A couple of years ago I couldn’t help but start reading about this thing called “green.” As I learned more about green I kept wondering how this could help you showroom folks sell more products, make more money, help your customers and help the environment.

Currently multiple showerheads and body sprays in those big showers that are designed for master suites are big business. And those wonderful oversized whirlpool tubs are in vogue. These are great high-end ticket items and as long as folks want them I want you to do everything you can to sell them. They generate sales and profits for the business. However, the amount of water usage and energy used in these products does concern me.

About six months ago Rheem Water Heater Co. contacted me to see if I’d help them market their tankless water heater to and through showrooms. My first thought was, “They must be kidding.” Water heaters are out the warehouse door and over-the-counter products. But as I learned more, I have become convinced that tankless water heaters definitely could and should be a showroom sell item. In fact, I called several of my wholesaler consulting clients and asked what they thought. I was surprised and pleased to find out that several are already selling tankless water heaters!

Hank Darlington and his wife, Carol, discussed the benefits of the Rheem tankless water heater at the 2008 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show.

After some discussion we made a quick decision to install a tankless unit in our California home. (We have homes in California and the Baja of Mexico.) Our tank-type heater was 12 years old and beginning to make some strange noises. Our whole-house tankless unit was installed about three months ago. It was clean, quick and very well done. I have already recognized five features and benefits that have affected my life and that I believe make it a perfect showroom sell item:

1. It seems we always have some of the children and grandchildren visiting. The Darlingtons are all early morning shower folks. With the tank unit it seemed like someone was always running out of hot water. This won’t happen with our new tankless unit! We could shower 24 hours a day and water would still be hot. (I’d be broke, but we’d have hot water and we’d be clean!)

2. We don’t have multiple showerheads in our shower, but you can tell your customers who do that these tankless water heaters will give them all the water they need and it will always be hot - always!

3. Now after a great workout I can fill my tub and take that long bath that I enjoy. Up until our tankless water heater was installed I could only fill it about two-thirds full before the hot water ran out. Now your clients can do the same with their oversized tubs.

4. Our tank water heater took up a huge corner in our garage. Code required it to be placed on a wooden box about two feet high. Our tankless unit was installed up high in the same corner, and now we store our golf clubs where the tank unit was. Freeing up storage space is another huge benefit.

5. When we’re in residence at our home in Mexico we no longer waste energy heating water in California because the tankless unit only works when hot water is called for. I’m saving money and energy usage!

Please seriously consider selling tankless water heaters if you aren’t already. Here are the reasons why:
  • It will be a nice add-on sale. The cost of a tankless unit will be in the $1,000-$1,200 range (not including installation).

  • You can make a good gross profit on it. It shouldn’t be price prostituted like all tank-type heaters are.

  • You’ll be doing your clients a service by making sure they have enough hot water to service all those large shower systems and big tubs.

  • You’ll be making a contribution to the “green” movement by helping folks save on their energy usage (and cost). Tankless units only use energy when hot water is called for.

    You’ll have to learn how to size a tankless water heater - but this is very similar to sizing a steam generator or sauna. Sizing a tankless water heater is a lot easier than diagramming a shower system with an overhead, two sidewall showerheads, a handheld shower and four body sprays! Plus, you’ll have to learn enough about installation to give good advice in that area.

  • More green ideas for showrooms

    What else do you sell, or could you sell, that could be part of the “green” movement?

  • Certainly water closets, which are code at 1.5 gallons per flush.

  • The two-lever flush makes a lot of sense. One for liquid waste (less than a gallon) and one for solid waste (using a gallon plus).

  • I’m a big fan of the bidet. It is the most hygienic plumbing fixture ever made. It reduces water usage because of less need for a daily shower. Bidets have been used in Europe and Asia for years. If used properly, you’ll save on toilet paper, too!

  • When we owned our showroom we taught our salespeople how to sell bidets and washlet toilet seats. We spoke very honestly and openly about them and in turn sold more of these products than almost any other showroom.

  • How long before waterless urinals are sold for residential use?

  • I’m pleased to see sensor faucets moving into the home. They save water and energy.

  • I can remember when Panasonic came out with the really quiet energy-efficient fans. What a great add-on sale this was/is. I’m sure other manufacturers have followed suit.

  • Manufacturers are making lav faucets, kitchen faucets and showerheads that limit the amount of water used.

    I have to wonder how much longer multiple showerheads and huge tubs will remain popular. I guess as long as folks are willing to pay for the extra amount of water and the energy to heat it - or until “Big Brother” steps in and mandates the cutbacks.

    You have a wonderful opportunity to help your customers become more “green” by being an educator on what products contribute to the process. In some cases it can be a nice add-on sale like the tankless water heater. Plus, if you can identify enough “green” products that can be sold in the showroom, you can start to market yourself as a “green expert.” It’s becoming a very important issue.

    I know I’ve not covered a number of examples of “green” products that are out there. I would love it if you would e-mail me additional products, why they are “green” and what success you’ve had in selling them to your clients. I’d like to do a follow-up article on the subject in the future. I’ll give credit for your help! Thanks for reading - and let’s all try to leave a better planet for our children and grandchildren!