New research released reveals that plumbers believe their current training courses could provide more guidance on customer service (50%) and on handling/avoiding customer complaints (45%).

The survey commissioned by the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme (WRAS), in collaboration with WaterSafe, surveyed 179 UK plumbers about training to understand any issues and how they could be improved.

The research also found that over the last 12 months, 38% of plumbers have experienced a customer dispute about payment that resulted in a late or partial payment, or not being paid for their plumbing services, with 38% reporting cash flow problems as a result of delayed or non-payments.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the plumbers surveyed had to resort to the small claims court to recover costs from a non-paying customer.

Plumbers surveyed reported that the main reasons for these disputes were customers not being able to afford the work (45%), customers not expecting extra costs (20%), customers believing that the some of the work was unnecessary (9%) and experiencing problems after installation (5%).

According to the plumbers surveyed, the top five ways to avoid late payments are:

  • Explaining any additional charges before extra work is done (63%)
  • Itemised quotes and invoices (56%)
  • Enforcing a late payment/added interest agreement (36%)
  • Insisting on a contract up front (26%)
  • Being paid up front (20 per cent)

Although, some plumbers felt nothing could be done to prevent cowboy customers (36%).

Julie Spinks, Managing Director at WRAS, said: “At WRAS we work hard to protect public health and encourage water efficiency. WRAS always advises that consumers employ suitably qualified plumbers, such as WaterSafe approved. These approved plumbers have been trained in water regulations to keep water safe. Plumber training is an important topic and WRAS was keen to ask our network of plumbers about their views on training to identify any areas for improvement.

“Based on our survey findings, it is clear that many plumbers believe that they would benefit from additional training on managing customer services effectively to avoid losing out on precious income. We are encouraging all plumbers to use WaterSafe’s document with simple advice and guidance to help them avoid any customer service issues.”