Having been in the heating industry for over forty years, I have seen a lot; the good, the bad and the ugly in many different ways! When I joined Warmworks over five years ago now as Field Manager, I saw a great opportunity to shape our delivery of fuel poverty projects and schemes around a high quality service – that prospect was as exciting then as it still is now.
For Warmworks, we want to ensure that everything starts and ends with quality. From the people we hire and the processes we have in place, to the way we engage with our supply chain and deliver for our customers. That’s because good quality workmanship should be the default level of service, not the exception. It’s because vulnerable customers and those living in fuel poverty shouldn’t have to settle for second best. And it’s because it’s the right thing to do.
In my role, I manage all of our field-based operations, which includes the in-home survey and independent inspection teams. The latter, of course, takes into account the quality of our supply chain operations. Warmworks manages a supply chain of 22 sub-contractors, mainly SMEs, who are based across the length and breadth of Scotland; providing a national service in a local way.
Here’s how we do it:
- We only work with sub-contractors who are committed to delivering high standards, and we make it clear that in many cases, this will mean additional work, over and above what they may be used to delivering or what they believe they are strictly contractually bound to deliver. The extra mile is always the one that the customer remembers
- We hold monthly performance meetings with our sub-contractors and discuss any areas that have been identified for improvement
- We reward our best performing sub-contractors with increased workloads based on their monthly performance scores
- We also conduct work in progress visits on live installations to ensure that our quality standards are consistently adhered to – these visits also present an opportunity to provide examples of best practice and embed our culture of safety throughout the supply chain
- We independently inspect every single installation under Warmer Homes Scotland and ensure that anything that needs follow-up attention receives it in a timely manner
Of course, this approach is all underpinned by an established programme of ongoing training and development opportunities. This ranges from bespoke training on the specific products installed under our projects and schemes to dedicated events like our technical forums, where we bring our supply chain together to hear from technical experts and share best practice.
This is supported by the range of accreditations that we expect our supply chain to hold and maintain, in line with the highest standards in the industry. We know that some of our installers are better resourced to undertake accreditations than others, but for those that need extra help, we provide administrative support and opportunities to design specifications in order to help them achieve them. This partnership based approach has been instrumental in maintaining our high quality standards and helping to raise the bar across the industry.
It hasn’t been without its challenges over the last few years – especially in the last twelve months – but it’s been great to see the impact that our approach has had on our supply chain and customers. One of our installer partners told us recently: “Warmworks has taken the level of quality on this scheme to another level. This has helped us to win smaller contracts more locally and expand our business due to the levels of quality our teams can now deliver.”
I’ve always lived by the mantra that you’re only ever as good as your last job and it’s served me well over the years. I look forward to pushing ahead and continuing to help more people with quality at the heart of our approach. It’s a long road to becoming a net-zero carbon society and the scale of the challenge for retrofitting and improving our housing stock will be significant – it needs public trust, engagement and faith in the work that we do at every level. The only way that we will win, retain and build on that trust is through the quality of the experience that we provide.