Cristina Tuser is associate editor for WQP. Tuser can be reached at [email protected]
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Are there toxins, is there rust? To fix your water, whom should you trust? If your drinking water makes you kinda nervous, you should call Clean Water Service.” These lines are part of Long Island Clean Water Service’s catchy jingle, which can be heard on the radio and when you are on hold with this water dealership. This dealership was founded in 1985 and stands as one of the oldest and largest providers of residential and commercial water treatment systems in Long Island, New York. The dealership provides Long Island and the greater New York area with the analysis and treatment of contaminated water, using residential, commercial or industrial purification and filtration equipment to get the job done.
Madelyn and Mark Shmidt are the owners of Long Island Clean Water Service. It all started when Mark, who was a manager for a coffee company at the time, saw that his work office was putting water filters in the coffee machines that they serviced and sold. When Mark asked about this, the company told him that it was because they wanted their coffee to taste uniform across the country.
Mark realized that water quality would be a prevalent topic in the future and alongside Madelyn, resolved to look into drinking water systems, including point-of-use (POU) systems.
Water Conditioning Salt & Efficient Customer Service
A long list of services are provided by the company, including treating: chlorine, iron and rust, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), arsenic, hard water, water odor, and other emerging contaminants. Beyond these services, the company’s website has a “Water Symptoms & Solutions Quiz” and water quality reports by area.
The water dealership has a team of 35 employees, 11 trucks that hit the road every day (a portion that are strictly salt deliveries), and tend to approximately 100 service calls a day.
The dealership’s service areas include Westchester County, New York County, Kings County, Queens County, Nassau County, Suffolk County and more.
When it comes to Long Island’s water, iron occurs naturally in the groundwater, with certain areas having much higher concentrations than others. This is more of an aesthetic issue that the team sees occur often. Water on eastern Long Island generally has a pH value of between 5.4 and 7.2.
The business is 90% residential, and the area is a growing area especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when many New York City proper residents left places like Manhattan for Long Island.
“We’re in a location where it’s not as easy as some places in the country to get water conditioning salt,” Madelyn said. “Between the lack of places to purchase and the fact that most of our clientele wouldn’t be bothered purchasing and putting it in, we service by route. So we actually go around and offer what we call ‘white glove service,’ where we physically come by appointment and put the salt in at scheduled times. We contact our customers and tell them we’re going to be in the area.”
Customers are also grouped by area to make the scheduling and install process as efficient as possible.
Madelyn and Mark have always emphasized the importance of treating all staff and clients like family. No matter what someone’s role is at the dealership, no matter who the client is, Long Island Clean Water Service respects, educates, and takes care of them at every stage of the process.
Quality Customer Service
The average day for the business consists of constant calls into the office from customers, which there are thousands of at this point. The water dealership’s business primarily comes from referrals. The duo are also big believers of the power of a good reverse osmosis (RO) system.
“We put many of our customers on what we call annual service plans, so that they’re billed once a year but receive service all during the year,” Madelyn added. “We find that if we visit our customers frequently, not only is it good for customer service, the people feel like they’re getting ‘a good bang for the buck,’ but we also check the system every time we come.”
This system works for the dealership, and according to Madelyn and Mark, it generates important conversations about water among homeowners, ultimately bringing in new customers. Not only that, but customers get used to a maintenance schedule, sustaining and better relationship between the dealership and homeowners, and ultimately ensuring clean water.
Word of mouth has increased the dealership’s reach, and in fact, the dealership recently had its first million dollar salesperson. This milestone moment that is a testament to the success of the dealership and its mission to provide safe, clean water.
The dealership’s website also houses a blog that addresses common water quality questions and provides information about New York’s water quality.
Addressing Contaminant Concerns
When the business first opened its doors, customers were not as concerned about water quality. But now, business is booming because more people are aware of how important it is to have clean water and are upgrading their homes as a result.
“The newspapers are our biggest ally because they always talk about what the next problem is,” Mark said about media coverage of contaminated water. “So we have to scan for nitrates, we have to scan for chromium-6, and 1,4-dioxane. So everyday they’re running another article about how bad the water is.”
“That’s our best advertising,” Madelyn joked.
Despite these water quality issues, Long Island Clean Water Service is ready to take on anything, and the team considers itself a relationship business. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to serving customers, according to Madelyn and Mark, who believe the water industry is still in its infancy and that now is the time to properly educate and assist those concerned with the quality of their water.