Mark Bradley, Managing Director of Plumbase, explains how plumbers' merchants can help support installers.

Plumbers' merchants in the UK have been supporting installers for generations and this is unlikely to change.

A large reason for this is the vastness of the technical and product knowledge held by teams at the trade counter, which is backed by excellent stock profiles and availability. Branch teams also have a strong local awareness of projects happening in the area, and the ability to make valuable suggestions when it comes to what installers need to be able to do their job well.

Overall, this is what makes the relationship much more personal, when compared to the consumer retail market, which is mainly transactional. Merchants will tend to go above and beyond to ensure that installers can always get the job done on time, within budget and without any hassle.

When trading with time-pressed installers who run their own businesses, going the extra mile to source the right products, suggest alternatives, and make calls to find out information quickly, takes the pressure off tradespeople. Likewise, investing in valuable and free-to-access resources, such as having technical information like boiler manuals all in one place, free delivery options direct to site, and being able to solve product problems or answer queries by working with manufacturers on the behalf of an installer, is key.

Working with our supplier contacts to host joint events or to deliver training opportunities, is another way we support our customers. Since last year, our programme of Innovation Nights in conjunction with leading suppliers, has been extremely popular. Installers really value getting a first glimpse at a new product and being able to network in a relaxed and fun environment.

Going forward, it will be essential for plumber’s merchants to adapt and change to be able to continue to provide the best service possible. This is why at Plumbase we continually speak to our customers and suppliers, to ensure we are offering the right level of support to them. We then take these learnings and use it to improve our product offering, online channels and the skills, knowledge and attitude of our staff.

We always take the long-term view that if you look after customers today, they will stay with you for the next 40 years. For Plumbase at least, the journey continues and we’ll always mould and shift our approach based around the needs of our customers today, tomorrow, and beyond.