Discover how an entrepreneur is using the Beezer platform to drive a thriving boiler installation business.
Martin spent all of his career in the UK Plumbing & Heating industry, eventually becoming Sales Director at one of the UK’s largest boiler and radiator manufacturing companies.
Until one morning, he woke up and decided to make a change.
We’ll let him explain a bit further:
“I’ve always had the drive to be successful, so when I woke up one morning thinking that it would be great to start to work for myself, I resigned almost immediately. After that, things fell into place pretty quickly.
Plumbing & Heating is pretty much all I know, and I know well how the traditional boiler replacement model of the heating and plumbing industry has worked. I’ve also developed a genuine interest in digital development and digitalisation – which is why I’ve been able to see how digitalisation is currently transforming markets like heating.”
“Homeowners generally don’t understand their heating systems; and so they need to hire specialist plumbing and heating engineers, whose expertise is needed to assess, advise, and install. It’s also a fact that more and more people are Googling their way through life, and suddenly technical knowledge is accessible digitally – which in turn is changing the traditional boiler replacement model.
So I saw this as an opportunity for me: to take part in the digitalisation that’s happening in the plumbing and heating industry in the UK, and to produce an app that gives SMEs in this market the chance to fight back, stay relevant, and keep their customers.
To effectively start over for myself though? Well, I can tell you, it did raise some sideways glances from family and friends. But it’s something I was determined to do. You know…we’re only here once, aren’t we? So I’m very passionate about succeeding with this.”
Martin’s realisation was very similar to our own realisation here at Beezer. The world is becoming digital, and, to be specific, mobile. That’s great for us as consumers. We have instant access on our phones to communication, knowledge, shopping…basically, everything we need! But it can be a challenge for small businesses that now have to speak to customers where they are: on their phones.
And as mobile usage grows, people get pickier and pickier about the speed and ease of use of their mobile experiences. Customers have become spoiled by the great user experience of native appss, which is tough for small businesses, when you think about the massive costs and all of the roadblocks involved with native app development, coupled with the challenge of getting downloads for their little app in those big app stores, competing with giant companies and at the whim of Apple or Google.
But for many industries – the heating and plumbing industry being a prime example – small businesses have very little choice in the matter of digitalisation. The customer – in this case the homeowner – comes to market in a different way now.
Armed with research, knowledge, and online reviews, homeowners no longer have to rely on word of mouth and recommendations to find an engineer who will come and tell them what to buy.
On the other hand, homeowners still do need engineers to actually install their plumbing and heating solutions. And this is where Martin’s solution comes in – simultaneously empowering homeowners with knowledge, and equipping plumbing and heating engineers with a digital route to market and a way to stay relevant to customers whose habit.
So how does PlumbAgent work?
PlumbAgent takes Martin’s extensive knowledge in the heating and plumbing industry; combines it with his large, carefully vetted network of engineers across the entire UK; and packages it for consumers in an easy-to-use, easy-to-find, easy-to-distribute, cost effective Beezer progressive web app.
PlumbAgent has two key routes to market:
PlumbAgent Boiler Price (Direct to consumer)
The PlumbAgent boiler pricing app is used by private homeowners.
1. They get educational content, information, and videos about boilers and different boiler manufacturers.
2. When they are ready to buy a new boiler, homeowners can use a custom-made pricing tool: they answer a series of questions about their current boiler, their house, their energy usage, and more, which leads them through until it gives them a unique price estimate for them, for any of the various boiler models.
3. Once they complete the pricing tool and decide on their new boiler, they submit it as a job, and Martin sub-contracts the installation out to his network of engineers.
PlumbAgent Tribe (White-labelled)
Independent plumbers or plumbing/heating companies can use the app platform, complete with all the information and the pricing tool – with their branding. Plus, PlumbAgent will manage it for them on a monthly basis.
Martin saw the market that he knew inside and out changing as consumers turned to their mobile phones for information that once required an expert. And with that change, he saw an opportunity: to empower those consumers with an easy, reliable way to get that information, and to also enable heating and plumbing engineers with a way to reach those consumers and continue to win business from them. A perfect win-win scenario!
And, as he explains, it was Beezer that made it possible for him to realise this opportunity:
“I needed a very cost-effective way to build the app, and to have control over how it’s used and released. So when I learned about Beezer, I thought – this is something I need to look into. An app that has the functionalities of a native app, but which you can build yourself at an affordable cost and distribute directly!
And when I think – you know, the marketplace is worth £4 billion if you take plumbing and heating in the UK alone. I’ve spent the last 18 months building the app and building my network, but now I’m really turning to building the business – and it’s starting to gain momentum. It’s quite exciting. The business, and the Beezer app, is designed to scale fairly rapidly but I know there will be few headaches when it does.
There is also great appetite amongst the plumbing and heating engineers to have their own app. Because – and this gets back to the Beezer premise – it allows SMEs to have their own mobile app platform without the development and design costs, and the time costs, of creating an app in the standard way.
And as an added benefit, that they don’t even have to manage the app, because that’s our job – that’s what PlumbAgent is for. The platform is so cost-effective that from their perspective, if they won just one job a month using the app, it effectively pays for itself.”
This allows smaller, independent boiler installers to compete on an even playing field with larger, national companies who are intent on taking their livelihoods.
On top of all this, Martin has seen the potential to use Beezer as a tool to grow a broader business.
“I’ve also started an app development brand called ProApp.store – because I realised the potential for my business to become an agency for other businesses who want the same thing, to have their own app.
The original PlumbAgent app is designed to modernise plumbing, heating, and boiler installations – but smaller businesses of any type might want one for something totally different.
I know the Beezer platform well now, so I thought, why can’t they come to me to develop their apps for them?”
Martin now runs a Beezer Agency using his Expert account owning and managing a number of apps for other SMEs; a number that is now starting to grow.
Through his ProApp brand, he offers, for an installation fee and a small monthly maintenance fee, tailor-made and well-managed apps for any business.
These progressive web apps are sleek. They work like native apps, but have the power and accessibility of the web. And they’re affordable. Sound familiar? Of course it does – because he makes them all with Beezer.