Water treatment dealers with a keen sense of building business know that educating customers will close more sales compared to scare tactics or bait-and-switch pitches. Factual information and customizing solutions to customers’ needs is now more important than ever because of the wide range of product choices, similarity of products and claims and the amount of misleading information found on the Internet. When knowledge-based strategies are applied correctly, dealers have an enhanced opportunity to sell showerhead filters and high-end fixtures.
Whether customers are concerned with being exposed to chlorine in the shower, conservation, performance or appearance, faucets and showerheads are hot product categories today to help advance your business.
Taking it to the showers
According to David Farley, Sr., president and CEO of Sprite Industries Inc., 50 percent of our daily exposure to chlorine is in the shower. “Basically, that is equal to all of the water you drink throughout the entire day if drinking from an unfiltered source,” says Farley. And, he continues, the main vehicle of entry is inhalation. Chlorine is volatile and it has a vaporization point of approximately 76º F (about room temperature). “In the shower, chlorine is inhaled into the lungs and passes directly into the blood stream.”
According to Farley, the concern in the shower is free chlorine because it is highly volatile and its low vaporization point. “It is as important to filter your shower water as it is to filter your drinking water,” he adds.
Pressure, temperature and flow are critical components to making sure shower filters are effective. Oxidation-reduction media (redox) is commonly used in shower filters. When free chlorine passes through this type of media, the chlorine attaches to the metals contained in the media and free chlorine is then converted to safer soluble chloride ions.
But, advises Farley, it is just as important to know the limitations of other types of media when recommending showerheads. Carbon, for example, is not considered an effective shower filter media, adds Farley. Carbon, using adsorption principles, is an effective drinking water filter for chlorine as it pulls contaminants out of the water. However, says Farley, because of the flow rates and temperature of shower water, carbon is less effective.
“At higher temperatures and higher volumes, carbon becomes ineffective and, therefore, it is not a recommended media for shower filters,” states Farley.
Appealing to the high-end customer
With an eye toward sustainability and design, dealers can also build business with the high-end sale. This is an important factor today as the cost of raw materials and new manufacturing processes continue to affect price. With the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, which went into effect earlier this year, some manufacturers have sought new materials that have affected the price of many products in the showerhead and faucet categories.
However, other manufacturers were ahead of the curve. “Our faucets have always been lead-free. This Act standardizes requirements across the nation and it ensures that the faucets and other plumbing fixtures are not the source of lead in drinking water,” explains Jeanne Engle, director of marketing for Tomlinson Industries.
In addition to manufacturing with safer materials, manufacturers are also mindful of keeping up appearances to close sales. “Some differentiating features that set high-end faucets apart are construction and the materials used for construction, such as plastic versus metals, third-party certifications, such as NSF and ANSI, and ceramic disk for smooth operation and flow control,” notes Engle. “Today’s high-end kitchens and bathrooms require high-end hardware and components, right down to the faucet.”
Standards and programs, such as EPA’s WaterSense program, verify that products meet specific environmental and performance criteria.
According to Engle, faucet appearance should be sleek, attractive and contemporary to meet the room’s design. “Many different styles along with many different finishes are available to match décor and function. Some popular finishes are polished chrome, antique bronze, satin nickel, venetian bronze and brushed stainless,” she adds.
The good news for dealers is today these high-end showerheads and faucets basically sell themselves. “At the high-end, the person willing to buy a solid brass housing, for example, is also willing to pay more for those high-end products,” concludes Farley.
Whether retrofitting a showerhead or faucet from pre-1992 to comply with flow rate restrictions, answering a customer’s request to be environmentally responsible to deal with current drought concerns in the West, protecting customers from chlorine exposure or selling to the high-end customer, there are plenty of business opportunities to add showerhead filters and high-end fixtures.