Utility Service Partners, Inc.

Sharing industry news, best practices and program highlights from experts in the field.

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Leaky pipes creating billion-dollar dilemmas

shutterstock_153692441Many cities are struggling to find the income needed to address the million and, in some cases, billion-dollar dilemma of their aging infrastructure – especially for water and wastewater. In fact, the overall infrastructure grade from the 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers Report was a D for water and waste water. While these grades fluctuate by state, county and even town, the harsh reality is our infrastructure needs to be addressed and the repairs are going to be costly.

Many cities, such as Los Angeles, are facing this decision every day with miles and miles of pipeline having been installed more than 50 years ago. It’s only a matter of time before a small crack becomes a leak or even a major break, resulting in expensive repairs for the city, lost water and headaches for homeowners left without resources.

These problems are not limited to Los Angeles. Every day, city officials around the nation are taxed with deciding which pipes to replace now and which pipes can wait. Each replacement where funds are diverted to one pipe is a hope that another pipe doesn’t suddenly burst from age or weather. A Los Angeles Times article reported in February 2015 that “cities such as Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Seattle are also seeing old pipes come of age, according to infrastructure experts.”

“This is not just an L.A. problem,” Irvine-based asset management consultant Colin Chung said in the article. “Because pipes are out of sight and out of mind, no one has really thought about how we’re going to pay for this.”

Money for repairs isn’t the only thing cities are paying. The aging infrastructure leads to headaches for homeowners from property damage due to water breaks, noise of the repairs, lack of water and even loss of access when roads are shut down.

“We must do something about our infrastructure and we must make the necessary investment,” said the former head of the Department of Water and Power in Los Angeles, H. David Nahai. “If we don’t act now,” continued Nahai in the Los Angeles Times article, “we’ll simply pay more later.”

As with any problem, the longer it is ignored, the worse the situation will get for both the infrastructure and the price tag for the repairs. Every day the bill for repairs to our aging infrastructure grows, which is why it’s no surprise the American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Grade remains poor year after year with trillion-dollar investments needed.

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City of Phoenix homeowners have saved more than $1 million in repair costs for water and sewer lines with the NLC Service Line Warranty Program

img3The City of Phoenix, Arizona, has become the second partner participating in the National League of Cities (NLC) Service Line Warranty Program to surpass $1 million in paid repair costs on water and sewer lines through the city’s Marketing Partnership Program with the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program.

“Those dollars paid in repair costs represent investments in local infrastructure and dollars kept in the local community. We are delighted to help so many homeowners manage the cost of service line repairs while utilizing local contractors to perform those repairs,” said Philip E. Riley, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer for program administrator Utility Service Partners, Inc. “Thanks to the support of the Mayor, City Council and City Staff, residents are getting timely repairs for their water and sewer line issues while also supporting conservation efforts at a time when these efforts are of critical importance.”

Many homeowners have expressed their satisfaction with the program saying:

“When a failure of your sewer service disrupts the comfort of home, having a supportive and cost effective system to complete a speedy repair is priceless.” – Clifford S.

“I was impressed with my claim service. Everything and everyone was nice, quick and very easy in getting my repair taken care of. I am very happy I made the decision two years ago to buy your policy.” – Doug J.

“It was a lifesaver for me. This happened to me at a time when I was having so much trouble. Thank you for a great service.” – Betty L.

“I don’t know what I would do without this warranty service. It was so helpful to have when I needed it. It is helpful to pay a small amount every month to have service too.” – Natalie V.

To date, homeowners have benefitted from over $1.1 million in claim repairs ranging from small leaks and clogs to replacing entire lines. The program has provided a voluntary option for homeowners to prevent their private infrastructure from draining their budget.

Phoenix City Council established the Marketing Partnership Program to identify and implement mutually beneficial business partnerships and generate revenue for city programs and services. This partnership, along with other Marketing Partnership Programs, has helped the City raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each fiscal year to fund important community programs such as police, fire and emergency services.

“This creative partnership is helping Phoenix residents save money in two ways,” said Councilman Bill Gates, chair of the City Council’s Finance, Efficiency, Economy and Sustainability Subcommittee. “Residents who purchased the warranty have enjoyed direct savings of approximately $1.1 million in reduced water line repair costs, while taxpayers citywide reap the benefit of more than $1 million in general fund revenue that the program has generated.”

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Year in Review

For Utility Service Partners, Inc., 2015 was an extraordinary year. We experienced exceptional growth in North America, adding 74 new partners, representing more than 600,000 households. Working with the National League of Cities has led to new partnerships in the US that include Arlington, Texas, and Newark, New Jersey. We have also developed a partnership with the Local Authority Services, which has led to our healthy growth in Canada. We are delighted with the opportunity to bring this beneficial program to so many new homeowners while helping communities address their aging infrastructure issues.

In addition to our new community partnerships, our consumer brand, Service Line Warranties of America, was awarded the 2015 West Virginia Municipal League Conservation Award at their annual conference. This award represents the commitment Utility Service Partners, Inc. has to environmental initiatives and raising awareness in the community for water conservation.

As we look to 2016, Utility Service Partners, Inc. is poised to continue to be the leading provider of utility service line warranties to communities in North America. Our strategic approach to solely partner with communities demonstrates our commitment to promoting the integrity and reputation of the city’s brand. We value the endorsement of our fantastic partners, the National League of Cities in the United States and the Local Authority Services in Canada. Working with these incredible organizations and the state-level municipal leagues helps keep our program in line with the needs of local communities.

We thank you, our partners, for taking the initiative to introduce the valuable program to help protect your homeowners from the high cost of utility line repairs. More than 100,000 homeowners have benefited from your decision to bring the NLC Service Line Warranty Program to your community, saving homeowners more than $64 million in repair costs. We look forward to serving your homeowners in the new year.

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Customers around the nation delighted with Service Line Warranties of America

img4We love sharing stories from satisfied customers about how our consumer brand, Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA), has helped save them time and money. Whether it was a small clog or a total replacement, each customer will receive the same great service and full benefits of the coverage available in their city. The following are three happy customers from around the nation who’ve been delighted with the service they received from SLWA and our network contractors.

Pam M. of North Little Rock, Arkansas
Pam M. of North Little Rock, Arkansas, discovered her sewer backing up into her washing machine and bathtub and was very concerned about the expense.

“We live in a historic neighborhood in a home built in 1923,” said Pam. “We knew and worried about the plumbing being old.”

Though they were relatively new customers, everyone receives the full coverage regardless of how long they have been enrolled. SLWA quickly dispatched a local, licensed plumber to assess the situation and make the repair.

“SLWA immediately got in touch with a local plumbing company and had someone out the next morning,” said Pam. “They were able to determine that part of the underground pipe had fallen apart and replaced about 10 feet of pipe. We are pleased to say we were out of pocket no cash! The job was finished by noon on the same day.”

Pam was delighted with the Service Line Warranties of America staff and the Roto-Rooter contractor.

“The fee is such a small price to pay for the peace of mind to know that something like this is covered, especially if you live in an older home,” said Pam. “I would recommend [SLWA] to anyone who was considering it. In fact, we have told several of our neighbors about the experience.”

Bill S. of Lawton, Oklahoma
Bill S. could smell the problem that was brewing in his sewer. He knew something was wrong, so he contacted Service Line Warranties of America, who dispatched a contractor to his residence quickly to assess the situation and repair his line.

“Best warranty I have ever had,” said Bill. “The entire program and contractors have been fantastic. Sign up today! Every time I have called, they have been professional and quick.”

Linda F. of Hutchinson, Kansas
Linda F. first noticed a problem when she heard a strange gurgling sound from her plumbing. Upon investigation, she knew to call Service Line Warranties of America.

“I was quite impressed with the time it took to get the repair done,” said Linda.

Linda was delighted with the work of our contractor and has been spreading the word to her friends and neighbors. She said they were very professional.

“Get this service,” said Linda. “My neighbor took it out after I had a problem since their house is about the same age.”

In our next issue, we will feature city officials and their experience with the program. Interested in having your city featured? Contact Hayley Martin at hmartin@utilitysp.net.


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Proactive promotion yields great success

Whether your community is a new or an existing partner, a proactive media relations plan is the key to success. As each campaign approaches, it’s a great time to remind residents about the program or, for new partners, introduce the program.

Our team at Utility Service Partners, Inc. can provide various resources for city communication. These can be requested through your Business Development Specialist at any time and will be customized to meet your needs.

Press Release – For each campaign, a standard press release is available that can be customized with your city information. This release can be posted on your city website, distributed via social media channels or passed to local media professionals for inclusion in their upcoming communication.

Web Banners City-specific web banners are available to communicate important information about the program.

Newsletter Articles – Releasing a community newsletter? We’re happy to provide city-specific text for your use in any length. This can be a feature about the program, a reminder about campaign letters or highlights of the success of the program.

Share our Blog & Social Media – Our marketing team publishes blogs for homeowners and city officials with information that can be shared in your community. You can visit www.utilityspblog.com and www.slwablog.com to find homeowner tips, industry news and more. City partners are welcome to share the blog links with the community and tag our social media sites on Facebook and Twitter.

Our team is happy to assist you in developing a proactive media relations plan that can communicate the program effectively and reduce calls to the city. Want to learn more? Reach out to your Business Development Specialist for more information or email partnerships@utilitysp.net.

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Important Dates to Remember

Watch your email for how to sign up for complimentary Service Line Awareness Week resources.

February 5
Deadline to sign up for complimentary Service Line Awareness Week resources

Our Business Development representatives will begin reaching out to city contacts with your city-specific campaign materials for the spring mailing. Not sure who your representative is? Contact Blake Stogner at bstogner@utilitysp.net or 214-552-4098.

March 5 – 9
As a program partner, USP will have a table at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. Stop by and visit with our Business Development representatives.

March 20 – 26
The inaugural Service Line Awareness Week kicks off with daily activities. Visit http://www.utilitysp.net/slaweek/ for more information.

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Service Line Awareness Week is Coming


Mark your calendar for March 20 and make water conservation a priority in your community. In March, Utility Service Partners, Inc. will launch the inaugural Service Line Awareness Week. Complimentary materials will be available for city partners interested in educating homeowners on their service lines.

Together, we can make a difference in your community. We’ll share helpful facts and figures to alert residents to the seriousness of water conservation. Educational materials will be available, including social media graphics, that you can share with your residents to improve water conservation and reduce consumption in your own communities.

City partners will receive sign-up emails in the coming weeks, so watch your inbox. For more information visit http://www.utilitysp.net/slaweek/.