It’s the extras that can set you apart from your competitors.
By Gary Shawver, MGWC
Once you begin to consider the importance of little things, you quickly realize there are no little things.
What are some little things you can do that will make a big difference in the public’s perception of you, bring your company “added value,” and set you apart from your competitor? Most of the time these are things actually easy to do—and you don’t have to look far to find them.
Here are three things we’ve done at our company.
Painting the Colors
The first thing we did was to start painting the exposed portion of the well casing of our completed wells, and color coding our well caps. Before the crew considers the job complete, I require the part of the well remaining above ground to be washed, dried, and then freshly painted, including both PVC and steel-cased wells.
Of course, adding steps often results in questions from your employees. This time was no different. I still remember being asked, “Why are we doing this?”
My responses were several:
“The customer cannot see what we did except the top 1 foot to 18 inches of the casing. So if the casing is dirty or somewhat rusty, it doesn’t look appealing.” Appearance says a lot about your customer’s perception of you.
I also stated to my employees, “Have you ever driven a new or used vehicle off a car lot that was dirty? These people are paying for a new well, so we are giving them a freshly painted casing to show we have pride in what we do!”
My last statement in trying to convince my employees of why we should do this was: “They pay more for a well we drill for them, so our customers should expect more from us.”
In addition, our logos and color scheme help customers identify us. Shawver Well Company’s colors are blue and silver. All our rigs and equipment are painted blue and silver.
When an order of new well caps came in from our supplier, they were painted green. I had our shop personnel lay them all out and paint them blue to match our shade of blue (both the inside of the well cap as well as the outside of the cap). When we got done with a well, we had a freshly painted casing and a new blue well cap.
Doing the little extra things for your customers will pay you dividends over the years.
Since we began painting our well casings more than 20 years ago, both customers and competitors (as well as local health officials) identify our wells from the road by the blue caps, or the blue caps and silver well casings.
Customers see the painted casings as a nice touch—one they appreciate. Our employees now see the importance of doing this and readily and willingly paint the casings.
Also as a side note, PVC doesn’t like sun as its rays will cause the PVC to weather, dry out, and become brittle. Painting it with a spray paint compatible with plastic adds protection to the PVC, another benefit of taking the extra step.
Flying the Flag
Another little thing we have done that has become a trademark for our company is flying an American flag at the top of our drill rigs. Before every derrick is set up, we attach an American flag to a pedestal we have fabricated and attached to the top of the derrick.
Not only is it patriotic, but it gives an additional feeling of pride to our employees when customers comment on the added touch. Yes, it takes a few minutes to attach the flagpole to the derrick, but we figured out a way to do it easily. When the job is done, we are able to store the flag and pole in one unit in the cab of the drill where it is out of the way and where it is much easier to keep it clean.
Again, people in the area can tell from a distance when they see the flag it is our company drilling that well. We have even had people who call to inquire about having a well drilled and have asked our receptionists if we are the ones that “fly the flag” on our drills. One customer, after the response was positive from the receptionist, stated: “I want your company to drill my well.” Now that was an easy sale!
If you consider doing this, please make sure you keep a clean and fresh flag at the top at all times—and when they become soiled or dirty, to dispose of them according to our country’s protocol for flag disposal. Google “How to properly retire an American flag” to see any number of links.
Warranting the Work
Several years ago we implemented a written warranty for our water wells. I would surmise most contractors have a well they will occasionally have to move back on and repair for one reason or another. We do too.
We’ve found most of those “move backs” are within the first five years of their construction. And in all cases, unless it is geologically related (beyond our control) we have repaired those wells at “no charge.”
Therefore given we have stood behind them, we decided why not put it in writing? And so we have. We give a 10-year transferable warranty on materials and workmanship on all wells. This does not cover water quality issues as these are beyond our control and we state that in our warranties.
When the customer pays for the well, we give them a nice parchment warranty outlining the details of the warranty and a special seal with our company logo on it. This is attached to the bottom of the warranty. Each warranty is signed by the general manager of the company.
If a property is sold, the owner simply calls us and lets us know who is the new owner—and for a very modest fee, we then transfer the warranty to the new owner. The warranty transfer gives both the homeowner and the new owner a great deal of comfort in knowing they have a warranty on their well.
Doing the little extra things for your customers will pay you dividends over the years. And going above and beyond what is expected also helps establish a culture within your business.
Do the little things. They are easy to do and they will set you apart from your competitor.
Gary Shawver, MGWC, is president of Shawver Well Co. Inc. in Fredericksburg, Iowa. He has been in the water well industry for 40 years and is a Master Groundwater Contractor. He has served as president of the Iowa Water Well Association, the Iowa Groundwater Association, and most recently served on the NGWA Board of Directors. Shawver is semi-retired, having sold his business to his employees. He contributes to NGWA’s member e-publication and can be reached at email@example.com.