Rod Yoder has been with Kinetico Incorporated for almost 24 years. For much of that time, water treatment equipment salespeople have operated in much the same way: They arrange a visit and do a big demonstration about the need for equipment designed to bring the very best water into people's homes.
“We have interactive tests, like one that has a glass with hard water and a glass with soft water,” says Yoder, Kinetico’s Director of North American Dealer Sales. “We add soap and shake them to show the difference.
“It’s a lot of visualization. Our salespeople have been doing it forever.”
But, Yoder says, the industry has known things need to change.
“People weren’t letting us in the house for a two-hour demo. People are busy, and often there’s only one person home,” he says. “So we’ve been adjusting, knowing that we needed to be more proactive and start doing more online.”
The water treatment industry needs new ways to sell, retain customers and deepen relationships, Yoder says. And that realization came before the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, which provided even more impetus.
“When Covid hit, it really changed things, some of it in a good way,” he says. “It forced our dealers to look for other ways to contact and sell to customers.
“You have to be able to share the benefits of the product without the big show.”
The pandemic has also forced dealers to think about their future, the future of water treatment, and how to manage modern customer relationships.
Kinetico’s new partnership with ServiceTitan plays a huge role in all those areas.
It all goes back to information — what you do with it and how you manage it. And that’s where ServiceTitan comes in. ServiceTitan could be huge not just to Kinetico, but to others in the water treatment industry.”
Modernizing water treatment, and operations
Just as the sales approach has had to evolve, so has Kinetico’s approach to its products. That means putting a greater emphasis on the Internet of Things and connected devices.
Kinetico has released a leak detection product that shuts off a customer’s water within five seconds of detecting a leak—and sends email and text message alerts. The product launch was an early step in getting dealers acclimated to IoT.
“It’s a big training curve, having people that normally install water treatment equipment now going after things connected to the internet,” Yoder says. “It’s not the easiest transition.”
But the payoff could be huge.
“Our next step is an add-on product for our water softeners that tracks how much salt is in the brine tank,” Yoder says. “That’s the No. 1 issue with water softeners. Consumers don’t check the salt in the brine tank. The salt level detector will tell how much salt is in the system. When it gets down to 25 percent it’s going to send a note through our app.”
The dealer and the customer get a notification that it’s time to add salt.
And the whole process can be run through ServiceTitan, which has software that enables service agreements such as memberships or clubs to increase customer contact.
“Dealers can say, 'Hey, Mr. Jones. For $20 a month, we’ll make sure you have salt all the time.’ And we’re going to coordinate that through ServiceTitan,” Yoder says. “It will handle all the communication, all the scheduling, all the contact with the homeowner.”
That should keep the customer happy, and the dealer in contact — which leads to another big benefit.
“Our No. 1 lead source is referrals,” Yoder says, “and the best way to obtain referrals is to be in front of customers. Our surveys show that 98 percent of our customers would buy from Kinetico again; 97 percent of them would refer a friend. With membership programs, the dealer can be in touch with the customer more, and get more referrals.”
That, Yoder says, could be a game changer for a lot of dealers.
“We have what we feel is the best water softener on the market. But 75 percent of the time, there is no further contact with that customer after the sale,” Yoder says. “Dealers would sell a water softener and the water softener ran great, so there was no reason for the dealer to contact the customer again. They kind of lost that customer.
“For the future, the dealers need to be thinking about having a customer for life. So we’re putting together products that are connected.”
And keeping Kinetico dealers connected with those customers.
“ServiceTitan will be the entry for dealers to set up service programs, to set up routine maintenance, follow-up calls, follow up on sales that didn’t close,” Yoder says. “We’re really using (ServiceTitan) to be the brains of our IoT program. Once we have that connection set up, then we’re going to push our connected products in the field.
“They’re all going to tie together.”
Choose your partners carefully
Kinetico dealers are an elite group, Yoder says, chosen because their businesses fit with Kinetico’s values.
“We are very strict about the people who sell our product,” Yoder says. “We don’t just give away exclusive territories. We could probably have 400 dealers in the U.S., and we currently have around 200. But our 200 dealers are the best in the country. They have integrity. They are good partners.”
That’s what Yoder saw in ServiceTitan, too, he says.
About 10 percent of Kinetico dealers already use ServiceTitan’s cloud-based water treatment business software, and Yoder says he expects that to rise to more than 25 percent in the next year. Eventually, he says, he’d like to see 50 percent of Kinetico dealers on the platform.
“Dealers don’t like change—none of us like change—so we want to make sure it works like they think it should, so they see the benefit,” Yoder says. “Many might not see the benefit right now, but down the road, as their peers are on ServiceTitan, I think we’ll pick up more and more dealers.”
The power to build memberships and automate relationships with customers will convert some in the water treatment industry. But the opportunity to make their businesses more valuable is another strong incentive.
“If they have memberships built up through ServiceTitan, that will add a lot more value to their dealership, too,” Yoder says. “That recurring revenue. That’s what drives a lot of things.
“There’s a multitude of reasons why they’re excited, but it’s mainly that it’s going to run more efficiently. It’s going to add a lot more value to the dealership, and it’s going to make them look a lot more professional, too.”
One final connection to seal the deal
Another big reason Yoder expects more of Kinetico’s 200 dealers nationwide to adopt ServiceTitan’s cloud-based water treatment business software? The company will soon begin delivering sales leads that come through Kinetico.com directly to dealers’ booking screens, through ServiceTitan.
“Leads are currently distributed through email,” Yoder says. “If a salesperson or a manager is away, that lead could be forgotten for an hour, two hours, maybe a day. When we provide them through ServiceTitan, it’ll be automatically loaded into their system, where multiple people can be notified of these leads. They will be able to react much faster to the customer.
“Some of our dealers react quickly already, and we can make reaction time even faster. It will help anyone who wasn't responding that fast, too."
The partnership between Kinetico and ServiceTitan could speed the transition to the future, and increase efficiency, too.
“It all goes back to information — what you do with it and how you manage it,” Yoder says. “And that’s where ServiceTitan comes in. With ServiceTitan, it’s taken care of in a very quick fashion.
“ServiceTitan could be huge not just to Kinetico, but to others in the water treatment industry.”
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