Lauren Del Ciello is managing editor for WQP. Del Ciello can be reached at [email protected].undefined
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Starting out in the water treatment industry as a contractor for other providers, Dave Crissman founded All About Water in 1974 and became a family-owned EcoWater dealer in the mid-1980s. Based in Chandler, Ariz., the business has served northern and central Arizona for more than 40 years. The dealership has since expanded to employ 28 people, and provide an array of services, including filtration and softening to residential customers. When Crissman launched his own business, he set out to fill a need he saw in the industry.
“He felt that what was missing in the industry was an intimate customer relationship,” said Ashley Green, general manager for All About Water. “He set out to have a company that did everything in house, including the appointment setting all the way through the installation. It was very common practice to outsource or subcontract out that work.”
Crissman also thought that a relationship after installation was missing with customers, Green said, so he prioritized maintaining that relationship long-term. The business prides itself on conducting follow-up surveys and maintenance with customers to ensure they remain happy with the services it provides. This business model helped All About Water continue to grow during the recession because it was able to continue servicing systems already installed in customer’s homes during hard economic times. EcoWater’s relationship with Costco, which began in 2011, also helped the business grow coming out of the recession.
The industry has changed since the business began and since Green started working at All About Water nearly 15 years ago. Customers’ needs have changed, particularly due to households where both partners are working, causing the dealership to adjust its service hours, Green said. There also is an increased awareness of drinking water risks.
“There is a greater awareness of what is going on locally and in our cities and communities, so it has made us all have to step our game up and become very, very familiar with what is happening within each community, how people are being affected and how their lives are being affected,” Green said.
The largest water quality concern All About Water faces is water hardness, as well as high total dissolved solids. The dealership also encounters high chlorine levels due to high temperatures.
All About Water’s team is unique because they have a diverse staff that is able to cater to a variety of customer needs. The team is culturally and ethnically diverse, and also spans a wide age range, Green said. Employees include marketers in their mid-eighties and technicians in their early twenties. This diversity helps the business connect with their customers’ needs.
“We have a really wide range of people that work for us,” Green said. “I think it makes us so powerful because our customers are very wide ranges.”
The business also fosters an atmosphere of teamwork amongst its employees. This atmosphere is an important part of helping the team perform its best and encouraging each member to grow.
“We are working for each other,” Green said. “We work hard for each and every one of us and then that crosses over into how we deliver service to our customers. We treat everyone like family.”
The business encourages and values team engagement, which carries over into its strategy for attracting young talent and retaining employees. All About Water prioritizes continuous learning and mentorship to create a desirable work environment for new and current employees.
“I may spend 30 minutes a week with one individual employee just letting them ask me questions. What is it that they are interested in and what is important to them in regards to business?” Green said. “We are always working to build entrepreneurial minds, so our company also has a great level of transparency.”
Part of that transparency is open communication with the team about how the business is doing, what the goals are and what the expectations from its employees are. Green has found that the team, especially young people, appreciate the open dialogue and the opportunity to be involved with the business’ growth.
In addition to continuous learning and mentorship opportunities, All About Water leverages its digital presence to attract young talent. The business is active on LinkedIn and other social media platforms where young people may be looking for jobs. Its relationship with Costco has helped attract new employees, as well.
The business’ digital strategy also includes marketing to consumers. It does paid advertising to keep up with the competitive digital market in Phoenix. All About Water recently rebuilt its website to be more mobile-friendly and efficient for users. However, the business’ most effective marketing strategy for generating customer leads is its referral program.
“The referral program has been very great for us,” Green said. “We know what we’re going to spend for advertising, so I look at it that whether I pay Google or I pay [a customer], either way I am spending the money for advertising.”
All About Water also has found that conducting follow-up phone call surveys with customers helps the business improve and helps strengthen customer relationships.
A large part of moving forward with the future of the water treatment industry is ensuring the new generation is continuing to learn from the mentorship of the older generation. Green cites continuous learning as one of her goals and values opportunities to gain knowledge from Crissman and other industry veterans.
“I really consider it an honor when Dave sits at the table and he spends an hour with me talking about things,” Green said. “Sometimes I am talking to him about ideas or things that I want to do and he enlightens me.”
With a new generation beginning to step up, the future of the water industry is bright, Green said.
“With the succession planning and the handing down of dealerships to a younger generation we are in for a lot of fun,” Green said. “I think that we bring fresh ideas. Personally, I have such an appreciation for the older generation, but I think that it is going to be a lot of fun being able to kind of reinvent what the dealership looks like, how we provide services and getting more involved in the digital world.”