While situations like the ongoing drinking-water crisis in Flint, Mich., occasionally bring public awareness to water quality, residential water quality is something most people simply do not think about until something goes wrong. This creates an incredible opportunity for plumbers to shine a light on water quality issues and become the water quality experts their communities trust.
When Joe Todara, director of operations at Gold Medal Service, or any of his coworkers arrive at home, they offer to test a sample of the water in the home with a kit that tests for chlorine, hardness, pH and total dissolved solvents.
“We educate them on the benefits of having the equipment and what changes it will make to their plumbing system and drinking water,” Todara says. “There are benefits to having water that is not as abrasive on their plumbing, and filtration allows for peace of mind knowing they are drinking and cooking with clean water.”
To help contractors like Todara provide the best possible water to their customers, a number of vendors, suppliers and manufacturers extend partnerships to plumbing companies that keep them educated and up to date on the products and options that are available.
“Make sure you partner with the right company — one that will stand behind their product and give you the training and support you need,” Todara advises. “Ultimately though, it’s up to you to be the best and know your product better than anyone else. Become the expert homeowners want to turn to.”
Below, manufacturers of water-treatment systems and products offer advice for contractors who are looking to expand their offerings as well as educate their customers on water treatment.
Education above sales
Kurt Gruett, president of Water-Right, says they work to regularly educate contractors on common water problems and ways to improve residential water quality and safety. Water-Right offers residential water conditioners, water softeners, whole-home water filtration, and specialty treatment products designed to the highest levels of performance.
“Our primary focus is to teach contractors and dealers about water problems and how our innovative water treatment solutions can improve water quality for the end users,” Gruett says. “We offer educational opportunities to our partners in the plumbing, well-drilling and wholesale industries through our water school.
“Outside of our main schools, we host on-site and regional training opportunities across the country. Our experienced technical service team is available to answer questions and provide support to contractors in the field as well. We also feature a blog on our corporate website that serves as a resource guide to help educate consumers on common water issues and understand how certain products can improve the quality of their home’s water.”
In order to properly recommend treatment products, Gruett says plumbers must first understand the water conditions in their area as well as their customers’ needs and expectations.
“This is why we focus on educating above selling — we believe that if we educate properly, the sales come naturally. We consistently offer educational opportunities to our dealers, contractors and other members of our support network through Water-Right’s water school.”
Water-Right’s objective is to offer an added level of confidence to water professionals by giving them hands-on experience in identifying problematic water, connecting them with reliable local wholesale partners, and providing the right solutions for better water quality. The next Water-School is scheduled for Oct. 10-12.
Fix what broke it
K.C. Holcomb, director of sales and business development for Plumbing Wholesale USA, on behalf of Canature WaterGroup, contends that water treatment is one of the most profitable and compatible sub-trades that service contractors can add to their business. Canature WaterGroup provides homeowners and businesses with municipal and well water high efficiency water softeners (ion exchange), carbon filters, specialty two-tank systems, iron-removal systems, acid neutralizers, UV lights, reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration drinking water systems, and a complete line of cartridge and housing filters.
“It is also the right thing to provide for homeowners with increased awareness of the important need for whole-house and drinking water solutions,” he says. “Canature WaterGroup supports and has vendor partnerships with all the major service contractor affinity groups — Nexstar, PHCC/QSC, Service Roundtable/Service Nation Alliance and CEO Warrior. These professional groups provide best practices business coaching and training to help their members to grow and add profit to their business.”
To assist contractors, the NOVO residential product line has an online Pro Advantage program and website with online video training, follow-up on-site trainings and a dealer locator. The program provides each participating technician with a free of charge starter kit, which includes hardness and chlorine/chloramine testing kits, promotional handout brochures, pipe hangers and a laminated softener sizing guide with features/benefits of the 485HE valve.
“Our training philosophy focuses on teaching technicians to ‘Finish the Job … Fix the Water that Broke it!’” Holcomb says. “We have an experienced team of regional sales reps as well as customer service and technical support staff available to assist with product applications and sizing, start-ups, troubleshooting and to provide free well water testing/recommendations.
“By default, plumbers are water treatment experts. They are invited into homes every day to fix, repair or replace something that water broke, and they entered into their noble trade believing ‘The Plumber Protects the Health of the Nation.’ Isn’t it then their right and responsibility to educate and offer their customers water treatment solutions to protect their homes and families?”
Major Avignon, chairman and CEO of Water Inc./Premier Products, says they offer a full range of water treatment products for either point-of-use or point-of-entry applications.
“We offer a self-administered water test kit or the option to send in a water sample for testing, and we also have a technical assistant department to answer questions during normal business hours,” he says. “We have full-time regional sales managers to assist our dealers in fielding questions from end-user consumers. In addition, each call into the office is handled by one of our tech help persons so that recommendations are individualized to address the specific situational needs.”
Avignon advises that contractors not be shy about asking for help.
“Addressing specific needs can be quite a complex situation. Give us a call and allow us to assist you in meeting your customer’s water treatment needs with product and advice.”
Noelle Giblin, senior director product marketing for GROHE Faucets, says their product development process focuses on solutions that benefit all users — from the professional to the person using the product every day.
“We take into account how the product installs, operates and, ultimately, delivers water to the end user,” Giblin says. “Each element is important to us, so professionals and end users can count on us to provide the right education and support along the way.”
GROHE Blue offers customers a five-step water filtration process that removes the smallest of particles while leaving behind important minerals.
“We also have two separate waterways — one for filtered water and one for regular tap water — to ensure homeowners are truly receiving filtered water, not mixed. Our Blue unit also offers the consumer a chiller and sparkler element. The chiller allows the customer to pre-set the temperature of the filtered or sparkling water to her ideal chilled temperature. The sparkler does exactly what the word indicates: provides the customer with two options of sparkling water.”
Giblin advises that professional plumbing contractors should make sure they discuss the various options and their respective benefits with their customers.
“Through video, brochure and website content, we communicate the benefits of having filtered water for the health and the enjoyment of sparkling water, all in one single product. There are benefits in taste, health, wellness, convenience and sustainability.”
Tony Friesl, executive vice president of Enviro Water Solutions, says they provide contractors with training and support materials as well as videos to help them add water treatment solutions to their offerings. In addition, regional sales directors conduct hundreds of in-the-field contractor training sessions each year to support the contractors’ customers.
“For contractors focused on expanding their water treatment business, we have also hosted in-depth trainings where each trainee received a copy of a local water report, a list of contaminants that the carbon filter addressed, homeowner leave-behind literature, links to all our videos, a detailed brochure and Q&A quick guides, which makes the effort turnkey for the contractor. In addition, we have also added a full training module on our website for contractor use.”
Friesl says they offer an array of water treatment products, including whole-house filtration, salt-free water conditioning and point-of-use filtration, to ensure the contractor can provide the ideal solution to each homeowner’s specific water treatment issue.
“We know a contractor’s credibility is built through recommendations, which he or she gets by always delivering quality work and being knowledgeable in their field,” Friesl says. “This in-depth plumbing knowledge and solid reputation places the contractor in the perfect position to solve another common customer issue that is plumbing related — water treatment.”