By Amanda Crangle

The law of averages implies that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. Can we all agree, however, that average, for the most part, is a moving target? What about in our own lives? Has our ‘average’ shifted in the last month, year, or decade? Did you start exercising two times a week on average and, over time, you worked your way up to an average of four days a week? What about in our business? Has your average number of online leads improved over the past year? What about in our industry? When it comes to aspects of our lives we can control, what are we doing to improve our average? A quote from Hal Elrod comes to mind, “It’s okay to be average, as long as you surround yourself with extraordinary people that you become the average of.”

At the 2021 Florida Water Quality Association Convention in Orlando, this year, one thing was certain: all of those in attendance were excited about surrounding themselves with extraordinary people who can move our industry, our businesses and our personal lives forward in a positive direction. The beauty of having a member-driven organization like the national and regional WQAs is that you can benefit from AND be a benefit to the industry by becoming an active member. As a business owner, a data-driven online marketer and someone who constantly evaluates both the value return and dollar return on an investment, getting involved regionally and nationally with these associations provides a healthy return of both. Let’s discuss a few ways getting involved can increase your return on investment and improve your online presence.

Competitive advantage
Imagine for a moment you’re walking down the aisle at your local grocery store, scanning the shelves for a gluten-free protein bar. Your spouse texted you minutes before saying, “Be sure the protein bars are ACTUALLY gluten-free.” You pick up two different boxes. One says, ‘Gluten-Free Goodness Delivered in Every Box.’ The other has a giant seal on it that says, ‘Certified Gluten-Free” by the Beyond Celiac Organization.’ You look at the first box again and scour it for the same or similar certification. You see nothing of the sort. Within a split second, your brain has identified the box with the third-party certification as the more trustworthy brand. You weigh the certification on the second box against the product images and price on both options, wondering if it will taste as good as it looks and if it is worth the value it will provide. You put down the first box and place the certified gluten-free box of protein bars in your cart and move to the next item on your list.

This mundane scenario is played out over and over again when consumers shop for products and services. According to Nielsen’s Global Health & Wellness Survey, 44 percent of people in North America do not trust claims manufacturer’s make about their own products. This is one of the many reasons why third-party certifications matter. In the water treatment industry we’re all used to seeing NSF, ISO, ANSI and numerous other certifications; however, not as many are certified by nationally recognized industry associations like the Water Quality Association (WQA).

At the Florida WQA Convention, Immediate Past President of the WQA, DJ Shanahan, announced a new certification for OEMs entitled Certified Treatment Designer. This certification is the seventh certification offered through the WQA. If you’re an OEM, this certification can help set you apart from your competitors. If you’re a dealer, this certification can add value and differentiate you as well.

Envision a website that showcases multiple WQA certifications, each describing what they mean when you hover over them. How will a homeowner react to these certifications versus a competitor’s site who has less or none of these? Based on my experience running hundreds of marketing tests on websites, third-party certifications drive more clicks and leads than sites without them. In the home, how much more confident will your sales professionals be when equipped with an entire pipeline of people and manufacturers holding these elite certifications?

You are the sculptor, the industry is your clay
To say that one person can directly impact the direction of an industry is an understatement. We can look to icons like Henry Ford, Claude Hopkins, Jeff Bezos and Ray Kroc to see that it only takes one person to make a huge shift. We also can see, however, that working together we can make an impact as well. This concept can be seen playing out anywhere WQA members meet. As top-notch water treatment dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and consultants invest their time, they move the industry, their businesses and their personal lives forward in a positive direction, creating a massive ripple effect that improves water and, therefore, the lives of people around the world. As positive awareness in the industry increases, so do our businesses. As consumer perception of the industry improves due to excellent ethics, service and products, so do our businesses. As state and national legislators look to our industry to solve water problems locally, our businesses benefit.

The upward spiral begins with you proactively getting involved and communicating through your ads, website, staff and marketing materials why it’s so important to do business with a team who is actively part of the industry associations. It is the difference between average and excellence and making excellence your new average. When you commit to proactively molding your life, your business and your industry, the dollars will naturally flow as your customers and prospects see how different you are from those around you. They’ll see your passion and they’ll believe in you, your team and your products because you do.

Give your people something to believe in
In the book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg details the story of Paul O’Neill’s turnaround of the company, Alcoa. Instead of focusing on productiving outputs like units produced, sold and the ROI, he focused on safety. Specifically, his goal was zero workplace accidents. Due to the nature of this business, many employees had been hurt and all too many had lost their lives. He cared so much about the people of the company and their safety that an entire culture was built around analyzing every aspect of the organization to eliminate future injuries and death. The outcome was a belief by the employees that O’Neill truly cared about them and their families and in turn, they worked harder, came up with innovative ideas and drove the company’s value through the roof.

What does your team believe in? Industry organizations like national and regional WQAs are a great way to provide education about why what we do is so important and, even more importantly, it provides relationships with people who will inspire, educate and share wisdom. Getting your team involved on committees is also a great way to help them see the bigger picture while also allowing business owners to delegate responsibilities so they can still be involved without over allocating their time. Millennials and Generation Z both care greatly about being a part of something bigger than themselves. These industry associations are a perfect way to immerse them into the water treatment industry family and help them understand the importance of what they do on a day-to-day basis. Many times I’ve heard dealers complain  about retaining Millennials while they sit alone at a WQA event. Perhaps including more of their team at these events is a positive place to start.

Happy employees mean happier customers and increased profits. People want to do business with people, in particular people who are passionate. If someone calls from your website, fills out a form online, or inquires through a live chat, how is your team sharing the story of your business and the water treatment industry? Are they using their passion to elicit passion from your prospects?

When we, as industry professionals, work together to improve ourselves, our businesses and our industry, we’ll continue to see our personal and professional averages increase greatly. A wise man once said, “Rising tides raise all ships” and he was spot on.

About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treatment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager. She and her team are passionate about expanding consumer awareness of water quality issues and providing education on final barrier solutions.

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