Ohio dealer encourages education and communication for business successs
Fogt Water Conditioning in Anna, Ohio, has been locally owned and operated since Richard Fogt opened the business in 1959. In 1980, Jim and Betty Miars purchased the company from Fogt, but kept the original name. Jim died 10 years ago and Betty has since turned over office management duties to her daughter.
Today, Fogt Water Conditioning has three employees, all of whom are members of the Miars family. The company offers sales and rentals of water softeners, reverse osmosis (RO) systems, and salt sales and delivery. They provide service within a 50-mile radius.
Although the economy has led some customers away from purchasing water softening equipment, Fogt Water Conditioning has managed to stay ahead of the curve.
“We’ve always responded to the economy by offering rental water softeners,” said Jan Whitsett, office manager of Fogt Water Conditioning. “In the last couple years the bigger companies have started offering rentals because of the economy, but we were already prepared.” The company also offers rent-to-own systems and does their own financing.
The company’s technicians provide service to their own equipment, as well as other brands of softeners.
Getting the Word Out
When it comes to marketing, the company has found success using low-tech means of advertising. According to Whitsett, signage and bulk mailings have been successful marketing tools, but satisfied customers and word-of-mouth referrals also bring in new customers.
“We pride ourselves on our service and our equipment,” Whitsett said. “Since we are a small business, we think that’s why we’ve been able to stay in business.”
Education & Communication
The growing popularity of bottled water indicates that consumers are becoming more conscious of the water coming into their homes, but Whitsett stresses education to help customers make better decisions regarding their drinking water.
“We keep thinking there would be more of a calling for ROs but we haven’t seen that yet,” Whitsett said. “I think people are uneducated so they’re buying the bottled water or the filters to put on their sinks, thinking they’re taking the [contaminants] out.”
She encourages other businesses to educate customers about what is in their water and how a residential system can be a viable alternative to bottled water.
“They’re already paying for water treatment by buying the bottled water,” Whitsett said. “The water softening businesses can supply their needs.”
Whitsett has also found success in the industry by collaborating with similar local businesses, and advises other dealers to do the same.
“I know sometimes it’s difficult, but maybe just try to talk to other water softening business in the area to see what’s working for them,” she said. This communication can lead to new ideas and solutions that may not have been apparent before.
Education is also a common theme among the staff of Fogt Water Conditioning, who often attends seminars to keep up with current and new product trends.
The company is a member of the Water Quality Assn. and the Ohio Water Quality Assn.
“I think [association membership] is important because it keeps us informed of new ideas and updated on the different equipment and how to service it,” Whitsett said. “It gives us new information or old information that we may need to hear again.” Whitsett also appreciates the sales advice and information that association membership offers.