Let’s look at the business models that exist for each type of water softener company to get an understanding of why Westwood Culligan’s business model has been designed to best serve your business and family.
Let’s be honest, we’re the most recognized name in water treatment with over 90% market recognition and one of the top 300 most recognizable names in ALL of marketing. So we have a bit of an unfair advantage. Granted our costs are higher for equipment since we have the best quality equipment on the market, however our outstanding value is what makes the difference. With us, you get what you pay for (though that’s not the case with every business).
2. High Pressure, High Price
These companies generally get into your home through telemarketing (they call you on the telephone and tell you about the free water tests they’re doing in your area) or door-knocking (they generally offer you a free dinner, gas card, or other gift for letting them in your home). Their prices range from $4,000 to $9,000 for a softener. Why are they so expensive??? Because their marketing costs are extraordinary. Their salesperson is generally paid 20%, telemarketer receives an override plus hourly, sales manager takes another few percent, telemarketing manager gets a percentage, marketing manager gets a slice of the pie, and then of course all the other costs of putting together a great sales and marketing pitch which are generally in the $600-$700 PER LEAD range. When it’s all said and done around 35% of the cost of your water treatment equipment is going to the sales and marketing staff. On a $4000 softener, that’s $1400. Please don’t misunderstand. All businesses have costs involved with sales and marketing so there is nothing “wrong” with that way of conducting business. Just keep in mind, at Westwood Culligan, our sales, marketing, and telemarketing managers are all the same person and I’m paid a salary. 🙂 Of course we don’t have any telemarketers to pay either so our total cost for sales and marketing is MUCH less than this type of water treatment business. For that reason, so is your price. One way to know you’re dealing with this type of business is that they only have 1 softener and 1 reverse osmosis option for you. Think about it, they came to your house, performed an analysis on your water to offer a personally tailored water treatment option and you come to find out it’s the only option they had to begin with… Why do you think that is? Another great question to ask the “Water Consultant” sitting at your kitchen table pressuring you to make a decision tonight how much it will cost for you to have your water sent away to have it tested by an EPA certified lab. They’ll give you every excuse in the book why you don’t need to do that… In reality, its because they want the sale tonight and aren’t willing to wait a week or 2 for the water results.
3. Low Pressure, Low Price
These are the businesses that try to “buy” market share and generally don’t last beyond a few years. Sometimes they can even be your plumber or homebuilder. Often they are a 1-man or less than 5 man operation so their costs are much lower. They don’t need to have a trained water expert and service technicians available 24 hours per day because they do it all themselves. The difficulty with these types of businesses is that once costs go up (insurance, gas, raw materials) or sales slow down (economic down turns for instance) it’s very hard for them to stand behind their warranties. If you want to be sure they’re here for the long term, ask them to rent you the unit. Even if you want to purchase it, it’s always good to hear why they don’t so you can make an educated decision on whether they’ll be around in another 10 years or not. As with any small (less than 5 employees) business, you may want to double-check that they’re fully insured. We have run into some sad situations where competitors in our market have no insurance to cover mistakes they made. Like any business, we’re not perfect either – however we always have adequate insurance just in case.
4. Internet/Hardware Store
These 2 may sound a lot different, but they’re very similar because they offer similar (often even the same) product for the “Do-it-yourselfer”. If you’re that kind of person and you want to install the unit yourself, there’s nothing at all wrong with that. The other trick with these units is that it’s hard to take advantage of a warranty. Like most things you purchase from these stores, you have to take it back. It’s a lot easier just to have your Culligan man come to your home with the correct part and fix it for you. Or better yet, if you invest in the Consumer’s Digest Best Buy Culligan HE softener (the only softener with that designation) your likelihood of needing the warranty is slim. As the owner of Westwood Culligan, I have over 25 years experience in the water industry and at one point sold the general manager of the local branch of a large national hardware store a Culligan softener. As he put it “We have them coming in the back as fast as they go out the front so I don’t want to deal with that.” More importantly, to know you’re getting the correct equipment, you NEED a water test.
5. Sales Blitz Companies
These companies are probably the worst to deal with. They generally mimic the High Price, High Pressure companies described above however they have a fatal flaw – they come into an area with an exit plan in place. In other words, they “blitz” an area with sales for 6, 12, or even 24 months and then they pack up and leave. They then take their “sales machine” to another part of your state or country and start all over again. Call your local Culligan man and he can tell you about the number of people he’s been able to help when these companies leave town. You may want to consider passing on any company that doesn’t have a physical presence in your area OR hasn’t been around for at least a few years. Your water softener should last a LONG time so make sure the business you need to service it will be around as well.