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View Full Version : Certified not Certified that's the question...


h2oman
04-30-2007, 05:28 PM
I have a chance to take the CIC Exam in our area in two months. Does it make a difference to your customers? I have been to Toro Classes, Hunter Seminars, and Rain Bird Classes as well. Been doing irrigation for 7+ years and doesn't seem to me to make a difference to the customer as long as you know what your doing. Out of all my customers I've only had one ask if I were certified by an organization. We do have rubber stamp clubs here you can belong to but imo a waste of money.
If I am wrong don't blast me too much, :hammerhead: Just try to help me see the benefit of spend my hard earned mula, to hold the cert.
Thanks,
Dave

Mike Leary
04-30-2007, 05:39 PM
The way you're doing it is the same as I did it....if you think you could learn
something from the "I.A. way", go for it.....if pumps come up or large scale
stuff like Purps does, o.k., after seven years, if you've got half a brain, I
would not bother...imho I.A. has been pretty inefective....cool candy store in
San Diego this year, tho! The bottom line is keep keeping up.

Flow Control
04-30-2007, 06:02 PM
I just took my test last week. My reason for taking it was for commercial work. Does it matter for residential? I would say absolutely not for those just interested in lowest price. But it might make a difference in a high-end bid.

Mike Leary
04-30-2007, 06:11 PM
I just took my test last week. My reason for taking it was for commercial work. Does it matter for residential? I would say absolutely not for those just interested in lowest price. But it might make a difference in a high-end bid.

It might..but if I was in biz as long as he's been & serviced his clients right,
that's about the best reference one could hope for. I sold a ton of systems
with the line " if you're going to shop contractors, ask for references at least
three years old". That'll weed out the week ones!

Flow Control
04-30-2007, 07:27 PM
That's a given

h2oman
04-30-2007, 07:27 PM
Service is included for all contracts ( 1 year, start up and winter shut down) if they want to continue with me which 90% does, then I have an extended service contract. Also on all bids and estimates I include clients from 6 years 4 years 2 years etc. as refs.

h2oman
04-30-2007, 07:30 PM
I also try to keep refs. within 5 miles of the prospective client, so they can drive by and check out the lawns. Try to keep ref. page to 2 pages, also

Flow Control
04-30-2007, 07:56 PM
I also try to keep refs. within 5 miles of the prospective client, so they can drive by and check out the lawns. Try to keep ref. page to 2 pages, also

I agree you are going about it the right way.

But have you ever sat back and thought about it. You are sending people by other yards and basically what they are looking at is how the property gets, fert, watered and cut. Of which the property owner dictates how much fert, how much water, how the cutting and edging looks. Unless you have them drive by while the systems are running?? And have you ever heard of someone giving contact info to someone that is not going to give you a good reference?? Now I am not sure how many estimates you do, but you might think about instead of having just references for the area, you have a system that you can take the client over to and display the different stations.

just my pondering .02

Remote Pigtails
04-30-2007, 08:58 PM
I have a chance to take the CIC Exam in our area in two months. Does it make a difference to your customers? I have been to Toro Classes, Hunter Seminars, and Rain Bird Classes as well. Been doing irrigation for 7+ years and doesn't seem to me to make a difference to the customer as long as you know what your doing. Out of all my customers I've only had one ask if I were certified by an organization. We do have rubber stamp clubs here you can belong to but imo a waste of money.
If I am wrong don't blast me too much, :hammerhead: Just try to help me see the benefit of spend my hard earned mula, to hold the cert.
Thanks,
Dave
My attitude is to take courses that are teaching something you want to learn. Otherwise I'd not worry about it. In my 27 years here in Big D I've never gotten a job based on a course I took. I'm pretty much a word of mouth business.

h2oman
04-30-2007, 10:10 PM
I agree you are going about it the right way.

But have you ever sat back and thought about it. You are sending people by other yards and basically what they are looking at is how the property gets, fert, watered and cut. Of which the property owner dictates how much fert, how much water, how the cutting and edging looks. Unless you have them drive by while the systems are running?? And have you ever heard of someone giving contact info to someone that is not going to give you a good reference?? Now I am not sure how many estimates you do, but you might think about instead of having just references for the area, you have a system that you can take the client over to and display the different stations.

just my pondering .02

I thought about that when I wanted to go to the next level in my business. I started out in Subd. 100k - 250K. Some with HOA'S some without. that was four years ago. Now I'm in Subdivions that range from 350k - 750K. all with HOA's. You know the ones that say you can't pee in your back yard, grow grass taller than 3.5" and have to drink the KoolAid before moving in. No I DONOT WORK WITH BUILDERS (Rip off's)!! By the way I am pretty much (WOM) Word of Mouth now also. Thanks for the advice. I'll just keep attending seminars and reading the books by the IA.

SprinklerGuy
05-01-2007, 07:57 AM
I am certifiable.....(sp?)

But not certified...nobody has ever asked me..in all the years I have been doing this.

DanaMac
05-01-2007, 09:07 AM
I am certifiable.....(sp?)

But not certified...nobody has ever asked me..in all the years I have been doing this.

Ditto. Never been asked in 12+ years. I don't think the general public knows anything about it.

Flow Control
05-01-2007, 09:27 AM
I agree about residentials, but some commercial work require the CIC to be present on site 100% of the time during construction.

BSME
05-01-2007, 09:02 PM
I am certified...

does it matter for residential? NO. I try to point it out whenever I can hoping they make think it's a big deal and ask the next guy if they are.

but... believe it or not... people do find my name on the listing the IA has on their website and call me because they found me there.

h2oman
05-01-2007, 10:09 PM
I am certified...

does it matter for residential? NO. I try to point it out whenever I can hoping they make think it's a big deal and ask the next guy if they are.

but... believe it or not... people do find my name on the listing the IA has on their website and call me because they found me there.

Has the business you've gotten off of the web site made a difference to pay for the classes and ceu's you have to take to maintain the certification? That's what I'm trying to figure now. In the big scheme of irrigation is it a "BIG DEAL".

And to answer about the commercial aspect, the market here is flodded with low ballers, and not worth the hassle of trying to make a profit. Most Landscrapers bid the job for landscraing, and add the clause that if they do not install the irrigation their warranty is void. Dead plants, lawn, trees, etc. etc. not their problem, it all falls on the irrigation guy. Sooo, they low ball one side and up bid the other. One contractor at our Distributor cookout was bragging how he installs at Sheets Gas and low bids landscaping, and over bid irrigation by $ 7,500.00 just to get the contract. Great for some but fire for others

BSME
05-01-2007, 11:42 PM
the people that go on there to look for a contractor are usually commercial. I don't really do commercial installs as a lot of them are too big for my crew.

This spring a management company found us on there and uses us for the maintenance on their condo complexes and such.

I'm glad I did it

H2O
05-02-2007, 10:58 AM
h2oman
Does your state require a license, etc.?

Massachusetts currently does not license irrigation contractors.
But legislation that is now under review will require all MA irrigation contractors to be licensed, this bill & license will require IA CIC.

I'm the webmaster for a MA irrigation contractor who is IA CIC.

The importance of IA Certification: Pro landscapers can decipher estimates, but Joe Public usually can't. The IA credentials help customers identify qualified & competent contractors. Its a great selling tool, that sets us apart from the crowded field of lowballers and hacks.

Residential customers understand 20+ years experience.
The IA CIC reassures their decision in choice of contractor.

“Does it make a difference to your customers?”
“Why choose me vs the competition?”
Educate them about the IA certs and it will help customers choose you.

IA recognition is quickly growing each day: the IA is working with environmentally friendly, water conserving organizations. These organizations web sites list and link to IA certified pros. EPA is nationally recognized, and goes a long way with both commercial and residential customers. Town/City web sites often contain these links. Free referrals from your Town Gov don't hurt.

Also the IA & EPA are non profit. Free radio PSA’s, free newspaper press releases, free advertising etc. when your name is associated to the IA.

Cost of exam and ceu’s is small if you use the investment wisely.
Promote your certs and the cost will be easily recovered with less than 1 job sold.

I am updating the web site and did a quick search for “MA IA certified irrigation”... amazing how many false ads and web site statements are out there. Some contractors say IA certs are not important, but they seem to find it useful in falsely promoting their company credentials ;)

Now that the IA is partnered with the US EPA, they have more leverage in stopping false advertising.

h2oman
05-03-2007, 12:25 AM
H2O,
N.C. currently does not require a lic. The State leaves it up to the individual Township. Only one in our area has the requirements of IA CIC. That's only because of the new addition of the EPA Watersense Program.
I didn't buy my truck with power windows, I can roll it down my self, so why should I pay more for power windows, it still works the same as a manual window. It keeps the warm air in in the winter, and lets the cool breeze in in the summer. When it rains, Keeps me dry just like the automatic window. What's the difference? The automatic window has a motor in it, soooo charge more for it!
I'm not saying that being certified is a bad thing (knowledge is power), but if I "study to show myself approved" which I do, with the same materials that CIC and CID'S get tested on (the IA Book store) then why give the government more power than needed? And why should I charge a customer more just because I passed a test?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the government, EPA, IA or anyone else, but when has the Government partnered with a company and not expected anything in return??
Thank You for your reply.

Flow Control
05-03-2007, 07:56 AM
h2oman, maybe I am just reading your posts on this thread that you started wrong, but I felt that you started the thread wanting to know if any certs are worth the time and it seems like your mind was already made up that they are all just a waste of time and money.

Every person is different on how they perceive the industry in their market. I always try to grasp what is going on locally as well as the bigger picture regarding how the industry might change in the future. We look at ourselves and say we each have X-years of experience. Which is great, but usually the X represents less then 30 years. The reason is the irrigation market did not start to explode until the 80's and into the early 90's in most area's. Irrigation technology has advanced leaps and bounds in that time and installation techniques have changed as well. Drip irrigation was never reliable enough until PE came on the market. PGP's in the 80's were worthless and now they are considered some of the best rotors on the market. The point I am trying to say is that we are still in a developing industry and achieving a cert from a nationally recognized association may not benefit you this weekend but it can set you apart from your competition and be beneficial in the future. There are accountants and there are CPA's.

Here are two things that have just happened to me and I will start including in every bid that I do from now on. Once I get my CIC paper I will make copies of it and include it in my bid folder. I also just got a letter of recommendation from a large GC for a Target shopping complex that we just wrapped up. Now when I bid against Joe and Tom that each have 5-10 years experience and for numbers sake come in at $2500, $2800 for a similar system and I have 10 years experience a CIC cert and a letter of recommendation from a recognizable franchise and my bid is $2950 that I am in a excellent position to get more money then Tom and Joe. And if I don't get the job then that is OK (if you close to many of your bids then your pricing is undervalued), those customers that wanted to save money are the ones that are going to complain about service rates anyway.

H2O
05-03-2007, 02:29 PM
First of all, great name h2oman! Second, you almost lost this blonde girl with the truck power window thingy ;)

As i stated before, i donít want to mislead anyone, i am not CIC, just a photographer and webmaster. If my info is wrong, please correct me.
This is my understanding of the issues...

IANE - Irrigation Assoc Of New England, local IA chapter.

The IANE is involved with the MA license. Why?
1. To keep control in the irrigation contractors hands.
2. To not give the government more power than needed.

Until the IANE got involved, the state of MA was planning to just mandate paperwork and $, with zero proof of experience or knowledge. This type of licensing misleads consumers to believe they have hired an experienced ďlicensedĒ contractor. Know what i mean?

The IANE does not want the MA license to become another way for our gov to collect money for just filling out a piece of paper each year accompanied with a fee. CIC will be required with the license to provide proof of experience and knowledge.

Until there is a better option, at the moment IA CIC is the best proof of nationally recognized certification credentials and experience.

I don't know about NC but in MA there are too many unprofessional and inexperienced contractors... giving all irrigation contractors a bad reputation. This license with CIC might weed out the hacks.

Several states are now considering licensing. IA involvement helps to promote policies that benefit all professional irrigation contractors.

As for the CIC certification. Please don't take this as personal criticism.
Itís one thing to study... itís another to actually pass the written exam.

I personally know 2 people who have studied, have years of experience, but failed the CIC exam twice. I also know another who has said ďHe fears the test, and hasn't bothered because he will failĒ. This does not make them bad contractors. But It does not provide them or their customers with proof of professional credentials or experience.

Iím starting to sound like a IA rep... I am not.
I personally think IA certification or something equal, helps the entire industry.

What's going on in other states?
I look forward to reading everyone else's opinions.

Mike Leary
05-03-2007, 05:38 PM
H2O...have another triple latte....the "industry" is composed of slimeballs
& folk who pretty much devote their life (ask my wife) to irrigation.
Until the local & state purveyors require permits & inspection..the bottom
feeders will continue to thrive: I.A. cert. or not! Any of us that became inspectors would probably be found next to Jimmy Hoffa.

h2oman
05-03-2007, 05:43 PM
Ics,
My mind is still not made up about the whole cert.thing.... The IA is testing in Charlotte which is closer to me than any other classes they have available. My initial thought was, if there are any contractors that are certified here, is it really worth the time and money to become certified. Before I register for the class.
There are things that we know, and things that we believe, not all of them are right... I know that being certified in any field is good, but I also believe that if I design and estimate properly and conserve water in doing so then I shouldn't have to pay someone every year to prove that I can.
I simply stated things that I believe (whether they be right or wrong) in my other posts. Thanks for the reply. Not to confuse you any more I am not yet registered for the IA class. I didn't want you to think that I was.

H2O,
I understood that you work for a CIC. I just haven't made up my mid yet on the whole CIC thing. As I stated above, knowing something and believing something are two entirely different things. How long has your employer been certified? Has the certification increased his business, or is it from the referrals of previous jobs? I like to see visible effects of something that I do.... Send mailers to certain demographics, get jobs... Complete a job and get referrals for a job well done, complete those referrals get more referrals. I can pin-point where I need to focus my efforts.
Thanks for the reply,
dave

H2O
05-05-2007, 08:33 AM
Mike,
triple latte consumed!
I agree with you.
This industry needs some sort of standards that can be enforced.
How can this be done? What should be required?

IA cert or "something equivalent", and or permits & inspection, and or licensing will help weed out the slimeballs.

I foresee inspections leading to additional gov problems. In Marshfield the DPW & Water Dept know nothing about irrigation.

What do you suggest?



h2oman,
My employer has 20+ years experience, he was certified approx 3 years ago (not sure of the exact date). He decided to get IA CIC because of the impending MA legislation. As the company owner, he must be prepared for licensing... or shut the company doors.

Has the certification increased his business, or is it from the referrals of previous jobs? 2 answers...

1. Most of his jobs are from word of mouth based on his reputation.
Have the certs added to his reputation... i have no hard facts.
He is the only MA South Shore CIC.

2. As his webmaster, I take full advantage of his certs and what the IA offers: advertising, etc. Yes, he gets lots of jobs from the web site. I have no hard facts if this is due to certification.

It took a while for EnergyStar to become recognized. But that was before the internet. I might be wrong, but i think WaterSense will quickly become nationally recognized by consumers. Here's how i look at it: The EPA and IA advertising budgets far exceed the advertising budget i’m working with.

A few things to ponder...
What is the cost of IA certs?
Do you have a web site to promote?
Are you currently advertising and promoting your company?
What is the cost to run 1 small ad in your local paper?
Is your competion certified?
Is your competition promoting their certs?

The IA provides me many opportunites. I use them wisely.
The cost of the exam is recovered in 1 advertisement alone.

Just my opinion!
What do you boyz think?

Mad Estonian
05-05-2007, 01:14 PM
Here we have a provincial association, the IIABC that is associated with the IA. Last fall, an IA guy came up and taught an irrigation auditing course, for instance. But the IIABC has its own certification program, with a number of different categories. I take everything I can. The exams are tough, especially for design. 60% failure rate the first time around on the turf design (I managed to avoid being the first -of 3 so far-to fail the Landscape Drip Design exam a couple months back, I was sweating bullets in there). Our local water purveyor even subsidizes some of them, and has a link to the IIABC certified list on their website. Now, I haven't gotten any work out if it yet, but that really doesn't concern me. I'm building towards the future, and water is only going to get more and more important in the future. A government rep told my distributor a few years ago "If the industry doesn't regulate itself, we will." And we're relatively water-rich here, though development is huge. But I can understand, depending where you're at in your career, that it can seem hard to justify paying for stuff you already know most of (though I think even the most seasoned pro usually learns something new, or finds out that the way they've been doing something for 20 years isn't actually the best way), and most people (right now) don't seem to care about. That's probably going to change, as someone commented, the industry is very young. I think in 20-50 years people will be amazed that anyone was ever allowed to work on irrigation who wasn't certified, especially where water's really an issue (i.e. lots of places- anyone see that article on Australia in the IA newsletter this month? Things are getting pretty ugly down there). And speaking of all this, have any of you read "Water" by Marq De Villiers, or anything else, like "Cadillac Desert" (haven't read that one yet, but plan to at some point)? It's pretty interesting food for thought for anyone working in a water-related industry.

Mike Leary
05-05-2007, 01:21 PM
Estonian....Do your purveyors have a permit & inspection (I.E. 80% coverage)
program?

richgauci
05-05-2007, 01:34 PM
Have not been asked once in 15 plus years. Although, it looks good on your business card !!

Mad Estonian
05-05-2007, 01:42 PM
Estonian....Do your purveyors have a permit & inspection (I.E. 80% coverage) program?

Nope, not yet. Wouldn't surprise me if they do eventually though. Frankly, I'd welcome it, even though I know it would be a PITA in some ways. Anything that makes the hacks shape up or ship out is good news. And like I say, we're water-rich, but Victoria (I'm just outside of) is "The Garden City," and the amount of water pouring onto lawns, gardens and golf courses here would be staggering.
Do you have a program like that where you are, or know of one anywhere else? I'd love to actually do some audits, but there isn't any demand right now. A program like that sure would change things, I could probably audit full time.

Mike Leary
05-05-2007, 01:53 PM
Yes, a program would change things...would suggest plastic surgery if you're
going to be the inspector. You familiar w/Jimmy Hoffa? Jon may be able to
help..I had heard the City of Issaquah WA on the plateau had such a program
where you proved 80% efficiency or you was shut down! My kind of purveyor!

PurpHaze
05-05-2007, 02:11 PM
And like I say, we're water-rich, but Victoria (I'm just outside of) is "The Garden City," and the amount of water pouring onto lawns, gardens and golf courses here would be staggering.

I always rub the boar's nose at Butchart when I'm up there.

Mike Leary
05-05-2007, 02:26 PM
[QUOTE=Mad Estonian;1819305][I]Estonian.... Anything that makes the hacks shape up or ship out is good news. And like I say, we're water-rich, but Victoria (I'm just outside of) is "The Garden City," and the amount of water pouring onto lawns, gardens and golf courses here would be staggering.

It's not just water that Victoria is pouring into the Juan de Fuca!

Mad Estonian
05-06-2007, 12:26 AM
It's not just water that Victoria is pouring into the Juan de Fuca!

Ah, so you've heard about our dirty (not so) little (not so) secret. They're getting the ball rolling on some sort of treatment facility, I think it's going to cost around $1 billion or something. They'll be pushing hard to get it done before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, lest the international media really gets a hold of the story. Then the s**t would hit the fan!
Find out what Mr. Floatie has to say...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-NWbzB3ut0

I always rub the boar's nose at Butchart when I'm up there.

Yeah, Butchart's is really something, although, being local, I've only ever been a couple times. You come up here often?

Mad Estonian
05-06-2007, 12:29 AM
I had heard the City of Issaquah WA on the plateau had such a program
where you proved 80% efficiency or you was shut down!

Wow, that's great. I'll bet that at least 80% of the systems around here wouldn't pass muster on that.

PurpHaze
05-06-2007, 11:22 AM
Yeah, Butchart's is really something, although, being local, I've only ever been a couple times. You come up here often?

I've been five times in the past twenty years. It's on our list of things to do again when we move up to WA later this year.

PurpHaze
05-06-2007, 11:24 AM
They'll be pushing hard to get it done before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, lest the international media really gets a hold of the story. Then the s**t would hit the fan! Find out what Mr. Floatie has to say...

It would bring new meaning to "moguls" when the Olympics arrive. :laugh:

Mike Leary
05-06-2007, 11:48 AM
I've been five times in the past twenty years. It's on our list of things to do again when we move up to WA later this year.

Jeez, a sprinkler guy that likes plants....isn't that some kind of oxymoron?
Another cool spot close to me (five minutes) is the Bloedel Reserve, I can
take you & Jon thru when you come over for liquid lunch.www.bloedelreserve.org.