By Russ Jundt
The irrigation industry has a significant opportunity to be a force of positive change for smart irrigation. With July recognized as Smart Irrigation Month, water conservation is again a topic of conversation, along with what it means for the irrigation industry.
Last year, I provided seven steps that we use to best determine when systems are wasteful and how we can correct the issues, which end up saving thousands of gallons of water per day. As a follow-up, I feel it is essential to share details on how to develop a winning smart irrigation system that is scalable and repeatable – meaning best practices for positioning your company to deliver the message and to properly implement systems to ensure that the end user receives the smart irrigation message.
Here are six steps that will help you scale the idea of smart irrigation.
Step 1: Develop a company mission statement that reflects the goal of smart irrigation
It may sound simple, but our industry hasn’t traditionally focused on mission statements that align with smart irrigation or water conservation. In fact, some don’t mention the idea. In the irrigation industry, it is common for most companies to focus on making grass and plants wet. While watering the landscape is certainly important, it’s equally – if not more – important to save as much water as we possibly can in the process. If more companies develop mission statements around water conversation, then our industry will begin to see a drastic change in how we talk about the subject.
Step 2: Create a website that reinforces the concept of smart irrigation
Your website is the first place that customers and prospective franchisees go to learn more about your company, mission, vision, goals and values. It’s important to ask if your website reinforces the concept of smart irrigation. Does it include links that redirect to your blog or other landing pages that speak to efficiency? If the answer is no, then we can’t possibly expect a website’s unique visitors to learn about the importance of the cause. It’s essential to make sure that your website speaks about the cause in a manner that will help drive home its importance.
Step 3: Invest in technician training
There’s perhaps nothing more crucial than ensuring that your technicians are always properly trained to conduct the job and interact with clients. At Conserva, we initially refer to our service technicians as sales technicians, since they are client-facing and remain the point of contact for our customers nearly 100 percent of the time. Since technicians are so important to the process, it’s essential that time and resources are used to educate them, so they are entrenched in the latest technology and most efficient water conservation techniques.
It’s recommended to conduct quarterly training, along with weekly tailgate training sessions, so you can keep smart irrigation top-of-mind. This way, you control the process and don’t risk a lack of information retention. It’s always on us to give our technicians the information they feel they need to properly communicate the product and its water conservation benefits to the end user.
Step 4: Tell a story for your clients
If your mission is built, website is efficient, and technicians are properly trained, then you need to begin to effectively tell the water conservation story to your clients. In order to properly sell a service, you have to identify the inefficiencies that were discovered during the walk-through and a recommendation to fix them. At Conserva, we use an SES process, which systemizes all of our appointments by outlining a standard checklist that is followed in detail. We identify the deficiencies and provide an estimate, which is communicated both verbally and in writing.
By properly telling a story and outlining a process that can be replicated across all territories, you’ve created a machine that can be easily duplicated and you’ll avoid common business pitfalls in the process. Be honest and forthcoming with the client by using an organized process, and it’s amazing the business success that a company can achieve.
Step 5: The speed of the coach is the speed of the team
Have you ever tried selling something that you don’t truly believe in? If so, chances are you weren’t very successful and probably missed your sales quota. Passion is the name of the game, and if you want to effectively sell water conservation to your clients and staff, then passion must be included in your business plan. You have to believe in what you’re saying.
If you’re more a “do as I say and not as I do” person, then you’re in for a big letdown. Getting your company, staff, technicians and clients on board with smart irrigation takes an enormous amount of excitement and enthusiasm. And if you want smart irrigation to be scalable, then you truly have to eat, sleep and breathe the idea. There’s a reason you stepped into the irrigation industry, and I’m sure passion for the industry was part of it. Make smart irrigation a passion of yours, and your team will follow suit.
Step 6: Be consistent in your smart irrigation outreach
Never stray from your core message. That’s essential in any business plan, but if you want to win at smart irrigation, then you need to drive that message home to your staff and clients time and time again. If you lack consistency in your message, then, of course, the message will get lost in translation.
You must develop a clear and concise process with your team that effectively highlights the key benefits of smart irrigation and why it’s imperative that the industry continue to move in that direction. With any movement, the message will be adopted by a few, followed by the early majority and eventually the masses. But, that’s only if communicated effectively.
These six steps can help us continue to move toward a world of smart irrigation. As industry leaders, it’s essential that we do our part to help others succeed in their quest to build businesses that help save water and the planet. Water remains one of the most valuable resources on Earth, and we need to do our part to preserve it.
Russ Jundt is the founder of Conserva Irrigation, the only national outdoor irrigation company founded on the concept of water conservation. Conserva Irrigation is focused on generating awareness to the benefits of smart irrigation and to bring to the forefront simple step-by-step assessments that can make long-lasting impacts.