We here at Waterpaw are nearing the end of another year. As I sit and reflect on the business and plan for the future there is a large part of our business that I wish didn't exist. It makes us a ton of money, it is reliable, it happens every year. How can I want this steady stream of income to stop? Well, it's repair jobs that we are called on for ponds we didn't build. The water features that we repair every year belong for the most part to our largest competitor. The companies work "looks" great. But it doesn't function.
Homeowners call us fluster, angry and confused. They paid this company a lot of money. They will now have to pay my company a lot of money to repair it. These are not old systems. Often they are 2-3 years old and they just want the beauty on the outside to be a pleasant part of their yards and lives, instead of another stressor. Water features get a bad wrap because of installers like this.
Every time we come back to the shop after another cluster we had to repair we scratch our heads. Why weren't we called in the first place? Why would the homeowners in the area continue to use a company with a less than stellar track record on these? After years of asking ourselves this question we have decided that part of it comes down to simple customer education. Most people know what to ask a home contractor before they hire them. They know what to ask a drywaller. What they don't know is what to ask the pond guy.
So, here it goes.
Top 6 questions
Who else have you worked for? Do you have pictures? Can I talk to them? This one is soooo important. If they won't allow you to speak to a customer or two back away. Not just customers from this year. Speak to a customer that has been with them for a few years. Even better, go visit a few of these homeowners and their ponds.
References and reviews. Check their online presence and reviews for your kind of project specifically, don't assume that because they can do landscaping that they can do water features. They are very different skill sets.
How long have you been building? We here at Waterpaw have built hundreds of features in Northwestern Michigan.
Do you belong to any affiliations, are you certified? If they aren't ask yourself why. It makes no sense to not affiliate yourself with water feature companies if you are installing. It costs nothing and only offers the installer benefits and education.
Do you maintain your work? Do you warranty the infrastructure? If not then I would not recommend working with them. They don't maintain it because they don't know how, because they don't understand what they installed in the first place. We install and maintain and warranty our work. We can do this because we are educated and care about our customers.
Are you local? With Google these days this is a big one. Often, a company can appear local online using SEO and SEARCH tactics. Knowing your region, weather, and local aesthetics is important for a pond guy.