Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Communication & Product Management at Worcester Bosch, discusses why it's important for manufacturers to adhere to installer needs and wants.
When it comes to the heating industry, boilers have always been available across a variety of price ranges. Regardless of what type of boiler you have, it should provide you with the same end result, reliable warm radiators and hot water. The variation in price is generally based on the additional features included on the boiler and it’s important for an installer to have a variety of options as not all customers will want or need exactly the same things.
As a manufacturer, this is something we are constantly reminded of when we are out there speaking to installers. There is still a need to operate in higher-end markets, however we understood from installer feedback that an area we should also aim to cover is the entry-level market, in order to ensure our products are accessible to a wider range of installers’ customers.
I've had many installers tell me that they regularly come up against price-sensitive jobs and customers, which can restrict them from offering a high-quality boiler system that they know can be relied on. This has its disadvantages for the installer as they are unable to make their highest recommendation and, as I’ve mentioned in the past, it is the installer who is the key decision maker 80% of the time. This is why it is essential for manufacturers to directly connect their product plans – from concept to creation – with installers.
Let’s use our latest entry level boiler, the Worcester 2000, as an example. The initial uptake of the new product wouldn’t have been as high without the insight we received from installers. This highlights the importance of receiving feedback and advice from the installers who fit boilers and heating systems every day, and we are helped by an industry where many installers are very passionate about their jobs and are eager to influence change.
With a few exceptions, our entire range has been created from installer feedback. As part of the product development process, we create an example of what we think is right for the market and show it to installers, with most new boilers going through several rounds of feedback.
After the Greenstar 8000 Lifestyle's launch in Germany, we adapted the product for the UK market with help from several hundred installers. It may be a very labour-intensive process, but it is essential at the same time. We know that it's worthwhile because the installers will always get it right, and we always have faith in them.
Installers are the influencers above all else and if they believe in the products, they will relay this to the end-user. There's an old saying, 'the closer you can get to your customer's customer, the better supplier you are for your customer.' This might sound like double-dutch, but when you think about installers and the end-user, the riddle becomes clear.
Of course, all manufacturers and suppliers work differently, and I am by no means suggesting everyone should follow our lead. However, engaging with installers and treating them as part of your research and development arm can only bring positives, and ensuring flexibility and accessibility in all areas of your product range is simply essential.