From the Road
WQP: Could you please briefly tell our readers about yourself and your business?
Jeff Roseman: I started driving a truck back when I was in college. I ended up driving for about 18 years. Then, I was working on websites for a while and one of my website clients was doing water treatment. I found water treatment very interesting because of my chemistry and physics background. As I became more involved in the water business, I became certified with the Water Quality Association.
Recently some economic changes have caused me to get back on the road. The business dropped off and it is not easy for the independent to compete with franchises. Now I wish I had done this years ago because I’m seeing so much potential to expand my water business while on the road.
WQP: What area does your water business service and what are some common water problems in the area?
Roseman: I service northwest Indiana—a couple of counties in the northwest part off of Lake Michigan. Because of the geographical and geological nature of the water in this area, I deal with a lot of manganese, iron, sulfate and bacteria.
WQP: What are some of the opportunities around the country you see for water dealers?
Roseman: I have been in a lot of different areas such as truck stops, restaurants, and different shippers and receivers. All of them use water, whether they are making coffee tea or soda. In addition, water is used in food preparation and for cleaning. I have seen a lot of iron-laden toilets; there is a lot of iron in shower areas at truck stops, making the whole area look really grungy.
I think there is a huge market in processing, because I know a lot of these places would need anything from ultrafiltration, to softening, to disinfection based on their business and the services they offer.
WQP: How can dealers expand their market areas and explore new business opportunities?
Roseman: I think that cold calling is probably one of the main things dealers can do but it is also one of the hardest. It is hard because dealers would have to build a rapport, get a hold of people, and find out who they need to talk to that makes the decisions. Dealers would have to find out what the business does and what kind of problems it has so they can provide the right solution.
WQP: What is the difference between servicing one particular area and expanding your client base?
Roseman: Mainly it is about getting further away from your area, which is hard because far-away service calls can cause problems. It really depends on what the dealer wants to do and if he is part of a bigger franchise. Dealers can try to expand into different areas and sometimes the dealer network will allow them and sometimes it won’t. I’m not sure what are the specific rules and regulations.
I offer some niche products that don’t require extensive repairs so it is pretty easy for customers to repair the problem rather than have a service technician come out.
Generally, expanding out of your market area can be expensive. Then again, if you are marketing out in other areas and you have your truck labeled with your logo, a lot of people will see you in that area and want to do business with you. There is also an opportunity to stop along the way, visit a lot of different businesses and drop off a card letting people know you are in the area in order to utilize your fuel.
For example, companies that have bottled water routes and salt delivery routes can easily make time to stop by one or two other homes in the area and drop off a card or a pamphlet; it’s cost-effective to advertise in that manner.
WQP: How do you balance being on the road a lot and running a water business?
Roseman: I’ve only been doing this for a few months and it takes a while to build the stamina to drive and integrate my water business. With the help of the Internet I am able to still do this—it is basically a mobile office. I still have to integrate and fine-tune my water business into my new routine. Overall this has been a great experience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but it has certainly reminded me of the importance of getting out there and searching for new opportunities. It has opened my eyes to how much dealers are really missing. They need to get out there and look for other ways to reach new markets and expand their business.