As part of a new series of short interviews with some of our expert early adopters to the 121with platform:

Matt Brown was our first Provider to sign-up to 121with as a Plumbing and Heating Installation Expert. Matt has over 25 years experience in the industry, and is now a plumbing tutor at the University of Hull. The teacher of the experts – we think that makes him a great Provider andso we caught up with him this week to talk about providing this kind of help and advice to customers on the 121with platform.

1. As a plumber and gas technician, in your experience over the years, what proportion of call-outs made to homes each week do you think could have been resolved via a live video call between the customer and the pro?

In terms of call outs, they tend to increase at this time of year. Most homes have just been running hot water from a boiler and no central heating. Now that we are coming into the heating season some boilers will inevitably need attention. I have tended to find that a good percentage of call outs in this season could have been resolved by the customer with some simple diagnostic questions, troubleshooting, and then clear help and instruction to resolve the issue.

2. What do you feel 121with offers you from a marketing perspective?

When I first saw the app I was intrigued. The platform is free to join, the set-up was easy to follow, and putting my personal touch to it was simple. I like the exposure from a marketing perspective and getting paid to help existing and new customers, whether at work or for a couple of hours availability in the evening, is a great added income.

3. What benefits can you now offer consumers?

The best services for customers are those that are available immediately and easily, and 121with offers just that. As well as potential significant cost savings on call-outs, the peace of mind of getting it resolved quickly is really handy.

4. How have you found the journey with 121with so far?

The support was there from the start. As a new Provider, I felt the process of setting everything up was easy and all of my questions were answered quickly. Within hours I was up and running with a new business opportunity. The 121with staff are professional and polite and that matters.

5. Matt, it’s definitely getting colder now, so go on, give three quick tips on what people should be doing now to ensure their boilers don’t break down on Christmas Day.

  1. Go to your boiler and check the pressure, a healthy system should show between 1.2 – 1.5 bar or some boilers have a green section to the pressure dial.
  2. Turn the thermostat up to 18-21 degrees and as the heating comes on feel the radiators around the home to ensure they all get warm. If you feel that they are warm at the top and cold at the bottom, you might need a system clean before the winter worsens.
  3. Final tip, exercise the valves. This means that all the thermostat valves that have been dormant for the summer need to be turned off and on a few times to make sure they perform during the winter.

6. For those new to the idea of home help via video call, can you give us a taste of some of the plumbing problems and troubleshooting you can easily fix over video?

On a quick call with a customer, I could certainly help with:

  • Most technical issues such as dropped pressure or controls for the heating.
  • Boiler diagnostics and trouble shooting
  • Helping to understand and guide users through their digital thermostats, fault codes and controls
  • Advice on strange system noises
  • How to tackle minor leaks / scale etc
  • Bleeding radiators, and venting pipes
  • Guides on how to isolate
  • Temporary and permanent decommissioning

I also offer Seekers consultation and help with:

  • Pricing resolutions (am I being overcharged for planned work)
  • Technical advice about layout or new plans.
  • Getting to know your way around a boiler if you have just moved in.
  • Energy Saving advice and solutions (I’m a qualified Green Deal Advisor)
  • Online workshops for the more competent DIY enthusiasts who need direction or help

7. What happens if your Plumber/Gas Technician can’t help via a 121with call?

I always advise the customer to start with an Instant Message so we can have an honest exchange and establish the main facts about the problem. If it makes sense to have a call, then that’s what we do. If a short call can’t resolve the issue, at the very least it will have allowed me to diagnose to a high degree of certainty the issue and advise on the right course of action. Obviously, if it a local call then it could be followed up with a home visit by your expert, or you have spent a small amount of money to know what needs to be done. This will save you money when you come to get someone in to address the issue.

8. Beyond troubleshooting for homeowners, are you thinking about using your skills on 121with in any other way?

I have to say that the possibilities and scope that this platform can allow people to share knowledge and skills so easily, it does open itself to other creative ways to earn money. People always appreciate personal 1-2-1 help.