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HPM November 2015

BOILERS:LIGHTCOMMERCIAL Warm up to light commercial Thanks to tentative economic recovery, UK businesses are once again investing in premises, signalling an increased opportunity for domestic installers to capitalise on the light commercial market. Jon Phillips, head of product management at Baxi, explains how... After a period of cutbacks for the commercial sector, the green shoots so often hoped for by UK business leaders finally seem to be showing above ground, with signs that the commercial sector is at last increasing investment in people and premises. While domestic installers might feel far removed from the decimal point growth of the commercial sector at large, the news poses an important question, is now the time to make the move to light commercial? As a market, light commercial covers a multitude of applications, so opportunities are vast. Light commercial boilers can be installed in offices, pubs, clubs, restaurants, leisure centres, gyms, community centres, schools, golf clubs, health spas, shopping centres and even large domestic properties. But despite, or perhaps even because of, the huge range of opportunities, making the move into the light commercial market can be daunting. With that in mind, we have set about answering some of your most frequently asked questions, which we hope will help on your road to light commercial, and beyond. WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO I NEED? As domestic trained installers can work on outputs up to 70kW, there is a significant and lucrative opportunity to expand into the light commercial market without needing to invest in new qualifications. Installers who are interested in operating above 70kW would need to complete a training course in commercial gas work. Such courses are usually available through the institutions and training establishments that offer domestic qualifications, so if you had a good experience during your domestic training, it could be worth finding out what they offer in the way of commercial. Training on pump sizing and pressure losses and some experience on working with a commercial installer would make the transition – but it is by no means out of reach without those things. We would always advise installers attend a manufacturer’s training course before installing a product. They design and built the appliance, so are perfectly placed to offer expert advice. DO I NEED DIFFERENT PRODUCTS? While domestic installers can install boilers of up to 70kW, there are still lots of applications where the heat and hot water demand means that you won’t need to install anything larger than 40kW, which you might have previously suggested for a domestic customer. That means you can, in the most part, continue to recommend the boilers that you’re comfortable working on, from a manufacturer that you trust. As heat and hot water demand is likely to be more continuous in a light commercial environment, it is certainly worth ensuring that your manufacturer of choice has a strong track record in terms of reliability, and that boilers come with a warranty. Finally, it’s worth ensuring that you use the manufacturer’s genuine parts. While all installers should be using genuine parts in order to avoid legal implications of not doing so, it can nevertheless be worth flagging your commitment to light commercial customers who are likely to recognise the benefits in the long-term. IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE IN DEALING WITH A LIGHT COMMERCIAL CUSTOMER VERSUS DOMESTIC? Both customers will choose an installer based on professional, friendly service, quality workmanship and value for money, but there are a few additional points to consider when dealing with customers in the light commercial market. It’s worth noting that commercial operations could be faced with closing should their heating or hot water stop working, meaning a loss of income as well as inconvenience. With that in mind, double checking that your favoured manufacturer provides an expert customer service offering is vital. The best manufacturers will offer both general and technical support from trained engineers, so you can be sure of talking to people who speak your language and can help get the issue resolved quickly. It’s also worth remembering that small businesses will be more concerned about their carbon emissions, so offering energy efficient solutions is key. WHAT CAN I DO TO PICK UP LIGHT COMMERCIAL WORK One of the best ways to break in to the light commercial market is to use your existing domestic customer base. Many households will have direct or indirect links with the sorts of organisations, allowing you to build on a relationship you already have rather trying to make new connections with businesses that might not have heard of you before. Before investing in new recruits or rebranding, it’s worth doing a fact find in your area to find out who your competition might be and what opportunities there are. Searching online and calling round a handful of local businesses will help you to find out if they already have a preferred installer and whether they would be interested in receiving your details. Without a contact name the right person at a council or large organisation can be difficult to get to, so to save time try local hotels or eateries. Make it easy for a business to find you by updating your website to highlight that you also offer installations and servicing for commercial premises. For businesses, time is money, so often the most responsive suppliers will have the best chance of winning the work. If you’re out on jobs most of the time, set up a voicemail and auto reply service on your email that gives a guideline as to when you will be able to respond. Ultimately domestic installers who have built up a good reputation locally for quality work will find it much easier to establish a foothold in the light commercial market, offering them with a substantial opportunity to win new business and achieve growth in the future. 62 NOVEMBER 2015 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY WWW.HPMMAG.COM Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com enquiry number 129 Baxi’s EcoBlue Advance Combi has many features that make it easy to install and commission


HPM November 2015
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