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View Full Version : Showing up to mow and the &^#(_& sprinklers are on!


Jason Rose
05-11-2005, 07:59 PM
Ok, so what do you do to your customers that just don't get the concept of NOT running their irrigation on the day you mow? The first two I did today (side by side) were wet due to sprinkler systems. One had watered late at night and the other was running when I arrived at 8:00. It's not a surprise that I am there at 8:00 on wed. morning, I am there EVERY wed. at or around 8:00 am. I had to ring the doorbell and have the lady of the house turn off the sprinklers for me. I was rather gruff with her and told her just how running the sprinklers like that effects my tight schedule. She said her husband did it and that she has yelled at him for watering in the rain too.

I am thinking about going to office max and finding some stickers that I can run through my printer and print on them the day that the lawn is mowed normally and to make sure the sprinklers are set to NOT water on the day or the night before! the stickers would then be stuck to the door of the controler where they are an instant reminder when programming or hitting the start button. I would supply the stickers to all my customers with automatic sprinklers and HOPE they used them. I don't think they do it purposely they just don't think about the lawn guy.

Turf Technologies
05-11-2005, 08:05 PM
Maybe thats there watering day?

mtdman
05-11-2005, 10:07 PM
Maybe you should tell them not to water those days?

JFGLN
05-11-2005, 10:10 PM
I solved this problem by offering to program the sprinkler timers. Most home owners don't have a clue about how they work and are happy to have me handle it for them.

captken
05-11-2005, 10:56 PM
I solved this problem by offering to program the sprinkler timers. Most home owners don't have a clue about how they work and are happy to have me handle it for them.

I do this, and some have ask me to "Winterize" the system in the Fall and to turn it on back on in the Spring, flushing out and adjusting, paying me what they would normally pay a company that they have to schedule weeks in advance to do.

To get gruff with the customer and to vent on her is to bite the hand that feeds you. Its very important that you understand this, lest you want to start back flippin' at Micky Dees. :angel: or whatever crummy job you had before. {if you are full time} The world does not revolve around you. [or your schedule] :p

The sticker idea is useless. What happens when it rains for 3 days straight and your "tight schedule" gets shot to He** and your rotation is way off?

Wait until you are back on the same day the next week or mow asap to get caught up? When it will fall on a completly different day.

What if a customer is not home and you arrive to see the sprinklers on.

Do you drive away and reschedule for later?

The valve box for the system is usually near the street, right after the water meter. You could just simply turn it off, mow, then turn it back on before you leave.

Jason Rose
05-11-2005, 11:46 PM
Ok, One I have tried many times to convey the message to not water on the mowing day. Two, Most have their sprinklers set properly but still run them manually for some reason unknown to me. Three, most systems can not be turned off unless I would carry a valve key with me and even still most people here are on private wells. Unless you are dealing with sand, it will be too wet to mow for a few hours.

The point is, that mowing a lawn that is wet week after week starts to take a toll on the lawn itself. No matter how careful one is there is still rutting and tearing the grass due to the wet conditions. I want the lawns to look the best possible and this can't be achived when the sprinklers are running while or before the lawn is cut.

I don't see why the sticker idea is usless. If I have the lawn scheduled for wednesday and it rains that day I will cut it the following day and as many of my thursday lawns as well. Friday I will finish up Thursday lawns and move onto friday. The following week the wednesday lawns are still on wednesday and so on. Are you saying that if you get a few days behind that everyone gets pushed back? That would mean thursday and friday customers would eventually be monday and tuesdays? That's not how we play. Getting caught up, if it means mowing from 7 am to 9 pm, is the name of the game.

Also, I have done this all my life. This is my livelyhood. I may get a little curt with my customers sometimes but that dosn't mean it wasn't unfounded. What am I supposed to do? Change my whole route and everyone elses mowing time for the day just because one person can't follow a simple request about their watering?

mower_babe
05-11-2005, 11:53 PM
I think I would be happy if just ONE of our customers watered. Sheez! Freaking cheap butts.

Green Pastures
05-12-2005, 12:02 AM
I solved this problem by offering to program the sprinkler timers. Most home owners don't have a clue about how they work and are happy to have me handle it for them.


This is what I try to do with all clients.........

ChadA
05-12-2005, 12:02 AM
I think I would be happy if just ONE of our customers watered. Sheez! Freaking cheap butts.

I hear that. There always asking why does so and so's yard look so good. How about watering it once in a while bonehead. I tell them time and time again.

FLYonWALL9
05-12-2005, 12:07 AM
I'm too new to say what I have done but I do know what I would do. I would ask them to turn them off and after I would be back in to program them to not come on for that day. When you tell them the grass is stuck to the side walk and the reason is because of the water then prob solved. If not I would go up a bit and cut the crap wet!

out4now
05-12-2005, 12:08 AM
I think I would be happy if just ONE of our customers watered. Sheez! Freaking cheap butts.
Dust bowl city huh?

HOOLIE
05-12-2005, 12:15 AM
I don't see anything wrong in asking a customer to coordinate their watering. I mean, we are providing a service, the customer needs to work with us to ensure that the best service is provided. If you have to drive out of your way and waste time to cut it when it's dry, you've got yourself a loser account. What's the point in that? If I want to cut a lawn for free, I'll do my own lawn.

LwnmwrMan22
05-12-2005, 04:37 AM
I really don't see what the problem is.

Just cut with the sprinklers running.

You may have to slow down some, just like if you were there when it started to rain, but it's possible to complete an account.

Most people aren't going to flood their yard, each zone runs for 5-10 minutes max usually.

If you look at the yard, you can tell if it's almost through the whole cycle, at which point do your trimming first, and the sprinklers should almost be done, or if the system has just started, hurry up and start mowing, starting with the area that will be next to have the sprinklers run on.

Obviously you're not going to have complete exact stripes over the whole yard, but you can get the property done and move on to the next.

dfor
05-12-2005, 06:06 AM
Sometimes I'll shut off the valve. Other times, I will cut the lawn where zone isn't running. I am like clockwork. They know when I cut. :dizzy:

Jason Rose
05-12-2005, 08:38 AM
I really don't see what the problem is.

Just cut with the sprinklers running.

You may have to slow down some, just like if you were there when it started to rain, but it's possible to complete an account.

Most people aren't going to flood their yard, each zone runs for 5-10 minutes max usually.



:rolleyes: 5 to 10 minutes??? Things are definately different in minnesota. Here people run small sprays 10 to 25 minutes and rotors 30 to 90 minutes per zone. I have numerous lawns that take 4 to 8 hours just to get thru all the stations. And YES, they flood their yard. :angry: Many have water pooling for a few hours an in the ditches. A few are literally wetter after the sprinklers than after a rain :dizzy:

Yes, cutting after a rain sometimes is necesscary, can't schedule the rain. The point and key word here is SCHEDULE. ;) Sprinkler controlers have a clock and calendar and can be set to run when needed. Also, yes, I do sometimes mow right after the sprinklers have ran, sometimes with them running, if I have to leave a section un-cut, then so be it.
With gas prices the way they are and the time and $$$ it takes to get to each house I'm considering charging at least a % just to show up and have to drive off due to the sprinklers running. :realmad: Stuff like that makes people THINK before they crank up the irrigation every day.

mower_babe
05-12-2005, 11:38 AM
Dust bowl city huh?

Seriously, NO ONE irrigates here. We actually had to skip most of our accounts last week. What the heck? I have never had to skip in the spring. Unbelievable.

People here are too cheap and do not want to spend the extra money on their water bill, yet they are the first to b!tch about their lawn burning out and looking ratty. I don't get it. I sent out a Spring newsletter to all of our customers and tried to encourage them to do weekly watering and sign up for a spraying package and to pick up their dog poop...blah, blah, blah...We will see.

There was a question posted earlier on if you should educate your clients - my answer - ABSOLUTELY. I have had people ask me to mow at 1.5" to burn out their lawn so I wouldn't have to come back every week. I have had people with lawns of pure dandelions call me the day after we mowed, bc it didn't look like we had been there as the dandelions had popped right back up and they wanted a free re-mow, but didn't want to pay for chemical apps. I actually had a few people tell me that they do not water bc it causes "Water Grass" which they also called Crab grass. Apparently, the weeds just pop up overnite with no seeds or whatever. Something in the water. Um, ok. And going out in the cold, gives you a cold, right? It has nothing to do with germs, etc. ~sigh~ :dizzy: love'em

mountain man
05-12-2005, 04:45 PM
Here, we have our customers irrigate at most 3 days per week (1 inch per week). So if I know that I am going to cut on Wednesdays then I program for Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. That way I have both my normal day as well as the following day as back up.

Also, if you take you entire client list and highlight the people you have a problem or potential problem with then it is probably a very very small percentage of you entire route. Take these potential problem accounts and schedule them for mid-afternoon instead of 8AM. That way if they do manually water the yard it still has had 5 or 6 hours to recover. If your routes are already set up tight then it should be no big deal to move a couple of people around.

If the above items are done and you properly communicate with the customer then I can't imagine this being that big of a problem. If it is then I would selectively cull these clients out of my customer base at the first opportune time.

MM

alwaysgreener
05-12-2005, 05:12 PM
Put your rain gear on and mow. then maybe they will get the idea :D

Precision
05-12-2005, 07:32 PM
Let them know that your business has picked up and you will be mowing whether or not their sprinklers are on and accept no resposibility for damaged head.

Not that it will work. But it might drive the point home.

Or you could add a sprinkling surcharge.

Or you could write a clause in your contract that if the sprinklers are on when you show up, you will still bill them but not cut until the following week.

Or just cut but don't blow and blame all the debris on the wet pavement.

Or you could let them know that sprinkling like they are trying to recreate the flood of Noah's Ark isn't helping their lawn and provid literature from the state ag extension.

You could offer to install an automatic timer for them

I offer ($15 per month on 1/4 acre lots) irrigation maintence. quarterly system checks, re-alignment of heads, head debris cleaning, seasonal reprogramming of timer. Works like a charm. All materials are still paid by them, but I get to control the amount and frequency of watering. Sure makes things easier for everyone.

sheshovel
05-12-2005, 08:13 PM
Here, we have our customers irrigate at most 3 days per week (1 inch per week). So if I know that I am going to cut on Wednesdays then I program for Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. That way I have both my normal day as well as the following day as back up.

Also, if you take you entire client list and highlight the people you have a problem or potential problem with then it is probably a very very small percentage of you entire route. Take these potential problem accounts and schedule them for mid-afternoon instead of 8AM. That way if they do manually water the yard it still has had 5 or 6 hours to recover. If your routes are already set up tight then it should be no big deal to move a couple of people around.

If the above items are done and you properly communicate with the customer then I can't imagine this being that big of a problem. If it is then I would selectively cull these clients out of my customer base at the first opportune time.

MM
It's better Mountainman to have them water less frequently,but longer,watering for very short periods of time three times a week makes the grass roots stay growing on the top instead of reaching down for the water.

Mdirrigation
05-12-2005, 09:00 PM
Grab a hose and soak the rain switch and the sprinklers are off .

Jason Rose
05-12-2005, 09:08 PM
Grab a hose and soak the rain switch and the sprinklers are off .

LOL, I have one, count 'em, ONE customer with a rain switch, and it's on the roof!

mountain man
05-14-2005, 08:53 AM
sheshovel

Good point on encouraging the roots to grow deeper, however with our soils if we try to run longer and less frequently there is significantly more runoff. In our region 1" per week keeps the turf looking fine.

MM