The past decade has seen record-breaking drought conditions in many parts of the country, with the South and Southwest being hit particularly hard. In those areas where drought has hit the hardest, water restrictions have been enacted. While this is undoubtedly challenging for landscape professionals, it also poses a great opportunity to be part of the solution.
When Every Drop Counts
In times of drought, it’s not uncommon for water regulations to vary drastically, even from town to town or within your service zone. This puts you, as the business owner, in a unique position to educate and assist your customers.
Water districts are imposing large fines on those who break the rules, so it’s critical that you and your employees understand the regulations.
If some—or all—of your customers are in areas with water restrictions, be sure to keep up with the latest information and understand the specifics of the restrictions. While you weren’t the one to impose the restrictions, you may need to explain to your customers why these restrictions are necessary.
Below are some options you can suggest to help conserve your customers deal with water restrictions:
With advances in irrigation technology such as smart controls and rain sensors now available, this is an exciting time for the irrigation industry. There are many ways that new technology is helping water lawns more efficiently, saving both water and, of course, money.
Among the new technology on the market, smart controllers are making big changes to the ways that lawns are watered. Smart controllers can adjust a watering schedule based on the moisture content from a moisture sensor. In other words, they won’t overwater the lawn. In addition, with rain-sensor technology, a smart irrigation system won’t turn on in the middle of a rainstorm as some of the older, timer-based systems would do.
Flow sensing is another major advance in technology that is helping conserve water. With a flow sensor, the system will detect a broken sprinkler head or pipe and automatically interrupt the cycle so that the problem can be corrected. Faulty systems and broken sprinkler heads account for a tremendous amount of water loss.
Drip irrigation is also an effective watering solution that can lead to more efficient use, because the water is being applied underground and directly to the roots. When talking to customers about drip irrigation, make sure that they understand they will not see the water percolating above the ground, but that all the work is being done underfoot, in a much more efficient method.
Talk to your customers about ways they can boost their irrigation efficiency with a new or retrofitted system. Retrofitting old systems with today’s modern, water-saving technology is a win-win for everyone.
Most landscape and irrigation companies report that it’s easier to find retrofit work than it is to find new installation jobs, and that market seems to be thriving. There is a lot of opportunity for companies to return to existing customers and ask about upgrades—even if they have before. As water-supply shortages become more of an issue around the country, customers who may have turned these services down in the past could now be interested.
Selling These Services
While it’s generally easy to talk to customers about upgrading their irrigation system, getting them to actually do it is another story. It can be an expensive up-front endeavor, and customers must be led to see the value. Be prepared to talk numbers and show your customer what the return on investment can be like with an upgraded or new system. While it might take a couple of years to reap the rewards, show your customers what their payoff could be.
Some companies have even gone as far as creating case studies that provide specific examples of former customers who are saving water and, in turn, saving money. One-page sell sheets like this give a potential customer something concrete, as opposed to talking about future savings that may seem far-off and abstract. A sheet like this can be distributed to potential customers or be included with proposals.
Those in the industry know that droughts and water shortages are issues that are not going away. It’s important that your customers know, too. As the population increases and the water supply is smaller, these changes are a necessary part of the future. Fortunately, you can absolutely help your customers who have water restrictions. Educate them on the issues, but also make sure they know you have solutions.