Selling Vaillant controls to homeowners
The introduction of Boiler Plus has brought the importance of installing controls and other energy efficiency measures into the spotlight. Although they have been designed to help reduce energy consumption and lower bills, and are now a legal requirement, it’s not always easy to convince customers to spend more upfront. So, here are some of the key things to consider when talking to customers to help you successfully upsell controls:
Ask the right questions
Controls have advanced considerably in the past two decades. There are so many different types available now that it is easy to find a solution to suit your customer, but it will require some investigative work to get to know what they need.
The first step to successful upselling is to ask the right questions to determine the correct product and approach for each customer. For example, what is their work schedule like? Are there young children or vulnerable adults living at the address? Are they away from their house for long periods of time? Is the property multi-occupancy and if so, how and when is it used? These are all good questions to ask when going through the specification process in order to determine how flexible and adjustable the controls need to be.
By communicating with the customer, installers can also gauge how tech-savvy they are and whether a connected control would be suitable for them.
For instance, a tech-savvy customer may want to purchase a device that can integrate into their existing smart home system or will allow them to do so in the future. Voice controlled smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo, are an increasingly popular way for people to control their smart technology from one central ‘hub’. When paired with a compatible thermostat such as vSMART, homeowners can use Amazon Echo to adjust their temperature settings or schedule with a simple voice command – or simply use the APP control on their Smartphone.
Another popular service that adds an extra layer of functionality for the user is IFTTT, which stands for ‘If This, Then That’. This is a free app for both iOS and Android devices, which enables users to create their own simple automation processes based on a series of conditions. For example, homeowners could set up a rule using their smartphone that switches the heating on when they are heading home from the gym, based on their phone location.
For customers who want minimal interaction with technology, or don’t wish to adjust the settings via a smart speaker, more straightforward controls are available which will comply with Boiler Plus regulations. These simply automatically adjust time and temperature settings based on programmes scheduled by the occupants and heating load requirements. For these customers we have the VRC 350/350F controls or the timeSWITCH 150 and VRT 50 modulating thermostat.
Survey the site
Equally as important as knowing the customer is knowing the property’s specifications, so carrying out a full site survey is highly recommended. Reviewing everything from the size of the property to its layout, number of rooms and configuration of the existing central heating system will assist the decision-making process. It sounds obvious, yet when time is short, it can be one of the first things to slip.
Today’s homeowners are more informed than ever about products available to them and often have preconceived ideas about which heating control they want, so having a good knowledge of their property will help installers to offer valuable consultation on whether this is the right choice for them.
If you are replacing the entire system, Building Regulations stipulate that all non-open plan domestic dwellings with a total floor area greater than 150m₂ should have at least two separate heating zones. In these instances, an effective, efficient and flexible way to comply is with a combination of a multi-zone control thermostat, such as the VRC 700 and ambiSENSE smart thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), which allows customers to individually control the temperature of each room from their tablet or smartphone.
Another powerful selling point for connected controls is the long-term advantage for remote monitoring, repairs and maintenance. Using the eBUS protocol, these devices communicate with the boiler to give the service provider access to a wealth of data from the customer’s heating system, allowing them to carry out a remote diagnosis so they are better prepared to solve on first visit – or even solve remotely. The benefit to the installer is that this allows them to plan their business and schedule multiple servicing and repair visits more efficiently by utilising the failure and spare part insights provided.
Vaillant has recently launched a new app for mobile devices called serviceASSIST which, when connected to a vSMART smart control, allows users to remotely log on and monitor the boiler from anywhere. It will raise an alert in the event the system develops a fault, often before the customer knows, and can provide real-time system updates at the touch of a button.
This remote monitoring, where engineers can view the health and status of multiple heating systems via a single interface, is an area where big steps can be taken to improve overall performance and maintenance, with minimum additional time investment.
Vaillant has also bolstered its controls guarantee offering to match the boiler it’s installed with. So, in the rare instance that a fault does occur, the entire system is covered for up to 10 years depending on the model fitted. This allows installers to offer complete reassurance and helps them to convince customers to make the additional investment in a fully efficient heating system package.
The final piece of the jigsaw is knowing and understanding how to use each heating control and what each of the functionalities within them does, as well as being able to pass this knowledge onto your customer.
For an installer, this all comes down to training and upskilling. A heating control is only as efficient as its user, and it usually falls to the installer to explain this to a homeowner. Vaillant has also developed a series of useful video guides which can be found on its YouTube channel, to assist homeowners with understanding how to use their new controls.
Technology has enabled the industry to develop an appropriate, affordable and efficient heating control for every purpose, so there is no reason any household should go without. By placing this at the forefront of their minds, installers can successfully secure additional business and build a base of satisfied customers.
By taking the time to talk them through the options, installers can ensure they get the very best fit, saving them money on their energy bills and earning their trust, helping to turn them into a long-term, loyal customer.