Regular training is vital to ensure best specification and installation practice, says Jamie Harris. Here, he advises on the current training resources available for today’s busy installers.

Gone are the days of a generic ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to bathroom installation. With legislation and increased onus on safety and water efficiency, today’s installers not only need to manage the complexities of modern installations, but also require a solid understanding of industry issues.

Add to the equation a constant explosion of new products and the task in hand becomes even more challenging. While previously it was a case of entry level or premium, today there are so many more functional considerations; flow regulators and eco features, infra-red products, non-touch capacitance technology, not to mention the emerging trend for digital bathroom solutions.

So what does this all mean for the installer? Now, more than ever before, they need to be fully clued up on the latest and most advanced solutions, so that they can advise and provide their customers with the right products. Bristan believes it’s about going beyond the traditional remit to play more of an advisory role.

The good news is that extra learning will pay for itself. As customers increasingly come to rely on their installer, that little bit of extra knowledge will go a long way in helping the tradesperson stand out, and could make all the difference in losing or winning business. Here, a solid training programme is essential. As the economy continues to pick up and workloads increase, it may be tempting to put training on the backburner, especially as it can mean losing out on a day’s pay. Now, however, is a prime time for installers to invest in developing their skills so they can reap the benefits.

Choosing the right training programme is crucial and there are many options available, such as internal schemes with mentors and industry associations like the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, as well as a number of CPD providers. However, as a good starting point, many manufacturers have various resources to help support installers.

Training to-go

At Bristan, for example, all business development managers are fully trained to educate customers on the latest regulations, products and market trends and, of course, the next generation of taps and showers. The company’s group product trainer is also available to attend sessions should a customer require something more extensive, or sector-specific.

Should installers be unable to visit company premises, many manufacturers offer training in a location to suit. This summer Bristan embarked on its largest ever tour with the nationwide ‘shower to the people’ roadshow. Covering more than 100 sites across the country, the event offered first-hand access to the latest range of Bristan showers via a purpose-built vehicle, enabling installers to touch, feel and test-fit products, while receiving technical information.

The company also recently launched Bristan Connect, a social network for plumbers. Designed to make life easier for installers, Connect provides a free social media platform allowing plumbers to share hints, tips and product recommendations, as well as images and video content. In addition, the Connect social media community has access to regular installer news and information on new products, how-to-videos and plumbing industry news, as well as direct access to Bristan’s experts.

Online content

Recognising the need for quick-access to technical information when on the go,  Bristan’s YouTube channel hosts a number of videos providing useful demonstrations and tips: from installing a flow regulator or TMV, through to new product information.

Against the backdrop of legislation and technological advancements, regular training is essential. While this may mean a little time off the job, it can pay dividends in terms of providing a more comprehensive, informed service to customers and, in turn, retaining that competitive edge. 

Jamie Harris is Bristan’s group product trainer