity to wish all seven competitors the very best of luck and remind you what an achievement it is to make it this far. The competition this year is tougher than ever, the level of skill is increasing dramatically and we are poised for an exciting final!
A recent survey by WorldPay has identified that plumbers are the worst affected tradespeople by late payers. They on average have to wait up to 27 weeks to receive payment and are owed £799 a year in late payments. As you will know, there is always the worry of damaging customer relationships when continuously chasing payments, so here are some tips to help speed the process up for you whilst protecting those key relationships. (phpionline.co.uk)
Get paid at the point of sale by offering your customers a wider variety of payment methods. Out of the plumbers who have been paid late in the last 12 months, 73% said that automated payments (e.g. card payments) are important for maintaining a smooth cash flow.
Check your customers’ credit history. Subject to payment of a small fee, this will often provide further useful information.
Where appropriate, visit customers’ premises and ensure you have the name of the person responsible for paying accounts.
Ensure that you have properly agreed contract terms. Spending a little time and money to get legal advice about how to do this at the outset can save a fortune in the long-term.
Consider charging interest on late payments. Before starting a job, communicate your interest policy to your customers as this should deter them from paying late.
At Yorkshire Copper Tube, we’re passionate about quality plumbing and materials for safe and efficient systems.
WaterSafe is the new nationwide accreditation scheme for plumbers. It’s free and easy to join for existing approved contractors and provides you with a water industry endorsement for your business.
Will you be signing up to WaterSafe? Take our poll:
1. Repeat business
As you know, your plumbing and heating skills go a long way in any home. If you are initially called in for a boiler problem, you could suggest that your customer has an annual service with you for less than the gas companies. Perhaps, at some point your customer will be updating their kitchen or bathroom. If you let them know about the other areas you specialise in, they will be likely to come to you. Take their email details and send them an email from time to time.
2. Word of mouth
With a good job, recommendations normally come naturally. Some heating and plumbing engineers are able to rely on word of mouth and repeat business without any advertising at all. If however, you spend money advertising your business, consider offering rewards to your customers for referring a new customer to you. It could be some money off or a free boiler service, anything that would be an incentive to them that you can afford to offer.
3. Social Media
There are a lot of homeowners who use Facebook as well as other social media channels, however you are more likely to find traction here for generating business leads. Facebook is a great tool for all businesses, particularly small ones. If you don’t have a website, you can create a business page and use this instead. Ask your customers and friends to like your page to start building up your network. As you get more likes, friends of friends will see this activity and it will generate more awareness of your services. Post content that will encourage your followers to interact with it – again this interaction will be seen outside of your follower network.
4. Online advertising and Pay Per Click
Facebook and Google both offer cost-effective ways to generate business leads if you target customers well.
Facebook advertising lets you choose who you want to target to like your page or take advantage of an offer.
Google and other search engines offer pay per click advertising to help customers come to your website or page when they type in keyword search terms e.g. ‘boiler problems’. You can control how much budget you spend and who sees your ads by location. You could get a customer for just pence this way and turn it on and off as and when you need new customers.
As part of our commitment to helping the next generation of installers, Yorkshire Copper Tube have collaborated with HIP!, who offer support and technical information for plumbing apprentices. The following video will help to assist with training.
Take a look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAihq055hYM
There are plenty of training videos in the pipeline so stay tuned for the next in the series.
We will be showcasing our wide range of plain, plastic coated and special finish copper tube, suitable for a range of applications such as gas, water and sanitation systems at PHEX Manchester on Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th October.
Our expert technical staff will be on hand to talk you through the benefits of using copper tube, answer any questions as well as having merchandise that will be up for grabs.
KME is committed to the optimization of the entire Supply Chain, with programs that are constantly improving the effectiveness of our manufacturing processes and increasing our productivity. Notwithstanding all our efforts, severe increases in our costs cannot be fully offset by the above measures. So, starting on 1st of January 2014, KME will increase Fabrication Prices by at least 5%.