PONDer This: Pump Up the Customer Satisfaction

Published on July 1, 2013

Pumps: they are the heart of the pond. But when a pump fails it can mean many things. Filters may suffer and fish may die. At the very least, your customer is inconvenienced. The majority of customers understand that a pump, like most anything else, will not last forever and they generally don’t expect it to. But premature pump failure often leaves a sour taste in a pond keeper’s mouth. Even if the pump is replaced for free under warranty, it is still generally an unpleasant situation for your customer. It also adds more to your to-do list.
So what can we do to help ensure that our customers’ pumps last as long as possible? The two main points I want to address that will reduce the number of warranties you have to deal with are proper pump selection and proper pump maintenance.

Using a pump that is appropriate for the application is critical. I’m not going to go into all the factors involved with pump selection here; that is for a much longer column and has been addressed numerous times in POND Trade and other publications. If you or your staff needs additional help knowing how to select a suitable pump, make sure you get this training as soon as possible. It will be indispensable moving forward.

But then what happens? You have spent the time making sure your customers will be using the best pumps for their systems. It is greatly out of your hands at this point. However, you are still the expert here. It is up to you to ensure that your customers have all the information they need to properly care for their pumps.

This starts with obvious care like ensuring that any pre-filtration is kept clean enough to allow full flow. It also includes making sure your customers know to never use the power cord as a handle. (Yes, they do this — all the time. And then they wonder why the pump is tripping their GFCI.)

But the less-obvious care involves servicing the pump itself. Do your customers know what they can take apart to clean or inspect and what should never be disassembled? Do they know how to access the impeller of a magnetic- drive pump? Do they realize that reduced flow is more likely to be due to a clog in either the filter or plumbing than a problem with the pump itself? Let’s make sure they know as much as possible about taking care of the pump on their own.

The best way to do this may depend on your resources. Unfortunately, most pumps have little if any care instructions included in the box, so it is up to you to make sure the information gets to those who need it. Some manufacturers do provide this information; it just may not be included in the box. Check with the manufacturer of the pumps you provide. They may have a video you can put on your website. Or, they may be able to help you create a handout to provide each customer that tells him or her what to do with his or her specific pump.

I have also heard of some retailers that offer a pump maintenance service. Allow your customers to periodically bring in their pumps for an inspection and cleaning for a service charge. This doesn’t give you less to do, but can bring in some extra income.

Whatever you do will be appreciated by your customers. It gives them longer service lifetimes from their pumps and reduces the time you spend dealing with warranties. It all ties into the main focus of this column: improving your bottom line and growing the industry by increasing the happiness level of the pond owners.

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