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Surviving A Water Ban
Whether you are facing odd-even watering days or outright bans on the use of water outdoors, your business can thrive. There are a few things you need to know, and a few important changes to make to your marketing program.
First of all, watering bans and use-limits are meant to prevent the use of water other than for ‘quality of life’ things like drinking, cooking, and basic sanitation. The logic is simple: A clean car is not as critical to your well-being as being well-hydrated. The intent of these regulations is clear.
The bans can affect your business acutely, but perhaps not in the way you think. In every city with bans that I checked with, there was no restriction on the use of water for legitimate contractors. To put it simply, if you wash your car or water your lawn during weekdays in our county you are going to get a fine. The second time you do it, the county will shut off your water. That is that!
If you are a contractor, however, there is no restriction on you. No county wants to put you out of business!
So why does power wash business seem to drop off every time new restrictions are announced? Customers become confused about what can and cannot be done during a water ban. Most of them are convinced that no one can use any water outdoors – even you. Your job, as the Chief Marketer of your company, is to educate the customer about what the restrictions really mean.
First thing you must do is check the facts with your local water authority. This may be a city or county department or some other public or private entity. A little research (like looking at where your water bill comes from) is all you need to do to track down the right people. Ask them to send you information on the current watering regulations. Verify with them that you are exempt from their regulations because you are a company that earns its living using water.
NOTE: It is advisable, particularly if you do not use permanent markings on your vehicle, to carry your business license around with you. This will enable you to prove that you are a business and have a legal right to use water.
Armed with their blessing, you must find a way to inform your potential customers that you can clean even though they can’t. Even if it is illegal for your customer to hose down his driveway, it is completely legal for you to power wash the same drive.
There is good reason for this. Besides the fact that the government does not want to put a good tax-paying business owner out of business, you are really the best person in their minds to use any water. Look at it this way: the average person hosing down their drive will spend more time and use more water (while getting mediocre results) than you would power washing the same drive. Car washes have learned how to clean a car with about 15 – 20 gallons of water (and about 85% of that water is recycled and filtered and used for the next car). A civilian washing his own car will spend upwards of 140 gallons of water to accomplish the same result.
Turn a situation like this to your advantage. Make sure that every piece of mail you send (both email and snail mail) tells everyone that you can work through any water restrictions. We used stickers, attached to every estimate and Invoice and every promotional mail piece. These were droplet shaped, iridescent orange for visibility, and stated “WE WORK THRU WATERING BANS”. The results were GREAT!
We ended up doing direct mail to every customer in our database, just to be sure that they knew how this worked. The result? About 90 days into what would become a five-year drought, we were back running at full speed. You can do the same in your area, too.
If you advertise on radio or TV, this message can have even more dramatic results. Make sure that everyone you touch understands that you can do things for them that they cannot do for themselves.
We also began to charge extra for bringing water to the job, too. We charged an extra $50 to provide the water for our projects if asked, and customers accepted this without question. Another business opportunity, actually.
Watering bans can be an opportunity to ‘clean up’ (if you can stand such an obvious pun).
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Surviving A Water Ban For Pressure Washers
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