How Culligan helps its dealers become better-educated consumers of drinking water
If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a hundred times — customers who come to you looking for a home filtration system, unaware of what their specific needs are. While many consumers simply want a system that improves their water’s taste and aesthetic qualities, the majority are looking for a product that will make their water healthier. But as you know, “healthier” is a subjective term, and without knowing the issues that are present in the customer’s water, providing them with a system that fits their needs isn’t very easy to do.
According to the 2001 National Consumer Water Quality Survey conducted by the Water Quality Association (WQA), the media was the most frequently cited source of information about home water contaminants. When a contaminant is in the media spotlight such as arsenic is this year or MTBE the year before sales of systems that reduce that contaminant are elevated. The concern, however, is that the chances of the specific newsworthy contaminant affecting a consumer’s water may be slim, while in actuality something else may be present. The goal as providers of high-quality home filtration equipment then should be to encourage Americans to start taking a proactive approach to protecting and improving their home’s water quality.
For example, Culligan implements a program to make it easier for customers to take personal control of their water quality. Through this program, Culligan dealers encourage their customers to follow these steps.
Many first time buyers of home filtration equipment select products at retail rather than working with a dealer due to the misconception that they’ll have to spend more money when working with a professional. However, as C.R. Hall, an independent Culligan dealer and the current president of the Water Quality Association and the Culligan Dealers Association of North America (CDANA) notes, dealers add a significant amount of value to the purchase of home filtration products, thereby actually saving the customer money across the term of ownership. “Unfortunately, we as dealers often fail to effectively communicate to our customers the added benefits that we offer—assistance in selecting a product, installation, sizing and maintenance. Yet when we outline all of our services, the decision to buy from a dealer suddenly is easy.” For this reason, the questions above point to the benefit of working with a professional.
Another important step to helping your customer become better educated about his home’s water quality is recommending that he read his Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) if he receives his water from a municipal system. CCRs are distributed annually with residents’ water bills. Often discarded, they provide key information about the city’s water content, specifically, those contaminants that are present at higher than normal levels. If your customer no longer has the most recent version of this report, he may be able to find it on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website (www.epa.gov), or he can contact his local municipality.
Finally, spend some time with your customer overviewing the fact that a wide variety of contaminants legally are present in his water but at specific levels. A consumer may believe that his municipality removes all traces of all contaminants. When alerted that this is not the case, he may decide to research health effects and the levels at which they are allowably present in his water. (The EPA website is a good resource for this type of information.) Based on this information, he may determine contaminants that he wants to reduce to even further levels. In addition, it will help him to better understand his CCR. However, when discussing contaminants with your customer, remember to approach the topic professionally. Never use scare tactics to encourage someone to buy.
(For additional information, visit www.waterinfocenter.com and search the article archives for “ethical selling.”)
Assisting your customer in becoming a better educated consumer of drinking water requires a small amount of your time, yet makes the filtration buying process easier for both of you. In addition, it establishes your business as a trusted resource, thereby ensuring a greater chance of a long-term buying relationship.