Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Conserva Irrigation prides themselves in being the only irrigation company founded on the principles of water conservation. The company is committed to changing the way residential and commercial properties use water. According to Russ Jundt, the founder of Conserva, the company has helped conserve around 40-60% of water usage to date. With over 46 million residential systems and 20-22 million commercial systems in the country, this can translate into a substantial benefit for not only the economy, but for the environment at large. Currently, Conserva Irrigation operates 20 units and has 9 other dual-territory owners.
Jundt describes the franchisee training process by first describing the types of people who are attracted to the business model. According to Jundt, there are two types of people who decide to become a franchisee with Conserva: 1) people currently in the irrigation space, and 2) people with no experience who are interested in environmental protection and who recognize a good business opportunity when it shows up. Both of these types of people are usually lacking in business knowledge, and that’s where training comes into play.
The first, initial training is conducted in-house in Minneapolis. “It’s a one week, M-F training with the franchisee and the owner,” explained Jundt. “Also, their operations manager and admin that they’ve secured is also in attendance. In that first week it’s highly structured, and we go through the operations itself and the Conserva wheel, including how we attract and retain our clients.”
Then, the training delves into attracting, obtaining, and retaining clients through a carefully tested and proven marketing program unique to Conserva Irrigation. “We focus on inbound and outbound marketing. We go through sales training, our accounting principles, consumer financing we offer, and really we focus on the day-in-the-life of the Conserva technician. They physically go into our site where they can see the administrative side, the operations, how our technicians check in and go out into the field.”
Jundt describes the core value propositions of Conserva Irrigation in three words: professionalism, innovation, responsibility. “In other words, being the steward of a very scarce natural resource,” said Jundt.
After the training, franchisees go on their way, taking the knowledge they’ve gained during the training process and applying those learned principles into their business. Training, however, doesn’t stop there. “We have weekly calls with them,” Jundt commented, “and we do a 90-day fast start with a fast-start checklist. So, we’re working with them on a weekly basis on everything including setting up an office and vehicle acquisition. We basically give them a business-in-a-box startup kit which includes a product, some clothing from Tuoro and Conserva (polos, t shirts, hats, etc.), generic collateral (sales folders, for example).” Additionally, the team works with the franchisees developing and implementing their marketing plan.
“Within that 90 days, we have a business coach who does an onsite visit and spends 2-3 days at that facility, working with real specific onboarding processes they need help with,” describes Jundt. “Continually we have weekly conference calls every Thursday morning, and every Wednesday early afternoon we have an admin screen share and/or conference call, where all admin, if they have questions, they can talk with our main admin.”
Training videos are also available for franchisees to access on Conserva Irrigation’s private YouTube channel.
Jundt also believes in the power of recognizing strengths as a means of motivating franchisees. “In meetings, we typically start out with recognition. Then, we discuss a hot topic, feedback, how to handle certain situations, etc. We’ll also go through some sort of technical training, and then we’ll end it with recognition. We always start and end with recognition.”
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