Educate Your Customers on Selecting Water Heaters

12/16/2021
When water heaters fail, customers are often in crisis mode. They may have water leaking out of the garage, and they’re probably not in a great mood when you arrive on the call. Oftentimes, these customers don’t put much time or thought into the type of water heater they choose. They just want the problem solved, now.

These moments may offer an opportunity to strengthen and add value to this customer relationship. You can help them quickly understand the differences between certain types of water heaters and why one may be a better fit for them over another. Here are a few tips on how to navigate water heater selection with customers in a way that helps you build your business and maybe even increase sales.
 

Start With Usage

The usage conversation usually starts with you counting bathrooms and getting a feel for flow rates at the property. Ask the homeowner questions about how much they shower and if there are any other water-intensive activities going on at the home. Did they frequently run out of hot water in the past? That unit that just died may have been undersized.
If they do need to change the size of their unit, make sure there’s enough space to accommodate it. Then explain any installation modifications required and let them know about cost impacts upfront.
 

Is a Tankless System an Option?

More and more customers are asking about tankless systems. We know there are pros and cons to them, and it helps to come across as being well versed without too much bias. Typically, customers prefer not waiting for a tank to heat up, and there are usually energy savings there, too, but some systems suffer from inconsistent temperatures—the biggest customer complaint. And while many have a longer life span, some people aren’t willing to pay the higher upfront costs.
Use these facts to also introduce the best water heater brands you offer, and then share your experience with them. Brands like A.O. Smith and Bradford White offer both tank and tankless systems and could provide an easy way to compare product types for your customers. If you get the sense they're leaning toward a tankless system or are very curious about it, talking about companies like Rinnai and Navien, whose primary business is tankless systems, could be a good way to educate your buyer.
 

Talk About Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency can be a topic that clarifies your customer’s motivations. Some people are simply looking for the cheapest option, so more expensive energy-efficient water heaters may be a tough sell. But it's worth bringing up long-term savings to this type of customer. They may opt for a more efficient option if they understand savings over the product lifecycle can be realized.
If a customer has a bigger budget and prioritizes energy efficiency, you can dive deeper into the total cost of ownership and longevity of units. Many who seek highly energy-efficient systems are open to a tankless system, and you may want to steer the conversation in that direction early.
 

Be As Brand-Neutral As Possible

You’ve probably developed your own brand preferences through the years. However, it’s always good to have more than one option for customers and be able to speak to each brand’s benefits and drawbacks. As a customer narrows down the brand and model, share your experiences with it. 
You can tell them why you prefer some brands over others, but get away from your preferences and eventually focus on explaining why a brand and model will suit their specific needs best. In a supply chain-strained world, product availability could also factor into this part of the conversation as well.
 

Remember to Mention Maintenance

All water heaters require some level of maintenance and upkeep. Let the customer know upfront what to expect. If it’s a tank unit, explain the importance of changing out the anode rod every year or two and doing annual drains, and then share tips you’ve gathered through the years on how to keep the water heater running well for the long haul. If it’s a tankless system, you might highlight the importance of flushing it annually and descaling pipes. This is also a great time to offer that annual maintenance plan, if you have one.
 

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We see you as an essential person in the lives of the customers you serve. Taking the opportunity to educate your customers on water heater options improves your image in the eyes of your valued clients, and it can help you land great reviews and more brand loyalists, too!