Before, During & After Winter

Every year when the weather drops colder, the instances of needed plumbing repairs increases and the number of plumbing emergencies also rises. But hey, more work for us then eh? You know what they say; “the more the merrier”, but this isn’t always the case. Often an influx of jobs can mean being over worked, which can then begin to effect things outside of work. So, what are some things that plumbers can do before, during and after winter to make sure that they prevent/fix as many emergencies as possible?

BEFORE WINTER: Clue up your clients

Of course, a real magician never reveals his secrets, you don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry doing your job for you, right? However, a certain level of basic knowledge and preparedness of the steps for an emergency for your client can save you vital time and stop an intensifying problem, meaning when you arrive on scene you can just do what you do best (fix stuff!) and then leave for your next job… nice! You’ll also become a trusted trader by that client if you look to be offering them advice that could save them future call out costs! Trust = recommendations!

BEFORE WINTER: Insulate water pipes exposed to the elements

Obviously after following the step above, you can use your powers of persuasion (and hopefully knowledge) on your client to get permission to insulate their pipes. Remember not everyone will let you do this as they will think you are just creating jobs you can charge for, but this could save a lot of burst pipes over the coming months. They may regret it if not!

DURING WINTER: Keep the house warm!

Whilst we like to promote energy efficiency here at HPS, one sure fire way of stopping internal pipes from Freezing over the cold winter months is to never let your home get TOO cold. Never let the heating be off for more than a few hours, even if you go away. If the temperature drops drastically, you could come back to frozen pipes that could cause all sorts of problems! Plus, some studies have shown that it can be more cost effective to keep your home at a consistent temperature than having to constantly heat up over and over again from very low temperatures.

AFTER WINTER: Repair all damages sustained in winter.

What follows winter? Spring… which is the most unpredictable time of year for weather, so it is best to make sure that any damages sustained to your clients plumbing system is repaired before moving forward into the new season. Let’s face it, it’s more likely to snow at Easter than Christmas in the UK!

Boiler Maintenance Checklist

Plumbing isn’t just about water and sanitation, it’s also about heating and gas, particularly for those plumbers who are also gas safe engineers. That’s right, without plumbing we wouldn’t just be without clean water and sanitation, but we’d be without the things that give our lives comfort; warm water and central heating.

Whilst boilers aren’t really playing much of a factor in keeping people warm at this time of year, it’s still advised that your clients ask you to check their boiler and hot water heating systems and that they are still working after a long period of inactivity. Afterall, pipes can erode, fittings can come lose, valves can lose pressure and all of these things happen due to a lack of maintenance. This can leave the customer having to shell out on boiler repairs (or a completely new boiler) on top of winter’s extortionate energy bill usage.

What should you encourage your customers to check during the summer?

  • Inspect the boiler equipment for leaking water, particularly underneath and to the side
  • Check temperature readings and pressure readings to make sure all are within the standard.
  • Closely watch for any error codes on the visual electronic display if it has one.
  • If at all possible, inspect burner flame.
  • Take readings of CO (Carbon Monoxide) emissions

Why now? Why not! For heating engineers, it’s the quietest time of the year – which means no long waits for your customers. It also means that they’re preventing the inevitable happening and their boiler breaking down on the coldest day of the year in a few months’ time.

Encouraging boiler maintenance over the summer months and sending past clients reminders such as the above bullet points can really keep your calendar full over the quieter months, plus your customers will be happy and warm during the winter!

Building good customer relationships

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?

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!

Customers son raises £1200 to go to scout Euro Jamberee 2020

One of our customer’s sons has taken it upon themselves to complete a 25-mile hike over the South Downs and managed to raise enough money to go to the scout Euro Jamberee next year!

Customer Jason Cooke’s son was trying to raise £1200 so he could attend the huge event for scouts across Europe, set up by the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Not only did he do this, but he did it in absolute style as he was wearing the HPS logo proudly on his hiking jacket as he took to the South Downs.

So far, two European Scout Jamborees (or EuroJam’s) have been held as a dress rehearsal for the World Scout Jamborees to be held one or two years later at the same site, each with about 10,000 participants so it’s clear as to why the youngster was keen on attending. the World Scout Conference in Baku 2017 decided that the 25th World Scout Jamboree would take place in Korea in 2023, Scouts from almost 30 European countries requested the Polish Scouting Association to consider organizing Eurojam. European Scout organizations therefore set into motion that EuroJam 2020 will take place on Sobieszewo Island, in Gdańsk, Poland, with a target of 25,000 participants, and is in the planning process.

We’re very honoured to be associated with this act of hard work and perseverance and we’re very happy that the young man’s walk over the South downs was able to raise the cash needed to attend the event.

Friendly advice for your customers

Customers don’t like being made to feel daft… But when you are a plumber, there’s never a shortage of people who create their own problems for you to fix. Repeat business is good, however, being called out to fix silly problems customers cause themselves isn’t, especially if it’s the same customers again and again… you know the sort!

So, what can you do to best advise customers on their destructive habits?

  1. “Sorry but, cooking oil doesn’t belong down the sink”

If you find yourself unclogging the same sink again and again, perhaps it’s time to nicely approach the customer and say “You wouldn’t happen to pour your used oil down here would you?”, if they reply yes then tell them this simply isn’t the place to just put it. Used cooking oil needs to be mixed heavily with water before going down the drain, or it can be soaked up by paper towels and then dispose of them in the bin.

  1. “Call us when you first notice the problem”

Most problems in plumbing can be dealt with most easily if they’re dealt with straight away. Much like with human health, if you’re worried about a problem, get a professional to check it and make the odds of an easy fix much greater! For example, if your client has an issue with the lack of drainage from their basin, then we all know this is usually a sign of a clog that has started somewhere underneath. However, the seriousness of most blockages can be reduced by catching the blockage early, by noticing when the delay between pulling the plug and the basin being empty is starting to become noticeably longer.

  1. “Don’t flush that”

If it hasn’t come out of their body and if it isn’t toilet paper, don’t flush it. Simple as that. Toilets aren’t made to flush wet wipes, nor are they made to flush old makeup sponges. They’re certainly not made to flush dead goldfish! If your customer has kids that love flushing unsuitable items, you know… like toys, the odd sock, your car keys, then advise them on babyproofing the loo to save any more costly call outs!

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

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/

Self Employed or Firm Work?

Plumbers! It’s time to address the most important question, do you join a plumbing firm or do you go self-employed? Well, the answer may be clearer than you think, but it totally depends on you as a person.

Are you an apprentice, or perhaps just fresh out of your education and looking to start your plumbing career? Then it’s probably best to join a firm or under a sole trader that will train you or be looking to expand a team. The reason for this is mostly down to experience and having finances set-up to run a business.

Younger people tend to be paid slightly less in the UK on average and may have to take out a loan to set up a business. Luckily though there’s nothing stopping you from setting up your own business once you have gained enough experience and saved up enough on the side to begin a business.

If you’ve decided to switch careers to become a plumber and already have your qualifications and have some experience of business before then you could think about realistically setting yourself up.

What about the pro’s and con’s of being a self-employed plumber?

PRO’s:

  • You can end up paying less tax
  • You get to choose the work you want to take on
  • You are your own boss
  • Job Security is 100% guaranteed (you won’t fire yourself)
  • Expenses like fuel can be classed as “business expenses” and claimed back

CON’s:

  • You are responsible for your accounts
  • Working hours could be more irregular than the standard 9-5
  • Various insurances (that would’ve been your employer’s responsibility) have to be taken out by yourself
  • You MIGHT be called out for emergencies on Sundays
  • If you don’t work then you don’t make money
  • No guaranteed income!

So what do you think? Is self employed work for you? Let us know over on our social channels!

What does the bathroom of the future look like?

Technology is an ever growing progression and as time moves on we will only see more technology pop up in our lives, look at the huge technological jump between the year 2000 to the year 2010 and then compare that to the advances between 1975 and 1985 and you can see that more happened in this decade than it did in the past.

In the bathrooms and plumbing sector there have been advances too and those advances will continue on into the future, so we want to ask ‘what does the bathroom of the future look like?’. Well first of all, showers and toilets have seen the most advances so far. Electric showers with ultimate flow and temperature control as well as stored user profiles (for different users) are already used (all be it sparingly at the moment), leading to a personalised shower experience that is 100% comfortable to the user.

Toilets have already seen major advancements in other areas of the world and you’ve got to think that maybe those will make their way over to the western world sooner or later. Countries like Japan have hugely advanced toilets with remote controls and buttons that all set up height, the seat, flush/flow settings, some of them even have an on-board A.I that talks to you and can guide users living with disabilities.

One thing that could become extinct from your bathroom over the se of the next 20 years is your towel… why you ask? Well, the thing is towels retain a lot of bacteria and they are actually quite unhygienic. So how will people get dry in the future after a long, luxurious soak? Body dryers – a unit in your bathroom that blows air at a set temperature and pressure to dry you off efficiently and comfortably. Again there are some already on the market, particularly in use by the accessible bathrooms sector to help those with limited mobility to get dry, but as with bidet toilets, we predict these will be pretty common place in years to come!

What is Water Hammer?

Often the most common issues pop-up the most regularly such as leaky taps, burst pipes and a broken water heater or boiler, but what about one that a lot of clients seem to overlook, despite its obnoxious effect, yes … we are talking about “water hammer”.

What is Water Hammer?

We’re pretty certain that the majority of you plumbers out there already know what water hammer is but, for the general homeowner or maybe apprentice plumbers we’ll go ahead and explain it for you. You know when someone uses the tap for about ten seconds and then when you shut it off and you hear a bassy thud come through the walls? That is water hammer.

What Causes Water Hammer?

Water hammer is the sound of pressurised water hitting a closed valve when closed suddenly. Imagine that when you have the tap on that the water begins to flow through the valve, then all of a sudden, the tap is shut off and the valve shuts immediately. All that water that was moving freely towards the valve has been stopped in it’s tracks and the kinetic energy of the water has to be subdued, so as it hits the valve it absorbs that energy from the water, resulting in a waste product (sound), which manifests itself as that bassy thud that comes through the wall.

Is Water Hammer Dangerous?

It can be if it’s very severe. Imagine that every time the valve closes it and the connected pipes take a high amount of impact damage from the kinetic energy of the water, this could lead to a burst pipe, a valve being knocked loose or broken and both of those have their own knock-on effects, the worst being indoor flooding.

How can water hammer be prevented?

Choosing the right products for your valves, fittings and pipes is the first solution in a minor water hammer situation as this will ensure that the components last longer under the effects of water hammer. In a potentially dangerous situation, it’s always best to call a certified plumber, you’ve got nothing to lose in that situation, by calling them.

What makes a good merchant?

Here at HPS, we’d like to think we know what makes a good merchant for plumbers so, we decided to collect and present the top qualities in a good merchant that you would typically expect… yes, we do all of these!

  1. Products

Let’s start with an obvious one. Products are the main reason that merchant’s make their money and get people in the shop, therefore it is important to source the right products. It’s not just about the best and most expensive however, it’s about finding a balance and offering choice between robust and the most popular products that are proven to work and also offering those that are cheaper, or even easier to install. What we’re saying is it’s important to have a good RANGE of products. Of course, all at super competitive prices so you can make your markup!

  1. Staff

When you walk into a merchant, we’re pretty confident that as plumbers, you know what you want and what you are on about, but even the best of the best get confused sometimes and a second pair of eyes or ears is what you need to throw on the situation. Who should you call on for this? None other than your trusty branch staff! If the staff have been a great assistance to you and know how to best attack the situation you are in, then you are in the hands of very good branch staff and therefore a very good merchant.

  1. Promotions

Having in-store promotions shows a caring nature for your customers pocket (as well as yours), almost as the merchant is saying, “We care about your cash flow and we want you to buy more often from us, so we’ll make this cheaper for you”. Not only does it show that, but it also shows a creativeness behind the scenes in marketing and pricing as well as the ability to strike ideas and deals with suppliers.

What do you think makes a good merchant? Let us know!