Boiler sales have become somewhat of a barometer of the economic climate these days so if the steady increase in figures recorded in 2013 continues, 2014 promises to be a year of excellent opportunity and growth.
After two years of working together, boiler manufacturer Ferroli and Sussex Plumbing Supplies have been contributing to the recovery of the boiler replacement market by offering installers a product that sells. That may sound like a blindingly obvious strategy but during a depressed period for any product, it takes a much more focused approach to weather the storm and bring about a change in fortunes.
“Boilers are around 30% of our business so identifying models that aren’t going to sit on the shelf is crucial,” said Sussex Plumbing Supplies MD Glenn Vinall. “When a new supplier approaches me I need to be convinced there’s a USP in the product that justifies us recommending it to our customers. That’s what Ferroli achieved when the Modena HE range of domestic boilers came onto the market two years ago.
“When introducing a new supplier to our customers I look for someone who will go the extra mile with back-up support. When we first started selling the Modena we had an issue that needed attention and Ferroli resolved it immediately. This kind of first class service and the reliability of the product itself are the two key issues that have underpinned our successful working relationship.”
To create awareness of the Modena range and encourage SPS customers to try something new, Craig Worth, Ferroli’s Divisional Sales Manager for the South, organised a series of trade events and on-site training days and delivered a Modena boiler to each SPS branch so that both the staff and potential customers could see the innovative design and technology for themselves.
“When it comes to boilers, brand loyalty is powerful and changing hearts and minds is a challenge – people like what they know – but progress is based on change and that’s what we aim for at SPS. Our decision to try something new has resulted in steadily increasing sales and happy customers who come back for more. The fact that a manufacturer will offer a boiler with a long warranty is testament to its reliability and if it comes at a price that consumers can afford, it’s even more likely to sell. Naturally we have to consider our margins and so we have found stocking the Modena to be a very good decision.”
Vinall puts the increase in boiler sales in 2013 down to returning consumer confidence in the economy rather than Government initiatives such as the Green Deal. “We really saw no evidence of the Green Deal having any effect on boiler sales last year, but that doesn’t mean we won’t in 2014. The Government has got to make it work so as the process is tinkered with to make it easier for people to understand, coupled with a growing willingness to spend money on home improvements, I believe the upward trend boiler sales will be a sustainable one.”
SPS has branches in Hailsham, Eastbourne, Hastings and Bexhill and a new branch has just opened in Uckfield.