Honest, trustworthy, courteous—these three words define Ronald Gagnon CWS-IV, CI, an experienced dealer and owner of Aqua-Pure Water Conditioning, Inc. in Zion, Ill.
Gagnon retired from the U.S. Navy in 1996 after serving for 21 years. He was looking for a new career when his brother-in-law, who owns a well drilling business, approached him with an offer to start a water conditioning company. Gagnon didn’t have any prior experience in water conditioning and realized that this would be a long learning process. After weighing all the pros and cons, he accepted the offer along with a personal loan from his brother-in-law to help him start the business. Gagnon would also be granted 50% of the ownership if he was able to repay the loan within the first five years.
After attending various classes and seminars offered by manufacturers of water conditioning equipment, four years and two months later, Gagnon turned in the last loan payment. Now more than 10 years later, Aqua-Pure Water Conditioning continues to grow.
Growing the Business
When Aqua-Pure was first established, most leads were generated using existing customers from the well drilling business. According to Gagnon, today the business generates its leads through Yellow Pages advertising, church bulletin advertising, word-of-mouth and referrals from four area well drillers. “I’m pleased to say that there are many weeks and months when I am swamped with work because of the word-of-mouth advertising,” Gagnon said.
In 2005, Water Quality Products joined Gagnon on one of his installations where he demonstrated the removal of an old softening unit and the installation of a new, single-tank system. While the purpose of the trip was to educate the editorial staff, Gagnon’s interaction with the customer was most impressive.
Once he received the call, Gagnon set an appointment to test the water and check the existing system so that he could get a better idea of the client’s water needs. When the test results came back, the client was informed about the best course of action.
Gagnon told Water Quality Products that generally customers need time to think through the results of the water analysis and proposal. “That requires follow-up calls until a decision is made, as well as additional preparations, such as ordering the right size unit from a vendor if one isn’t available in stock, and prepping it for the installation,” Gagnon explained.
Upon arrival at the customer’s home, Gagnon reviewed the installation area again and asked the customer about the preferred site access to ensure minimal inconvenience. Next, he brought the new water conditioner, tools, installation materials and other accessories needed to the site.
According to Gagnon, it is key to get all of the necessary equipment in at the beginning of the installation to minimize later trips to the truck.
Once the new unit was installed, all fittings were checked again to ensure proper joints and/or proper solvent welding on all PVC joints. Then it was time to perform the manufacturer’s start up procedures. After everything was accomplished, all tools and left over installation materials were gathered and taken back to the truck and the installation area was left completely clean.
Before leaving, Gagnon showed the new system to the customer, answered questions and invited her to call if she had any other questions. “I will usually follow up in about a week to see how things are going,” Gagnon said. He added that he always includes a sticker with his telephone number prominently displayed on the equipment so that the customer can contact him at any time.
In order to succeed in this field, according to Gagnon, dealers must follow three simple rules: “Be honest, trustworthy and courteous. Honest - if a customer asks you about a water quality issue, answer them honestly. If you are dishonest, they will see right through and your credibility is shot. Trustworthy - when in a customer’s home, whether doing a water test, installing a system, or servicing their equipment, go from the door to the equipment site and back only. No side trips to check out the ‘scenery’ of the rest of the house, and most importantly, touch nothing that you don’t need to touch to do your job. Courteous - be respectful. Call them by Mr. or Mrs. ‘Smith’ unless they ask you to call them by any other name. That applies to everyone regardless of their age.”
After 10 successful years of business, it is clear that Gagnon’s hard work has paid off; however, it is not just hard work alone that makes Aqua-Pure Water Conditioning successful; it is Gagnon’s relationship and excellent service with each of his customers that keeps them coming back.
Neda Simeonova is editorial director of Water Quality Products. She can be reached at 847.391.1011, or by e-mail at [email protected]