Do you enjoy watching birds, or a butterfly garden perhaps? Do you relax at the sound of a frog’s summer song? Maybe a couple of cotton-tailed rabbits come into your yard each evening. Whatever your pleasure or the pleasure of your customers, each of natures most watchable wildlife friends have very different water requirements. Some may prefer shallow water while others may like deeper water or slow moving water versus fast water. Even a well placed rock that collects stray droplets from a waterfall’s splash; that leaves no more than a wet spot; can attract many species of butterflies looking for a little moisture to satisfy their water requirements.
It has long been known that water features attract many things and wildlife is no exception. Most everyone with an existing water feature or anyone wishing they had
a water feature, tend to enjoy the natural world around us. After all, water and wildlife just belong together.
Proper quality component selection, harmonious design balance, element orientation and specialized installation techniques can give an overall naturalistic appearance as well as provide resting spots for dragonflies or frogs, perches for song birds or butterflies and sentry posts for the guardians of your pond system, making your clients backyard paradise a safe haven for indigenous wildlife species.
I recognized this connection early on in my career as a water feature contractor and began to use this information to my advantage. One of the first advancements I accomplished with this information was within the realm of advertising. I began to market my abilities to design and install truly natural appearing water features through organizations and facilities that catered to nature minded clientele.
Bird watching organizations like the Audubon Society and retail shops like Wild Birds Unlimited became major sources of income. Even groups that cater to sportsmen provided excellent leads and referrals for some of my largest projects.
The greatest relationship I ever forged; however; was when I literally stumbled across a little known program; still in it’s infancy; being sponsored by one of the largest wildlife conservation organizations in the world with more than six million members world wide. The ‘Wildlife Habitat Program’ organized by the National Wildlife Federation was probably the most incredible program I have implemented into my water feature business.
This program allows absolutely anyone to ‘certify’ their privately owned property as an ‘official’ wildlife refuge and sanctuary after meeting four essential wildlife survivability requirements. Provide food, water, shelter and nesting sites for local indigenous wildlife and a homeowner or commercial property owner can establish their own wildlife habitat.
I immediately began utilizing this program as an innovative customer service tool for my business. Unknown to my clients, I would establish a level of interest in the wildlife found in the area while discussing available options for the water feature in their backyard paradise. It is not difficult to determine a client’s likeability factor toward wildlife and nature with a few simple questions dispersed throughout your interview with them while discussing their upcoming water feature installation project. After completing the installation of their water feature, I would fill out and submit the application for certification to the National Wildlife Federation for approval; with a request that the ‘suitable for framing’ certificate would be sent directly to me and not to the address of the property on the application.
This allowed me; still unknown to my clients; to receive the certificate after three or four weeks of application processing and shipping time and get the certificate attractively framed. Once framed, I would call and arrange for an unscheduled visit to follow-up and check on the status of the client’s water feature. Most clients; with their first water feature; will not be able to absorb every piece of information you left them with. So after three or four weeks of ownership they have remembered some, learned a little and most certainly have a lot of questions. This is a prime opportunity to provide some great customer service. That in itself is a good service call but I have brought more! I have brought with me a free gift, a beautifully framed and attractively designed certificate that establishes and designates my client’s home as a special place, a safe haven for the wild creatures they enjoy in the backyard they are so proud of. A free follow-up visit and a free gift, gains you a customer for life.
You cannot buy this kind of customer loyalty, or can you? For around twenty dollars, (NWF certification application fee and the frame), you too can contact the National Wildlife Federation at www.nwf.org and start your own customer loyalty policy. This program has gained so much popularity, growing and expanding to a level that has evolved into the current Wildlife Habitat Program that boosts more than 100,000 participants throughout the United States. A recent alliance formed between the National Wildlife Federation and Savio Engineering has made this program even more accessible to water feature enthusiasts as the certification packets are now available inside each of Savio’s six Pond and PondFree Kits. The certification packets contain all of the information you will need to provide each of the required elements necessary to the survival of your favorite backyard friends.
Rick Bartel; a twenty year experienced veteran water feature contractor; is the current administrator and primary instructor for the Savio Water Feature Institute whose industry wide popularity of advanced educational seminars has literally redefined the water feature installation industry.