The Price of Freedom

Nov. 24, 2010
Increase the appeal of your free water test

About the author: Carl Davidson is president of Sales And Management Solutions Inc., a New York-based company that specializes in live and video training, coaching, recruiting and lead generation for the water equipment industry. To see a list of products and free sales training videos, visit or call 716.580.3384.

Almost all water equipment dealers offer a free water test. This strategy has been around for about 50 years and it may be showing its age. Is it still working for you? If you offer it on your website, how many people contact you to get one every month? If you offer it on your business cards or in your ads, is it working well or is it something that sounds good but does not bring home the bacon?

If you enter “free water test” into Google, 38 million pages come up. Can you make your offer more appealing than the other 38 million? If you want to perk up your results, there are a few simple things you should consider.

What Free is Worth

Free advice is worth zero. Never say your test is free. Find a fair value to place on it. I called local testing labs where I live and a fair value for what we test is $120. If you value your test, so will the customers.

Always Have a Reason Why it is Complimentary

If your test has a value, then you need to give a reason why it is free. It could be as part of your participation in a show, it could be because you are working with a customer’s neighbor. Think about it—would you do more to get a $120 test at no charge or a free test at no charge? We are asking customers to give us their time and to stick to the appointment. Would a good percentage of prospects do that for a free test?

Use the Term Professional

We get much better results when we use the term “professional.” It is not a free water test; it is a “$120 professional audit of the water you use for drinking, cooking and cleaning.” Make what you offer sound as good as you can and more people will want it.

Offer Additional Benefits

In ads online and on TV, many companies sweeten the offer with gifts. This is designed to entice people who are not thrilled with your first item to go ahead with the purchase. A good gift can really increase response.

One dealer I know offers a free copy of a famous book on natural health cures as a bonus for having the test. Another dealer offers a water heater blanket that will save the homeowner 4% to 9% of their total monthly energy bill. Another dealer offers a free resin cleaning of the customer’s current equipment that will save 10% on their salt usage. Another offers dinner for two at a local restaurant.

Everyone likes a gift, and offering one can dramatically increase the number of tests you perform.

Show Something High-Tech

When you mention the test, consider showing something high-tech or interesting. Even a TDS meter is interesting to people outside the industry. What high-tech items can you show or demonstrate to increase interest?

Expand the Test to Include a Green Review

The public is focused on “green” topics. Consider expanding your test to include other energy savings items.

For example, you can check the temperature on their water heater tank and explain that turning down the temperature can save them money. For each 10°F reduction in water temperature, they can save between 3% to 5% in energy costs. You could give them a gift of a low-flow showerhead. These will save them 20% to 40% of the water they use when showering. Showing savings they can get for free makes them glad you came by.

Can You Guarantee Any Benefits?

A water test alone is not enough for many people in your market. Try offering actual savings. For example, you could say that you guarantee to save them 20% on their energy costs for free from what they learn during your test. Ask how much their energy bill is. Then ask if saving 20% would be a good thing for their family. Put together a test that includes free ways to cut energy costs. For example, you can show them that an average family wastes 10% of their energy costs just from having items like a TV on constant standby. This is astounding to many families.

Showing them how to save on water and on other energy costs lowers their buying resistance and raises their trust level. Then your product presentation is just another option you are showing them; it is the ultimate saving tool. They are predisposed to accept what you show them.

Use Appointment Setters

Once you have a great program that appeals to consumers, consider hiring appointment setters. These people do not sell; they simply go door to door and set appointments. This is being done effectively in many parts of the country. You can use this method to generate unlimited appointments in an affordable way if you have an appealing in-home testing program. We have helped many clients set up appointment setters and their cost per appointment is very affordable.

Do not keep offering the same old tired water test. Evaluate your results and keep improving your test until it appeals to today’s market.

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About the Author

Carl Davidson

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