The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) has issued a warning to those businesses not trading and positioning themselves as being ‘COVID-19 Secure’.
APHC recently worked with research company Eureka! in assisting them to conduct an industry survey which involved interviewing 2,000 plumbing and heating businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Thompson, chief executive officer at APHC, said: “The research indicates that although there are more plumbing and heating companies now back working, COVID-19 is still proving stubborn, with the sector only operating at an average of 42% of its normal level with seven in 10 businesses highlighting a lack of demand for their services as being the largest obstacle to returning to normality.
“It is clear that demand for new installations and ‘larger’ projects is going to continue to be lower than before the pandemic due to sustained uncertainty. With fewer projects available to quote on, the market is becoming more competitive and consumers are being more selective and cautious when appointing trades people to work in their homes. This means businesses, now more than ever, need to be able to reassure customers that they are reputable and safe. So having COVID-19 Secure health and safety measures are vital in winning new business and for the survival of plumbing and heating businesses. However, alarmingly, Eureka!’s research found that only 31% of respondents have created an explicit ‘COVID-19 secure’ policy.
“Installers and engineers need to understand what can be done to gain the confidence of customers and potential customers – and currently it’s about being a trusted and COVID-19 Secure business. The government has published guidance on creating COVID-Secure working environments, and this requires operational changes to be implemented. If businesses haven’t yet reviewed and implemented this guidance they need to do so.
“Businesses then need to be proactive in making customers aware of their COVID-19 Secure processes and hygiene measures, and not simply assume that they will pick up on their measures.”
He highlighted that the Health & Safety Executive offers a free COVID-19 Secure Certificate which can be printed off from their website and also he also advised businesses to consider informing customers about their health and safety measures through the following ways.
- Creating a COVID-Secure webpage on your website and referencing your COVID-Secure status clearly on your website’s homepage
- Inserting information regarding your company’s COVID-Secure practices in the footer of your work email template
- Communicating your COVID-Secure processes on social media
- Developing a basic script which you or your employees can use to help verbally communicate your company’s procedures
- Displaying COVID-Secure stickers on company vehicles
- Producing a simple flyer which can be given to prospects and customers
- Including a COVID-Secure reference in all adverts and promotional materials
Eureka!’s research also demonstrated how there has never been a greater time for membership of representative bodies with over half of installers turning to membership associations for information and advice on dealing with the pandemic.