Being Helpful

Informational items from NOWRA and other sources can help you provide valuable education to customers about their onsite systems

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Ask homeowners about almost any aspect of their home and chances are they will regale you with facts – the kind of exterior paint, the type of furnace, all the cool features of the new refrigerator. But ask about the septic system and the response is likely to be a blank stare.

Perhaps because it is out of sight and out of mind, the septic system is among the least known features of the average home. For owners, the first time they learn anything about their system is when it needs repair. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is a ton of information available to consumers to help them understand and correctly manage and maintain their septic systems. Helping consumers understand their systems by providing reliable information is not just a nice thing to do – it’s good business.

The more you help educate consumers, the more likely they will look to you when they need help, and the more likely they will refer you to a neighbor. With that in mind, here is a brief overview of the NOWRA resources available to you for educating customers.

Septic Locator. This online resource (www.septiclocator.com) helps homeowners find local qualified professionals for the specific services they need. Users can search for providers in a variety of ways: by Zip code, geographic radius, state, city, company name or services desired. They can use multiple search criteria, so they can find just what they are looking for. Each listing contains the provider’s contact information, along with the services offered.

Homeowner Folders. These are excellent leave-behinds for installers or service providers. They are designed as a one-stop solution for a homeowner. The sturdy 9- by 12-inch folders contain detailed information about onsite systems and how to care for them. It can hold all the paperwork associated with a system and has a place to record regular system maintenance.

It also includes a handy file tab so that it can be kept in a file cabinet with other information about household equipment and appliances. Thousands of copies have been purchased and distributed by installers, service providers, pumpers and health departments. You can buy printed folders at the NOWRA website (http://www.nowra.org/onsite_guide.html). If you prefer, you can download the folder design and print copies for yourself.

Bill Stuffer. You can also visit the website to download a bill stuffer that advises consumers about what they should not put down the drain. This compact document fits conveniently in mailings to new or existing customers. It’s set up so you can easily save it and print it on demand.

You can also find excellent consumer-focused information in a number of other places. Two of the best are the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) and the U.S. EPA.

NESC was established 30 years ago to provide assistance, solutions, and knowledge about water and wastewater to small communities and consumers. The website features a host of useful information, including publications that help consumers understand what their septic systems do, how to maintain them, why they need regular service, and how to protect nearby groundwater resources. NESC has a hotline (880/624-8301) where consumers can ask specific questions about their systems. Visit www.nesc.wvu.edu.

The EPA also has a variety of publications and technical documents for consumers. Three of the better items are:

A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems

Homeowner’s Septic System Checklist

A Homeowner’s Guide to Evaluating Service Contracts

Additional technical information is available on the site for consumers who wish to delve more deeply into the topic. If you haven’t already, check out these items and see how they can help you be more valuable as a resource for your customers.

About the author

Eric Casey is executive director of the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association. He can be reached at 800/ 966-2942 or wecasey@nowra.org.



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