How can heating engineers adapt for business beyond COVID-19?

As the UK enters its fourth week in lockdown and government spokespeople look to lower expectations of life returning back to normal anytime soon, there’s no point in trying to down play the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on all our lives.

With schools, shops, restaurants and leisure centres closed, many people have seen their day-to-day routines changed dramatically.

Thousands of businesses are struggling to survive and the economy is on life-support, but all that will seem relatively unimportant to those who have seen their friends and family suffer or have learned of the untimely passing of their loved ones.

Given the havoc caused on a global scale, it might seem inappropriate to search for anything positive in the current crisis but there’s already enough doom and gloom in our daily news bulletins to satisfy those who prefer to revel in negativity.

Send a message to let your contacts know that you’re available

Chris Jones PHAM News Chris Jones Editor of PHAM News

Public perception

So where can the building services sector look for benefits? A more positive public perception of plumbing and heating engineers, could be one place to start.

Many businesses are facing an uncertain future, and anyone who operates in this industry is far from immune from financial risk, yet the critical role that the plumbing and heating trade plays in maintaining public health and safety has not gone unrecognised.

At a time when families and households have been obliged to stay at home, the need to service and repair domestic heating systems and essential sanitation facilities has become all the more obvious.

Our heightened awareness of good hygiene practices and general cleanliness should mean we’re all the more mindful of the need for safe and dependable plumbing, while our reliance on a comfortable home environment means few of us would want to envisage not having easy access to heating and hot water.

Mixed messages

There have been some mixed messages from government about the award of ‘key worker’ status, but the importance of responding to any faulty gas appliances has been acknowledged and less time-critical work can still be undertaken provided social distancing measures are adhered to.

Feedback on social media suggests that while some householders are reluctant to have tradespeople come to their door, other customers have fully appreciated those who have put their own health and wellbeing at risk to come to their aid.

A number of stories have also come to light where plumbing and heating engineers have offered their services free of charge to NHS staff and carers, which surely can only further enhance their standing in the wider community.  

Adapt and change

Any shake up of an established order will also present new opportunities to any business that is willing to adapt and change.

When there are restrictions to being able to respond to customers physically, is there more you could be doing to offer advice and promote your business both online and over the phone?

Such options may not appear to be a profitable proposition in the short-term, but being able to maintain a line of communication with existing and potential customers will only help to ensure that their doors will remain open when you’re in a better position to deliver the full benefits of your skills and knowhow.

Why not send a message to let your contacts know that you’re available to listen to concerns and discuss any future projects that may be under consideration?

Time to learn

Business may be quiet, but it provides a rare opportunity to devote some time to planning the future and addressing any gaps in your knowledge.

Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in e-learning platforms and many manufacturers and suppliers would be only too willing to provide you with all the information you need to better understand their various product options and solutions.

Most experts agree that the heating industry is likely to see some dramatic changes in the coming years, so now’s the time to get up to speed with the latest low carbon and renewable technologies which are likely to become mainstream in UK homes – and, although it’s clearly a case of preaching to the converted, there’s plenty of material here in the Hub to ensure that you’re well informed.

At the time of writing it’s still very much a guessing game as to how long it will be before restrictions on movement and commerce start to be lifted.

The pace of life may have decelerated and, for some of us, perhaps our perception of what is important in life has also changed, but, as the old adage goes – what doesn’t kill you can make you stronger.   

Chris Jones Is editor of PHAM News