When Russ Jundt founded Conserva Irrigation, now headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, it was just him. That meant that when he had a conversation with the customer he had total control over how things went. But once he expanded to a second technician, he soon began to realize that he no longer had that same level of control. He says he was facing a “replication challenge” and that he needed to find a way to “duplicate the company’s intended experience” no matter how many technicians he added. Today, with Conserva Irrigation now being the only outdoor irrigation company to be built around a franchise business model, and having expanded across multiple state lines, that goal is more important than ever.
Jundt says it was important that no matter which technician — or which franchise location — a customer was dealing with, they would still get the “Conserva way,” or the same experience. The solution to making that happen meant putting strong and proven systems in place so that there was a way to control the customer experience.
“What we did was create and trademark our SES inspection process that allows our technicians to provide an efficiency score based on a 100-point scale,” Jundt says. “That allows every technician, at every branch, to be conveying the same message to the customer. When you’re not doing that, it’s confusing for everyone.”
Jundt says that in the typical experience, an irrigation technician would come out and do an inspection, but often provide some ambiguity when it comes to pricing or when the service could be completed. It is in that uncertainty that a sale can be lost. The technician is essentially leaving the door open for the customer to shop around. But Conserva technicians come out and provide upfront pricing that is fully transparent. And if it’s basic repair work, they’re prepared to perform the service immediately.
“While the regional owner sets the price based on the marketplace, the experience is otherwise the same,” Jundt says. “The idea is that the experience should be the same for the customer. No matter which technician they get, they can expect to receive the same report and the same qualified recommendation that is based on EPA standards and IA backings. This allows them to make an informed decision — on the spot — so it turns the entire process into a consultation approach.”
It also takes away that ambiguity that gives them an opportunity to think it over and possibly call someone else for another recommendation. The customer feels like they received all of the information they need. They can also have the problem resolved right away as Jundt says the technicians have parts on hand to perform repairs immediately.
Though Conserva has expanded to operate in 32 territories around the country, Jundt says the principles they have applied to creating an experience that can be replicated can be used by any business owner who is looking to expand.
“Simply having systems in place can make a world of difference,” he says. “Whether you’re looking to add one technician or you’re looking to expand across state lines, the challenge is the same — it’s a replication and duplication problem—and it needs to be solved. You want all of your customers to have the same experience from your company, and the answer to that is having systems in place and continually training your people on them.”
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