Andy Royle, Director at Leads 2 Trade, discusses how the traditional sales approach has changed over the last five years, and how you can increase your chances of getting work during the heating season.

For many homeowners, their boilers will have sat dormant for most of the year before being turned on for the winter months. This, of course, is where the problems are likely to occur. Whether it is just a fault or a complete breakdown, the end result means many will be left without heating or hot water and will need a fix or replacement swiftly. This is where the plumber/gas engineer comes in, so it’s important to make sure your business is in a position where it can maximise work over this busy period.

In the 14 years we have been supplying our marketing and lead generation services to the heating and plumbing industry, it’s experienced great change, not only from the consumer’s perspective of how to buy a boiler, but also from the contractor’s perspective on how to quote, install, and finance one.

Five years ago, consumers had no other option to buy a boiler outright for £2-3k. Then heating and plumbing companies started offering boilers on finance, offering the consumer the chance to buy a boiler on a fixed monthly fee, which caused an attitude change for a lot of companies, who started to employ direct salespeople to sell in the home. 

Fast forward to today and that approach has reduced somewhat, with consumers now having the ability to specify a suitable boiler online, complete their purchase with finance options, and book for an accredited gas safe engineer to carry out the installation on a date that’s convenient for them. 
Online boiler sales has changed the traditional sales, survey approach and, with consumer habits shifting, heating engineers and installers must adapt to win more work.

Be where your customers are 

As consumer demographics have changed, it is testament to where the market is now that almost everything is done online, and plumbers/gas engineers must be sitting across digital to be where customers are.

Consumer behaviour dictates that, if the boiler breaks down, unless that consumer knows someone, then the only option is to go online to find a company that can help, so your digital presence is hugely important. 

Making sure you can provide quotes from your website is vital in capturing website enquiries and turning them into leads.

Consumers online also buy on trust, so making sure you get customers to post reviews across your social media channels and website will help, while registering your business with various approved accredited bodies will also help you stand out from your competitors.

It also depends on the size and make-up of your company. However, while right now you may be a small, one-man band company reliant on testimonials and putting an advert in your local gazette, millennials are taking up more and more of the homeowner marketplace and, if things go wrong or need replacing, their first port of call is always online. If they don’t know how to reach your company, then you will be missing out. 

Take the lead

If a consumer from your area doesn’t know your business, which is the most likely outcome, then lead purchasing from a third-party lead provider should also be a major consideration for plumber/gas engineers as a way of winning more work.

Most consumers will go online and type in ‘boiler quotes in my area’ to a find a reliable local company and they will be directed to comparison websites and lead providers. 

It is important to remember that not everyone will be comfortable buying a boiler online without seeing anyone face-to-face. Many customers still prefer a visit from the installer prior to ordering.

Consumers use lead providers as they combine the speed of going online to shop around, while taking the hassle out of having to find a reputable company. They also provide the customer with the peace of mind of someone coming round to survey the property before making the purchase.

They also offer a comparison quote service between installers, so even though you will be competing for work, you know the leads will be genuine. 

However, this model is shifting again, with some lead providers offering a comparison service where you would only be competing with one other installer and provided with a fixed and firm appointment against set criteria, meaning you get a better chance of winning the work. 

However you choose to go about it, the online marketplace is somewhere your business needs to be if you want to thrive going forward, especially during the busiest part of the year