PONDER This: Project Complete, does your customer know what to do next?

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We have some seriously talented pond builders in our industry. Much of the work you guys do is amazing and sets you apart as true artisans. This sets a fantastic groundwork for a happy customer. And, as the focus of this column continues to suggest, happy customers are the key to a thriving business as well as a thriving industry. But, having a happy customer on day one is simply not enough. You want and need a customer that is happy on day 10, and day 100, and day 1,000. How do we do that?

You laid the foundation for this with a gorgeous pond and a (hopefully) well-designed filter system. However, all of the effort you put into building the feature is meaningless if the customer is not able to care for the pond. And we are right back to education.

Will you be on contract to do the maintenance for your customers? If not, find them someone who can be, and show them how to do it themselves. Even if you are, you still need to show customers how to do maintenance themselves. And I think most of you are already doing that. But, when you are telling them all about the boring little details, they are enamored with this beautiful new water feature in their yard. How long do you think they remember what you tell them? In one ear, out the other. Giving them something to hold onto will go a long way towards helping them maintain and enjoy their pond. Some installers already do this by providing a handout or even a small booklet about pond care. I would suggest taking this a step further. Instead of some basic guide about ponds, teach them about their pond. If possible, shoot a short video showing them the procedure for maintaining the pump, filter and other equipment. If a video is not your speed, at least try to take some pictures of your crew performing the needed maintenance.

Provide them with all the necessary resources that they may need now or over the coming years. A folder with all the product manuals and other reference material will be greatly appreciated by your customers. Do you plan on consulting with them over the long haul? Should they call you if they have fish problems, et cetera? If not, refer them to a local retailer or expert where they can get the information they may need.

Did you leave them with a supply of dechlorinator or bacteria? Make sure they know how and when to use it. They also need to know what to do when they run out.
I consult with pond builders and pond owners every day. The biggest thing that I wish every pond builder would do to help their customers is meter the water as the pond is filled. A garden hose-attached water meter can be obtained inexpensively. By letting your customers know exactly how many gallons are in their ponds, you will make any treatment dosing easier and more accurate and likely prevent someone from killing fish with an overdose of an algaecide.

These extra steps may take a little more time, but it shows your customers that you care. It helps them maintain a water feature with greater ease. In turn, that makes for customers that love water gardens and love your company.

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