Smart Strategies for the Future

Kevin Worsfold, owner of One Water Systems, San Diego, Calif., had been in the food business for 15 years, working in in-home sales sand marketing, before venturing into the water treatment industry in 2006.

“I heard that water was actually worse than food, and I thought, ‘I don’t believe that,’ but when I started researching it, it seemed to be true.”

Four years later, One Water Systems focuses on whole-house filtration using H2O Concepts’ AmpForce technology, a softener alternative.

Million-Dollar Year

Worsfold and One Water Systems achieved a million-dollar sales year in 2009, quite an accomplishment considering the struggling economy.

He attributes this to a few factors, including his background in sales, marketing and photography, as well as what he called “over-advertising.”

“I took risks,” Worsfold said. “Some of it worked great and some did not work at all. I did mostly direct mail, which most people have not been doing.” Because of his advertising background, he knew that “the more you tell somebody about yourself, the better chance you have.” At one point, he put 30% of Outreach Mechanismshis revenue into advertising.

“Everything kind of fell into place,” he said. “I am one of those risk takers who says, ‘OK, if it works, I’ll be there. If it doesn’t work, it’s history.’ There’s no middle way.”

Advertising Strategy

The advertising Worsfold uses is different from much of what he sees from other water companies, who appeal to the older generation, he said. “I wanted to make it more colorful and appeal to the families. I want to appeal to a broader audience with bright colors—everything in my ad is always bright colors.”

“The economy has made it a little harder; fortunately, the health aspects and the convenience aspects of our product line appeal to both the younger and the more mature audiences. Everybody wants good, healthy water for their family," Worsfold said. "I have found that the younger families are more familiar with the high-tech portion of our products, whereas the more mature audience is more concerned with the health and convenience aspects."

Challenges

One of the major challenges Worsfold has faced is negativity from other companies in the industry. “If you treat a customer well, and they like what you have, there should not be the negativity that follows from other companies,” he said. “Other companies will do their utmost, not to get a sale, but to stop me from getting a sale. That is just outrageous. California is big enough for everybody.”

Clarity of communication and more regulation regarding claims is something Worsfold would like to see in the future.

“It’s like everything else,” he said. “If you tell the first person that the white cat is on the green grass, by the time it gets to the 20th person down the line, it’s a black dog on a haystack. That’s the way translation sometimes gets farmed down through some of these companies. [There should be] more ‘Prove it,’ or ‘Show me.’”

Future Success

Follow-up and customer service are priorities for One Water Systems. “Everybody who works for me, and every customer, has to be happy,” Worsfold said. “We follow up, big time. Christmas cards, birthday cards, thank-yous to every person, a follow-up visit, an annual inspection, all free of charge.”

A referral program, “Five for Free,” rewards customers $150 for anybody they recommend who becomes a customer, and if they reach five referrals, the cost of their machine is refunded.

Such a high level of focused customer service leads to referrals and saves on advertising, Worsfold pointed out. “If they like you, they’ll tell everybody who drinks water.”

At the end of the day, taking the right kind of risks, smart advertising strategies, clear communication and a devotion to customer service will ensure that Worsfold and One Water Systems remain competitive.

Rebecca Wilhelm is managing editor for Water Quality Products. Wilhelm can be reached at 847.391.1007 or by e-mail at bwilhelm@sgcmail.com.

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