Editor’s note: Innovations in Marketing (…Or How the Industry’s Biggest Manufacturers are Wooing Your Dealership), is a new feature dedicated to illustrating how the biggest manufacturing companies in the water treatment industry are changing how business is done. As an independent dealer, there are a wealth of opportunities available that can enhance your success. It will be an ongoing series in which we’ll showcase each manufacturer’s unique marketing initiatives. What’s your company doing? Call our editors today: (520) 323-6144.
When designing a business model to attract the attention of today’s independent water treatment dealers, the LeverEdge and ISPC looked to their dealers for inspiration. Dealers, not manufacturers or finance companies, best understand the challenges of selling in the retail marketplace. In order for a manufacturer and finance company to offer the products and services that most accurately meet dealers’ needs, they have to be listeners first. The LeverEdge (LE) and ISPC, together, followed that approach and as a result, now offer aggressive, revolutionary dealer-driven products and services.
Three proprietary product lines
Start with the equipment: it goes without saying that dealers want to feel confident that their equipment is dependable. Additionally, those interested in growing their business are attracted to equipment that excites them; the challenge for a manufacturer is that not all dealers are excited about the same features. The LeverEdge has overcome this hurdle by starting with product branding, which includes powerful marketing materials for each proprietary brand. Next, they created multiple equipment programs designed to appeal to nearly any dealer. Dealers can choose between several proprietary equipment programs that all have credible product branding.
The firm’s first proprietary product line is aimed at attracting today’s marketing-savvy dealer and is backed by an industry-leading lifetime warranty. Understanding what the consumer responds to in marketing is key to the success of this rapidly growing brand. High-luster yet rugged products show extremely well in the home as a ‘professional grade’ appliance. The line offers dealers a plethora of supporting materials including an in-home presentation booklet (usually provided in the digital, editable format of PowerPoint), consumer brochures, branded reverse osmosis (RO) bottled water, a dedicated website, homeowners’ manuals, performance data sheets from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and more.
LE’s second proprietary brand of equipment began with product aesthetics: the color scheme is unique. The product valves and certain components are made exclusively for LE in a proprietary color. The line is engineered to be flexible to the dealer so that he can easily match his unique market needs. Whether dealers are looking for robust computerized control valves with many electronic efficiencies or durable high-flow, blue-collar reliability, it can be found in this line. Both single-cabinet and dual-tank models are available. Consumer marketing materials include in-home presentation booklets (digitally available), numerous consumer brochures, branded RO bottled water, a dedicated website, lifetime warranties, homeowner’s manuals, performance data sheets from NSF and more.
Next is General Electric’s (GE) developed product that serves as LE’s third proprietary brand. The LeverEdge is the exclusive distributor of this brand in the southeastern US. Strong marketing and technical support is offered from both LE and GE. Dealers get the added benefit of major corporate brand recognition through GE: its most impressive valve is utilized exclusively for the line. Products include dozens of high-end computer-controlled features along with consumer-friendly features like remote mountable control pads and ‘salt-sipper’ efficiency. The combined marketing support provided by both LE and ISPC also covers all the bases and provides today’s discerning consumer with a dazzling combination of eye candy and impressive performance.
Eliminating the price hurdle
Another key area where listening to and understanding dealers has influenced LE programs is addressing consumer affordability. After all, ask any salesperson: the most sensitive moment in any in-home presentation is gaining agreement about ‘the price’. Being well aware of this crossroad in every presentation, ISPC advocates promoting the affordability of low payments and the attractiveness of deferred payments.
ISPC, The LeverEdge’s sister company, finances water treatment products exclusively for LE dealers. Because of this unique partnership, ISPC can afford to do what other independent finance companies cannot. Since ISPC’s inception in 1983, President Robert Schabes has found success by getting into the mind of the in-home salesperson. Schabes knows that if the salesperson is comfortable and confident then the program is a winner. Based on this perspective, ISPC has developed lending that is user-friendly and especially attractive to consumers.
ISPC provides a menu of different revolving charge finance plans to attract today’s consumer. Multiple options that include buy-now-pay-later, same-as-cash, low monthly payment and low interest rate options are all available. ISPC’s signature 991® plan provides an aggressive combination of low interest and low payments. Introduced in 1995, the plan has been the staple of ISPC’s offerings. The annual percentage rate is 9.9 percent and the minimum monthly payment is only one percent (that’s $50 a month on a $5,000 contract). Just recently, ISPC added a new finance plan to its menu, Crazy 8’s, which goes beyond the 991® plan. It boasts an 8.8 percent APR and a 0.8 percent minimum monthly payment (that’s $40 a month on a $5,000 contract). These plans are not introductory offers to the consumer and can remain at these terms for the life of the loan. These preferred customer options are also available to any customer, not just those with excellent credit. By offering affordability, ISPC has helped today’s dealer eliminate the number one objection in the home—price. With minimum payments that usually range between one and two dollars a day, every homeowner can afford good water.
Primary and secondary financing
Such lending is also offered by ISPC, which dramatically increases the number of financed sales that a water dealer can expect to get approved. Here again, dealers taught us how important it is to loan to ‘credit challenged’ consumers and how much they need to work primarily with one finance company that can provide the marketing appeal of good terms and the approval ratios that maximize their profits. This type of lending is riskier and requires a different type of formula to ensure the lender’s success. Despite those factors, ISPC created its secondary program in 2004 to meet the needs of dealers and their customers. It has been a roaring success with its merchants ever since. New dealers see the immediate impact of ISPC’s aggressive terms in generating many more sales and they don’t have to shop multiple lenders in order to get a high number of applications approved.
Some salespeople view financing as a complication to the sale. In this department, ISPC’s credit application and agreement are also unique. It’s only one page and is arranged very simplistically. Salespeople inherently despise paperwork so ISPC has produced contracts that are sales-friendly. To take their contracts a bit further, they also intelligently structure their forms in a manner that minimizes the possibility of buyer’s remorse. You can hear the cheers coming from the sales offices of dealers around the country when they first lay their eyes on this one-page form.
At each level of ISPC’s program, one finds evidence of how they’ve gotten inside the head of the in-home salesperson and made his job much easier. Happy salespeople lead to happy owners and produce successful dealerships. This is the basis for ISPC’s dealer success formula. This company’s always listening to dealers in order to help them become more successful.
Although LE and ISPC have been steadily growing for more than a quarter of a century, their most explosive growth has been in the last few years. They collectively joined the water treatment industry in 2001 and have been rising to the top ever since. Now they work with more than 300 dealers nationwide and are adding new members to their family every week.
Additional dealer benefits
Sales incentives and vacations are also part of the dealer success formula. LE and ISPC recognize that dealers like to be a part of something meaningful and they like to be appreciated when their performance is excellent. So, for the last 10 years, the companies have hosted an annual vacation incentive. In 2005, they took over 100 people to Aruba for seven days and enjoyed many company sponsored activities such as a Jeep tour, golf tournament, offshore fishing tournament, scuba diving and snorkeling trips. This July they hosted more than 130 people on a vacation to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada for six days. These incentives are thoroughly enjoyed by the dealers that earn them and they work hard to earn as many trips as they can each year.
The LeverEdge and ISPC pay close attention to their dealers and prospects. Whether it’s daily customer service, technical support, marketable high-end proprietary products or one-of-a-kind financing, the services are dealer-driven.
About the author
Mark Schabes is the Director of Marketing and manages dealer conversions for The LeverEdge and ISPC. Schabes has over 11 years of experience in dealer development and marketing with The LeverEdge and ISPC. He can be contacted by phone at (800) 345-4472 x247 or via e-mail at [email protected]. Or visit the companies’ websites at www.theleveredge.com or www.theispc.com for more details.
About the companies
The LeverEdge is a leading OEM supplier of residential water treatment equipment. Its unique approach to supporting its dealer network by using product branding, marketing support, exclusive selling territories and proprietary consumer financing sets them apart.
ISPC, a sister company to The LeverEdge, offers aggressive financing exclusively for The LeverEdge’s products. ISPC is widely known for its industry leading low-interest, low-payment programs. Visit the company’s websites at www.theleveredge.com or www.theispc.com for more details.
About the products
SteelTec™ systems are made of 14-gauge, 316 surgical stainless steel with brass-bodied, nickel-plated valves and are backed by an industry-leading lifetime warranty. Visit the website at www.steeltecwater.com for complete information.
Avian™ products feature high-end esthetics, product flexibility, robust performance and overall affordability. Visit the website at www.avianwater.com.
AvantaPure™ is General Electric’s developed product and is offered exclusively to LE in the southeastern US. Visit the website at www.avantapure.com for more details.