Jeff Stoddart, water conservation manager for Rain Bird Corporation, offers these simple tips that contractors can use to help educate themselves and their customers about the importance of water-efficient irrigation scheduling.
1. Educate yourself on irrigation practices and technologies. The more you know about irrigation, the better resource you can be for your clients. Seek training from a local community college, technical school, conservation garden or water agency.
2. Get certified. Various local and national certifications can help you stay on top of the latest irrigation techniques related to water efficiency. The Irrigation Association offers a few nationally recognized certifications, including the Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor, Certified Irrigation Designer and Certified Irrigation Contractor. States including Utah California, Florida, New Mexico and Wyoming have Qualified Water-Efficient Landscaper training and certification. Find out what’s available in your area.
3. Promote yourself as the recognized authority on water savings in your local market. Consider hosting water conservation trainings in your community and invite the public to attend. Teaming up with your local water district to offer this type of training is a good way to get started. Promote any certifications you may have to current and prospective customers by mentioning it on your bills and even on your trucks. Develop a company tagline that communicates your dedication to water efficient irrigation and use it in all of your materials to develop your brand.
4. Know what rebates are available. Stay in touch with your local water agency to learn what rebates are available for water-saving irrigation system components. Include this information in newsletters, bills or other communications.
5. Partner with irrigation system manufacturers. Manufacturers typically offer online tools, calculators, brochures and other resources that can help you promote water-efficient irrigation to your customers. Some also offer both general and product-specific training.
6. Make good use of already-available educational materials. Many local and national organizations have already developed free water-saving materials that you can share with your clients to teach them the importance of efficient irrigation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program has a website that can be used to educate residential customers nationwide. Check with your area’s cooperative extension service for local watering techniques and advice.
7. Spread the word through social media. Creating a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account can help you educate your clients about how to use less water without requiring time-consuming face-to-face interaction. These types of free tools also allow you to broadcast irrigation tips and company specials throughout the season.