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A real opportunity for merchants

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood leads onto fortune

So we got the boiler scrappage scheme in England. And judging by the rumours circulating around Twitter and the industry, we might be getting something similar for Wales and Scotland. Hurrah. Check out the Reheat Britain website for all the latest details.

The details of the scheme are finally through and it’s all credit to Mick Williams and the BMF and all those who worked behind the scenes with the Department for Energy and Climate Change that we’ve got something that will work for everyone.

It could so easily have been a scheme akin to the insulation deals via the energy companies where one or two distributors are the only permissible route to market.

Instead, we have a scheme whereby the money goes to the householder who gets to decide which tradesman (and, by extension which plumbers merchant) gets the job. It’s still a little cumbersome – but then government involvement never simplifies anything, only adds complications.

Basically, the householder checks whether their boiler is band G and gets a quote or quotes, before submitting their details and the details of the contractor and boiler to the Energy Saving Trust, who will issue a voucher. They can then claim £400 back using the voucher and an invoice that shows the work was carried out. The EST say they will pay back the money within 25 working days. I seem to remember a similar scheme which gave householders cashback via the EST for having thermostatic radiator valves installed. Can’t remember how much you got per valve, but it was welcome nevertheless.

It’s easy, it gives power to the householder who gets to make the decisions about which heating installer to use. It will mean more business for plumbers and heating installers, which will mean more business for merchants. It will also mean lower energy bills for householders who have horribly inefficient Band G boilers. There’s a list on the SEDBUK website which shows which boilers are G rated (and aren’t there a lot of them). Obviously there will still be a lot of inefficient boilers out there, but it’s a start.

I think merchants have a real marketing opportunity here. And so does the City, judging by the way the plc share prices went up aftre the announcement. Either by working in conjunction with your plumbing customers or on your own, you can get the change-your-boiler message out there to householders and generate more sales. Even those households that don’t have Band Gs are potential customers if you target them right.

There’s an interesting article on MoneySavingExpert about how the energy companies are gearing up to take advantage and how much more expensive they are than independent plumbing firms. Click here to read it.

Talk to your customers, talk to your suppliers and work out what you can do to use the publicity of the scrappage scheme to boost boiler sales across the scale. And do it now, before the energy companies sweep the board.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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