Richard Harvey, Category Director for Heating and Renewables at Wolseley, identifies how installers can get ahead of the game when it comes to ordering parts during busier periods.

We know that winter is a frantic time for installers. Trying to get hold of the right part, at the right price, and at the right time, can be a challenge. In fact, when the adverse weather conditions of early 2018 left thousands of customers without heating or hot water, installers and plumbers were under pressure to get the heating and hot water back up and running – making finding the right parts quickly, and for the right price, even more critical. 

Research suggests that the ability to order products online at a customer’s premises, for collection or delivery the next day, can improve installers’ productivity by 20%, and vastly increase the likelihood of a first-time fix. Busy times bring with them added time pressures, not to mention the fact that time looking for parts could be better spent on chargeable customer jobs. 

When time is of the essence, having access to an online or smartphone tool which helps identify the right part, using exploded diagrams and product images, as well as live stock availability, can help to order the right part quickly and efficiently. This also helps to minimise time spent travelling to branch and ensure that you get the parts you need fast.

Working with a supplier that offers real-time stock availability data, lead times, and technical data, can also help when planning jobs. Many online tools will help you with your reordering requests, as they will highlight your most ordered items, making it simpler for you to reorder them next time.

In addition, selecting a supplier that has good relationships with major brands allows you to leverage their buying power – from keener trade pricing and faster stock availability, to a guarantee that you are using genuine parts with valid warranties. 

Many online merchants will provide a free account for trade customers, offering access to many tools which can improve business efficiency significantly. 

By having access to data such as past orders, invoices, and credits, in an electronic format, online tools can automate manual processes and ensure that the financial information needed to run your business is easily accessible. 

There should also be a wide selection of products for you to choose from – including competitive personalised trade prices – to ensure that you have the best possible price to maximise your margin and improve your bottom line. 

In addition to the help you can receive from online tools, it is vital that you get a fast and efficient service in-branch. 

In Wolseley’s case, we stock core items as standard, and these are restocked on a frequent basis to ensure installers are not left without the essentials for a job. 

With so much help available online with ordering parts – and the ease of using these tools on the go – there is more scope for installers to get the right product, at a price they are happy with, from a brand they can rely on.