This is an edited version of our Editor's Comment from our July/August 2020 issue.

Although COVID-19 certainly hasn’t gone away, society as a whole is returning to some sense of normalcy. Pubs are open, football’s back, and restaurants are welcoming customers. However, nothing is entirely as it used to be – pubs collect your details for track and trace, there are no crowds at football stadiums, and social distancing policies are in place at restaurants.

This same yet different feeling to how things were before the pandemic is something that plumbers and heating engineers have had to grapple with for months, with best practice for working in someone’s home or onsite very different to how they used to be. What’s interesting though is that many working in the trade expect some of these changes to be permanent.

A recent survey of 203 WIAPS plumbers by the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme (WRAS) found that 59% of respondents believe that social distancing and more stringent hygiene practices will continue indefinitely. 

According to the same survey, many plumbers are reconsidering their working practices going forward, with some thinking about raising prices to absorb some of those costs and other lowering their prices to drive much needed business. A third are also planning to spend more time on financial management and planning in response to the pandemic. More about this story can be found here but, helping to emphasise the degree of change in recent times, WRAS also noted data showing that 10% of plumbers started using video consultations with customers during the pandemic.

It’s easy to understand why video consultations have seen a surge in popularity in recent times – it allows the tradesperson to assess the scope of a job more clearly than a simple phone call would allow and, in many cases, has provided a necessary alternative to a face-to-face visit. It’ll be interesting to see whether video calling remains in the long term, but one person who hopes it will is Michael Guard, co-founder of Plumber at Hand, a newly launched video call-led lead generation platform. 

I spoke to him about Plumber at Hand and what he hopes it can achieve, as well as some of the advantages it can offer tradespeople outside of what you’d expect. Click here to read the full article.