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Building good customer relationships

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We know that having depth in your customer base is ESSENTIAL. If you work as a plumber for a plumbing company then it’s not really your job to worry about building a customer out of a lead, but it’s about building a rapport and a trust with the customer you will ultimately converse with in the flesh, when the job comes to be done. So here are some of our top tips to build a friendly, yet trustworthy rapport with a customer.

  1. Demonstrations of previous work

If there’s one thing that will make a potential client into customer is to show them your previous work (through pictures, video, social media, etc…). This will not only show that you are a competent plumber but also can be trusted to do a job properly and you have pride in your work.
      2. Social Media reputation

Firstly, if you don’t have your services as a sole-trading plumber advertised on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc… Then please do so. This can not only act as your portfolio that we mentioned in the previous point, but other customers can leave reviews of your latest work as well as tag you in posts where someone needs a plumbing & heating expert, through a simple recommendation.

      3. Go to breakfast mornings & trade days

These are perfect networking events, not only to meet other like-minded plumbers and get your hands on some bargains but also here, you can build yourself a supply chain from merchants and other folk in the trade who may be looking to sub-contract your time as a plumber for an electrician, or construction worker who may need a plumber on-site.

      4. Courtesy

This one’s a simple one; basic politeness and flattery will get you anywhere and everywhere, just so long as you are sincere about it and not clearly putting on a front, don’t be THAT guy. You’re supposed to be someone they can count on in emergency to be supportive and efficient, so it only makes sense that you show them your professionalism in your approach to problems… as well as your friendliness and manners.

     5. Get listed

Nothing will instil trust in your services as a plumber, than being listed on the relevant listing websites and gaining a whole host of top reviews. Being on a site like Check-A-Trade or Rated People offers a huge advantage over a tradesperson that isn’t listed. Afterall, they could be just any old cowboy, just like you could be any old cowboy. But not now, because you’re listed in all the right places and have reviews that tell the world that you are the real deal!

Conserving Water... Does It Really Matter?

Chris Derrer - Monday, October 22, 2018

We all know it, water is the most necessary substance on the planet to create and sustain life. It’s even more important to plumbers… as it is a big part of your working life too. Along with consuming water, look at all the other things we use water for; namely washing ourselves, heating our environments and cleaning things around us.

It is thought by most people that water is extremely abundant, but did you know only around 2% of the world’s water is currently fit for human consumption? But what about the remaining 98% of water and why can’t we consume it? Simple, it’s salt water in the oceans, or currently still frozen in the polar ice caps. Oh and not forgetting the water being flushed down the toilet right now! Either way, should we conserve water? Does it really matter?

YES! Here are some reasons why:

1. Summers are getting really hot!

This past summer may just have been the hottest on record and it’s been going that way since the 1976 heatwave across the British Isles. Last year was also a very warm summer, and the year before that… With soaring temperatures, water can dry out in the major cities like London. By conserving water, you can ensure we all have enough water to live at least pretty comfortably… you may just need to give the hose pipes a rest and let your lawn suffer a bit!

2. There is a major over-usage

As mentioned above, water is used in everything; agriculture, Thermoelectric power, industry and the treatment of livestock that we would eat for food. These kinds of sectors and industries run everyday, 24/7 at some kind of capacity. This usually cannot be helped and is often managed as responsibly as possible… however, we can all help. People that take regular baths or those taking long showers, leaving the tap on when brushing teeth/shaving, etc. You’d be pretty amazed how much water we can all save as individuals by switching from baths to showers and turning the tap off while we brush our teeth twice a day!

3. There’s a population increase

Like we said in the opener, we have always needed and always will need water. We constantly use it for heating, Washing, consuming, cleaning and cooking. If the number of people inhabiting the planet skyrockets as predicted over the next 20 years, water conservation will basically have to be law, otherwise people would waste what limited water we would have left. There are lots of water saving innovations we can install in our homes, so just ask in branch for some tips and product ideas and one of our friendly members of staff will help as much as possible!

Having a bad day? Hopefully not as bad as these guys...

Chris Derrer - Wednesday, September 26, 2018

We’ve all had bad days at work. Some days we can’t wait to just go home, eat some food, get showered and get in bed, prepared and hoping for tomorrow to be a better day, sometimes that works… other times? Not so much.

But if you did happen to wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning we’re here to tell you “hey, it’s not all bad” and “look at the day these guys have had!” and we can all have a share a cheeky laugh together and then get on with the rest of our days. Sound like a good idea? Of course it is!

1. Job gets robbed

Ben is a good plumber, he’s a one-man-band and very conscious of cost and his customer’s satisfaction. One day he got a call out from a customer who had a backed-up sewer line and a broken sump pump. In order to fix it, he would have to drain it, but as a small one-man-band at the time, Ben didn’t have sewage pumping tanks, so he subcontracted that part of the job to another company. The bad thing was he was stood there the entire time and the company had completely poached his customer, offering to take on the job for mere pennies less.  Full story here: https://imgur.com/gallery/rrFO5

 2. Swimming Lessons?

Matthew was just another plumber who had narrowly avoided the cruel finger of fate up until he was called into a job where is primary skill set of plumbing would also be joining forces with art of swimming. That’s right! Matthew got called into a basement that had become a swimming pool overnight, so what did he do? Drain it? Nope… time is money! Instead he put on the snorkel and a wet suit and had to swim along all the pipes in the basement that added up to 20m in total length! Maybe he should become a swimming instructor. Full story here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7259759/tsunamis-of-poo-and-swimming-through-drains-of-fat-british-plumbers-reveal-the-grossest-parts-of-their-job/

3. “Just testing”

It’s not uncommon for artists to step back to view their work, it’s not uncommon for a chef to taste his own food, so maybe it shouldn’t be a crime for a plumber to spend a penny or two after he’s finished working on installing a new toilet, right? … Well… unfortunately for Tom, he left quite the odour, in-fact it was still there when the homeowner came back at lunch. The owner wished to talk design and installing the new tub in the bathroom, but Tom tried to sway the owner from walking into that room. Eventually, the homeowner walks in and makes quite the face at Tom who could only apologise profusely and left him rather embarrassed.  Full story here: https://www.plumbingzone.com/f13/funny-plumbing-stories-9393/

Special Offers This Season

Chris Derrer - Wednesday, September 26, 2018
We know you are all a busy bunch and probably don’t have time to flick through a whole catalogue of special offers, so we have included some of the best offers right here for you to take a peek at! We have an array of brand-new, special offers coming out in a matter of days which will help keep your wallet happy, as well as your clients.

This winter, our special offers are focused on heating and keeping our clients’ homes and workplaces warm throughout the bitter cold this coming winter promises to offer us. Be sure that you are installing only the best, high quality items with the help of HPS.

Alpha Boilers

Buy any three Alpha boilers and get £100 HPS Amazon vouchers! We all know too well that boilers tend to present their issues during the months our clients need them most, so be sure to install a great boiler for a great trade price today and get a little something extra in the form of an Amazon Voucher!

Polypipe

Speaking of Amazon vouchers… all of us love a gift voucher, right? And a lot of our clients will be needing underfloor heating as winter hits! So why not opt for POLYPIPE Beneath Heat systems for a chance to receive up to £50’s worth of Amazon vouchers!

ecoFIT Pure Combis

Are you ordering boilers all throughout the winter season? Why not get yourself a free £20 Amazon Gift Voucher for doing sowhen you choose ecoFIT.

Hive Controllers

You’ll be able to grab yourself another FREE £30 Amazon Gift Voucher for every Hive Controller Thermostats! These smart thermostats are becoming increasingly popular so you can keep your clients’ homes warm throughout the winter and get a little reward on us! You can get yourself a steal with Hive V2 heating only thermostats for just £149, and Hive V2 heating and hot water stat for the same bargain price! You’d be silly to miss this one.

Have we got you intrigued? Fancy finding out even more of our great promotions this season? Head on over to our promotions page on our website here to find out more.

Plumbing Health & Safety

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Health and safety doesn’t really cross your mind when danger is your middle name… or whatever other cringey, overused cliché you said to your colleague when you were feeling brave. Nevertheless, health and safety needs to be followed for your own wellbeing and to make sure you’re covered by your insurance, should the unfortunate happen. So to make life easier, here’s some tips to make sure you’re being H&S conscious. Some of these all of us are occasionally guilty of not doing. Let us on our social media which ones are most appropriate to you, either on Facebook or Twitter

 

Don’t be a fool… Use the right tool!

Sometimes we can mistakes, other times we’re looking for a quick way around something, but you should use the correct tools for the specified job to limit risk of injury and to avoid the embarrassing botch job. If you don’t have the right tool on you, come back to it when you do. Odds are, it can wait.

 

Carry a pair of goggles

It’s hardly breaking news, but getting things in your eyes can do serious damage, plus it really hurts. Dirty water, drain chemicals or metal dust and shavings from cutting through a metal pipe can all cause blindness. So probably best you just carry a pair of goggles in case any of these tasks come up. Don’t worry about looking daft, it’s better to look daft than not be able to look at anything ever again!

 

Wear Apropriate Footwear

Whether you like steel toe-cap boots or just some good sturdy work boots, these are a life saver to all tradesmen, be they construction workers or plumbers like you. Not only do steel toe-caps give off the “I know what I’m doing, stand back” vibe, but they protect falling, heavy objects like tools, parts and entire surfaces breaking your toes. Seriously they are absolutely solid and you can usually get a decent pair without breaking the bank.

 

Think Clearly and don’t rush

Go back to your training in your head, do you see yourself doing something you remember being told not do, or was shown how to do it a safer way? Then revert back, it’s probably a good idea to apply the sanest practices possible, whilst keeping it simple. You may be hungry or ready to knock off for the weekend, but rushing is where the majority of silly mistakes creep in.

 

Mask Away Mould

Water makes the objects in contact with it… wet, no brainer right? So it’s only natural that you’ll work in some damp environments. Damp brings mould, mould isn’t very compatible with human health, so not good right? Of course! We would recommend masking it with tape while you work, as skin contact can cause irritability and breathing in the spores can cause respiratory problems, especially if you have asthma!

All simple tricks and tips, but they could save you in the long run. If you have any more suggestions, send them us on Facebook or Twitter.

Plumbing tips for Apprentices

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Here at HPS we really do like to see new, young tradespeople rise through the ranks in our world of plumbing. We’re also very glad that the number of trade apprentices has risen for the first time in quite a few years, it’s like we’re cool again!

We are aware that out there, there will be people that will give you all sorts of tips and advice, some may mislead you into making a mistake, be it minor or costly, but you’ll learn more from these mistakes than any textbook could ever teach, so don’t be disheartened. We’re also always here, to help you learn a couple of tips and tricks that may prove useful to make a job quicker or create less hassle and fuss. Let’s look at a few simple problems with quick and easy fixes to help out you apprentices.

Stuck Pipe? Heat it up…

If you have to remove an old threaded connection and it won’t budge, there’s a good chance that it has gone so rigid and stiff that you can’t physically remove it with your hand or even one of your trusty spanners… boo! However, there is a quick and easy fix out there… Heat. Yes, metal expands under heat which means the threaded connection becomes looser through changing shape slightly, then it’s all pretty straight forward. You might need to grab your blow torch for metal pipes, but some boiling water should work for the plastic pipes! Apply the heat until it is loosened and hey presto!

Fixing a clog in seconds… Literally

You don’t always have to snake out the drain, sometime you don’t even need a plunger… sometimes, all you need is a wet and dry vacuum! Apply the nozzle over the waste and turn it on, full suction and ‘thunk’ no more blockage. This isn’t an exact science, but can be a handy tip to try!

Sealing Pipe Threads? Plumber tape!

We don’t think that using duct tape to secure a wall or shower in place is a good idea but for simple pipe threads, it can do a job, even if just a temporary one. Tape is for pipe threads only. Don’t use it on compression or other connections. Be sure to wrap around 3 times (minimum) - Many plumbers will tell you that is the magic number.

Caulk… Not Putty

Putty seems fun… Looks like play-dough, it’s malleable, it’s sticky and it’s got a cool silly name. But what if I told you that not a lot of plumbers use putty… Why? Because Caulk exists. Putty has a habit of reacting with some types of plastic and damaging them, as well as drying out and getting completely stuck. Caulk is silicone based and is a longer lasting, higher durability sealant that will son become your best pal as you develop in your career.

Get on the dope!

You’ve heard of dope before right? No, not that kind… but pipe dope. Pipe dope is used on pipe thread to create a leakproof and pressure tight seal. So don’t be a dope, use dope.

Dealing with Drain Flies | HPS Merchant | Blog

Chris Derrer - Thursday, July 26, 2018

Dealing with Drain Flies

We all hate those nuisance bugs. All we want is a nice clean kitchen or bathroom, but a heatwave hits and then you notice some little pests flying around your home. Or perhaps your client called you up on a lazy Saturday morning with complaints of flies around their drains at home. Whether you are a plumber or a homeowner in need, here’s all you need to get rid of those annoying drain flies.

What are drain flies?

Drain flies are small bugs that typically like sewage, drains, warm and moist environments. Basically, your kitchens and bathrooms during hot weather.

How to locate the breeding ground

Place sticky tape over your drains for a couple of hours and return to them later, if that’s where the flies are coming from, you’ll probably find a few of the little blighters stuck to the underside of the tape!

How to deal with the flies

There are numerous ways you can remove drain flies once they are located, which is good news! First of all, DON’T POUR BLEACH DOWN THE DRAIN. Mixing certain bleaches with coating of older pipes can cause corrosion. Also, you may kill off a few larvae but that is literally all you will do, the bleach doesn’t stay in the drain long enough to cause damage to all the caked amounts of eggs and flies on the inside of the drain. First of all, if possible remove the drain cover, get some non-corrosive drain un-blocker, a plunger and a metal pipe brush. Apply the drain un-blocker and wait for that to take effect, then give the drain a good scrub with the bendy pipe brush, pushing down as far as it will reach to move the blockage/bugs as far down the pipe as possible.  

You may then want to use a little more of your drain unblocker/cleaner, followed by a damn good plunging to make sure the little pests have been flushed away. As an alternative to drain un-blocker, remember that adult drain flies hate detergent, so mix a bit in some water in a spray can and get to work attacking those last few remainders. The only thing to do now, is keep those drains clean! The pests will return if the drain is prone to clogs and blockages, so if that’s a common occurrence you may want to consider reworking the pipework underneath… but that’s a story for another day.

We hope this has been useful, as reports of drain flies approach peak times around end of July/August when humidity is at it’s greatest. Remember if you’re not an expert, then you can always call a plumber… just make sure they get their stuff from HPS 😉

Plastic vs Copper

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, July 24, 2018

As plumbers, we’re a decisive bunch, aren’t we? We solve problems with logic, yes or no answers and simple black and white analogies…. But there has been one war within the plumbing community that has raged on since the first man applied a spanner to a valve; plastic, or copper fittings and connectors? We think the answer is very simple. Use both.

Okay that’s not a real answer and a bit of a copout answer actually.

But both do have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of properties, let’s look at the rounds where plastic and copper will go head to head:

 

Round 1: Longevity

In terms of endurance and how long the product can remain in use for before it fails to complete its purpose; you may expect copper to win… but a standard copper pipe would last a shorter amount of time in comparison to plastic one, because copper is mainly iron based and iron sadly reacts with water and will become subject to erosion. So plastic is the victor here in round one.

 

Winner of round 1: Plastic

 

Round 2: Leaking

This one is complicated because there are many reasons as to why a pipe would leak. Would it expand under heat and then split? Perhaps there is too much water pressure? Or maybe even we’re talking about general wear and tear? Well, as mentioned above copper wears and tears easier than plastic through erosion, but copper can take more pressure. Plastic can withstand 10 bars of water pressure, where as copper can take up to 25 bars of pressure (or so they say).  

 

Winner of round 2: Draw

 

Round 3: Heat Resistance

Although pipes don’t necessarily deal with blowtorch levels of heat, pipes that connect into or just outside of boilers, radiators and the like are best left to the copper variety. Plastic melts, not under hot water temperatures per-se, but certainly won’t last very long either. Water flowing through a plastic pipe should not exceed 70oc, as the melting point of plastic is just below 100 degrees and at this point, will cause warping and deformation. Copper however, will not start to deform till just under 1000oc. It seems excessive to have a material to withstand 1000oc to contain a liquid that won’t really exceed 100oc, but copper wins this round on a technicality.

 

Round 3 winner: Copper

Tie Break: Which is more convenient?

When we talk convenience we’re looking at several things: how available said material is, how much does it cost and how easy is it to fit? Well in terms of availability plastic and copper fittings are just as common as each other in the market so that isn’t an issue. When it comes down to cost, plastic is definitely cheaper and copper is always rising in price, even scrap copper is worth A LOT! But the biggest question is which is easier to fit? Well, if we take into account that plastic is more flexible and manufacturers of plastic pipes tend to put them in ready-made, easy-fit style kits a plastic speed-fit fitting can take 5 seconds by a professional, whereas copper can be 5 times longer.

Tie Break Winner: Plastic

So there we have it, plastic is technically better (but it was a split decision) even though both are pretty good at what they do, if you want the best then you’d better get yourself some from your nearest HPS Branch: http://www.hpsmerchant.co.uk/hps-branch-locator

Future Trends in Plumbing | HPS Merchant | Blog

Chris Derrer - Friday, June 29, 2018

Nobody knows just what the future may hold, honestly, we’re not kidding when we say this because tomorrow, anything can happen. You could win the lottery, you could be offered a dream job, or maybe the weather will be really nice… who knows?! But when it comes to the future, no matter how much we don’t know due to the unpredictable nature of the world, when it comes to work and jobs, we have to be prepared and we do this through looking at trends in data that are currently happening, and from that we can make predictions for the next few years, or so. So, we decided to look into plumbing and what exactly the future may hold.

Technological Advances

That’s correct people! As IT is often merged into every other sector as a way of making things more efficient and easily trackable, or even just in the manufacturing process. But for plumbing we have already seen the implementation of self-cleaning toilets, touch-free taps, Bluetooth controlled electric showers and smart meters. These advances have really only appeared over the last few years, but have become hugely popular already - so we’re expecting to see even more growth in this sector with smart home appliances controlled with a “OK Google” or  “Alexa…”.

Recyclable Materials

As good as plastic is for fittings and traps, it’s also costly on the environment with more and more studies suggesting that plastic is becoming a bigger problem in our water system. Not to mention that plastic is a product of oil production and that also puts a strain on the economy of oil, which as of right now is set to run out in the next 100-200 years (if we’re lucky). So, we will need to switch at some point, to a new, renewable material. Same can be said for copper and chrome fittings, copper is not self-regenerating and our supply within the Earth won’t last forever. We’ve seen things like timber, ceramics and glass being used in contemporary, modern bathrooms over the last few years, but when it comes to pipework, we’ve got our eyes peeled for a sustainable material to replace plastic!

Size Matters

We think that along with technology, plumbing will also obey Moore’s Law, which in simplistic terms basically means that when developing a product, we must aim to double its functionality, whilst halving the size. Look at smart phones for example. The first iPhone was a brick… You could use it as a door-stop! But now, you wouldn’t have much joy trying to use your iPhone as a door-stop. We will see plumbing products such as electric showers become smaller and more hidden away (digital showers anyone?) along with the introduction of more slimline and sleek designed products. All whilst retaining or even doubling their existing functionality. What a time to be alive!

HPS VADO Rally 2018

Chris Derrer - Thursday, June 07, 2018


The VADO Rally is back underway! For those that don’t know, the rally is an event where teams and companies compete to raise money for the Rainy Day Trust and Variety charities. This year, Team HPS are getting involved up to rally through some of Europe’s greatest cities. The VADO Rally has been a major success since its launch last year when £65,000 was raised for the Rainy Day Trust after 37 cars successfully travelled 1,300 miles across eight European countries in a run that lasted four days.


This year, our team will be taking on the task of driving through Copenhagen, Namur, Amsterdam, Lüneburg and Malmo in a road-legal car worth that had to cost under £500… cheap we know, but that’s the beauty of it! To make things even more fun-spirited, our drivers and teams will be participating in the event whilst wearing fancy dress (we’ve gone for the classic cops and robbers theme).


Our car may not quite be a supercar, but the team HPS car does have a paint job that is guaranteed to turn some heads nonetheless! It has been sprayed with a custom Run-DMC motif, designed and created by Glimmer Twin 32.


Our team left Dover TODAY to embark on 4 days travelling nearly 1000 miles through Europe to finish in Copenhagen on 10th, along with around 25 other teams in various fancy dress who will be aiming to complete Top Gear style challenges on the way! Judging by the starting line-up at Dover it looks to be an event of epic proportions and will create memories that will last for some time to come.

To give to our Just Giving page you can view it here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/vadorally18

Thanks again to the Sussex Sign company and GlimmerTwin 32 for the awesome car makeover, you can view Glimmer Twin 32’s work on his Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/glimmertwin32/. And visit The Sussex Sign Company here: https://www.sussexsigns.com/

Seriously look at the work that went into this design, from start to finish it is flawless…

Before:


After:

Keep up to date with our progress on our social media channels, we’ll be posting regularly about the team’s progress!

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