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View Full Version : Do you replace sprinklers for free?


DFW Area Landscaper
05-16-2005, 12:58 PM
If you or your crews are accused of busting a sprinkler head, do you replace it for free?

In my opinion, there are two main reasons why we would bust a sprinkler head: Either the sprinkler is not retracting properly, or the sprinkler was not installed correctly to begin with (too high). Either way, there is only one thing that can cause a sprinkler head to get busted...our mowers and equipment. But at the same time, there is only one reason why a sprinkler would be cut by a mower...it isn't retracting properly because it's old or it was never installed correctly.

So when a customer calls and says you broke their sprinkler head, do you fix it for free? Sometimes this can be a very simple repair, but sometimes it can mean making a trip to the hardware store for a special spray pattern head and/or having to dig up and cut pipes because the riser input is busted, etc. I do sprinkler replacements for free if we break them, and sometimes it's a 10 minute job and sometimes it's over an hour. Depends on where and what is broken.

I',m considering changing the policy to blame the customer for having faulty spray heads that don't retract and heads that are installed too high.

So do you or don't you? For those that don't, do customers understand or do they get mad and cancel everytime?

Thanks,
DFW Area Landscaper

Rinker97
05-16-2005, 01:28 PM
Just a homeowner here but I had an idea I wanted to share with you.

If the irrigation system is already installed when you sign up a customer could you walk the property with them and look at the head locations? Then you could notice if any were installed too high and let the customer know and they could get them fixed. Maybe then you could get them to sign off on the walk and let them know that the only reason you could damage a head was if it didn't retract properly and you are not liable for it.

I'm sure some customers could still get pissed if you said you were not going to replace it. Maybe you could offer to do the replacement as a fee.

Also, if you edge their driveway and sidewalks with a gas edger, you could damage a head with that. Been there, done that to my own. :realmad: I would think you would be liable for it.

Just some ideas.

Rinker

DFW Area Landscaper
05-16-2005, 02:37 PM
Rinker97,

I never meet with clients on their property for lawn mowing. It just isn't worth it. Customers can cancel at any time after they reach their six cut commitment. So walking the property is not an option for me.

As for sprinkler heads that are damaged by blade edgers...it is because they are installed too close to the concrete. Again, not the lawn mowing company's fault. The irrigation company that installed the head should anticipate the lawn mowing company running a blade edger along the sidewalk.

An underground sprinkler system is supposed to be exactly that...underground. If any component of the irrigation system is sticking out of the ground and is able to be damaged by a mower, the system is faulty...not the lawn mowing company.

Problem is, home owners probably won't buy this story without cancelling service. Again, if any LCO's have experience with trying to tell customers it isn't your fault, I'm all ears. I would love to start telling home owners we don't replace sprinkler heads even though it was our mowers that hit them, but I just think it would lead to a cancellation every time.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

GreenUtah
05-16-2005, 05:02 PM
We break them, we fix them, was always our policy. Of course, we never took any customer without a year commitment and three years was our standard. I always considered it the opportunity to place it properly and identify others that were misplaced and charge to fix those before we broke them too. If they did not want to repair others once properly identified, then your liability for a free fix had ended, in our book. Maybe the best you can do is split the cost for the broken head with both parties accepting liability, them for improper placement, your crew for not watching for obstacles. You may be able to incorporate language into your service agreement staing otherwise, but they will still press you to fix something you damaged. Look for the opportunity to add to the fix rather than walk away from it.

dfor
05-16-2005, 05:20 PM
An underground sprinkler system is supposed to be exactly that...underground. If any component of the irrigation system is sticking out of the ground and is able to be damaged by a mower, the system is faulty...not the lawn mowing company.

I totally agree. I've been lucky till now. Only hit about 3-4 on different properties. Never had to pay. If I knew I hit one, I called to let them know that it wasn't retracting. BUT, last year I hit at least 6 on one property. All in the back yard. I told him before this, that they weren't working right. He hasn't said anything to me yet. But he had the system shut down, so he has to know. The heads were constantly staying up. He tried to hold back $100 from the last bill of the season, but I kept billing throughout the plowing season. Ended up paying. We'll see.

stumper1620
05-16-2005, 05:34 PM
Rinker97,

I never meet with clients on their property for lawn mowing. It just isn't worth it. Customers can cancel at any time after they reach their six cut commitment. So walking the property is not an option for me.

As for sprinkler heads that are damaged by blade edgers...it is because they are installed too close to the concrete. Again, not the lawn mowing company's fault. The irrigation company that installed the head should anticipate the lawn mowing company running a blade edger along the sidewalk.

An underground sprinkler system is supposed to be exactly that...underground. If any component of the irrigation system is sticking out of the ground and is able to be damaged by a mower, the system is faulty...not the lawn mowing company.

Problem is, home owners probably won't buy this story without cancelling service. Again, if any LCO's have experience with trying to tell customers it isn't your fault, I'm all ears. I would love to start telling home owners we don't replace sprinkler heads even though it was our mowers that hit them, but I just think it would lead to a cancellation every time.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper
if i damage it i replace it no charge, neglect is the only reason for hitting a head. if you are edging and come to a head that is too close, pull up and skip that area then inform the homeowner so he can arrange to have it moved, if you hit a head that is stuck up, your fualt sorry, that is just being careless about your clients interest, again step it down, mark it with a stick or flag if you have one, and inform the home owner, myself i give a quote for a service on these items because that is part of my business, the only head i have hit in 3 years was 1 week ago when i slid on a slope and scalped and destroyed the head, I replaced it for free. this is my policy and would like to think it is a standard practice for most.

DennisF
05-16-2005, 05:53 PM
If I've been mowing the lawn for a while and a sprinkler head is broken...the customer pays for the head.

Sprinkler heads tend to loosen over time and that causes them to stick up too high or the return springs get weak leaving the nozzle sticking up.

Either way it's the customers responsibility to maintain the irrigation system. I tell them that I can replace it for small fee plus the cost of the head. I usually carry 5 or 6 different heads in the tool box so that I can fix them on the spot if necessary. Most repairs only take 5 or 10 minutes so it's not a big deal to change them out.

I haven't had anyone disagree with the policy yet.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-16-2005, 05:58 PM
++++neglect is the only reason for hitting a head++++

I strongly disagree with that. Yes, if a sprinkler head is sticking up above the surface of the lawn, and you'd have to be blind not to see it, then yes, it is neglect.

However, I would venture to guess that very few LCO's are going to see a sprinkler head that's not retracting, sticking up above the surface of the lawn, and run it over because they neglected to mash it back down with their foot. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of sprinkler heads that are broken by LCO's are sprinkler heads that were not in plain sight when the damage was done.

I KNOW it isn't my fault if we bust a sprinkler head because there are only two reasons why it would happen: Improper retraction or poor installation.

Problem is, I suspect more home owners would disagree than agree with my reasoning, get mad and cancel service over it.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

stumper1620
05-16-2005, 06:17 PM
++++neglect is the only reason for hitting a head++++

I strongly disagree with that. Yes, if a sprinkler head is sticking up above the surface of the lawn, and you'd have to be blind not to see it, then yes, it is neglect.

However, I would venture to guess that very few LCO's are going to see a sprinkler head that's not retracting, sticking up above the surface of the lawn, and run it over because they neglected to mash it back down with their foot. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of sprinkler heads that are broken by LCO's are sprinkler heads that were not in plain sight when the damage was done.

I KNOW it isn't my fault if we bust a sprinkler head because there are only two reasons why it would happen: Improper retraction or poor installation.

Problem is, I suspect more home owners would disagree than agree with my reasoning, get mad and cancel service over it.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper
should this happen to be the case, split the cost, customer buys head, you install, that would not be unreasonable if the head was obstructed from the operators view.

Runner
05-16-2005, 06:37 PM
I'm not going to throw a $1200 a year account away over a $30 sprinkler head. Things happen. Ground heaves, the mower hitting the heads loosens them up, etc. It doesn't and shouldn't happen that often.As far as the head being up against the concrete and being hit by the edger, the same thing. There is no reason to hit this. that is just too easily avoidable. If it is damaged from aeration, we don't say "it was in the wrong place,...it should have been one inch over."

Turfdude
05-16-2005, 07:08 PM
We do not replace irrigation heads or valve box covers hit and/or damaged by mowing equipment for free. I have multiple maint crews w over 200 properties. There is no way all of my employees know ehere all of the irrigation heads are. Very seldom do we hit them, but all machine blades are at 3". It is up to the irrigation company and/or whoever installs and charges the system to make sure heads are properly functioning and are at proper grade. For renovation & core aeration, I have the clients mark all heads and boxes prior to thjis service. They use my paint stick & paint & circle all pertinent objects. If they're not marked, its not our fault.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-16-2005, 07:22 PM
Turfdude,

When you do hit a sprinkler head with the mower, how do you handle it when the customer calls you about it? What do you tell them? How often do you end up losing the client because of it?

I'm the same way...197 customers and multiple crews. There is no way we can know where the sprinkler heads are on each property. Even a solo operator doing this part time with only five lawns wouldn't know where the sprinkler heads are if they are installed and operating properly. The system is underground.

Thanks,
DFW Area Landcaper

grasswhacker
05-16-2005, 07:34 PM
Turfdude,

When you do hit a sprinkler head with the mower, how do you handle it when the customer calls you about it? What do you tell them? How often do you end up losing the client because of it?

I'm the same way...197 customers and multiple crews. There is no way we can know where the sprinkler heads are on each property. Even a solo operator doing this part time with only five lawns wouldn't know where the sprinkler heads are if they are installed and operating properly. The system is underground.

Thanks,
DFW Area Landcaper

Try making a decision on your own without airing it out on LS for once. Trial and error my boy, trail and error. Good grief. :cry: :cry: :cry:

lawnman_scott
05-16-2005, 09:11 PM
I KNOW it isn't my fault if we bust a sprinkler head because there are only two reasons why it would happen: Improper retraction or poor installation.

Problem is, I suspect more home owners would disagree than agree with my reasoning, get mad and cancel service over it.

Later,
DFW Area LandscaperThen I guess you awnsered the question of the day. Fix it or they cancel. If its not the first cut, then they should know where the ones that stick up are.

sildoc
05-16-2005, 09:59 PM
I will fix for free if they have a contract for the year. If it is a one time or done as needed, NO. I make enough money on year longs where the one times are just not worth it.

SWD
05-16-2005, 10:01 PM
Provided we hit one, we fix it - no questions asked.
Typically, we don't hit heads as we walk the property first looking for debris/problems.
However, heads can and will stick all of the time. This doesn't mean they are defective as all sorts of anomalies can occur.
Now, I don't have 197 properties - just 35 or so.
Average size is two acres, average head count over 100, however, not counting the properties over ten acres up to eighty acres that I maintain.
Average broken head count per year, possibly as high as six.
I run multiple crews, and mandate property checking before mowing.
Once I take over a property, I inspect and determine where irrigation problems are located. Property owner/manager is made aware of these problems and then we repair at a certain cost. Subsequent to that repair, we accept responsibility for the irrigation system and damage.
An interesting question is why don't you have spare heads/repair equipment on your trucks?
You won't run into problems with TCEQ provided your irrigation number is on the truck.
Repair a busted head, without a license, and customer complains, your in big dodo with the state!

ed2hess
05-16-2005, 10:04 PM
Refusing to fix heads almost always leads to an argument that isn't worth the time to debate. We carry a fix kit with us. A lot of nozzles are damaged by trimmers and the big mowers can break pipe by pushing heads into the ground. Not everybody uses swing joints. We try to be proactive and suggest sprinker check and flag all heads above the ground and any that is sticking and then we repair. One of our Property managers tried to argue with me that all damage was caused by mowers. I dug up three breaks with him watching and showed him that roots had cracked the pipe(thin wall). I picked my examples based on experience.

dwc
05-16-2005, 10:43 PM
I don't mind replacing a sprinkler head every now and then if I hit it and its a system that normally doesn't have a problem. Some yards that the system is horrible, I have told the people that they need to have their system revamped. Some have, some havent. If they do have a serious problem, I usually tell them I won't be completely responsible for busted heads. Many times they buy the head and I install it or they will have the irrigation people install it.
I hate the old systems that used brass heads! I have a couple accounts like this and the heads ALWAYS stick up. I hit one with my Walker a while back and threw a chunk into the blower and that was $175!!!! Plus a 1/2 days lost work and all my time fixing the blower.

Like others have said, if a system is properly installed and maintained, you will never hit a head or see one for that matter. Instead of blaming the irrigation company, the lawn mowing company always gets the blame.
It would be impossible for a lawn mowing company to carry a spare head for every type of system. There are different spray patterns and different flow rates, rotors and popups, filler heads, different lenths and everything else.

lawnman_scott
05-16-2005, 10:49 PM
Repair a busted head, without a license, and customer complains, your in big dodo with the state!
I immagine that happens alot?

Mueller Landscape Inc
05-16-2005, 10:51 PM
Try making a decision on your own without airing it out on LS for once. Trial and error my boy, trail and error. Good grief. :cry: :cry: :cry:

Good advice there... lets just keep re-inventing the wheel.

sethsodsquad
05-16-2005, 10:58 PM
The fact is: the sprinkler heads didn't self-destruct . . . someone had to have broken them. . . and that person is you. Sorry to break it to you - but your company is the reason that the sprinkler head is now broken.

When someone crashes into a parked car - do they say it was the parked car's fault (and if they do - do the police care)? Same with lawn care. If you break it - it's your responsibility to fix it.

If you don't have the time to fix it, contract someone out to do it. It's one of the expenses you have to add into your business. If you think you can't afford a couple of dollars for a few sprinkler heads, you may think about how you are currently running your business.

--Seth Goings

Precision
05-16-2005, 11:04 PM
If I break it I fix it. Most of the time on the old style installs it is just a broken riser. On the newer installs it is just mashed out of the way.

If I see that a head is beginning to malfunction. I tell the client and enclose a note in the bill. This note also states that the malfunctioning head can be replaced by me now, for a small fee or replaced When damaged for a larger fee; or the client can fix them in either instance.

Most clients fix them quickly or have me do it. Then I attempt to upsell them to add irrigation maintenance to their contract. Then for the set monthly fee all they ever need worry about is buying heads as they expire. Most are thrilled to have that option. And I throw in zone coverage, head cleaning and the like quarterly.

With your new system DFW this wouldn't work I am sure, but it is an idea. $45 per quarter for irrigation maintenance billed to the card. Who knows.

Mueller Landscape Inc
05-16-2005, 11:08 PM
If I break it I fix it. Most of the time on the old style installs it is just a broken riser. On the newer installs it is just mashed out of the way.

If I see that a head is beginning to malfunction. I tell the client and enclose a note in the bill. This note also states that the malfunctioning head can be replaced by me now, for a small fee or replaced When damaged for a larger fee; or the client can fix them in either instance.

Most clients fix them quickly or have me do it. Then I attempt to upsell them to add irrigation maintenance to their contract. Then for the set monthly fee all they ever need worry about is buying heads as they expire. Most are thrilled to have that option. And I throw in zone coverage, head cleaning and the like quarterly.

With your new system DFW this wouldn't work I am sure, but it is an idea. $45 per quarter for irrigation maintenance billed to the card. Who knows.

Precision,
What do you quote as the life span for the sprinkler heads? I like your idea.

stumper1620
05-16-2005, 11:14 PM
If I break it I fix it. Most of the time on the old style installs it is just a broken riser. On the newer installs it is just mashed out of the way.

If I see that a head is beginning to malfunction. I tell the client and enclose a note in the bill. This note also states that the malfunctioning head can be replaced by me now, for a small fee or replaced When damaged for a larger fee; or the client can fix them in either instance.

Most clients fix them quickly or have me do it. Then I attempt to upsell them to add irrigation maintenance to their contract. Then for the set monthly fee all they ever need worry about is buying heads as they expire. Most are thrilled to have that option. And I throw in zone coverage, head cleaning and the like quarterly.

With your new system DFW this wouldn't work I am sure, but it is an idea. $45 per quarter for irrigation maintenance billed to the card. Who knows.
I offer the same along with spring start up & fall blowouts, this is a great add on and on top of that I get to control how wet the turf is on mow day unless it rains, no more slippery slopes when i have control.

dishboy
05-16-2005, 11:23 PM
If a head has a riser that has not retracted, by definition it is already broken as it has failed to function as designed. Nontheless I will change it out because it's the right thing to do. What's a three dollar head and a tax deduction worth compared to bad customer relations.

topsites
05-16-2005, 11:26 PM
Bottom line: No.

Jason Rose
05-16-2005, 11:33 PM
Some I fix, some I don't. It's a call you just have too make. Like many others have stated, an underground sprinkler system is supposed to be underground. I can't watch for every head, I have no idea where at least 50% of them are out of all my properties. When some start sticking up, they are worn out and need replacement. Just beacuse I didnt see it one week and hit it with the mower dosn't make me liable for their old worn out sprinklers.

If it is operating properly and I hit it, then yes I replace it. Some, over time of being ran over repeatedly, will break off at the (cheap) riser. and if I'm notified of the situation I will replace it with funny pipe or a swing joint to make sure the problem dosn't occur again. Nothnig I hate worse than being pulled off to examine something that the owner has already fixed (wrong again) to tell me that I broke these heads off. Well, I want to say sooo bad, that If they were installed diferently, or didn't use hardware store brittle plastic risers they would never again be broken off. (there is no other place to run the wheels of the mower due to some tight spaces). Tell me about it BEFORE you attemt to "fix" it, and see if I will, beacuse I will, for free, and it will last much longer than your repair ever wanted too.

For those that say a sprinkler head is $30 or whatever... Find an irrigation supplier! If you are doing replacements of damages, repair work for hire, or new installs, it would make good sence to find a wholesaler to buy from. Most name brand rotors run from $7 to $10 bucks. and 4" sprays around $1.50, plus another $1 for the nozzle. Certianly easier on the wallet for a damaged head than spending the marked up hardware store price for lower grade heads.

Kelly's Landscaping
05-17-2005, 12:12 AM
Not my area of expertise so I personally would not change one for some one when I have broken a few in the past they just had it fixed. Itís rare and every time but one it was from failure to retract not my fault it was already broke. The only time that was not the case it was improper instillation and I mean really hackwork the guy had a 4-foot wide path on the side of his house to his back yard just wide enough to get a mower through. On the edge was a 20-foot drop off so there was not going wide and it was inclined so the path was rather steep the irrigation guys had a head at the edge of the path just as it dropped off. Half the head was not even covered stuck out like 6 inches when down. No way but the path to get in the back he wanted it bagged could not even see the head on the way up the hill must of taken it out on him 4 times that season LOL.

Runner
05-17-2005, 12:33 AM
[QUOTE=Jason Rose
For those that say a sprinkler head is $30 or whatever... Find an irrigation supplier! If you are doing replacements of damages, repair work for hire, or new installs, it would make good sence to find a wholesaler to buy from. Most name brand rotors run from $7 to $10 bucks. .[/QUOTE]

Most of what we install isn't dept. store or Home Cheapo junk. It is Hunter, and most of those, I sell with the good stainless heads. These are closer to 30 bucks, and that is wholesale.

Planter
05-17-2005, 12:38 AM
I currently do the sprinkler repair for a major commercial maintenance company. I find that the old systems have the most mower/trimmer damage. The heads tip or they are sticking up because of cheap repairs done by the company with the low bid several years ago. Or they are just tired and worn out. If we repair something it is billed out. Aerator punches a nozzle, I bill it at time and materials. Trimmer slices the side of a head and it leaks, I replace it, set it properly and it gets billed out. No work gets done without a billing. Most systems we see have more problems than mower repairs. I guess that landscape maintenance repairs are about 15-20% of the repairs I make and of those about 80% are because the head was shot, too high or leaning over and needed fixed anyway. With the size of these properties it is not cost effective to stand and straighten every head, so they get fixed when they get broken.

surfisher211
05-17-2005, 06:25 AM
when ever i get a new costumer i always walk there property and use a plain white flag to mark any sprinkler heads that look to high . and after a few cuts it sticks in your head where it was and you don't forget, seems to work for me lol as i hit about 4 last year

SWD
05-17-2005, 07:09 AM
I immagine that happens alot?

Actually, here in Texas - it happens quite a bit.

Once the owner/property manager makes a complaint, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality gets involved.

With-in the last year I know of several LCO's heavily fined for license non-renewal or no license at time of repair.

the TCEQ mandates numbers have to be on the truck and be part of the advertisement, like in a newspaper or on a businss card.

topsites
05-17-2005, 07:37 AM
if i damage it i replace it no charge, neglect is the only reason for hitting a head. if you are edging and come to a head that is too close, pull up and skip that area then inform the homeowner so he can arrange to have it moved, if you hit a head that is stuck up, your fualt sorry, that is just being careless about your clients interest, again step it down, mark it with a stick or flag if you have one, and inform the home owner, myself i give a quote for a service on these items because that is part of my business, the only head i have hit in 3 years was 1 week ago when i slid on a slope and scalped and destroyed the head, I replaced it for free. this is my policy and would like to think it is a standard practice for most.

Oh really, now it's neglect? And what's next, children's toys, too? And what when the grass is so tall you can't see the obstacle? How about the metal pipe you didn't see, who pays for the bent blades, also you, correct?
Yeah, and here goes the stupid metal-blade crap edger again - I *never* have used an edger cutting grass, that's just a big waste of time.

But wait, the best is yet to come:
- Lets say I am Joe customer, and I have a problem. See, hehehe, I got these sprinkler heads, well, they kinda broken but I glued the caps back on right quick so you can't tell, and now I'm gonna call me one these lawnboys to cut my grass, hehehe ....
(Yeah don't think I haven't had this happen, people do steal).
So here's this guy calls you on the phone, sounds like a cream-of-crop customer, already wants to be on your list ALL year, lalala, right? Out you go cut their grass and that evening (or next day, whatever) you get a phone-call. Weeellll... It's only this one little sprinkler head (blablabla), and you go out and replace it?

Hell yeah, that scam's older than the book, you can get your defective/busted sprinkler heads replaced for free, just call one them disposable lawnboys.

FTS !

Strange thing is to me this is a noob problem (someone with less than 3 years in the business, or a part-timer) as are a lot of other things discussed in this forum, these are not real issues to me anymore. Judging by the profiles, there's a LOT of liars talk about been doing this for x-many years yet then they got these noob-probs... So don't be surprised when the customers con or try to scam us, if you're a liar yourself then you are promoting this type of behaviour.

Bye.

topsites
05-17-2005, 07:43 AM
Problem is, I suspect more home owners would disagree than agree with my reasoning, get mad and cancel service over it.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Yeah I know some argue ferociously, more reason to suspect the head might've been broken before you even cut the grass. You see, clipping a head with a blade makes a distinct click you can hear, and you can feel it, too. Yes I can feel it because to me grass-cutting is sexual and I get exxxtremely intimate with my Toro thank you.
I've got over 2000 yards under my belt and the damaged-item issue is not that uncommon but what irks me is the lawnboy ALWAYS gets blamed first, even if I did not break it.
No, hell no I ain't replacing that crap, it is not my responsibility!! What, gonna lose a customer? Big deal, sayonara !
grow some b@lls, lol !

topsites
05-17-2005, 07:46 AM
Turfdude,

When you do hit a sprinkler head with the mower, how do you handle it when the customer calls you about it? What do you tell them? How often do you end up losing the client because of it?

I'm the same way...197 customers and multiple crews. There is no way we can know where the sprinkler heads are on each property. Even a solo operator doing this part time with only five lawns wouldn't know where the sprinkler heads are if they are installed and operating properly. The system is underground.

Thanks,
DFW Area Landcaper

What do I tell them? Inform them of policy - It's the same thing when a big 18-wheeler throws a rock in your windshield via a tire and cracks it - It's not their responsibility, but oh yeah, hey, I got a crack in my windshield, maybe I can get this truckdriver who just ran his trailer off the road and spewed gravel everywhere to replace mine, hehehe...
How often do I lose clients? Dunno, guess 50-50 ...

topsites
05-17-2005, 07:50 AM
The fact is: the sprinkler heads didn't self-destruct . . . someone had to have broken them. . . and that person is you. Sorry to break it to you - but your company is the reason that the sprinkler head is now broken.

When someone crashes into a parked car - do they say it was the parked car's fault (and if they do - do the police care)? Same with lawn care. If you break it - it's your responsibility to fix it.

If you don't have the time to fix it, contract someone out to do it. It's one of the expenses you have to add into your business. If you think you can't afford a couple of dollars for a few sprinkler heads, you may think about how you are currently running your business.

--Seth Goings

Yeah Mr. Slicko and who says the sprinkler head wasn't already broken and you're just making me the fall guy? Maintaining your sprinkler system is your responsibility and if you failed to do so, then you'll also try and make us pay for it, trust me I know.
If we DO have to add the expense into the business, you'll still pay for it as it will be tacked onto the bill, smartiepants. Businesses don't just invent money into their bank accounts, all bills and expenses are paid by the customer but here we go again with this noob stuff.
Trust me, I done did a LOT of thinking, been over the edge more than a few times and this is how it is.
And no, you would never be my customer, I can see your problem coming from miles away.

stumper1620
05-17-2005, 07:55 AM
Oh really, now it's neglect? And what's next, children's toys, too? And what when the grass is so tall you can't see the obstacle? How about the metal pipe you didn't see, who pays for the bent blades, also you, correct?
Yeah, and here goes the stupid metal-blade crap edger again - I *never* have used an edger cutting grass, that's just a big waste of time.

But wait, the best is yet to come:
- Lets say I am Joe customer, and I have a problem. See, hehehe, I got these sprinkler heads, well, they kinda broken but I glued the caps back on right quick so you can't tell, and now I'm gonna call me one these lawnboys to cut my grass, hehehe ....
(Yeah don't think I haven't had this happen, people do steal).
So here's this guy calls you on the phone, sounds like a cream-of-crop customer, already wants to be on your list ALL year, lalala, right? Out you go cut their grass and that evening (or next day, whatever) you get a phone-call. Weeellll... It's only this one little sprinkler head (blablabla), and you go out and replace it?

Hell yeah, that scam's older than the book, you can get your defective/busted sprinkler heads replaced for free, just call one them disposable lawnboys.

FTS !

Strange thing is to me this is a noob problem (someone with less than 3 years in the business, or a part-timer) as are a lot of other things discussed in this forum, these are not real issues to me anymore. Judging by the profiles, there's a LOT of liars talk about been doing this for x-many years yet then they got these noob-probs... So don't be surprised when the customers con or try to scam us, if you're a liar yourself then you are promoting this type of behaviour.

Bye.
do you mow quality lawns or dump sites? if you do a 1 time mow on a site with grass to your ass without a disclaimer for damages that is up to you. I'm saying on a maintained lawn if you take out a head its because you are not paying attention. a weekly mow that is cut at 2-2.5 in. is not going to hide a stuck head.

RoyalZ
05-17-2005, 08:01 AM
Rule of thumb #101 - It is the LCO duty to identify problems associated with the ability to perform its duties and service before starting the job.

With that being said if I get into a situation with a customer I first seek cooperation and if customer works with me to bear some cost I will bear my time and move on to a win-win situation. same is true for Vinyl sidings.

grasswhacker
05-17-2005, 08:25 AM
Rule of thumb #101 - It is the LCO duty to identify problems associated with the ability to perform its duties and service before starting the job.

With that being said if I get into a situation with a customer I first seek cooperation and if customer works with me to bear some cost I will bear my time and move on to a win-win situation. same is true for Vinyl sidings.

DFW skipped #101, 201, 301 and 401. Went right to #501 which says "CASH or CHARGE without regard to whether it was done right or not."

PROCUT1
05-17-2005, 08:57 AM
This is a tough business....Yes some people take advantage.....But servicing over 500 clients weekly I find that although I hate to admit it......MOST of the customer complaints are legit...Yes you cant please everyone but how you handle a problem with one client has a huge overall effect on your business down the road..

Some may disagree but LAWN GUYS ARE DISPOSABLE...

Everyone like to think that they provide the BEST service. They dont.....

There will always be someone that will do it better AND cheaper....

I know when someone asks me for an auto mechanic or a tree guy etc.....Ill tell them who to use and who to stay away from.... The guys I say to stay away from may have only had a problem with me and be great businessmen otherwise but they will not have the opportunity to show that to anyone that contacts me.....

Just think if you had vendors knocking your door down to compete for your business.....If you were having problems with your mulch supplier......and you were getting three calls a day from Companies wanting to supply you mulch....how much abuse or crap are you going to put up with before you go with someone else?

DFW Area Landscaper
05-17-2005, 10:34 AM
If I knew that every sprinkler head we would ever bust would be a $2.00 sprinkler head that we have in inventory on the truck and would be a five minute repair, I would gladly offer to replace a busted sprinkler head.

We replaced one the other day. It is a perfect example of how a simple ten minute fix will eat two or more man hours. Here is the e-mail communication with the customer:

Me: My crew fixed the sprinkler head on Thursday when we mowed the lawn. If it is not working properly, please let me know.

Customer: I saw that, but assumed it was a temporary fix since it didn't match the other heads in the front. The one your crew put on does not work as well as the previous one. If you would, please replace it with a pop-up head that matches the others. Thanks.

Me: How does it not work as well? Is the spray pattern different than what it should be? In other words, did we replace a full circle spray head with a half circle spray pattern?

Customer: I didn't test it for very long, but the water output seemed different. But, most importantly, we need the heads to match -- we need the full circle pop-up version that is level with the ground, to avoid the head being clipped off in the future. Thanks.

We've already invested 10 minutes. By the time we go back there, figure out what he's got, find a dealer that sells the kind he insists on and go back and replace it, I would guess this one will easily eat two man hours.

I saw this head. It was butted up against a tree root. It's obvious the tree root swelled, causing the retraction to fail. Not our fault. But it has been our policy, up to this point, to repair any sprinkler heads that we are accused of damaging.

The above example is why I am considering changing the policy. The guy should be glad we fixed the problem promptly (within 24 hours of him reporting it). But he's still insisting on a top quality repair, with god only knows what brand of sprinkler, for free, from a company who is really not to blame. But since I've already told him we would replace it, I suppose trying to tell him we have done all we're gonna do would just lead to a cancellation.

If I tell him to call an irrigation contractor and we will credit his account, this could easily cost $100 to $150. As for the guy who says it is illegal to replace a sprinkler head without a license, the state needs to pull it's head out of it's azz on that issue. There is no way that any lawn mowing company can afford to pay a licensed irrigation contractor everytime we are accused of busting a sprinkler head.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

DFW Area Landscaper
05-17-2005, 02:54 PM
Does this seem like a fair response the above customer?

Jeff,

If the sprinkler head is sticking up above the surface of the ground, we can replace it with a smaller head. We normally replace these with 4" heads, but if the chassis of the sprinkler is too tall when mounted to the existing pipe, causing it to stick up too far, we can replace it with a 2.5" head. That ought to solve the problem of the head sticking too far up above the soil surface.

As a policy, when a customer tells us that we have broken one of their sprinkler heads, we will replace it for free with sprinklers that we keep in inventory on the trucks. We do not keep every kind of sprinkler head, made by every manufacturer, on our trucks. The reason we replace sprinkler heads for free if our mowers damage them is because it is usually easier than arguing with customers over who is to blame. An underground sprinkler system is supposed to be just that...underground. The only way any portion of a sprinkler system could be damaged by our mowers is if the sprinkler was improperly installed or if the sprinkler is not retracting properly. In this case, the sprinkler failed to retract and that is why it was damaged by our mower.

I am sorry if the flow is not identicle to the rest of the heads on your system. If it is that important to you, we will offer this: You can hire an irrigation contractor to replace the head. Send us a copy of the bill. We will not charge you for lawn mowing until we have equalled the amount of the bill. Please note: This is not a credit on your bill, such that if you cancel service we will send you a check. This is an offer to mow your lawn for free, valuing each cut at $30.00, until we have mowed it enough times to equal the cost of the contractor's bill.

Also, if you want to hire an irrigation contractor to replace the head, and have us cut the lawn for free, that is fine. But please be advised that future service will be performed under the caveat that a properly installed and properly functioning sprinkler system will not be damaged by lawn mowers because with a properly installed and functioning system, there is nothing for a lawn mower to hit. In other words, if you hire the contractor, we will not replace any more sprinklers on your property if they are damaged by our mowers. Going forward, you will accept responsibility for any malfunctioning or improperly installed sprinkler heads. Again, if you can live with what we have installed, we will continue our policy of replacing irrigation components with parts that we inventory.

Please let us know what you want to do. We value your business and that is why we are offering to mow the lawn for free if you elect to hire a contractor.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Precision
05-17-2005, 03:23 PM
If a head has a riser that has not retracted, by definition it is already broken as it has failed to function as designed. Nontheless I will change it out because it's the right thing to do. What's a three dollar head and a tax deduction worth compared to bad customer relations.

When I say riser, I am not talking about the part of the pop up that actually pops up. I am talking about the riser between the PVC and the head. The old type are rigid and screw directly into a PVC T or elbow. The newer kind is on funny pipe.

If my mower eats a pop up I buy and replace it. If I have told the client the pop up part is staying up and they need to replace it and don't and I mow it down, Then I replace it and charge them for the head and labor. Usually $20. That gets their attention and after that they get on the plan or do it themselves.

Precision
05-17-2005, 03:28 PM
Precision,
What do you quote as the life span for the sprinkler heads? I like your idea.


I don't quote any lifespan on sprinkler heads. I just tell them that I will replace any heads that are going bad as part of their irrigation maintenance program free of labor fees. They buy the head or repair parts. If I bust it then I pay for everything. If there is vandalism or they bust it, they pay parts and labor.

example, a client digs a hole to plant a new oak tree and cuts an irrigation line. I will come out and fix it. Right away cost about $50, if you call ahead and let me know to fix it on my next scheduled visit, about $25. For pop ups I charge $4 (parts cost) for Gear heads I charge $12 (parts cost). If they want to buy them and have the parts ready thats ok to.

Precision
05-17-2005, 03:54 PM
Does this seem like a fair response the above customer?

Jeff,

If the sprinkler head is sticking up above the surface of the ground, we can replace it with a smaller head. We normally replace these with 4" heads, but if the chassis of the sprinkler is too tall when mounted to the existing pipe, causing it to stick up too far, we can replace it with a 2.5" head. That ought to solve the problem of the head sticking too far up above the soil surface.

As a policy, when a customer tells us that we have broken one of their sprinkler heads, we will replace it for free with sprinklers that we keep in inventory on the trucks. We do not keep every kind of sprinkler head, made by every manufacturer, on our trucks. The reason we replace sprinkler heads for free if our mowers damage them is because it is usually easier than arguing with customers over who is to blame. An underground sprinkler system is supposed to be just that...underground. The only way any portion of a sprinkler system could be damaged by our mowers is if the sprinkler was improperly installed or if the sprinkler is not retracting properly. In this case, the sprinkler failed to retract and that is why it was damaged by our mower.

I am sorry if the flow is not identicle to the rest of the heads on your system. If it is that important to you, we will offer this: You can hire an irrigation contractor to replace the head. Send us a copy of the bill. We will not charge you for lawn mowing until we have equalled the amount of the bill. Please note: This is not a credit on your bill, such that if you cancel service we will send you a check. This is an offer to mow your lawn for free, valuing each cut at $30.00, until we have mowed it enough times to equal the cost of the contractor's bill.

Also, if you want to hire an irrigation contractor to replace the head, and have us cut the lawn for free, that is fine. But please be advised that future service will be performed under the caveat that a properly installed and properly functioning sprinkler system will not be damaged by lawn mowers because with a properly installed and functioning system, there is nothing for a lawn mower to hit. In other words, if you hire the contractor, we will not replace any more sprinklers on your property if they are damaged by our mowers. Going forward, you will accept responsibility for any malfunctioning or improperly installed sprinkler heads. Again, if you can live with what we have installed, we will continue our policy of replacing irrigation components with parts that we inventory.

Please let us know what you want to do. We value your business and that is why we are offering to mow the lawn for free if you elect to hire a contractor.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper


I think the better response would be.

Mr. Jones, We have replaced the head, then replaced it with again with the head you desired because we were not clear as to our policy.

For future reference, our policy is: We replace sprinkler heads if our mowers damage them. They will replaced with sprinklers that we keep in inventory on the truck, of the same style. A 4" pop up will be replaced with a 4" pop up with the appropriate nozzle or a gear head rotor will be replaced with a gear head rotor. If the client has a specific brand preference (other than what we use) they will need to provide the sprinkler and we will provide the labor for the repair. It is not reasonable or possible for us to carry every brand and size of sprinkler that is available, but we do carry the most common sizes and a quality brand.

I would eat it on this one and go ahead and make the fix. It is always better to fix something at your cost then pay someone else to do it. That way you are pro active and not paying someone elses profit.

For the future, make the policy very clear to all clients. Bottom line we fix it with what we carry, if that isn't good enough, then you buy the head you want and have it ready when we come by to fix it. I think you will find that most people could care less if it is rainbird, k-rain, orbit, Hunter or who ever, they want it to work and keep the grass wet.

Cutting for free is crazy, much harder to write off then just fixing it and being done with it. Maybe even do it personally (with a smile) and firmly (but nicely) explain the policy face to face and give him an memo to that effect.

DennisF
05-17-2005, 03:58 PM
Precision has the right idea. Sprinkler heads wear out, come loose, etc. so the customer is responsible for breakage and wear and tear. If I've been mowing a lawn for a long time and all of sudden I clip a sprinkler head, something has happened to the head to cause it to be out of position. The mower can't bust a sprinkler head if the head is installed and functioning properly.

The customer is responsible for maintenance of the irrigation system, so charging for repairs to sprinkler heads is the right policy.

Mdirrigation
05-17-2005, 05:34 PM
.

If I tell him to call an irrigation contractor and we will credit his account, this could easily cost $100 to $150. As for the guy who says it is illegal to replace a sprinkler head without a license, the state needs to pull it's head out of it's azz on that issue. There is no way that any lawn mowing company can afford to pay a licensed irrigation contractor everytime we are accused of busting a sprinkler head.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper



I have to disagree with this one , when the unlicensed lawn guy repairs a sprinkler , he is taking money from my pocket. Do the sprinkler contractors ask the customers if they want their grass cut? Its very easy to avoid hitting heads , look at what you are mowing , and flag the heads before airating. Simply replacing the head isnt always correct , sprinkler systems are balanced with matching precipitation rates.

If you hit the customers car , do you take it home and do the body work, If you break the sliding glass door , do you pick the replacement and install it?

My systems are under warranty , when I come to a house that has had heads replaced by someone else , I remove them and install the proper head and bill the customer .

If you dont want to pay for busted sprinkler heads , dont break them

DFW Area Landscaper
05-17-2005, 06:14 PM
++++If you dont want to pay for busted sprinkler heads , dont break them++++

That's exactly where all the problems are coming from. Do people really think an LCO would intentionally damage a sprinkler head?

Again, if the system is installed properly and functioning properly, why would a mower hit a sprinkler head in the first place?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

PTP
05-17-2005, 06:28 PM
DFW,

Solve the problem and move on.

If my foreman made such a big deal about small issues like this, I would fire him.

I have been thinking about problems a lot lately. I know another company that is in my area. He is my competition. He is downsizing and is complaining about how bad business is in our market. I am growing faster than anyone that I know of - except Justmowit. What is the difference between us? I have solved the problems. I have solved employee problems, customer problems, credit card problems, equipment problems, website problems, computer problems, and the list goes on. He seems to be using every obstacle as an excuse to give up.

Perhaps I am wrong, but you seem to be doing the same thing. Every small thing turns into a huge issue for you. If you can't solve problems, then get a job where someone else has the responsibility and you just show up every day. When there are problems, someone else has to handle it.

You broke a sprinkler head. Replace it. If the customer is being unreasonable about it, then fire them. Problem solved.

stumper1620
05-17-2005, 06:51 PM
I think the better response would be.

Mr. Jones, We have replaced the head, then replaced it with again with the head you desired because we were not clear as to our policy.

For future reference, our policy is: We replace sprinkler heads if our mowers damage them. They will replaced with sprinklers that we keep in inventory on the truck, of the same style. A 4" pop up will be replaced with a 4" pop up with the appropriate nozzle or a gear head rotor will be replaced with a gear head rotor. If the client has a specific brand preference (other than what we use) they will need to provide the sprinkler and we will provide the labor for the repair. It is not reasonable or possible for us to carry every brand and size of sprinkler that is available, but we do carry the most common sizes and a quality brand.

I would eat it on this one and go ahead and make the fix. It is always better to fix something at your cost then pay someone else to do it. That way you are pro active and not paying someone elses profit.

For the future, make the policy very clear to all clients. Bottom line we fix it with what we carry, if that isn't good enough, then you buy the head you want and have it ready when we come by to fix it. I think you will find that most people could care less if it is rainbird, k-rain, orbit, Hunter or who ever, they want it to work and keep the grass wet.

Cutting for free is crazy, much harder to write off then just fixing it and being done with it. Maybe even do it personally (with a smile) and firmly (but nicely) explain the policy face to face and give him an memo to that effect.
I agree precision.
this is a perfect example of how to solve this problem & all future problems plus in my case I would offer once again my irrigation maintenance program.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-17-2005, 07:54 PM
Yes, I think the phrasing by Precision is better than what I had planned.

Jeff,

Our policy is: We replace sprinkler heads if our mowers damage them. They are replaced with sprinklers that we keep in inventory on the truck, of the same style. A 4" pop up will be replaced with a 4" pop up with the appropriate nozzle or a gear head rotor will be replaced with a gear head rotor. If the client has a specific brand preference (other than what we use) they will need to provide the sprinkler and we will provide the labor for the repair. It is not reasonable or possible for us to carry every brand and size of sprinkler that is available, but we do carry the most common sizes and a quality brand.

If the sprinkler that we have installed is not going to work, please call us after you purchase the brand you require and we will install it. Since you were not aware of the details of our policy, we will issue a credit to your account for whatever amount you pay for the sprinkler head.

Thanks,

This is what Lawnsite is for. Thanks for the help guys.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Precision
05-18-2005, 11:46 PM
DFW

No problem. That IS what this site is for. Some times I have a good idea. Sometimes I don't and need to borrow one from one of you guys.

And for the guys who keep complaining about DFW asking for help.

Lamblasting a guy who is trying to fix problems isn't the answer. Like someone should have taught you by kindergarden, if you don't have something positive to add, the keep your mouth shut.