That’s the question Delta-ee’s upcoming installer research is aiming to answer. The heating system installation market in the UK is currently dominated by small independent local tradespeople. These businesses do both technical work and sales. However, a growing number of digital platforms are emerging where sales are facilitated by a third party. These digital platforms certainly have the potential to significantly disrupt existing sales channels, but getting installers on board will be crucial to their success.
We’ve seen lots of activity in the market for booking home services online since British Gas launched its Local Heroes platform in mid-2017. Heatable came on the scene shortly thereafter, marketing itself to installers as “your digital salesman”. Smart thermostat manufacturer Tado has since begun offering boiler repair services through its partnership with HomeServe, and both John Lewis Home Solutions and Amazon Home Services have now launched in the UK. Hoppy, born out of EDF Energy’s innovation accelerator, recently unveiled its complete home management site with a number of services to help users simplify running their homes – including a tradesperson booking portal.
Online boiler sales platforms such as BOXT are also disrupting the traditional route to market, allowing customers to not only arrange installation services, but also to select the boiler they want installed. Competitor Hometree has just raised an additional £6.5m in financing, which will go towards national rollout of their boiler installation service and expansion into a broader range of home energy products.
All of these business models rely on installer buy-in. They offer installers the opportunity to grow their business while reducing time spent on sales admin, but they also reduce how much control installers have over the end-user relationship, their margins, their flexibility and the choice of technology.
Are installers willing to make these sacrifices and embrace digital sales platforms, or do they see them as a threat? Let us know what you think! We’re planning our installer research at the moment, so please get in touch via [email protected] if you’d like to share your thoughts with us. We’ll publish some of our preliminary findings in another blog post in December.