Leaking Sprinklers (Issue 792)

In which we are reminded to meet routinely, certainly with our most significant clients, so we can anticipate and address challenges early rather than waiting for them to call us once there’s a breakdown.

There’s a small square, shaped more like a carelessly drooping triangle, in a village through which I drive to work.  Home to a small memorial honoring one of the village’s sons, killed in wartime action, there are a few mature trees  and a patch of grass which, during the spring and summer months, are watered by a sprinkler heads that pop up in the wee early morning hours to bathe the grass and trees.

One summer, a few years ago, during my morning drives to work, I noticed pools of water on the road asphalt along one side of the square.  Morning after morning, water – twenty or thirty gallons, maybe – pooled in the road.

“Sprinkler head must be broken,” I’d think as I drove past the square each morning.

Garden sprinkler in action near a grass covered traffic island.

After several weeks of this, my internal dialog shifted to, “I wonder why someone doesn’t notice the water and fix the sprinkler?  Surely they must inspect these things?” And then, as more time passed, to “I should call someone about that.”

Never mind that I’d had the thought, somehow I would forget or it would seem like too much work to figure out who to call. So, I did nothing, expecting that SOMEONE in the town maintenance department would figure this out and fix it.

Finally, one morning, I called them.

“Oh,” they said, “thank you so very much for calling.  We didn’t know about it.”

And they fixed it that same day.  No more road water. After several thousand gallons wasted.

My memory of this was prompted last week when I noticed a broken sprinkler on a baseball field past which I drive. Five outfield sprinklers functioning perfectly and, from the sprinkler on the first base line – water shooting 30 feet STRAIGHT up into the air. Tuesday morning… Wednesday morning…Thursday morning.

“Why doesn’t anybody notice this?”, I wondered.  “Don’t they inspect these systems?”

Nobody inspects these things. I called them on Thursday morning.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT: We (as sales people) should be inspecting these things with and for our clients. Why wait until clients call us to tell us “they have water in the road” or some other problem we could fix?  We put our relationships and sales opportunities in play and at risk if we wait.

Instead, set up routine ‘inspections’ –  “Annual Relationship Reviews,”  “Quarterly Reviews,”  “Monthly Check Points” – with clients, frequency based on their circumstances, rates of change, and risk of loss, so we can anticipate and address problems before our clients lose thousands of gallons or dollars or hours of time.

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