Wait–Is it already May?! I was talking with a customer yesterday and they had told me their busy season was currently happening since their customers had begun receiving reminders–to which I thought, well, isn’t it a bit early to consider the busy season? After all…it’s….Oh my goodness! It really is May! Many municipalities have sent out their 60-day or 30-day reminder notices for backflow devices to be tested–with June and July right around the corner.
Proactive, not Reactive
Are you waiting for your customers to contact you to come test their backflow devices, in a slight panic? Your administrative assistant may dread this time of year if so. If you’re admin-free and have all your business calls forwarded to your cell phone, I can guarantee you’re not getting through a dinner without a call during this time of year! But isn’t there a better way to deal with backflow reminders? Do you really need your wife and kids rolling their eyes every time your phone rings at the table? Of course there is, and it’s what I like to preach–being proactive, not reactive.
Get a few strides ahead of your customers’ reminders
First, create a test-yearly list so that you can stay on top of the water districts in your area. Then, remind customers long before the water purveyor contacts them. Think about how much nicer it’d be to get an email saying, “We’ll be testing your backflow device next week, so you can rest easy,” versus a “30-day-notice” from the water district. Although it’s standard to send these out as friendly reminders, there’s still a bit of panic that sets in when you receive anything as a “reminder.” (I get a little anxious when I get a Save-the-Date for a wedding in the mail–it’s an elegant reminder!) Not only are your customers going to be return customers for life this way, you get to relax a little since the devices have already been tested in April or May- and you won’t be taking last-minute phone calls on June 29th. I know you’ve had those frantic calls, “Can you test it tomorrow?!” And if you free up time later in the season, this opens up the option to have new customers that DO happen to call you then. And the next year? You can send them a friendly email reminder that they are set! I mention email so much because it’s an easy way to track who you have and haven’t notified–there’s a clear “paper” trail, and without the cost of the stamp, envelope, and time to print, fold, and seal the reminders. I’ve heard that some people actually like to wait for their water district to notify them–and in this case, our web portal is a pretty awesome option. You can allow your customers to schedule a test to be completed, and you get paid as soon as the work is completed–no need to send off an invoice and trek on down to the bank every time you receive a check 2 weeks later.
Ultimately, my advice is always to be one step ahead of your customers. You know your water district better than your average customer. You know when the due dates are, and when they’ll start sending backflow test reminders. Some places, like Twin Falls Idaho, sends out 120-day reminders so that the customer has all summer to contact a cross-connection tester. Others wait until it’s 30 days out, which is a short 4 weeks to test a multitude of customers. Being ahead of the curve is the way to have a successful backflow testing business. There’s no reason to get behind if you set yourself up for success BEFORE you need to.