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Frustration inspires water delivery business

Posted at 9:50am Monday 11 Jan, 2021

Graeme Gilby and Aaron Barneveld
Graeme Gilby and Aaron Barneveld

Graeme Gilby and Aaron Barneveld know exactly what it is like to run out of water at a critical moment.

The pair were involved in setting up a distillery last year and were absolutely dependent on tank water when the drought began to bite.

“We had a our regular water delivery guy promising us water, but there were huge delays,” Aaron says.

The situation got so bad that the pair decided to buy their own water truck and used Watercare filling stations to top it up, initially to service just their own needs.

But they soon realised that hundreds of other tank water users were facing exactly the same dilemma that they were. They desperately needed water, too.

With their own water truck sitting in a driveway for much of the time, Graeme and Aaron saw an opportunity.

“We put the word out on social media and things just went crazy,” Graeme says.

Demand was so great that the operation soon acquired a second, third and then a fourth water truck, and they have two more trucks on order.  

What started as a sideline business that they dubbed “Raincloud”, quickly became a substantial operation. Graeme assumed the role of director and Aaron became operations manager.  

The more they learned about the industry, the more they realised it faced significant challenges. When things got busy communication between customers and water suppliers simply broke down. Phones would not be answered, calls were not returned and truck drivers would be forced to attempt to take messages while out on the road.

“We dragged out a whiteboard and wrote down all the issues. Then went about solving the problems one by one,” Aaron says.   

A major breakthrough was developing an easy to use website that facilitates the process of water delivery and automates many functions. For example, sending out a reminder email when a delivery is about to take place.

Aaron says with so much being handled automatically, it frees the Raincloud team to ensure communication with the customer remains paramount.

“If you call us, you are going to get a nice friendly voice on the phone. Leave a message and we will call you straight back,” he says.

Raincloud also introduced other innovations such as the ability to instantly deliver WINZ quotes via their website, and a Laybuy option that allows a customer to get water delivered and then spread the interest-free payments over six weeks.

Raincloud also runs prize giveaways and is supporting the Matakana Volunteer Fire Brigade by donating $10 for every load of water delivered in the Matakana area.

“Our customers are number one and the feedback we get from people is amazing,” Graeme says.

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