Water Well Wednesday

Last week at the Kansas Groundwater Show in Hutchinson, Kansas, I met Bruce Reichmuth of Hydro Resources (formerly Henkle Drilling) out of Garden City, Kansas. Bruce is in a small and unique club in our industry: once a week, he goes on the air at KIUL Radio 1240 AM and talks about water wells, drilling, pumps, and just about anything else having to do with groundwater.

1240It all started a few years ago when Henkle Drilling changed their name to Hydro Resources. To make sure that their customers knew about the name change, Hydro bought a few spots on KIUL. That relationship lead to the host of Mid America in the Morning to ask Bruce to be a one-time guest on the show to talk “a little bit about water wells.”

Pretty soon it was once a week, and two years later, Bruce is still at it. Every Thursday morning around 9:40, Bruce is on the air at KIUL to talk about a groundwater topic. Topics range from seasonal considerations, drought conditions, how pumps work, simple trivia, drilling methods, and even constant pressure systems – anything that educates the audience about groundwater. Sometimes Bruce will bring a guest with him such as a fellow employee or even an unsuspecting pump salesman. On yesterday’s show, Bruce discussed the Kansas Groundwater Convention and shared some of the McEllhiney Lecture (underwritten by Franklin Electric).

Bruce says he keeps asking the station, “Are you sure you want to keep doing this? This is all very interesting to me, but are you sure it’s that interesting to your listeners?” The reply is always the same, “YES! What you’re talking about is critical to this area and our listeners want to hear and know more about it.”

It’s actually been interesting enough that Bruce’s expertise has generated another show on KBUF 1030 AM. That show is called “Water Well Wednesday” and airs live during the “Today in Agi Business” program by John Jenkinsen. This is the live broadcast from Hydro Resources’ offices once every other month.

Granted, Garden City, Kansas is a unique market area and Bruce’s radio segments wouldn’t garner the same amount of interest in Chicago or Atlanta. But it does show how important it is to provide the general public with expertise and knowledge on groundwater. Just a few minutes a week is going a long way in western Kansas.

Seize the day

Yvoire_cadran_solaireSometimes with all the marketing and sales advice out there on how to manage and grow your business, it’s easy to forget how important it is to do the simple things right. Yesterday, I ran across this blog post, Carpe Diem, from a professional colleague at Franklin Electric. At first glance, her post  may not seem as if it applies to your water systems contracting business, but read on. The real life lesson here applies just about anywhere, and especially to your business. It makes the point so well, I decided to use it as this week’s Franklin in the Field post. Even when you think things are going well, don’t be the guy who doesn’t call back; someone else will.

Enjoy.

Carpe Diem

Some scary stuff has been happening in my town. Someone has been lying in wait at apartment complexes and attacking residents as they come and go. As part of its reporting on the story, a local news program decided to include a segment on self-defense, including a demonstration of technique. Out of the blue, my brother got a call to lead that demonstration.

My brother is an expert in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. He operates a dojo in his hometown, where he offers instruction, hosts seminars, and provides a gathering place for fellow students of the art. He’s still trying to get some traction for his business, as it’s not yet widely recognized in the area. He was thrilled to get the call from the TV station, but he was also pretty surprised.

The filming went off without a hitch, and the segment looked great. (Watch it HERE. Tell me he’s not awesome!)

During the course of the filming, curiosity got the better of my brother. Before the crew left, he asked the reporter why she had selected him over anyone else. Her answer offered an immediate object lesson:

You were the first person to call me back.

No one will argue that hard work and a good product are essential to success. Others would extol the necessity of good marketing, the right price point, and brand building. And I agree wholeheartedly. What I learned in that TV reporter’s answer, however, was the importance of seizing the moment. I have to be ready to jump on opportunity–which means I must also be alert and watchful for any potential.

My brother’s business wouldn’t have suffered if someone else had returned that call first. He would have kept doing what he’s doing, working hard to bring students into his dojo and share his passion. In fact, he’ll keep doing that anyway. Since he did call back, though, he’s certainly better for it. A few more people know about him, he has a terrific video segment to boost his credibility, and his confidence got a shot in the arm.

When opportunity knocks, make sure you’re listening–and then open the door.

Not just solutions, insight

lossless-page1-671px-Two_people_talking_tiffOn several occasions, I’ve emphasized how all of us in the water systems industry are salespeople in one form or another. And as a professional contractor, you are out there week after week selling our industry’s products, services, and expertise. The customer may be a homeowner, a business owner, a farmer, or a municipality. So given the importance of selling in our industry, whenever I see a business article about what makes a successful salesperson, it always gets my interest. In a post last year (Know your stuff), I highlighted a research study done by two PhDs that I thought stated the obvious. They identified eight different sales personalities and concluded the most successful type was what they categorized as “the expert”

I recently ran across a similar study with somewhat different conclusions. In a Harvard Business Review article entitled “The End of Solution Selling”, the authors identify and evaluate not eight, but five sales personality types. There are:

  1. Relationship builders, who take the approach of always being the good guy and focusing on exactly what the customer says he or she wants.
  2. Problem solvers: These sales types dive into a customer’s problems and work diligently to solve those problems.
  3. Hard workers treat sales as a numbers game with a mentality of “if I make more sales calls than anyone else, I will be the most successful”.
  4. A fourth type is the Lone Wolf. As the name implies, these salespeople are very independent and use everything at their disposal, sometimes at the expense of their employer’s policies and procedures.

What was interesting was the fifth type. In their study of 6,000 salespeople, the authors identified this type of sales personality as by far the most successful in today’s business environment. They call this type the Challenger. Challengers are debaters. They have a specific view of what their customer needs are beyond what the customer tells them. They actively share that view with their customer. They don’t simply acquiesce to what the customer is telling them, but instead take the approach of “I’m here to provide you insight and guidance on the issues and problems you don’t know you have”.

The Challenger approach leads to “insight selling” and the big idea of the article is that “solution selling” focuses on the problems that customers tell you they have, whereas “insight selling” focuses on problems customers don’t know they have. It’s important to note that Challengers don’t cross that line of becoming obnoxious. But they are assertive in their opinions of what they believe the customer truly needs.

So, what does any of this have to do with water systems? Even though I’m always dubious of academic articles on the topic of selling, I think the authors are actually confirming what many of us already know. When it comes to water systems, most end-users have no idea what problems they really need solved. Ask a homeowner during a typical service call what their problems are and they will tell you, “I’m out of water, fix it!” The solution selling approach would be to simply get them back in water. However, the Challenger says, “Okay, I will do that, but here’s why you are out of water and here’s what we are going to do to improve your water system.” Maybe the contractor then explains why they need a larger pump, constant pressure, or dry well protection. Once again, the approach is to use expertise and experience to offer insight and guidance.

At the end of the day, you obviously can’t force something on a customer. But you can take control and offer a firm opinion on what you know your customer needs, not just what they are telling you they need. The result will probably be a better, more reliable system for your customer and more sales for you.

All I want for Christmas

Lots of publications have their annual issues of holiday gift ideas or recommended products each year. Here is ours, albeit perhaps not quite as exciting as some of those – It’s our list of recommended professional meters for water systems troubleshooting.

There are five on the list. There are lots of other good meters out there, but here’s what Franklin Electric’s team of Field Service Engineers use on a day-to-day basis:

  1. First on the list is the Fluke 177 Digital Multimeter from John Fluke Mfg (www.fluke.com). As the name implies, this meter can be used to measure voltage, capacitance, resistance, and frequency. Measuring frequency is especially handy when you’re using a generator or variable frequency drive. List price is around $250.
  2. Also from John Fluke Mfg is the Fluke 375 Digital Clamp-On Ammeter. This meter measures current and is crucial for determining how hard the motor is working. List price on this meter is $325.
  3. In a previous post, I stated that a megger could turn time into money (Turning Time into Money). The one Franklin uses is manufactured by Universal Enterprises (www.ueitest.com). Their digital version is called the UEI DMEG3 Digital Megohmeter. It lists for $250 and is worth every dollar. It also can do double duty and measure resistance.
  4. The Simpson 372 Analog Ohmmeter has been a mainstay of our industry and others for literally decades. The 372-3 is the latest version and available at www.simpsonelectric.com. List price is $175.
  5. Is that capacitor still good? If you have a MFD-10 Digital Capacitor Checker from SUPCO (www.supco.com), you can find out in a snap. This little meter is ideal for control box troubleshooting and is only around $75.

MetersThere you have it. A list of the five meters for your toolbox that will allow you to handle just about any water systems troubleshooting scenario you run into. So, while this list may not seem as exciting as others you see this time of year, quickly and effectively diagnosing what’s going on with your customer’s water systems can be satisfying in its own way, not to mention profitable.

If you have any questions about these meters or how to use them, Franklin Electric’s Key Dealer Hotline can help. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800/348-2420.

Thanks to Rick Campbell, Franklin Electric, for his contributions to this post.

Inspiring confidence, part 2

A year ago, I wrote Inspiring Confidence about the numerous benefits of completing a Franklin Electric 2207 – Submersible Motor Installation Record. Although a completed 2207 has technical benefits, the real value is the confidence it inspires when you hand it to your customer after the installation is complete.

If the 2207 covers submersibles, what about aboveground pumps? Franklin Electric offers a similar installation form for those as well. In this case, it’s not called a 2207, but–you guessed it–a 2208 Form – Surface Pump Installation Data.

Much like the 2207 form for submersibles, the 2208 form for surface pumps is very complete and can be used as part of the documentation process for returning a pump for analysis or warranty consideration. It asks for a lot of information, but also includes a checklist to help make sure you’ve covered everything. And although it’s three pages long, you probably won’t need to fill out the entire form for most installations.

An interactive PDF version of Franklin Electric’s 2208 can be found on Franklin Electric’s website in the Americas Water Systems section under Special Documents on the Industrial & Irrigation Surface Pumps page, but here’s a direct link: Form 2208.

Realistically, if you’ve got a 1/2 horsepower jet pump installation, completing an entire 2208 is probably excessive. But just like the 2207, that’s not the point. The point is how impressed your customer is going to be when the job is complete and you hand him that completed 2208. Once again, by investing a few minutes, you’ll leave a positive, lasting impression on your customer; he’ll know that YOU know what you’re doing. When that system needs service down the road, he will pull out that 2208 and call you, not someone else.

It’s good for more than getting sports scores

If you’re the proud owner of a smartphone, here’s a scenario of where that little device might come in handy.

You’re at a job site, it’s after hours, and there’s one piece of information you need to get the job done. Maybe it’s sizing a generator, maybe you need to verify drop cable sizing, or possibly determine the proper size for a circuit breaker. The problem is, you can’t find your AIM Manual. You left it back at the shop, at the last job site, whatever.

Use that smartphone to access the Franklin Electric AIM Manual. Your smartphone has a web browser and instead of using it to just check the latest sports scores, go to:

www.franklin-electric.com

From there, click on Americas Water Systems, then on AIM Manual. A table of contents will appear. Click on whatever part of the AIM Manual you need. Once it loads, you’ll probably need to zoom in to make the information readable, but presto, there’s exactly that piece of info you needed to complete the job.

Is it as handy as having a hard copy of the AIM Manual in your hand? No, of course not. But in a pinch, don’t forget that the information you need may be right there on your belt.

P.S. Once you pull up the AIM Manual, bookmark it! Next time you can go directly to it. Click here for a SHORTCUT.

It’s always something

This week’s post comes from Rick Campbell, Manager, Inside Technical Support, at Franklin Electric.

The best thing about working a technical service hotline is that every day and every phone call is a different challenge; no two are ever alike and it’s never dull. However, after more than 20 years of dealing with technical issues over the phone, some calls and situations are just more memorable than others. Here’s one from several years ago that has stuck with me:

A contractor called for help troubleshooting a two horsepower, single-phase submersible installation. The system ran great – most of the time. But every few days, without any rhyme or reason, the overload in the control box would trip. Sometimes the system would run for a week or more without issue, and then the overload would trip several times in a week. Each time the contractor came out to check the voltage, it was well within limits. Over the phone, I helped him check out the entire system and it was good. We also tried to identify a pattern to no avail.

Knowing that the issue was most likely voltage-related, we eventually decided a voltage monitor was the only alternative. And sure enough, after several days of recording, it showed that the bottom would randomly fall out of the voltage. The power company was contacted, but they maintained that based on their data and the load on the system, everything was good.

The “aha” moment came when the contractor discovered that the next door neighbor was restoring a car in his garage in his spare time. In the restoration, the homeowner was using an industrial-size arc welder that when used, caused the voltage to drop at all of the surrounding houses. Of course, he was using it randomly and the pump was running randomly. Hence, the pattern of overload trips was even more random.

I don’t know how things were resolved between the neighbors, but it was another case where there was a reason behind the problem, and it was up to us to find out what it was.