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HPM November 2015

SPECIALREPORT Was 2015 a year of change for installers? HPM quizzes heating engineers on a Worcester, Bosch Group Greenstar Compact combi training course about government schemes, industry topics and new legislation they have encountered over the last 12 months, as well as their predictions for what the future will bring... CONTRIBUTOR PANEL: Nigel Bloff and Mark Hill Nigel Bloff (NB), NLL Heating, Nottingham Mark Hill (MH), MWH Heating and Plumbing, Cardiff Keith Wareham, (KW) KC Heating Services, Coventry John Lisle (JL), J Lisle Heating and Plumbing, Staffordshire John Byrne (JB), J. Byrne Heating and Plumbing, Staffordshire Richard Arkless (RA), Worcester Training Provider Did you take part in Gas Safety Week between September 14-20, if so, what did you do? NB: I posted a few things on Facebook from our company account. If you spend a little time on it Facebook can be a good outlet. It’s pretty simple too; I just use a few pictures and use advertising boost to get it seen by more people – it doesn’t have to be a lot, as little as £20 will do. Last time I spent around £30 and got two jobs out of it. I don’t use it very often because I tend to get enough word of mouth work, but occasionally it’s useful. MH: I do something similar, but on Twitter rather than Facebook. I’ve picked up a few jobs off the back of it as well. It was especially useful around Gas Safety Week when I was trying to promote the importance of servicing, as using the hashtag on “#Gas Safety Week” or “#GSW” meant I reached lots more people. I ended up having a few of my followers get it touch with me saying they’d like their boiler servicing. JL: I haven’t done much on Facebook, a little bit but I haven’t won any work from it yet. I did read all about Gas Safety Week and did as much research as I could on it, so I was prepared. What do you think is likely to get you more work, the qualifications you have, or the experience in your profession? MH: If it is for a big companies, they tend to look at qualifications, whereas if it’s small domestic jobs it tends to be the quality of your work, the finished product and the cost that make you competitive. NB: The customer can sense experience. You can be as qualified as you like, but they can sense your experience when you speak to them, and that’s what wins you the most jobs. People can tell if you’re knowledgeable and not just reading out of a text book. JB: Knowing the products you’re using is important for that too and word of mouth helps as people know you are experienced and will pass that on to friends and family. Figures released by the Renewable Energy Association show that there has been an eight per cent leap in the number of people working in the renewables sector, are you one of those? MH: We’ve just finished our first renewables job. The problem with renewables is that it’s still a relatively new idea for “Joe Public” to get their head around. It’s going into the unknown for them which can be daunting. Basically, you can understand if someone is used to a natural gas boiler, that’s what they’ll want replacing. They’re not going to necessarily want some new eco-friendly system they don’t understand in their house. So it can be really hard to market. And on this occasion it was due to demand rather than me instigating it; we were asked to quote for a renewables system. It’s not something I’m fully going to hang my hat on just yet. Do you think there should be a reduced VAT rate of five per cent on all energy saving measures? MH: It might be a massive incentive for someone already planning to spend that money, but I don’t think it’s enough of an incentive on its own. NB: We need something more. It comes down to having more qualified people to do the installations. In my opinion, there aren’t enough people coming through with the skills to promote the technology to customers. If people do want renewables, often they are having to get an engineer for the other side of the country to check their biomass boiler, for example. It’s not like a normal boiler where if something goes wrong you can pick up the phone and have ten people within a ten mile radius of your house ready to come and help, and that could put people off no matter what the incentive. There’s a real skills shortage, but that is something that has got to be solved by the colleges. It’s got to be the next generation of installers who educate themselves about it and fully embrace it. It also depends on where you are based, I’m in the centre of Nottingham, so it is just not going to happen round my way, but in other areas of the country renewables will be more popular. Despite experts predicting that the heat pump market would grow by between seven and ten per cent, data released by the Building Services Research and Information Association shows it actually fell by 13%. Which way do you think the market will go? NB: I don’t know anything about it. All agree NB: I would be of the opinion that it’s similar to what we said about renewables and people preferring like-for-like. Maybe people just don’t realise the technology is on offer. Now that the Green Deal is no more, do you fear that other government schemes could be axed too? MH: Everything has a life span. You can’t keep ploughing money into all these schemes forever. JB: They are useful for larger companies. NB: If anything, they can be a threat to us. We rely on people buying boilers and the free market can damage the one man band. We need 28 NOVEMBER 2015 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY


HPM November 2015
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