SHIRLEY, WE'RE OUT of hot water again!"
Homeowners want hot water in endless supply. Tankless water heating technology lets you give it to them in a whole new way, and not just when their water heater breaks.
Previously, we discussed the secret to selling water heaters ("Sell hot water; don't sell water heaters," July 2006, pg. D46). That was simple: Don't sell water heaters, sell the benefits of hot water. Well, now, with the growing popularity of the new tankless technology, homeowners everywhere are removing the words, "We're out of hot water again," right out of their vocabulary.
This is a very good thing for plumbers. This is because not only have you discovered how to sell water heaters, but now you can upsell the benefits of hot water, continuous hot water, day in and day out.
In the past, the only time a water heater sale was possible was when a homeowner turned on her tap and nothing but ice-cold water poured forth. Just when she was expecting to lean back into a nice, hot, soothing bathtub or put in a load of her baby's laundry. There's nothing worse than turning on the faucet and expecting warm water, but getting nothing but the cold shoulder treatment.
Homeowners realize this. They have all at one time or another run out of hot water by draining their current water heater of all its contents. This is most common when house guests are visiting and the shower gets used more frequently, or when someone is trying to take a shower and the washing machine or dishwasher are running. The bottom line is that there is only so much hot water in a traditional water heater — and homeowners know it.
Rebecca Kleiner and Ed O'Connell, co-owners of O'Connell Plumbing in Fairfax, Calif., continue to see their tankless water heater sales grow.
"We have tripled our tankless water heater sales in the past few months because homeowners want that continuous, never-ending supply of hot water in their homes, and they are asking for it," O'Connell claims. "At an average price point of $5,000, our profit margins are exceptional."
The realization by homeowners that there is only so much hot water to go around means that you don't have to necessarily wait for a water heater to break down to get an opportunity to sell a replacement. This message is money in the bank because you can actually let homeowners know that you, the plumbing professional, offer a lot more than just the typical drain cleaning, toilet repair or garbage disposer service.
When you do get those calls complaining of a lack of hot water, you will have the opportunity to upsell the homeowner on the benefits of having an endless supply of hot water. For O'Connell Plumbing, there are times when a tankless water heater isn't the best option for a customer. But when tankless does work in the customer's home, there are many outstanding reasons, beyond the endless supply of hot water, why a homeowner should consider the tankless technology:
- Many tankless water heaters qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $300 for the tax years 2006 and 2007. This tax credit comes right off the bottom line for homeowners when they file their taxes for the year the tankless water heater was installed. The water heater must have an Energy Factor of at least 0.80.
- Savings on utility bills. Since traditional water heaters run day and night, keeping gallons of water hot and ready for when a homeowner needs it, they use much more energy than a tankless water heater. Tankless technology only heats the water when it's needed and can save the homeowner 30% to 45% on utility bills.
- More living space. Particularly for homes without basements, or that house where the water heater is in the garage or a closet, this is a big deal. Tankless technology typically takes up much less space than a traditional tank, and that means more living space for your customers.
- Environmentally friendly. Because tankless water heaters require less energy consumption, they are easier on the wallet and friendlier to the environment.
Now that you know the benefits, how do you communicate them to the market? You need to make sure you have a system in place, such as the Water Heater Comfort & Safety Guide, put together by Plumbers' Success International. This type of program will ensure that you and your technicians have the necessary tools to convey the benefits in a meaningful way when you are in the home.
Paul Gassett is marketing director for Plumbers' Success International, an organization dedicated to the success of residential plumbers. He may be contracted at 877/862-8181 or [email protected].