Do you want to start a water refill station? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a water refill station business with NO money and no experience plus a sample water refill station business plan template.
There will always be a huge demand for water even as there are several types of water in existence such as mineral water, purified water, flavored water and so on. However, since most Americans have come to distrust the water that flows from their tap, many have turned to taking bottled water.
Changes in how people view the environment has made water refilling stations to receive a boost as one can bring their own containers to refill water without having to buy new bottles all the time as most of these bottles aren’t always recycled and they end up degrading the environment.
Refilling water is usually cheaper than having to buy retailed bottle water. A water refilling station makes use of a kiosk to distribute and provide water to its target customers. This is a very lucrative business especially if you are one that is environmentally conscious.
This business requires that you to know how to conduct an analysis of the water so that you will be able to determine how sanitary the water is. Most water refilling entrepreneurs are those that have worked in the waste water industry and so have an idea of how to source as well as handle water and make it drinkable.
Just like any other business that you might be looking to start up, it is important that you conduct a thorough research about the business so that you do not end up wasting money and time on a venture. If you have had no prior experience in this industry, then conducting a thorough research is very necessary especially if you are not going to be buying a franchise.
Get in touch with those that are running the business and ask vital questions, you might even need to work for someone running such a business for a period of time so that you have an idea about the business. It is important that you source for a reliable supplier to provide you with the water refilling and purification equipment as well as the jugs that you will use to deliver and store the water.
The reason why it is important to find a reliable supplier is so that you can get your equipment and supplies at a low cost that will help you start off and sustain your business. You might need to contact several suppliers in order to check out their rates and since most businesses are now online, it will be easy enough for you to check out reviews about their products and services.
writing a business plan for your business is very necessary as you will not only outline the vision behind your business in this document but you will also need the document to guide you throughout the course of running the business.
If you are looking to source for start-up capital from external sources, then it is vital that you have a business plan at hand as this is how you will be able to convince investors to invest in your business. Writing a business plan involves certain technicalities and if you aren’t proficient enough, you can engage a professional to help write one for you.
Steps to Starting a Water Refill Station Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
According to statistics, in the united states, only 24 percent of disposable plastic bottles are recycled as there are more than 600 tons of bottles sent to the landfill.
Water bottles that are disposable often consume important resources such as water and petroleum. In 2006, about 30 billion plastic water bottles were purchased by Americans, which means that about 17 million barrels of petroleum were used in the production of these bottles.
Also, three times the volume of water is needed to produce these bottles and this is discounting the water that will be used in the bottle.
The growth in the number of water refilling stations all over the country has to do with the rise in demand for clean water as a number of people do not trust the water that comes from their taps and are becoming environmentally conscious about buying bottled water because of the environmental degradation caused by littering these bottled water all around.
The water refill stations have really come in handy especially in states that experience droughts. However, the growth of water refilling stations has led to price wars as the fight to get a fair share of the market continues. This hasn’t really allowed the industry to grow as expected as other policies and strategies are not able to be implemented.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those that require water refills are commercial entities, distribution companies, environmental conscious individuals and residential homes. Therefore, one can say that the demography for the water refill business is encompassing depending on the promotional activities of the entrepreneur.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
A water refilling station often collect, test and redistribute quality water to those that are not looking to buy bottled water. There are not so many niche ideas available for this kind of business; however the few niches that exist will depend on what scale of business you are running.
Large scale water refill stations will be able to offer more niche ideas as opposed to small scale water refill stations. Below are some of the niche ideas within this particular business that you can specialize in;
- Water Refilling Services
- Sale of Water Refilling Equipment
- Sale of Bottled Water
- Consultancy Services
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition that exists for the water refill station business has a lot to do with the scale of business the entrepreneur is running and the niche as well. If you are only refilling water for those in the residential segment, then you will not need to bother about competing with those that supply the commercial segment.
Even though there are alternatives for customers such as bottled water and tap water, customers who are environmentally conscious and those who do not want to have to keep buying bottled water are those that patronize water refilling stations and as long as what you offer is of high quality, you will continue to have people patronize you from far and wide.
Therefore, if you are looking to start your water refill business in the united states, you should be aware that not only will you be competing against other small and large scale water refill stations but also against other alternative suppliers of water and you should therefore be adequately prepared.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are always brands that are well known and the water refill station is no different. Some of the well-known brands have either been in business for a long period of time, some are popular due to how they conduct their business; while some adopted the right promotional strategies to create awareness for their business.
Some of the well-known water refill stations in the United States are;
- Aqua Primera Corp.
- Smart Water Stations (USA)
- H2O Life Source
Refill stations are doing a great job of ensuring that the re-use culture is coming back as re-using a water bottle helps to cut down on the resources and energy that go into making a single bottled water. Also, water refilling stations help save up on water as water is being taken from different sources and treated before being sold to consumers.
Bottled water requires energy throughout its lifecycle from sourcing for the water, treating it and then sending it to the bottling plant in order that it might be filled into bottles, packaged and transported to its destination and then the recycling and disposing of the empty containers afterward.
Several public parks are cutting back on the sale of bottled water to visitors in order to reduce the litter that is always left behind after the visitors have left. However, this has brought a rift between the bottled water association and that of the water refillers.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When starting certain businesses, you are faced with the option of either starting the business from scratch or having to buy a franchise. While either option has its pros and cons, your decision should be to choose the one that will best allow you to achieve your intended goals and objectives.
If you are looking to start your business on a small scale, then starting from the scratch isn’t a bad idea as it will allow you gather experience about the business and grow the business at your pace.
However, starting from the scratch can be a bit overwhelming because you will be in control of all the vital aspects of your business; which is why it is often advised that entrepreneurs have a business plan in place as this will act as a guide for them especially in the early parts of running the business.
If you however intend to buy a franchise, some of the benefits of that include; having some sort of guidance in running your business, getting training for your staff and not having to worry about certain vital aspects of running the business.
The disadvantages with a buying a franchise is that you will not be in total control of your business and should you buy the wrong franchise, you will not be able to achieve your goals and objectives. It is therefore advised that you conduct a thorough research on the varying franchise opportunities available in order to choose the one that best aligns with your budget as well as your goals and objectives.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
There is no business no matter how duly prepared the entrepreneur was that will not encounter challenges and threats. While some of these threats and challenges can usually be anticipated and prepared for; some cannot be prepared for. Once these kinds of threats and challenges occur, the best that the entrepreneur can do is to remain focused and optimistic that the threats and challenges are well contained.
Some of the possible threats and challenges that you will likely face when starting your water refill station include; strict regulations from the government or industry, alternative substitutes due to changes in customer tastes and preferences and competition from already existing competitors.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
One important decision that could have a huge impact on your business and how you can attain your set goals and objectives is the best legal entity to use.
Even though there are various legal entities that exist for entrepreneurs looking to start their business in the United States, not all are appropriate for a water refill station, which is why it is best to make your findings about the business you are looking to start especially as regarding the legal entity or you engage the services of an attorney to help you out.
All the legal entities that are in existence in the United States have their pros and cons and this is what you should take into consideration when looking to make your decision about what legal entity will be best for you. The attributes include; ease of ownership, setup and control; flexibility of the legal entity; extent of liability, investors’ expectations as well as taxation issues.
Anything ingested is highly regulated in the United States and the water refill business is no different. The government sets standards in such a way that there are almost no contaminants from water refill stations.
Stations that cannot adhere to standards often fall into trouble and due to how unpredictable the nature of the business can be; there are certain legal entities that should not be taken into consideration at all by the entrepreneur. There are five legal entities that exist for an entrepreneur and they are; sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), S Corporation and C Corporation.
The sole proprietorship and partnership legal entities though simple will not be sufficient for this kind of business. Most entrepreneurs starting this business often choose to incorporate by either choosing an LLC or a corporation.
These legal entities are sort of similar in nature because the businesses operating under these entities are regarded as a distinct personality from the owners, thereby offering the owners limited liability cover on their personal properties. However, while the LLC is simpler in nature, the corporation is more rigid and involves a lot of procedures before it can be set up.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
While you might still have the idea of starting a water refill station, one important thing that you need to start considering early on is what name you intend to call your business. The name of a business is important because this is what you will be identified by and if the name is memorable or unique, then it will be easy enough for your target customers to remember your business and to even refer you to others.
Ensure that the name isn’t in use by any other business especially those in your industry. Below are some of the catchy business name ideas that will be suitable for your water refill station;
- Aqua Fresh Corp.
- Evis Water Refill Inc
- Messers Fresh Water Inc
- John Paul Aqua Group
- Clear Rush Inc.
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
No matter how much you might have prepared for your new business, you cannot stop certain calamities – either manmade or natural – from occurring and affecting your business. However, while you might not be able to stop the impact of disasters on your business, you can however be fully prepared for it by ensuring that you have coverage in place that will protect yourself, business, employees and bottom line.
Choosing the best insurance policies might be a bit confusing and in order not to end up buying irrelevant policies, you can engage the services of an insurance agent or broker who is knowledgeable about your industry to advice you on the best policies to buy.
Below are some of the insurance policies that you should consider purchasing when looking to start your water refill station in the United States of America;
- General Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Commercial Property Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Overhead Expense Disability Insurance
- Motor Vehicle Insurance
- Business Owner’s Policy Group Insurance
- Mechanical Breakdown
- Casualty Insurance
- Professional Liability Insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
The water refill station is not where you will need to acquire an intellectual property protection before starting because you are basically refilling water either in your own provided bottles or that of your customers.
If you however feel the need to acquire intellectual property for your company name, logo or any other concept you feel is worth protecting, you can go ahead to do so; only know that acquiring an IPP in this sort of business is not considered a priority by most of the entrepreneurs in the industry.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
If you are looking to start a water refill station and are wondering if you will need a professional certification of sorts before you can start the business, the answer is no. As long as you have the capital required in starting the business and have met all the requirements of the federal, state and/or local government; then you are good enough to start the business,
However, there are many entrepreneurs who along the way have felt the need to get professional certifications relating to the industry they are, but while this might give you a boost within the industry, the final consumer is not so concerned about this.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Regardless of whatever business you might be looking to start out in the United States, you will require certain documents if you do not want to run into trouble of any sorts with the authorities. Legal documents differ depending on the kind of business and so it is necessary that you make findings from those running a similar business so that you have an idea of what documents you will need in order to run your business.
Alternatively, you can engage the services of an attorney to help you with the necessary documents you will need to run your water refill station business. Below are some of the documents that you will require in order to run your water refill station;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Business Plan
- Insurance Policy
- Food Permit handler certificate
- Business License and Permit
- Employment Agreement
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
When looking to start your water refill station business, your thorough research will reveal how much you would need to start the business and while the start-up capital might vary due to the area where you intend to run your own business, it will give you an idea of how much you will need.
If the capital is above what you have at hand, you have the choice of either waiting till your funds are complete or sourcing for capital from other sources and if you are going to be sourcing from people you do not know; then it is necessary to have a business plan in place in order that you might be able to convince them of the need to invest in your water refill station.
Some of the financing options that you can therefore explore when looking to start your water refill station are;
- Generating your start-up capital from personal savings and sale of property or stock
- Sourcing for soft loans from wealthy family members and friends
- Applying to your local community or commercial bank for a loan
- Sourcing for loan from an angel investor
- Getting yourself a business partner to come up with part of the start-up capital
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
One of the most important decisions that you will make which will have a huge impact on your business is the appropriate location for your water refill station. The location for every business matters which is why entrepreneurs have to take their time in choosing a location because the wrong location could stunt the growth of the business or cause it to fail.
The water refill station is a very important one and as such is highly regulated by the government because of how harmful contaminated water can become to consumers. Therefore, the area and location which you have chosen to run your business must be approved by the government.
The location you should choose for your business shouldn’t be one that cannot be easily accessible by your employees or customers that will want to visit your business. Also, ensure that the facility is conducive enough. You must decide whether you intend to lease or buy the facility depending on what your budget is.
If leasing, ensure that the necessary clauses guiding you are put in place especially should you intend to relocate to another location. Engage the services of a reputable real estate agent who has a thorough idea about your kind of business to help in securing the right location for your business.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
As a water refill station, you make money by collecting, testing and then redistributing water. This water can be sold in bottles or sold to larger companies who then massively distribute it.
Most times, customers require that you deliver the refilled containers to their preferred destination and so getting a delivery vehicle is very vital as you will also need to distribute refilled containers to various outlets that will in turn sell to their own customers.
A delivery vehicle will add to your overall costs but it is very necessary that you purchase one if you intend to have a successful business.
There are various equipment that you would require in order to be able to set up your water refilling station; the costs for these equipment will vary depending on the area you are looking to run the business as well as the make of the equipment.
The equipment that you will need to start and run your water refill station successfully include; multimedia sediment filter, active carbon filter, water softener tank, reverse osmosis membrane, polishing carbon, ozone generator and an ultraviolet lamp. Administratively, you would require a computer, phone, filing cabinets, software and internet connection.
Building a solid business structure is very necessary if you want your business to become a success. Ensure that you not only hire professionals but also those that identify with your set corporate goals and objectives and will therefore be committed to ensuring that you achieve what you have set out to.
You will require those who will be in management, marketing as well as those who will operate and maintain the machines. If you are therefore looking to run an effective water refill station, you will need at least five people to work with you in achieving your set goals and objectives.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
On a daily basis, a water refill station has to source water for cleaning and then process the water through machines for redistribution. Before the water is redistributed however, it has to be sampled in order to ensure that the treatment process went well.
Once the sampling results fail to meet with the standard, the station will need to check its machines. Various water refilling machines distribute the treated water to various containers and then these containers are either taken away by the customers themselves or delivered to different outlets or destination.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Marketing is one of the most important aspects of a business and entrepreneurs just starting out a business or already running one cannot deny how vital marketing is. Marketing has to do with anticipating the needs of your intended target market and then striving to be able to fulfill such needs.
Marketing also puts a business in the notice of other similar businesses as well as the entire public and so you not only get to penetrate the market and get a fair share for yourself, you also get to compete fairly against your competitors and depending on your strategies have leverage over them.
Before your marketing strategies can become very effective, the area where your business is located plays a huge role. If you are located in an area that is not too conspicuous, you will have to budget more money in order to be able to achieve effectiveness.
However, if your business is an area where people notice it as they drive or walk by, then the very fact that your business is visible is enough marketing on its own.
Carrying out a thorough research before you draft your marketing strategies is very important as it allows you to know who your target market is, what it is they expect from you and what you should expect from them as well. Also, the research will enable you identify your competitors, what their strategies are and how you can take advantage of their weaknesses.
Before you can however develop marketing strategies, you would need to outline a marketing plan that clearly shows what goals and objectives you are looking to achieve and what milestones you intend setting.
A good marketing plan will act as a guide for whatever marketing strategies you are looking to create and will ensure that you are able to achieve all your intended goals and objectives. Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can use in promoting your water refill stations;
- Recruit a competent marketing team and empower them to physically meet with clients in order to promote your water refill business
- Ensure that your water refill business is listed in accredited yellow pages and online directory
- Make use of social media platforms such as a Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Instagram to promote your business
- Advertise your water refill business in local newspapers and magazines and also on radio and television stations
- Distribute handbills and fliers about your water refill business in various strategic locations
- Create a standard website and use this to promote your services to your target market
17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
Any entrepreneur starting a profit-oriented business knows that sooner or later, he or she would have to contend with competitors either from the same kind of business or from an alternative kind of business for which the product or service can be substituted for and therefore should be prepared for all sorts of competition by coming up with effective competitive strategies that will enable the entrepreneur retain a fair share of the target market.
This is why it is important for entrepreneurs to have a passion for their business as this will allow them thrive when they have to face off their competitors.
Some of the possible competitive strategies that you can use in winning over your competitors in this particular industry is to ensure that you come up with the right promotional strategies that will increase awareness for your business; offer your customers incentives every now and then and have the best customer service relationship with your customers.
18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
The water refilling business might be a lucrative one but one of the tasking activities it faces is how to attract customers to its business and there is no business that can remain in existence for long if there are no customers, as this is how businesses can generate the revenue it needs to grow its bottom line.
Entrepreneurs know how important customers are which is why several strategies are being crafted to ensure that customers are being attracted to the business.
However, while attracting customers is very important to the continued success of a business, ensuring that a high number of these customers are retained is also very critical as this means that the company spends less on promotional activities while continuing to enjoy a steady stream of revenue from its customers.
According to research, companies that retained a high number of their customers always had an advantage over those that didn’t.
There are several ways you can increase retention of customers for your business and one of them is ensuring that you provide them with quality products and services. Customers want to know that you consistently adhere to standards when sourcing and treating your water.
Once they can vouch for the quality of your water, they will continue to patronize your business. Another thing that customers value is the relationship you develop with them, which is why many companies invest highly in their customer service.
Ensure that complaints are quickly attended to and resolved. Also, ensure that you give out incentives such as discounts every now and then and as your customers come to expect this from you, they’d help spread word about your business while sticking to your brand.
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
When starting any business, one of the vital aspects that cannot be taken for granted is how you can promote your business in such a way as to get the attention of your intended target market.
The good thing about promoting your business is that not only do you get to boost awareness for your brand to your intended target market but a percentage of those whose awareness you have caught will be converted to revenue which is how businesses achieve their sustainability.
The huge benefits that come from boosting awareness for one’s brand is why many companies – especially the successful brands – set aside a particular sum of money every year to promote their brand to their target market. These companies know that regardless of how much they spend in promoting their brand, the many ways they benefit from the promotion far outweighs the money that they have put in.
However, like every important aspect of any business, it is vital that a thorough research be done before strategies are crafted as the wrong strategies would mean the company losing money.
One thing to note is that not all strategies will be effective and so if you intend to cash in on your target market, finding out which strategies will catch their attention and convince them to patronize your products and or services will be to your advantage.
The internet has made it very easy for entrepreneurs even those on a tight budget to effectively reach a wider audience. There are various platforms and algorithms that internet professionals make use of when helping businesses promote their brands and so you must ensure that you engage the services of those that have successfully helped other brands achieve their goals and objectives.
Some of the strategies that you can use in boosting awareness for your brand and creating a corporate identity for your water refill business;
- Coming up with incentives to ensure that awareness for the business increases
- Distributing handbills and fliers in various strategic locations around the area where your business is located
- Installing flexi banners at strategic locations around the area where your business is located
- Joining a local association in order to network and increase visibility for your business
- Using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness for your business
- Creating a website and ensuring that it is strategically optimized so that it could come out tops in different search engines.