Following the lead of food delivery giants such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, Viktor Muhhin has launched Snap-it, a parts delivery service for the plumbing industry. Tom Hogarth finds out more.
For many plumbers that put professionalism, customer service, and problem solving at forefront of what they do, continually arriving at jobs only to have to turn around and leave for spare parts is a frustrating endeavour.
God forbid you aren’t near a merchant you know well, as you could find yourself wasting valuable time hunting down parts and the nearest supplier when you could be getting work done, keeping the customer happy, and moving on to the next job.
Viktor Muhhin knows this problem well, with 15 years of experience as a plumber and heating engineer under his belt, and has launched Snap-it to help engineers stay on the job site and source parts easily.
The concept is simple; an engineer will place an order for the parts they need through the Snap-it app, which is then circulated to the nearest suppliers and, once accepted, assigned to a delivery driver. The merchant will put the order together and the driver will bring it to the installer, leaving them able to spend their time getting the job ready.
Viktor elaborated: “They’ll find the bits that they need on the application, and we’ll circulate the job from the nearest shop onwards. If they can fulfil the order, that’s the best case. What we then do automatically, as soon as the order is accepted, is find nearby riders to pick it up and drop it off.
“For instance, if the first shop doesn’t have all the items available, or is too busy to accept the order, it will go to the next shop [until the order is fulfilled]. Also, as the shops change location, the app will also automatically change the location where it searches for a rider.”
These riders are already out there, Viktor explains. For those who don’t know, delivery drivers will sign up to as many services as they are able, taking on orders from Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and so on as the day goes on. Snap-it will allow these drivers to take on more jobs both during and outside of times they would normally take delivery orders from other services.
Viktor is quick to point out the benefits to the engineer. By passing the responsibility to collect the part onto Snap-it, it allows the installer to focus on other parts of the job, or respond to customer requests, ensuring that the job is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
He said: “It’s not even to improve the plumbing industry, but just to streamline it, just to make plumbers’ lives easier. At the end of the day, all of those costs (for delivery, for instance) could be passed on to the client, and the client shouldn’t complain about this because the job can be done quicker, meaning they won’t be hit by another hour’s bill.
“For the shops, it generates an extra revenue stream. For example, a plumber that comes out of their normal service area wouldn’t necessarily know the shops close by. If you go on Google today, and you’re trying to find a plumbing shop nearby, you will be bombarded with all sorts of plumbing companies’ adverts as all of the search engine optimisation works in their favour. Snap-it is much easier.”
Security is also a priority for Viktor, who has developed a PIN system to ensure that the order is protected throughout the supply chain. Payments are also secure, made via credit or debit cards through a system not unlike Paypal, ensuring that Snap-it never sees any card details.
When an order is accepted, the Snap-it app generates a four digit PIN for the exchange between the rider and the merchant, and the exchange between the rider and the customer. The rider gets a PIN to give to the merchant to release the package and, when the rider gets to the customer, the customer has a PIN to enter once they’ve checked the order and ensured everything is okay.
Viktor explained: “This manages ownership of the product throughout the process. The moment the rider gives the PIN to the shop, the shop has made a sale and Snap-it is eligible to pay for that product. There is a transit period where the rider’s public liability insurance covers the cost of the items, and the moment the PIN is released by the client, the property becomes the client’s and the funds are removed from their account.
“It’s never a great feeling when a person makes a purchase in a shop, has a lovely amount of banter and laughter, and leaves the shop, comes to a job and realises that his best buddy on the other side of the till has put the wrong kind of fittings in the bag. Things like this still happen and we can’t eliminate human error from the service, therefore maximum input from the engineer double checking the items is essential.”
While the Snap-it service has been thriving since its launch just a couple of months ago in a small area in the centre of London, Viktor has plenty of plans for expansion. He intends first to expand the scope of the service to cover the entirety of Central London, aiming to do so later this year, while also expanding the product selection as time goes on.
Boiler spare parts are one of the first additions on the docket for Viktor, and he is also looking at ways to enable drivers to deliver lengths of pipe to customers in a secure way. While his plans are ambitious, Viktor says that expansion will only happen if he can ensure that three areas are expanding together and in the right way.
These areas are: clients, so that the app is receiving enough demand across the board; suppliers, so that there is always a merchant to supply the products and jobs are always fulfilled; and riders, so that every job can be delivered in a timely manner.
In a tough economy and a competitive industry, every job matters, and innovations like Snap-it could mean that installers are able to provide better customer service and complete more jobs in the limited time that they have.
Contactless for coronavirus
With the current coronavirus crisis at the forefront of everyone’s minds, Snap-it has taken advantage of its business model to offer plumbers a way to source parts for jobs without exposing themselves and their customers to unnecessary risk and contact with other people.
The company has introduced ‘contactless’ delivery in line with many other delivery companies to ensure adequate protection for its customers, suppliers, and riders.
Viktor said: “By buying materials on Snap-it, we reduce human contact close to none. The rider is protected in helmets and gloves, collects and drops off to people on the job without contact.
“We are working hard to reduce the spread of the virus, as well as help keep plumbers busy and shop staff trading with minimum risk.”
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