A selection of articles written by Sanifix and published by KBB review

 

They say that history repeats itself.

 

They say that history repeats itself. We are all aware the bathroom industry does not escape this theory with trends returning time and time again.

It was over 21 years ago when I fitted what I think was the first steam hydro-massage shower in a UK showroom – a Jacuzzi 90TT – in Victor Paris, Glasgow. There followed a boom in this type of home spa product, complemented by whirlpools, spas and hot tubs.

There are still excellent brands with contemporary designs available but so few are to be found in UK showrooms these days. We’re still human beings and would still reap the advantages that these products offer but sales are comparatively small but why??

Over the years I’ve visited hundreds of showrooms and trained hundreds of sales staff including where I focus on these products in dedicated classroom-style training courses. Such courses have shown me that there is a distinct lack of knowledge about these products so sales staff might shy away from a lucrative sale simply because they don’t know features and benefits. Even fewer have ever used them and this is a common question a prospective buyer might well ask of the sales person, ‘do you use one?’. So this is a key area where staff should benefit hugely especially if there are factory visits incorporating opportunities to try out such products. If not then a local spa session offering steam, whirlpool and sauna equipment could be worth the investment. An absolute must only AFTER they know the benefits of what they are trying out!!

For example, good whirlpool baths with well placed jets really give benefits such as aiding the healing of aches and pains, insomnia, stress reduction, to name just a few. Steam showers are amazing at really deep cleaning skin pores, relief for congestion, throat irritations, providing a perfect vehicle for aromatherapy – the list goes on.

Increasing staff knowledge will increase sales. Careful brand selection will promote a new-found confidence and show that these products are easy to install in just a few hours, easy and cheap to run, have a long reliable life-span and most importantly makes selling them easier.

In the showroom, to sell it properly there needs to be a working model but it needn’t be in a dedicated test room that few customers would use. A whirlpool bath needs just a 13 amp power supply, mains cold water and a drain. It needs to be filled and drained to demonstrate. Just one working model showing as many options as possible is all that is needed. The same can be said for a steam shower with most using the same services as a whirlpool bath to be able to demonstrate plus an external keypad tends to be a bonus. Again, very little space taken up in your showroom for what is a lucrative sale and one that your customer would truly be grateful for when they know for what benefits they have bought it!!

Why stop there? I recently fitted a home sauna in a showroom. An amazing thing with programmable heat and lights, audio visual centre, and a beautiful design. It was working but modified by us to only partially heat up in the showroom environment. It was warm inside so it was like a real sauna and so the wood smelt wonderful BUT it didn’t have the running cost. Taking up just 2m x 1.5m it added a whole new dimension to the showroom. This was a traditional ‘water-over-coals’ heater but even so a fully working one only needs the same power supply as an instantaneous electric shower and a level, preferably tiled, floor. No drain. No water. I’ve even fitted them in spare bedrooms including my own.

Benefits from saunas are well documented but include eliminating toxins from the body, increased circulation, heat therapy to muscles and joints and the added bonus of burning 200-300 calories in a single session.

Next to the sauna we fitted a small hot tub. Another avenue of sales possibilities!!      

 

Mike Thomas   IA Eng. ACIPHE RP

 

 

Cover your back!!

 

About 9 million working days a year are lost to back pain and related injuries. Lost working days cost us dearly. Mike Thomas of bathroom and leisure industry national after-sales support company, Sanifix Limited, talks about his experiences.

After almost twenty five years fixing and installing all shapes and sizes of bath, shower and steam cabin, saunas and other weighty products my own back has begun to complain about the abuse I have given it. During your early working life you carry on lifting things without any thought of the damage you may be doing but eventually, just like a tiler never wearing knee-pads, it can catch up with you with a vengeance. You won’t miss it until it’s gone!

How many of us always keep our backs straight when lifting and use our thigh muscles to take the strain? You know you should but rarely may it occur to you when you have a day’s work ahead of you, time is money and you have a bathroom to off-load, carry in and fit. You just get on with the job don’t you? Also you will probably try to speed things up by trying to lift too much by yourself instead of getting someone else to help. Let’s also face it – two blokes reminding each other to lift with their backs straight and heads up is hardly a macho stereo-typical image is it??

I’m not one for statistics, except for perhaps the one where you find out how much time is wasted calculating some of the more pointless statistics, but there are plenty of facts and figures relating to lost working days for back pain and related injuries.

After stress-related problems this is apparently the most common reason for days off in the UK and many of us have already experienced back problems especially those of us who regularly carry and lift during our working lives. I’m sure you all know someone affected or indeed you may suffer yourself! You may think you are getting away with it now and you have a strong back but damage is cumulative and retraining yourself how to lift and handle objects properly now will surely help avoid back problems you may have in later life.

If you are an employer you already have a legal duty to and protect the health and safety of your employees when at work and carry out risk assessments on their various tasks. If you haven’t ‘covered your back’ and given your staff the correct manual handling training you are also leaving yourself wide open for an injury-at-work claim and all that will entail…

In my previous role I spent several years as the director of Porcelanosa’s UK service company running teams of technicians and we had a near perfect track record for not letting customers down due to missed appointments from technician sick days. We still did have days missed blamed on back pain so it prompted me to decide early on in my new role that I would gain a ‘train the trainer’ certification for myself. Then I would be able to train anyone on correct manual handling techniques and be qualified to review this regularly with them and immediately with any new employees who joined us in the future.

Don’t forget about the office staff either – workstation chairs have to be able to provide the user with good posture, VDU screens have to be correctly positioned as well as the general layout of the desk and office. But what about lifting heavy items in the office such as a box of 500 sheets of A4 paper? Who would think that it is better to have these boxes stored at a level about waist height thus minimising bending and stretching and meaning that it is much easier to bring the box towards you from the shelf and hold it close to your body where you can safely cope with heavier loads. This seems simple logic now but I bet the layout of many offices means that heavy items are stored on or close to floor height. My office isn’t perfect for this either but we consider it and try our best.

When covering manual handling you need to assess the typical objects to be handled and develop specific techniques and write a risk assessment for them. Subconsciously you do an instantaneous mental risk assessment for almost everything you do so writing one up isn’t as hard as you may think; For example a large awkwardly shaped steam cabin panel may not be heavy but can be difficult to keep a hold of and getting it upstairs and into final position. Getting the truck to park close to the entrance, a walk-through of the route in the house to ensure clear passageways and height clearance, communication between those handling the panel, anti-slip gloves and other PPE, using automation as much as possible such as a trolley; all these things can help to minimise injuries and should make the job easier too.

Educating all staff on this not only benefits them during their work hours but can be useful knowledge for the rest of their lives.

I probably sound like a nightmare to work with but I still find myself doing my duty and reminding myself and my employees all too regularly on these simple considerations;

• Think before you lift – assess the object first.

• Start in a good position with a good strong grip.

• Keep the load as close to your waist as possible.

• Keep your back as straight as possible.

• Avoid twisting your back, over stretching or leaning to one side.

• Keep your head up.

• Know your lifting limit.

• Push heavy objects, don't pull them.

• Distribute the weight evenly – get more help if you can’t easily manage it.

It just doesn’t seem second nature to automatically follow all of these simple considerations but try to if you can. I can confidently say that we experience virtually zero days sick due to back pain now!!! 

 

Mike Thomas IA Eng. ACIPHE RP