One of the greatest errors a water feature contractor can make is to use inferior products and components in water feature designs. Absolutely nothing will eat up your profit faster than having to return time and time again to fix, repair or replace faulty or failing equipment. It is for this reason alone that contractors should learn more about the products they use and the manufacturers that make them. As the expert, you’re expected to know which products work and which ones do not, what design function is better than others and which products fit your applications the best. A little background knowledge can save you literally hundreds and even thousands of dollars annually in lost or wasted revenue. Properly designed and solidly built products will not only save you money but can also be responsible for boosting your businesses’ reputation for quality installed water features.
The NAPP, (National Association of Pond Professionals), has stepped up efforts to assist contractors in this area as they have begun independent testing of manufactured products and components in order to determine if these products do indeed work as intended and as promoted. This will be instrumental in establishing guidelines for acceptable criteria in the design and manufacturing of quality water feature components for the sustainable future of our industry.
A few simple guidelines that you can use when selecting quality components for your water feature projects is to follow this list of “L’s”:
• LISTEN carefully to what manufacturers are actually saying about their products. Sometimes it is extremely easy for advertisements to make you think something that was never said. Take your time listening to or reading an ad…don’t assume anything. Take the ad at face value “word for word.”
• LOOK at the methods by which the products are being designed and constructed. It has long been known within the scientific community as a fact, that round or egg-shaped structures are far stronger and more durable than a square box, yet contractors still continually buy the old outdated “box” filters that are notorious for collapsing and crushing under pressure from compacted soil.
• LEARN what types of materials are being used in the components. Sometimes a cheap knock-off version of a product can appear equal to another reputable brand but can lack key features. Cheaply made products made of inappropriate materials may also have adverse effects on the ecosystem you have created.
• LAUNCH a close up view of the fine print in the product warranty. Some product warranties begin on the date of manufacture without regard to the length of time that item is sitting on warehouse shelves or during shipment or waiting on a retail shelf to be purchased.
• LIST the items that are important to you and select products that fulfill those requirements. Don’t forget aesthetics; one elementary problem contractor’s face, is trying to hide these man-made components after installation and very few manufacturers address this issue adequately. Other manufacturers’ products are so well thought out, that they have been awarded U.S. Patents for their designs.
• LOCATE and ally yourself with established organizations that support the industry. You’ll gain the benefit of learning about new products and new ideas, receive discounted admission to seminars and can get access to a wealth of contractor-specific educational materials.
• LEND credibility to your business. Do the job right the first time and your business will gain a reputation for quality work and installing systems that actually function as intended, leaving you with a long list of satisfied clients and a strong word of mouth referral business.
• LAST but not LEAST, use a little common sense. Pay attention to all of the experience and knowledge you already have and remember that the water feature industry is constantly evolving. Participating in a few training seminars, attending the National Convention and becoming certified can go a long way toward providing the background knowledge you need to make informed decisions in the successful selection of superior supplies.
Remember that it is your business and your reputation at stake. Take pride in your efforts by using quality products and components. Great water feature designs help build a satisfied list of clientele and boost this industry’s overall reputation.
About the Author
Rick Bartel; a veteran Certified Master Water Feature Specialist for more than twenty years in the industry; is currently the Program Administrator for the Savio Water Feature Institute as well as their Primary Instructor, teaching a series of exclusive, advanced, contractor-focused seminars around the globe including the popular R.I.S.E. Method of natural rock and boulder placement techniques. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Pond Professionals, is the chairman of the Continuing Education Committee and the co-author for the organizations National Certification Test.