Vaillant Future of Specification
How is the role of specifiers changing?
Market and industry influences ensure that the role of a specifier is continuously evolving. NHBC, SAP and other industry regulations dictate how a specifier arrives at delivering the most efficient, compliant performance specifications. Legislative changes are far more frequent now than in years gone by, so specifiers are developing new skill sets to understand and implement these changes, particularly as technologies continue to improve and change the way we work in our market sector.
In today’s quality focused / digital native / sustainability conscious landscape how has the needs of specifiers changed?
Product quality, performance and sustainability remain the key drivers for specifiers. The most popular way of selecting product is via manufacturer websites. However, some specifiers are now looking at interactive 3D platforms that offer the ability to create interactive model plantrooms and review the impact of the selected products.
The specification and construction industries are continuously striving to improve product efficiencies and the way that programs are delivered, part of this is through digital technologies.
As we move further into the digital age, specifiers not only want the reassurance they are specifying long-term value, but also tangible evidence of energy efficiency and low running costs. The latest wave of technology provides home connectivity and remote product accessibility, allowing users to gain an in-depth understanding of the working efficiencies and parameters of the products, as well as being able to predetermine failures. This, in turn, increases efficiencies and reduces costs throughout the lifecycle of the product.
How have you had to adapt your business to suit the needs of specifiers?
Over the last few years it’s become clear that specifiers can play a major role in securing and retaining business within the commercial heating sector. Therefore, we have formed a brand-new team to provide dedicated support to architects, consultants, developers and liaise with them on all aspects of a project, from design to commissioning and handover.
Offering in-depth design and specification expertise, the team is on hand to provide stakeholders with extensive resources for the development and implementation of industrial, commercial, domestic and renewable heating systems.
Do you find the specifier-manufacturer relationship easy to start, grow and maintain? Why is this relationship important to you?
Relationships with specifiers are built upon providing a valuable and reliable service. They can be slow to start but build steadily over time to become an indispensable source of new business. Building strong relationships also usually results in securing business at a higher margin as there is less reliance on discounting.
The biggest challenge in our industry is designing new or updating existing buildings that are energy efficient, healthy, productive and comfortable with limited budget and resources.
Technologies to reduce energy use already exist, manufacturers such as Vaillant are pioneering and embracing them, and the industry has the design, installation and commissioning skills to deliver these solutions. But to continue the growth of energy efficiency, manufacturers need early engagement with specifiers to ensure systems are designed and installed to the same level as they are manufactured, and products are installed and controlled as intended for use.
With the Hackitt report calling for a fundamental change in construction industry culture, we rely on strong relationships to deliver consistently solid ERs/specifications to ensure safe, comfortable and low carbon buildings are being serviced by our product set.
What advice would you give other manufacturers?
Long term relationships are the key to success. Constant turnover of salespeople and the use of heavy discounting as a backstop will not yield sustainable business. Although the market is competitive, having the lowest price does not always win, as clients place more value on reliable, long-term solutions and understanding the total cost of ownership.
These relationships are built on honesty and transparency, first and foremost. In the rare instance that problems occur, the client will respect you more and will work with you to resolve issues rather than working against you. Also, it is important to have a full catalogue of products for different systems and applications, as many customers prefer a ‘one stop shop’ solution.