Imagine specializing in a specific niche only to lose sales to another company that is less qualified, lacks the required parts and equipment and is inexperienced. Most dealers don't have to imagine this scenario because it is oftentimes reality in this business of selling water treatment. Selling today's POU water coolers is one area that is specifically impacted.
Some have cited POU coolers as the most promising, "high ceiling" product category in our industry in terms of profitable growth. And, with opportunity comes increased competition sources. While dealers should be poised to capitalize, they must also be aware that knowledge, education, technology and other factors will help them gain a competitive edge moving forward.
After decades of emerging popularity for bottled water coolers, POU coolers have been pushed forward in recent years and there are several explanations for the shift. Worker safety, technology, design, water quality demands/awareness and environmental issues, as well as some other variables, are some underlying reasons for the change in consumer buying habits.
According to Hal Voznick, vice president and general manager for Vertex Water Products, POU coolers eliminate the following:
• All the hidden costs associated with bottled water, namely lost productivity replacing bottles
• Time spent keeping up with the paperwork
• Office disruption during bottle delivery
• Loss of valuable office space needed for bottle storage.
Lead with know-how
As dealers' businesses continue to be affected by big-box retailers and other "outside" competitors, such as vending machine dealers, education will be key in retaining and gaining new business in the POU cooler category.
Moving forward, POU cooler sales will continue to be customer-driven. The public is more aware of water quality issues as well as the prime contaminants and their associated health risks. Also, every cooler sale could potentially lead to several more since word-of-mouth advertising is more prominent today than ever before.
The technology that is incorporated in today's coolers is far advanced from decades ago. Recessed dispensers, enclosed units, LED lighting as well as other bells and whistles found on today's systems are all included to protect users, enhance the experience and offer the highest possible quality of water. Although you should expect low price point competition to increase in coming years, dealers can rest assured that their experience and water treatment background will be of assistance in the sale.