How To Develop Testimonials For Your Waterfall Business


Have you ever bought a book or product on Amazon and read the reviews before buying?  How about downloaded an app for your iPhone?  Did you ever read the reviews and decide it wasn’t worth it based on other people’s opinions?

Let’s face it; anyone can claim to offer a quality product or service.  In today’s interconnected marketplace customers want proof.  Think about your customer’s decision making process.  Chances are they’ve done a Google search (or Bing or Yahoo) about your company.  What did they find?

Harnessing the power of customer testimonials can be a great asset to your outdoor living area business.  Here are a few strategies to implement a successful campaign to keep the testimonials flowing in.

Ask your clients questions relevant to their total satisfaction with the project you completed for them; why they selected you over your competitors, whether they would recommend your services to others, and if they would hire you for a future project.

Be sure to add a disclaimer to your testimonial survey. Inform your customers that you may be publishing their statements and names from their testimonial. This will help preserve the customer confidentiality and allow you the right to use their statements in promoting your business.

If your customer has provided you with a testimonial in person or through an alternate method, ask your customers permission if you can use their information as a testimonial.

Give a customer survey to your customers upon completion of a job. This approach is a great method if you communicate with your customers in person.

Suggest your customers complete the surveys and return them to you.

You can also have the survey designed into postcards with prepaid postage. This will allow customers to fill them out at their convenience before mailing them back to you.

Send the testimonial survey by mail. The survey can be sent to your customers after you’ve completed their project.

Allow a sufficient amount of time to pass in which customers can use your product before sending the testimonial. For example, if you completed an outdoor living area with a fire pit or outdoor kitchen before a holiday like the 4th of July and they’re planning a big party, send your customer the testimonial letter after the party so they can boast how much their friends and family enjoyed the backyard experience.

Put a stamp on the envelope so your customers can return the responses to you at no cost to them.

If you communicate with your customers via email, you can create a page on your website and send your customers a link to it, avoiding the hassle of using snail mail.

Gathering customer testimonials should be part of your marketing strategy as well as your customer satisfaction strategy.  Coming up in the next article we’ll cover online strategies  for using search directories like Google places, Yahoo local and Yelp.

Neptune Panels: Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions

By Jonathan Allard 

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Q. Do I need a permit or engineered plans to install a water feature?

A. That all depends on your local ordinances. You should check with your local building inspector before work begins.

Q. What is the proper care that I should take for my molds?

A. There are several things you should do. First, you should seal them. Keep them out of direct sunlight. Never use mineral spirits as a release agent on them. Don’t let the panel mix start to build up on them. Clean and re-seal as needed.

Q. What should I do if the mix is too wet or too dry?

A. If the mix is too dry simply add clean water slowly a couple ounces at a time and remix. If the mix is too wet you can let it stand for several minutes in which it should start to stiffen up or you can add a small amount of Portland cement and remix.

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Q. Can I build a water feature below 32 degrees?

A. Yes you can, providing you take all the industry-standard precautions for below freezing concrete installations. This would include, warming blankets on the ground before you pour, as well as keeping the entire feature above freezing temperatures for at least seven days and nights after you pour.

Q. What is the desired thickness for each panel?

A. You should try to keep you panel 1/2” thick.

Q. How many bags of Neptune Panel mix will I use for each panel?

A. You can figure an average of three bags for 2 panels. This is based on a ½” thickness average. This will vary slightly + or – based upon the individual molds.

Q. Do I really have to apply sealer to my molds before use?

A. Yes you do. By sealing the molds you are closing any little pores that the panel mix might be able to penetrate into. By allowing the composite to penetrating into the pores of the mold, it will not allow you to release the panels without ripping the molds apart.

Q. Can I make my panels outdoors?

A. Yes, just be sure to cover be freshly poured panel mix with a light plastic sheathing. This will prevent rapid evaporation of the water and will mitigate the amount of cracking you could get.

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Q. How long do I have to wait until I can use my Neptune Panel after it has been demolded?

A. We recommend you wait at least 24hrs before using or hanging your panels after they have been demolded.

Q. Do I have to color my project immediately or can I wait?

A. You may wait to color your project as long as you do not seal it. When you are ready to color you will need to make sure that you remove any dust or debris from your project so you will get a good bond with the color.


Do you have any Additional questions or concerns? (Check out our FAQ’s page for more)

Click here if you would like to learn more about Neptune Panels


8 Steps To Successfully Canvass For Your Outdoor Living Area Business

canvassing for outdoor living area business

One of the most overlooked methods to developing new sales leads for your outdoor living area business is the time tested method of canvassing.  You’re probably thinking it’s old school in today’s online world, but it can be a tremendously cost effective method of delivering new leads for your company.  If you’re working on a job site, or want to be working in a specific neighborhood, what better way to gain exposure for your business than by taking directly to the customer?  Here are eight tips to help you start your canvassing campaign.

  1. Prepare yourself:  Have a clean shirt with you if you’re on a jobsite; you never know when opportunity might present itself.  Have handouts, door hangers, brochures and lead sheets readily available for every person you’ll meet.
  2. Set Goals:  What are your expectations from your canvassing efforts?  Are you looking to set an appointment or to gather names, addresses and emails?  Be sure to have clear objectives set for you and your team.
  3. Script Your Door Opener:  Be sure everyone on your team has memorized the script and can answer any of the basic questions that might arise.  Chances are you won’t sell a backyard waterfall knocking on the door, so that shouldn’t be the objective.
  4. Take A Step Back:  After ringing the bell of knocking on the door, take a step back.  You don’t want to come off as threatening by standing too close to the door.
  5. Make Eye Contact:  Look the homeowner directly in the eye and get to the point.  Your opening statement should identify exactly why you are there.  State a few key highlights of your service and end in an open ended question to engage your prospect.
  6. Exude Confidence:  Be sure that you and your team firmly believe in the value offering you’re presenting the homeowner.  Hesitation or hint of dishonesty will doom you and your team to failure.  A good canvasser will look a homeowner in the eye and speak what they believe to be true. Speak with confidence. Canvassers need not hesitate or sound “unsure” of why they are there at a homeowner’s front door.
  7. Express Appreciation:  Let the homeowners know that you appreciate their time for speaking with you and you enjoyed speaking with them.
  8. Follow Through:  When you get a prospective homeowner to give you their contact information, follow through!  It can be as simple as a postcard or email sent before the scheduled appointment.

Canvassing can be a great way to generate new leads for your business.  Like any other sales or marketing effort your company engages in, it will take some practice.  Remember, it can be a profitable and cost effective way to introduce your water feature business to new customers.

Have you had success with canvassing in your business?  We’d love to hear your experiences.

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Neptune Panels: Coloring Your Water Feature

By Jonathan Allard
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With the construction phase of the water feature now complete, you’ll want to do a general site cleanup of all tools, construction material, and debris to give you a clean environment to start coloring. To protect the area around the water feature from any overspray or drips from the color, you will want to hang or lay plastic over it. This should include any finished flatwork, buildings, and plants or trees. You should also use a leaf blower to remove any dust or fine particles from the water feature to ensure a good bond by the stain.
It is now time to bring your water feature to life. We will do that with color. A lot of dealers
start out very concerned about not being very artistic. There is nothing to worry about; coloring your project is about technique that requires just a little practice and having no fear. You see, as with nature, nothing is perfect. There are no two stones or rocks that look exactly alike or have the exact same coloring or even texture. Since nature doesn’t color every stone perfectly consistent, neither should we.

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All Neptune Panels colors come in a concentrated form. You will have to dilute the color by using distilled water only. In order to get two or three shades of each color use the ratio of distilled water to color as follows; 3 parts distilled water to 1 part color, 2:1, or even 1 to1. This will allow you a greater range of color and more natural looking shading. By diluting one color and using all the different shades of the color you will be less likely to have a checkerboard style, coloring pattern. The checkerboard look will typically occur when the installer does not dilute down the color and uses it in a concentrated form.
There are some basic principles that you should follow that will allow you to have success immediately after training.
The key to coloring all projects no matter where you are in the country or what colors you may use is as simple as starting with the lightest shade, to the darkest shade. When you typically color a project you will probably only use three or four colors. The key to realism is when you dilute each one the colors and you’ll end up with 8 to 12 colors and/or shades.
Once you have chosen the color scheme you are going with, dilute to the lightest color first, and then begin brushing it on your project. Once you have finished coloring your rocks, you can move on to a darker shade. With Neptune Panels color you do not have to wait for one coat to dry before applying another coat, even if it is a different color. There is an acrylic added to the color that allows it to bond to each other whether or not the bottom coat is dry. This is very beneficial to you, the installer, as it saves time and money as it allows you to continue working.
water feature, waterfall, fountain, waterfalls, how to color a water feature, neptune panels, how to color a waterfall, how to color a neptune panelAs you continue coloring from the lightest to darkest shades, you should also be swapping out and using other colors at the same time, in the same fashion. One way to think about coloring is you are actually low lighting the cracks and crevices as opposed to highlighting all the ridges and peaks. Just remember, you can always go darker but it’s not so easy to go lighter. If you’re stones look perfect close up, odds are they may look fake from a distance.

When coloring, as long as you don’t seal the feature you can always tweak the color. If the customer is very specific in what they are looking for, make sure you get approval on the coloring before you seal the project, you will save yourself a lot of trouble down the road.

Helpful Hint:
When you sell a water feature to a homeowner, do not let them pick the colors, but simply pick a color scheme only. Let them decide if they want to have for example; blues and grays, browns and tans, or even the South West reds. Odds are, you will never have color corrected photos and even if you did, every stone you color is different so you would never be able to match it exactly anyway.

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Neptune Panels: The 5 steps to Constructing Water Features

By Jonathan Allard
How is a Neptune Panel Water Feature constructed?
Maybe you have read through our 5 Step Process, which is also listed below, and still not sure how the system works. Here is a quick video on the 5 steps in application.
Here is the overview of the 5 step process that is listed in the video:
Step 1: Making panels 
Neptune Panel molds are made from true stone textures to capture the most realism on the market today. With a simple mixing procedure panels are made by casting the mix on top of the Neptune mold. By adjusting the way the mold lays, you can produce countless different shapes with just one mold. Panels can be de-molded after a minimum of 4 hours, and reproduced several times a day to allow for a stockpile to be built up to be ready for any project that comes your way.
Step 2: Prepping the site.
To prepare for a typical medium-sized stand-alone water feature you will need approximately a half day to excavate and install rebar. Your pond will be excavated and at the same time you will excavate for your footing. After that you will install your rebar in grid fashion and tie at all intersections. This typically can be done with a 2 man crew and minimum tools. Your plumbing will also be done at the same time.
Step 3: Pouring the catch basin and frame footer.
With a small crew you can expect to be able to pour your pond and footer area for the frames in a matter of 3-4 hours. You will wet set the frames into the footer area as well plaster, carve, and texture the pond.
Step 4: Hanging panels.
Once you are ready to hang your panels you will want to start at the lowest area of the front of the feature. Work in rows around the entire structure moving upward. After all your panels are hung you can begin to mud the seams and do all your patch work. This can take anywhere from 5-6 hours or several days depending on the size of the feature.
Step 5: Coloring and Sealing.
Now you are going to color your feature using the Neptune stains. Choose a color scheme and use sprayers and brushes to apply. Just as with nature, nothing is perfect. There are no two stones or rocks that look exactly alike or have the exact same coloring or even texture. Since nature doesn’t color every stone perfectly or consistently, achieving perfection on your project requires a degree of randomness.
If you would like to see more photos of projects and the panel system in action, “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Pinterest!
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Selling Backyard Water Features: Two Different Approaches

If you’ve been in the outdoor living area industry for any length of time, you’ve certainly seen some difference in the way homeowners go about their purchases.  Just 10 years ago, when home equity loans were popular, customers were willing to part with their money a little easier.  Today it seems customers are seeking value in their outdoor projects.    What’s the best way to sell to today’s consumers?

selling water features

There are two different philosophies to approach the in home sale when it comes to outdoor living area projects.  Top down versus bottom up selling.  By top down I mean you give the customer a price for the whole enchilada,  the backyard waterfall, lighting, seating area, fire pit and work down to get into their budget.  The bottom up is starting at a very basic project, and working up from there.

With a top down selling approach you’re basically giving the customer a complete, fully loaded offering of everything you can provide, similar to them walking on to a car lot and looking at the top of the line, completely loaded luxury car,  and deciding which options aren’t really needed.  It’s almost like shocking them with the price so they feel comfortable when the bid comes in lower.  While a popular strategy 10 years ago, it’s been less effective with clients in today’s market.

The bottom up approach starts with a bare bone, minimal feature, essentially your base model.  This helps the customer feel comfortable with the price, but who wants a stripped down version of anything?  This is where your needs analysis and your role as an adviser come into play.  How will they be using the area?  Is the water feature merely for decoration, or will they be gathering there?   A fire pit and a sitting area might fit their needs.

Using the bottom up approach, you’ll be providing your customers the value they’re seeking in their outdoor living area, while leaving yourself room for future work.  Maybe the backyard kitchen isn’t in the budget this year, but if you position yourself right and keep in front of them with email newsletters and other touch marketing, there could be another job down the road when they look for further enhancements.

So what approach is working best for your company in this economic climate?  Please share your thoughts and ideas.

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How Visual Media Can Help Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

By Jonathan Allard

If you haven’t noticed within the last couple years or so, that social media and video marketing have become a key player in the success of a business both big and small, then you’re missing out. These are great ways to interact with consumers and clients who have an interest in your company.  It is a great way to bring all types of information to a single platform using images or videos. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and more importantly videos are consisted of thousands of images, just think of the impact visual media has. There are many ways to incorporate visuals into your current marketing strategy by using social media sites such as; YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, among others. These sites are a great way to post and share updates of current projects, reflect on other projects you may have done, and communicate with the community. This is very important because with technology becoming so fierce, we rely on instant gratification and the fact that knowledge is power. Visual media is more important now than ever before.

Wikipedia refers to the concept of “visual marketing as harnessing the power of images and visuals (which) makes a marketing plan more powerful and more memorable. Images — when done deftly – can turn concepts and intangible things into something concrete. That helps people envision a brand and its message in their mind’s eye — and remember it when it comes time to buy”.

It is under the assumption that visual media is more for large corporate business’. This could not be further from the truth. You too should incorporate this concept and reap the rewards. With the swimming pool waterfall business being such a visual niche, it is important to have these images and videos that are best going to portray what you do, and that is art. Most people will not understand the intricacies behind a swimming pool or waterfall by just reading about it through an article on your website or newspaper. Having clean, detailed images of projects on your website, and a YouTube channel with videos of product information and some “how to’s” are going to leave a much bigger impression on the consumer than one with no visuals.

Social Media Examiner has a great article called “26 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Social Media Marketing”. This article helps in getting started or maintaining momentum in sharing more visual content and in creating a visual conversation with your audience. They do so by going through the ways not only to post images, but how to enhance them for a much larger impact.


Demonstration Days: Gaining Exposure For Your Water Feature Business

backyard waterfall demonstrationOne of the most successful methods Neptune Panels installers have had in generating new business is by hosting a demonstration day.  Any contractor that does hardscapes, swimming pools, water features and outdoor living areas can benefit from this type of promotion.  Water feature contractors have generated significant business from a demonstration day.


1.    Select a date 4-6 weeks out in advance.

2.    Find a suitable location that can accommodate a good number of people and has some traffic.  Car dealerships and retail shopping centers lend well to a promotion, and you’ll gain exposure beyond the demonstration. Once the area is prepped, a typical water feature can be completed in 4-5 hours.  Offer to cover the cost of labor if they’ll pay for only the materials in exchange to do the promotion.  They can also help in cross promoting through their local advertising.


1.    Let your customers know what you’re doing.  Send them a flyer in the statement for the month letting them know.  Send out a couple of email invitations.  If you have a monthly newsletter, promote it there.  Post it on your Facebook page. Send invitations to the local chamber group and other builders associations or organizations you belong to.  Invite architects and other contractors.  This is a networking event getting you some exposure for the creative work you do.

2.    Send out a press release, contact your local paper and invite them to the event.  Post in your blog and on your website.  Maybe even contact your local TV station.  At certain times of the year they might want to highlight home improvement stories.


1.    The day before the event have the area prepped and ready to go.  Be sure all of the supplies are ordered and in place and your team is set.

2.    The day of the event have a 10×10 tent set up.  Have a table with brochures, business cards, and a sign in sheet for attendees.  Refreshments like water and soda, coffee and doughnuts, and maybe even bring in pizza or sandwiches for lunch.  Plan to start around 10AM and finish around 3PM.

3.    Take pictures and video for the work as it’s going along.  This will be a great piece to use on your website and blog, and for promotional purposes.

4.    Have a great demonstration!  Invite questions and participation as the project progresses.


1.    Now that you’ve had a successful demonstration, it’s time to build off of it.  Get the picture and video posted to your website and Facebook page.

2.    Get an email out to everyone on the sign-in sheet.  Let your customers know the location of the completed project so they see firsthand what you can do.

3.    Follow up with the contractors and architects and find out where you can quote some projects.

Gaining exposure for your services of building resort style backyard water features by hosting a demonstration day can generate opportunities well beyond the featured installation.  While it takes some planning and promotion, the rewards can pay off for years to come.

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5 Important Strategies When Building A Backyard Water Feature

 Strategies When Building A Backyard Water Feature

When you build a backyard water feature, using your imagination and creativeness can result in some of the most breath taking features. Along with these attributes you also need to keep in mind some of the basics to keep your project working correctly and efficiently. Here are a few things to always keep in the back of your mind as you are building.

1.            Controlling the water

Water will always find the path of least resistance when traveling down your falls. Keep the sides higher will keep the water from spilling off areas that are not intended. The pitch should always carry the water towards the pond and depending on the angle it can slow or speed up the flow. Be sure that your reservoir is higher in the back and sealed up tight. You don’t want water leaking of the backside of the waterfall. Creating ridges and crests can help divert water into the designated areas or simply break the flow up.

2.            The drop

Depending on the desired effect will determine the face and angle of the cantilever. Some features are designed to flow down the face and then drop into the pond while others are meant to sheet or “spill” from above. By having a predetermined goal before construction will allow you to set your panels in the correct position and make for less adjusting later on.

3.            Leveling the Pond

When pouring the pond make sure you keep a levelness to the outside stones. You can still create different size rocks just ensure they all “flow” in the same manner. If the pond is poured at an angle and because water is always level, your unevenness will be highlighted.

4.            Pond Size

The size and depth of the pond can plays a big role in safety and efficiency. For one, if you are not adding decorative stone to the bottom to build up the actual depth make sure there will not be an issue with children or pets falling in. The size of your pond will be determined by the height and flow of water of your waterfall. Make sure that it is not to close otherwise you may get splashing of the pond rocks which can make the feature less enjoyable to those around it.

5.            The Shape of your Waterfall

The outline of your backyard waterfall should always have a natural look to it. With many different styles of stones and boulders to replicate it is easy to lose track of the final shape. You may have a feature full of the greatest textures and coloring but if it does not appear feasible in nature then most times it will not look right. Always step back as you are building to get a whole view of the project. Look at it from different angles to make sure they all coincide and look pleasing.

No two backyard waterfalls look the exact same and building styles are unique from person to person. Letting your creative side take over can ensure that your water feature will be an expression of your skill and artistic ability, just remember to fall back to the basics to keep on the right track to a successful project.


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Neptune Panels: Swimming Pool Contractors Guide to Loyal Customers

By Jonathan Allard

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We know that in today’s swimming pool market, customer loyalty can determine whether your business fails or succeeds. It will not matter how great your advertising and marketing is, if you do not have excellent customer service, you will lose contacts. They want their questions answered within hours, not days, and they want to feel secure when they purchase your product or service. You’re running a swimming pool waterfall business; this means returning customer emails in a prompt manner and answering all questions from customers. Great businesspeople know that the number one reason for a strong business is a strong customer base. Building this base takes time, patience and skill, but in the end it pays off because your customers will continue to return to your website and promote your business through referrals. This brings us to our first way to keeping customers loyal.

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A Website that is Easy to Navigate

A great website design will gain customers trust and friendship from the start. You want your first impression to your customers, before they even decide to make a purchase, to show that you have a clean and well organized website that is easy to navigate through. Your website should be professionally designed and be clear and tidy, which means keeping advertisements and other obnoxious banners to a minimum.  Having links to a Facebook and Twitter page on your website will allow your customers to keep in contact through these popular social media platforms, further increasing their trust in your business and website.  A good website will also feature informative articles that teach your customers about the products and services they are going to get are beyond professional. Consider adding a blog onto your website so your customers can gain more understanding about who runs the website and what your purpose is.

Train Your Employees on Customer Service

If there is only one thing you are going to do well, then it better be customer service. While the dynamics of installing swimming pools and waterfalls are constantly changing, one thing that will never change is that having quality customer service is the best way to gain your customer’s trust and loyalty. But what exactly does it mean to have “excellent customer service”? By following the tips below you can be sure your customers will trust your website, and in turn be more likely to promote your products on a repeated basis.

  • Fast response time – By responding to emails and other queries in a fast and efficient manner, you build trust with your customers because they know you are interested in their concerns and questions.  If you’re a larger swimming pool company, it’s also a good idea to display a phone number in a prominent location on your website where customers can contact you directly via telephone if they have questions or comments. Even having a live chat feature on your website is a great way to communicate with your customers if they have issues or concerns.
  • Generally, but not always, the customer gives the company their contact information, which enables the business to send out newsletters and product info to continue communication with them.
  • Also a great way to stay on your customers minds is send out holiday cards, email blasts, even making personal phone calls. This will encourage repeat business and give your customers a positive perception of you.

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Offer Unique products and Services

The next step that needs to be followed when attempting to achieve great customer loyalty is to always offer high quality products/services. These products/services should meet the customers’ needs and expectations.  In your case you are offering a swimming pool or water feature, so you must ensure the customer receives all that they purchased, including correct pool-type, a design that they agreed upon, and a finished product that is sure to impress. If you’re selling physical products then it’s imperative that the products be free of defects, including scratches, dents or other physical deformities.  If while during installation damage occurs, which is inevitable, then as the owner you must take immediate action and either offer the customer a refund or fix the issue in a quick and timely manner.

Do Not Be Afraid to Ask for Feedback

This will help you hone your sales techniques and advertising tactics, and in exchange for their participation, you can offer a referral program or percentage discount for a future visit to your business.

Gaining customer loyalty boils down to a variety of factors, including hosting a great website, offering fast and efficient customer service, and selling great premium products.  When these three steps are combined together, you will have customers that are loyal, meaning they will return to purchase more in the future.

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