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I WPA News

Fall 2019 Quarterly publication of Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association

www.iowpa.org

SepticSmart Week in Indiana

NOWRA Introduces Online Training for Onsite Professionals

The Double Standard

Your Customers Have for Small and Large Businesses

Plus: Another installment of “The Switch” and much more!


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IOWPA News Fall 2019

IOWPA News is the official publication of the Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association, Inc. (IOWPA) and is published quarterly.

Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association 7915 S. Emerson Avenue, Suite 132 Indianapolis, IN 46237 Phone: 317-965-1859 • Fax: 317-534-3460 www.iowpa.org

In this issue . . . 9 SepticSmart Week in Indiana 10 NOWRA Introduces Online Training for Onsite Professionals 12 The Double Standard Your Customers Have for Small and Large Businesses

PUBLISHER Jane Breeding, Executive Director, IOWPA 317-965-1859 indianaonsitewastewater@gmail.com EDITOR AND AD SALES Mary Breidenbach, Cumulus Design 317-757-8634 • mary@ecumulus.com Advertising Rates: Rate sheet available online at www.iowpa.org or by contacting Mary Breidenbach at 317-757-8634 • mary@ecumulus.com.

Reprint Permission: Please email IOWPA to request permission to reprint. Direct your email to indianaonsitewastewater@gmail.com and include the title of the article and publication date. Views expressed in articles or editorials do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the association or its directors, but are those of the writer. Trade names used in articles are for identification only. No discrimination is intended toward similar products and IOWPA does not endorse the use of the products mentioned.

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Plus More! 2

President’s Message

Subscriptions: Subscription is included with IOWPA membership. Nonmembers: $20.00 per year (4 issues per year).

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Calendar

IOWPA Field Day Update

For questions regarding subscriptions, please call IOWPA at 317-965-1859.

WWETT Show 2020 Offers IOWPA

New Opportunity to Shine

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IOWPA’s Annual Conference and Trade Show

New Board Members for Indiana Registry of Soil Scientists

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Another Great Year for the State Fair Water Quality Exhibit

Join NOWRA for the 2019 Onsite Wastewater Mega-Conference

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The Switch — From Service Provider to Regulator

New and Recertified Inspectors

On the cover: Joe and James Stone of Stone Excavating (far left in photo) pump a septic tank and talk to class participants during the IOWPA Inspector Certification Training in Marshall County in June 2019. Thirty-four people were certified as IOWPA Inspectors during this course. See list of new and recertified inspectors on page 8. Photo courtesy Anthony Millsap.

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

Dear IOWPA Members, The rain finally slowed down enough to allow some septic work to be done. I am sure many of you are pleased that you no longer have to answer a majority of your phone calls with the explanation that you can’t install a septic system until the soils dry. Even though the rain is starting to cooperate, time is not. 2020 is around the corner and we all have plenty to do. Greg Inman

• The IOWPA 2020 Conference Committee is hard at work lining up educational speakers and coming up with excellent topics for the winter conference. See conference update on page 5. • Our Field Day Committee members are hard at work to provide a Field Day before the end of the year. See Field Day update on page 4.

Indiana House Bill 1486 that went into effect July, 1st, 2019 allowed one IOWPA Member to hold a seat on the technical review panel to review Technologies New to Indiana (TNI). We had a good selection of IOWPA members that showed interest in sitting on the review panel. The IOWPA Board reviewed the candidates and voted Scott Rexroth with Watermark Engineered Product Sales, Inc. as the person to represent IOWPA. Please take time to visit the IOWPA website, http://www.iowpa.org/ and visit the NOWRA link on our website for some online training opportunities. As you may recall IOWPA is now a NOWRA member which means you, our members, are now NOWRA members and this gives you discount pricing to NOWRA online training opportunities. In this issue on page 10, we also have an article by NOWRA Executive Director, Eric Casey who provides an introduction to the courses available. Also, be sure to visit our website often to keep up-to-date on the news in our industry and our association. Thank you again for being IOWPA members. Greg Inman Infiltrator Water Technologies 317-452-5718 ginman@infiltratorwater.com

IOWPA’s Annual Conference and Trade Show JANUARY 21-22, 2020

Primo Banquet & Conference Center, Indianapolis, IN

More information will be posted when available but for now please reserve these dates to attend the conference.

EDUCATION • TRADE SHOW • NETWORKING • CEUs 2

IOWPA.org • Ph: 317-965-1859

2019 IOWPA Officers President: Greg Inman (2022) Infiltrator Water Technologies 800-896-9565 ginman@infiltratorwater.com Treasurer: Gary Steinhardt (2022) Purdue University, Dept. of Agronomy 765-494-8063 gsteinhardt@purdue.edu Vice President: Karl M. Glaze (2022) Daviess County Health Dept. 812-254-8674 ehs2@daviesshealth.com Secretary: Kyle Nix (2022) S&M Nix Enterprises, LLC 812-347-2920 kylenix2007@yahoo.com Executive Director: Jane Breeding 7915 S. Emerson Ave., Suite 132 Indianapolis, IN 46237 317-965-1859; Fax: 317-534-3460 indianaonsitewastewater@gmail.com

Board of Directors Will Banks (2022), Ike’s Septic 765-448-1443 • wbanks0610@gmail.com Rick Becht (2020), Becht Enterprises 502-664-2978 • bechtent@gmail.com Mark Bousquet (2020), Black Diamond Exc. 765-588-6400 • blackdiamondex@gmail.com John Hack, II (2022) Hack Excavating, Inc. 765-538-2998 • jhack@tds.net Jon Houseknecht (2022), Sunset Septic & Excavation 219-778-8100 • sunsetseptic@yahoo.com Andrew McAfee (2022), L.A. Brown Company 260-273-9322 • admmcafee@gmail.com Randy Staley (2021), Staley’s Soil Service, Inc. 812-939-2752 Alice Quinn (2021), Indiana State Dept. of Health, 317-518-4388 • alquinn@isdh.in.gov

Proxy Board Members Dick Blazer, Blazer Farms L.A. Brown, L.A. Brown Company Julia Hayes, ISDH John Kennard, Brown County Health Department Mark Miller, Greene Co. Health Department William Pursley, Shelby Co Health Department Jason Ravenscroft, Marion Co Health Department Brant Ricker, Huntington Co. Health Department Pete Sabo, AK Industries Lisa Zeiner, Putnam County Health Department


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IOWPA NEWS • FALL 2019

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CALENDAR September 16–20, 2019

2019 Septic Smart Week

This is a great opportunity to engage with your local communities as onsite wastewater professionals. SepticSmart Week toolkit available at www.epa.gov/septic/septicsmart-week. See story on page 9.

WWETT Show 2020 Offers IOWPA New Opportunity to Shine Denise Wright, Indiana State Department of Health WWETT Show: Last year’s WWETT Trade Show floor.

September 23–25, 2019

69th IEHA Fall Educational Conference

Century Center South Bend 123 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. South Bend, IN 46601 More information: https://www.iehaind.org/

October 13–16, 2019

2019 NOWRA Onsite Wastewater Mega Conference

Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center, Loveland, Colorado More information: http://www.nowra.org/2019mega See story on page 6.

January 21–22, 2020

IOWPA’s Annual Conference and Trade Show Primo Banquet & Conference Center, Indianapolis, IN See conference update on page 5.

February 17–20, 2020

WWETT Show

Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN More information: https://www.wwettshow.com Read story (this page) about IOWPA and the WWETT 2020 Show.

Although it’s only September the WWETT Show will be here before we know it. The Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show will be in Indy from February 17–20, 2020. Educational sessions will kick-off on Monday with so many options it will be difficult to choose where to spend your valuable time. The Marketplace Expo, which opens on the 18th, provides attendees the opportunity to talk to exhibitors and learn more about products available in our industry. IOWPA is excited to announce that we will be sharing Marketplace Expo booth space with the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA)! We became an affiliate member of NOWRA in 2018 and sharing a booth on the Expo floor will allow IOWPA members to shine. This is an opportunity for IOWPA to demonstrate our professional grit and commitment to advancing the onsite industry as well as to meet many of the leaders within our industry and NOWRA. Moving the IOWPA booth from the hallway to the Expo floor will potentially increase our contact with WWETT attendees and in turn increase our opportunity to recruit more members! Won’t you please help? We will need volunteers to assist at the booth. This will involve the IOWPA member being familiar with our mission and our vision for the onsite industry in Indiana. The WWETT Show being held in Indianapolis provides us a unique opportunity to seek out professionals conducting onsite business in Indiana and encourage their membership in IOWPA. It also allows our IOWPA members to meet and network with other onsite professional from around the world and discuss the onsite industry in their home jurisdiction. It is a very dynamic time in this industry and Indiana should be proud of the public health and environmental protection minded direction we are heading with onsite sewage systems. This is our opportunity to join in a movement to lead the industry. Won’t you please consider joining us at the WWETT Expo and volunteer an hour of your time?

IOWPA Field Day Update Mark Bousquet, Field Day Committee Co-Chair

For months the committee has pursued two potential projects for the IOWPA 2019 Field Day. However, both projects have been held up by hurdles outside of IOWPA’s control and are no longer viable options. We are still fielding any potential applications which may come in at this point. 4

IOWPA.org • Ph: 317-965-1859

If you are willing to staff the NOWRA/ IOWPA booth during the WWETT Expo, please contact Jane Breeding at indianaonsitewastewater@gmail.com or 317-965-1859. IOWPA will begin assigning time slots for volunteers in January 2020.


IOWPA’s Annual Conference and Trade Show Update Julia Hayes, Conference Planning Committee Co-Chair Mark your calendar for IOWPA’s Annual Conference and Trade Show, January 21-22, 2020. Speakers will cover a variety of topics from Soil Compaction to High Strength Waste. Do you know if you are preparing a site correctly for system installation? How much vegetation do you remove? How do you properly plow a site for an elevated system? Do we dare ask…Can a subsurface drain outlet be pumped?!? Presenters will answer all these questions and more. Don’t forget to come enjoy the food and fellowship at the Member Appreciation Dinner at the end of Day 1!

New Board Members for Indiana Registry of Soil Scientists On July 2, Governor Holcomb announced four new members to replace the board members that had reached their term limits: • Robert Jones, Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources represents federal, state, or local government; • Dr. Jessique Haeft, assistant professor of natural resources at Ball State University, represents education; • Rebecca Lanfgord-Willis, IRSS, represents industry or private practice of soil science; and • Linda Mauller represents the public at large and is not associated with soil science. Holcomb also announced the reappointment of: • Tom Eickholtz, IRSS, represents industry or private practice of soil science.

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IOWPA NEWS • FALL 2019

5


Another Great Year for the State Fair Water Quality Exhibit! Alice Quinn, Indiana State Department of Health The 2019 Indiana State Fair has come to a close, and the Pathways to Water Quality Exhibit experienced another great year. Staff of the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Residential On-site Sewage Systems Program staffed the on-site sewage system exhibit for 12 of the 17 days of the fair, and ISDH staff talked to 1,845 people that stopped by the exhibit. The number of contacts was up about 500 above last year’s total. Topics discussed with fairgoers centered on what an on-site sewage system is, the components of a system, healthy soil for the system, and proper system maintenance. Many fairgoers asked about IOWPA and how to contact a certified individual. IOWPA brochures were in demand and at one point in time, we actually ran out of them. Also available to fairgoers were several Purdue publications, the ISDH Outlet Filter brochure, and a maintenance checklist for homeowners. The sand-lined system portion of the exhibit unfortunately did not get installed for the 2019 Indiana State Fair, but we have plans to get that installed soon so that it will be ready for the 2020 fair. Due to early wet weather and then a very busy install season due to the weather delays, we were just unable to find volunteers together to get the system installed. We have most of the supplies and materials needed for the exhibit’s expansion and hope to get the exhibit completed yet this fall. If you are willing to help install just a small portion of a sand-lined system, please let us know as soon as possible. The Indiana State Fair will allow us to bring in equipment, but you must be able to show insurance. Because of confined space, we believe it will be best to have either an excavator with a very long reach (to reach over the fence) or a mini-excavator to do the work. Please let us know if you would like to help! Outreach and education of the rural Indiana homeowner is critical to increasing system longevity and improving public health. It is surprising to me, as folks come into the exhibit, to find out that many do not even really know if their home is connected to sewer or an on-site system. If they are on an on-site system, then I would go on to talk about system maintenance. Some are keenly aware of the maintenance requirement, and I have to presume that these are folks that have invested in a system somewhat recently. And then there is the other extreme that really have no idea that their system requires maintenance at all. Hopefully by explaining the science behind how a system works and why it needs to be maintained, we will slowly begin to see more homeowners take a proactive approach to system maintenance. If you would like to help us next year or would like to help install the sand-lined addition to the exhibit this fall, please contact Alice Quinn at alquinn@isdh.in.gov.

Join NOWRA for the 2019 Onsite Wastewater Mega-Conference The Rocky Mountains are the backdrop for the 2019 Onsite Wastewater MegaConference, which will be held October 13–16 at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in Loveland, Colorado. People call the MegaConference the “Onsite Wastewater Event of the Year” because it brings together four leading onsite wastewater groups for an event showcasing the best the industry has to offer — top educators and trainers, industry thought-leaders, leading companies, great networking — all intended to give you a useful and memorable experience. The Mega-Conference is the largest national conference focusing directly on decentralized and onsite wastewater treatment. It is jointly hosted by the top three national onsite associations and the host state association: NOWRA, SORA (State Onsite Regulators Association), NAWT (National Association of Wastewater Technicians), CPOW (Colorado Professionals in Onsite Wastewater.) The Mega-Conference offers a rich mix of activities. More than 50 education and training sessions are planned, along with field trips, social events, networking, and scores of the industry’s leading exhibitors in the Mega-Conference Expo. There is something for everyone at the 2019 Mega-Conference. Attending an onsite conference at the state or national level is an investment in you and your company, not an expense.

Visitors to the Exhibit These two boys and their mother visited the exhibit and were very curious as to what this was. The older boy in particular, had many questions for Alice.

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IOWPA.org • Ph: 317-965-1859

Complete conference details can be found at: www.nowra.org/2019mega. Registration is now open.


The Switch from Service Provider to Regulator Earnest Reed, Environmental Health Specialist, Brown Co. Health Dept. Three years ago Ernie Reed began work as an Environmental Health Specialist with the Brown Co. Health Department. Prior to his current position, Reed owned and operated Reed Excavating and Septic Services, Inc., in Brown County, Indiana for 21 years. We spoke to Ernie recently and he generously shared some thoughts on his switch from service provider/installer to regulator. As an Environmental Health Specialist his job consists of reviewing and approving septic installation plans, inspecting septic installation sites throughout the county, and handling general environmental complaints. The majority of his job requires interaction with former colleagues and business competitors from his days as a septic service provider and business owner. Ernie mentioned that he initially worried that it might be awkward to regulate his former colleagues, but he quickly discovered that it wasn’t. Everyone treated his new position with respect and made it very easy to move into the position. So what was the most challenging thing in his transition? Reed said it was handling the variety of environmental complaints — 85% of which are unrelated to septic issues — that came with his position. These can include issues around trashed properties, property disagreements between neighbors, and general problem properties where an easy answer is not readily available and situations are complicated.

A Hope OS Systems Rodney Swank Advanced Home Inspections Manass Hochstetler AM Home Inspections Stephen Guthrie APSMcB Septic Inspection Service Shane McBurnett Bass Septic & Sewer Inc. Jacob Hall Collins Septic Service William Collins III and William Collins, Jr. Dogtag Septic Brian Albertson and Melissa Serna Fieldstone Enterprises LLC Denny Krueger Fulton County Health Department Shannon Shepherd Indiana State Department of Health Denise Wright J & J Septic Jeremy Watson Ken’t Excavating & Plumbing LLC Kent Freed

Another aspect of his new position that was very different from being his own boss was how a new idea is put into action. As a business owner when he had an idea for change he would do the research, make up his mind, and make the change. In his new position, the process takes more time for it needs to be run by many more people before it’s adopted.

Knox Septic & Sewer Jim Knox

What’s similar about the two positions may surprise many. Ernie explains, “My work with the County involves educating the public about septic systems. When I was in business, I did the same type of education with my customers — educating homeowners what’s in the ground.”

Noble County Health Dept Jason Pippenger

The decision to change careers came after realizing he no longer wanted the physical demands that a service provider/installer position requires and retaining good workers became more difficult. While Reed chose to move from a business owner to a regulator, his daughter, Tara Kelly, took over the business and now owns and operates Reed Septic Services, which concentrates on providing septic service and portable toilets. “She’s one of a very few women in the field and I’m very proud of her,” said Reed.

Perkins Septic and Drain Service Ashley Powers and Jordan Vaughn

Does he miss anything from running his own business? Reed said, “I miss interacting with my former clients on a regular basis. Many who stayed with me over the years were like friends. It was nice to catch up with them when they called.”

IOWPA.org • Ph: 317-965-1859

LaPorte County Health Dept Kristine Happel

Patriot Home & Septic Inspections LLC Kristopher Zentz

Portage Paving, Inc Lewis McElwain, II Priority One, Inc Devin Kanouse Rex Gress & Sons Inc Scott Christen and Rex Gress Shankster Bros. Steven Shankster Snyder Environmental Service Inc. Richard Snyder Stone Excavating Joe Stone and James Stone Stull Services Joseph Stull

Ernie Reed at work at the Brown Co. Health Department

If you or someone you know made “The Switch” and are willing to share your experience, please email us at indianaonsitewastewater@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from more people. Thanks!

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New and Recertified Inspectors (as of 8/23/19)

Sunset Septic & Exc., Inc Jon Houseknecht and Cody Houseknecht Walt’s Septic Inspections, LLC Ben Campbell and Walter Siematkowski Zimmerman Septic Services Inc. Mike Evard


SepticSmart Week in Indiana Marshall County SepticSmart Week 2019 Kick Off Event As of 2019, 2.5 million Indiana Hoosiers, or 39% of the total state population, utilize septic systems to properly dispose of their wastewater, which comes to 1.25 billion gallons of wastewater per day. Proper septic system use and routine care are vital to protecting public health, preserving our highly valued groundwater, lakes, streams, and waterways, and avoiding costly repairs that can result from neglect. On August 5, 2019, Governor Eric Holcomb signed an Indiana Governor’s Proclamation declaring September 16 – 20, 2019 to be SepticSmart Week across the state. SepticSmart Week is a national initiative from the Environmental Protection Agency in partnership with thousands of state wastewater organizations, government health departments, wastewater professionals, and environmental organizations to promote greater awareness and understanding of septic systems as well as healthy living, healthy environments, and healthy home budgets. On September 15, 2019 the Marshall County Health Department, Marshall County Soil and Water Conservation District, and AK Industries, a local onsite wastewater technology manufacturer, will host a SepticSmart 2019 Kick Off Event in Culver, Indiana from 9 – 11 a.m. at the Culver Farmer’s Market on Lake Maxinkuckee, the second largest natural lake in Indiana, in order to demonstrate our commitment to healthy waters of Indiana as responsible Hoosiers.

Support for 2019 SepticSmart Week in Clay County On September 3, 2019, Jennifer Creager, Clay County Soil & Water Conservation District (CCSWCD ) Coordinator asked the Clay County Commissioners at their recent meeting to sign the 2019 SepticSmart Proclamation declaring September 16 – 20, 2019 to be SepticSmart Week. Jennifer’s request was accepted and the commissioners signed the proclamation.

The Kick Off Event will highlight key aspects of clean water access such as good science, good environmental policy, and good technology. The Indiana State Department of Health will provide free nitrogen test kits for homeowners to collect their own water samples to verify if their drinking water is safe. The local Marshall County Health Department will also provide clean water pledges for all attendees and information about proper septic system care.

Jennifer Creager, CCSWCD Coordinator (left) making a formal request to the Clay County Commissioners.

The Marshall County Soil and Water District will provide information about local water studies and water quality testing. It will provide scientific evidence about the connection between clean water and preventing contamination and pollution of the waters of Indiana. It will include a technology showcase that allows attendees the opportunity to inspect the technology and science behind wastewater that’s mostly hidden underground and out of sight. This will feature the components of a septic system such as the plumbing, septic tank, distribution box, soil absorption field technology, and a vacuum tanker hauler. This event will also offer free coffee and bracelets for attendees that complete the Clean Water Education. Attendees also have an opportunity to sign a pledge to protect clean water that will be printed upon completion to take home.

Clay County commissioners signing the SepticSmart Week proclamation.

IOWPA NEWS • FALL 2019

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NOWRA Introduces Online Training for Onsite Professionals Eric Casey, Executive Director, NOWRA IOWPA members now have another option for getting high quality continuing education — NOWRA’s Online Training Academy. The Academy offers a growing list of courses specifically for onsite wastewater contractors, regulators, and other professionals. These courses are convenient — you take them on your schedule. Plus, since you don’t need to travel to obtain this training, you save time and money. Also, because IOWPA is a NOWRA State Affiliate, you get a 40% member discount compared with those who are not IOWPA or NOWRA members. While online education is not a perfect substitute for attending a training in person, the Online Training Academy offers a high-quality alternative with courses led by nationally recognized educators. Each course offers a mix of presentations, instructional videos, and relevant reading. Each course also contains one or more quizzes which the student must pass with a score of at least 75% before they can advance to the next section. At the end of the course, the student receives an official certificate from NOWRA which documents the course was passed successfully. NOWRA’s Online Academy currently offers two education tracks: NOWRA’s A to Z Onsite Wastewater Overview

From installers and service technicians to local inspectors, there is something for everyone in the NOWRA A to Z Overview course. Through this 8-hour course, participants will gain an understanding of the varying contaminants in wastewater and how to determine wastewater loading for treatment. They will also learn the differences between a variety of onsite technologies; recognize important site considerations and distribution methods; and understand effective management techniques for decentralized systems. The students can either take the 8-hour overview class in its entirety, or break it into smaller sections based on how many hours they need or their interest. This course is 10

IOWPA.org • Ph: 317-965-1859

approved for IOWPA continuing education credit up to eight hours.

NOWRA’s Online Training Academy is ideal for the following situations:

NOWRA’s Installation Academy

• A licensed onsite professional who is a few units short of meeting their continuing education requirement and is unable to travel to an in-person training.

Just introduced, the online NOWRA Installer Academy addresses the critical need for outreach education and training specifically designed for the professional installer. The curriculum discusses the various treatment and distribution technologies currently available for onsite wastewater management and establishes a benchmark for conducting installation. Data collection on these activities is facilitated using detailed installation checklists developed in conjunction with industry stakeholders. The checklists describe proper installation techniques and steps for commonly used technologies. In addition to the installation checklists, a startup checklist is included for many of the technologies. The activities on the startup checklists help to verify proper installation and clear the system for operation. The set of Installer Training Courses are designed to convey best practice standards for onsite wastewater treatment system installation processes as identified by industry stakeholders through an intensive national review process. The result is an integrated program of slide presentations, installation checklists, and quizzes. Please note this class has not yet been approved by IOWPA for continuing education credit.

• A health department official or other regulator with little or no prior training in onsite wastewater treatment • New employees of installation contractors or service providers • Experienced onsite professionals wishing to brush up their knowledge The cost per credit hour is just $25 for IOWPA members. For those who are not members of IOWPA, the cost per credit hour is $40. Plus, when you help yourself, you help IOWPA also! NOWRA shares 30% of the revenue it receives from all Indiana professionals (member or non-member). To learn much more about NOWRA’s Online Training Academy, or to sign up for a course, visit www.pathlms.com/NOWRA.


IOWPA NEWS • FALL 2019

11


The Double Standard Your Customers Have for Small and Large Businesses Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill, Spark Marketer, Inc. This article first published by Plumber Magazine and is reprinted with permission from COLE Publishing. Fair or not, customers apply different expectations for the kind of service they’ll receive from a business based solely on its size. No matter what size category you fall into, here’s how you can use those expectations to your advantage. Sometimes the day gets off to a rough start even before you arrive to work. As an example … 6 a.m.: You stub your toe on the way to the bathroom, which proves to be a faster (albeit less pleasant) method of waking yourself up than caffeine. 6:30 a.m.: Someone changed the toaster settings and your Toaster Scrambles come out looking like old, leather wallets. 6:40 a.m.: As you run out the door without breakfast (thanks cruel toaster gods), your best employee calls to let you know he has a stomach flu and will be out of commission for the day. By 10:30 a.m., the best thing about your day is that the coffee you spilled when you had to slam on the brakes (is using a blinker really that hard?) somehow missed your shirt, and the burns on your thighs were only minor. With a day like that, is it any wonder you went into that last appointment feeling less friendly and chatty than usual? You weren’t downright rude, just maybe a little more rushed and a little less enthusiastic about the 1,700 questions you had to answer.

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IOWPA.org • Ph: 317-965-1859

So why did your customer get so pissy?

You’re only human and your customers shouldn’t expect you to come to every appointment and every interaction full of smiles and pleasantries, right? Yes and no.

Here’s the thing: Bad days happen to all of us. But a study from the University of Toronto Scarborough shows that when a bad day happens for small businesses and in turn affects the way we present ourselves to our customers, the stakes are higher. That’s because, whether it is fair or not, customers have different expectations for small businesses than they do for larger businesses: They expect us to be nicer. You probably have this same expectation yourself, if you really think about it. When you go to a big box retailer with a question or concern and get a not-sofriendly “Why should I care?” response from an employee, do you vow to never go back? Or do you say to yourself, “They’re just an employee, I’m just a number, and you just can’t get good, old-fashioned, friendly customer service from big companies anymore.”

What about when you go into a small, locally owned and operated shop with a question or concern? What are your expectations? If you were treated the way you were treated at the big box store, would you be harsher on the small company because you expect more from them? Well, your customers are just like you. The research, which was authored by Pankaj Aggarwal and Linyun Yang and published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that customers judge small companies much more harshly than large companies when treated rudely or coldly. Aggarwal says, “It feels very wrong when a small business mistreats us because we expect them to be warmer and friendlier. On the other hand, we don’t expect larger companies to be particularly warm or friendly, so when they fail to be nice, it doesn’t come as a big surprise.” In other words, your customers expect less from larger companies and are therefore more forgiving of them when they lack friendliness or are rude. But small businesses — well, we should know better, do better, and be better.


What do customers expect and want from small businesses? They want and expect you to be: • Friendly • Caring • Honest • Helpful.

Customers are almost always willing to pay more to work with a company that will treat them well. Make sure they feel that extra level of care and friendliness when they’re greeted on the phone or in their homes, and look for ways to make them feel extra special and cared for.

All. The. Time. And if you’re not, you probably won’t get their business or be welcomed back into their home. For small businesses, it’s oftentimes one strike and you’re out.

You may also want to consider equipping yourself and your team with some destressing tools and adding a little extra time between service calls so there’s room for resetting. Mindfulness apps like Headspace offer quick meditations and body scans that can calm the mind and body and provide stress relief in as little as two minutes. It’s one small thing that can make a big difference in a busy day that’s not going exactly as planned.

The Actionable Takeaway

It may seem this research shows that large companies have the luxury of having bad days without it negatively impacting business. But there’s more to be gleaned from the research than that. Here’s how you can use the findings to give you a leg up on the competition, no matter how big or small your business is: If you’re a small business, use your size and customer expectations to your advantage. Your customers are used to being treated poorly when they deal with the big guys, and they expect less from your bigger competitors. Highlight that difference in your marketing and on your website. Put a spotlight on the customer experience.

Equally important: If you’re a manager or business owner, make sure to keep an eye on your employees. If they’re showing signs of burnout or going through a particularly rough time outside of work, it may be better for your business to give them a little time away, so they’re not face-to-face with your customers when they’re short on patience and friendliness. The same goes for yourself. If you’re a larger company, shock and delight your customers by treating them in

a friendly, caring, honest, and helpful way that they just don’t see or expect from big companies. Make it your goal to take care of your customers and to be friendly and caring in every interaction, even though it’s not expected of you. This will set you apart from your competitors and leave a lasting impression with every customer you deal with. There’s really nothing better than exceeding your customers’ expectations, and when their expectations for you are low, you don’t have to work any miracles. Just be nice.

About the Authors Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the cofounders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They’re also the co-hosts of the “Blue Collar Proud (BCP) Show,” a podcast that’s all about having and living the blue-collar dream, and the co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. They’re also co-creators of the award-winning app Closing Commander, which helps contractors close more estimates effortlessly. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation.

IOWPA NEWS • FALL 2019

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2019 IEHA Fall Educational Conference

September 23-25, 2019 Century Center South Bend, Indiana The Century Center in South Bend will be host site for the Annual Fall Educational Conference on September 23–25 with pre-conference events on Sunday, September 22.

Overflow Conference Lodging: Courtyard by Marriott South Bend Downtown 121 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd South Bend, IN 46601 Phone (574) 237-7777 Code: Indiana Environmental Health Association Contact Tami Barrett at (317) 233-7400 with questions.

The theme for the conference is “The Big Picture.” Complete conference details as well as sponsorship, advertising, and exhibitor opportunities available at https://www.iehaind.org/Conference. The conference hotel (DoubleTree) is now full but reservations are available at the overflow conference hotel — Courtyard by Marriott across the street from DoubleTree. The special conference rate is $98/night. If you run into any issues with this rate being honored (rep says there are no rooms left, etc) please contact Amy Sjoerdsma at Courtyard by phone at (574) 999-1082 or email at asjoerdsma@jskhospitality.com,

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IOWPA News, Fall 2019  

The quarterly publication of the Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association. In this issue: SepticSmart Week in Indiana, NOWRA Int...

IOWPA News, Fall 2019  

The quarterly publication of the Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association. In this issue: SepticSmart Week in Indiana, NOWRA Int...

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