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View Full Version : why shut down so soon???


americanlawn
09-28-2007, 08:46 PM
Some local iirigation companies began winterizing (turning off) sprinkler systems about ten days ago, and most all companies have systems shut down by mid October :dizzy: . We are currently in drought conditions here. Then there's October when we often experience low rainfall, sunny weather with low humidity and drying winds......causing lawns to dry out/burn out. Often, we see 80 degrees in late October. Grubworms are really bad here too, and we expect grubworm activity to persist through early November.....compounding the problem.

One local sprinkler company charges extra if they delay winterization. Why?

Root development ocurrs most in fall, but with dry soil --- that ain't gunna happen. Mowing of turf usually continues through late November here -- sometimes thru early December, so why would irrigation companies shut down irrigation systems months before ???:confused:

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-28-2007, 08:57 PM
Can't speak too much on this topic being from Texas but when winter hits I'm guessing it comes fast and hard.

carcrz
09-28-2007, 10:26 PM
Can't speak too much on this topic being from Texas but when winter hits I'm guessing it comes fast and hard.

That's exactly what happens here. This time last year it was 90*, the very next week it was 27* & 8" of snow on the ground. Gotta love Missouri.

Kiril
09-29-2007, 12:38 AM
Cause they are too concerned with making fast money than keeping the landscape alive?

LindblomRJ
09-29-2007, 01:19 AM
For this part of the county is a freeze can come at any time. I seen one of the irrigation guys yesterday pulling his compressor.

This year we havn't had a frost yet. Couple of nights in the upper 30s. The golf course for the company I worked at would winterize thier irrigation anywhere from end of September to first part of november. They kept a close eye on the weather.

Mjtrole
09-29-2007, 09:32 AM
what do you do with so many customers? I know one company around here has 7500 each season how could they possible finish if they didn't start in september? It happened to them last year where it was end of november and the freeze hit and they still had about 700 unwinterized.

Kiril
09-29-2007, 09:35 AM
what do you do with so many customers? I know one company around here has 7500 each season how could they possible finish if they didn't start in september? It happened to them last year where it was end of november and the freeze hit and they still had about 700 unwinterized.

Get more equipment and a bigger crew.

PurpHaze
09-29-2007, 12:38 PM
Not being in a winterizing area... I can only offer what I see posted here. Seems that winterizing is a BIG contractor gamble. Too early... and the risk is run of systems being turned back on or customers not wanting the service. Too late... and systems are subjected to damage. Too many employees/compressors... risk of losing money if cold doesn't come when anticipated or losing seasonal employees who have moved along. Too few employees/compressors... lost revenue because you can't get them all done. When everything comes together just right... all kinds of money made. Guess the better ones know when to go "all in" and make the best profit.

Kiril
09-29-2007, 12:57 PM
How about buy the necessary equipment, rent it out in the "off" season and hire a temp crew during the "on" season.

Mike Leary
09-29-2007, 04:18 PM
Yep, you're all correct..it's a throw of the dice for winterize,
we have all our systems shut down now, NW rain coming in,
do we winterize?, nope...October can get downright warm around
here & we've made the mistake before.:dizzy:

LindblomRJ
09-29-2007, 05:54 PM
How about buy the necessary equipment, rent it out in the "off" season and hire a temp crew during the "on" season.

To get a temp crew up to speed takes time and training that few would be willing to invest on temp help. I don't know how many contractors own their own compressor or how many lease the equipment for the winterizing season.

Without A Drought
09-29-2007, 05:54 PM
Personally, I've been slowly doing them for a week now. If i don't start now i won't have them all off by December.

In our region, temperatures are more mild in the end of September and October, so the need for water is drastically reduced. Any customers that call to have the system turned back on are usually ill informed by their landscapers that they need to water through Thanksgiving.

That said we always ask if someone's doing any fall seeding/planting... if they are we'll delay the turn off for 2-3 weeks.

JFYI, we start the last week of September, and are usually done the first week of December.

Later,

pg

04superduty
09-29-2007, 11:18 PM
How about buy the necessary equipment, rent it out in the "off" season and hire a temp crew during the "on" season.

too much info for a temp to remember. if you forget to do something a big bill will follow in the spring, or sooner. ever see a rotor get shot 30ft in the air, to much pressure and not enough patience will do this.

jerryrwm
09-30-2007, 12:37 AM
Also many customers are 'snow birds' and they head south for the winter. They are done first so they can get out of town.

As for the length of time to shut down several hundred customers it is a crap shoot on when to start. I've had a number of customers call wanting to get on the schedule because it is almost October. So we start. And the mowing crews said it's time for the grass to go dormant anyway - that way their mowing is easier.

DanaMac
09-30-2007, 08:27 AM
October 15th, 1997. We had a massive blizzard that shut down the city. I could not get out of my old neighborhood for 3 days until front end loaders came and dug us out. many people stranded, and I believe a couple casualties occurred. We live at about 6500' feet in elevation, and weather turns so fast here.

We have to get ahead of the cold and snow. I can't blow out 800-1000 systems the night before it freezes with two people. Hopefully I can have all the rentals turned off by next Friday - rentals are the worst.

There is definitely a "scare" factor in this service. I have to let people know that if they don't schedule early, they may be out of luck if a cold front comes in mid-Oct and they are not already winterized or on the schedule. I can't just "fit them in" if I am already over booked to begin with. there are only so many hours a day that I can work (or will work).

and yes, we have already started.

CAPT Stream Rotar
09-30-2007, 09:15 AM
last week i did a few blow outs....

One nice customer was telling me about how in late October he remembers his backflow Exploding on a chilly night....I wish we would go into full blow out mode but right now we are blowing out snowbirds and seniors...

wewt...Next week we have a 10 Z install to do in a near by town..Should be a right time in OCT...My boss in having 100 yards of screened loam, 200 yards of sand dropped off in this place....Ill try to take a few pics, but when push comes to shove I have to gun out 10 zones in about 2 days with out 3 man crew.:)

CSR

americanlawn
09-30-2007, 04:28 PM
I know it's a tough call for sure. We have 3000 lawn care customers, and we subcontract the irrigation maintenance to T & T Sprinkler Service because we think they are the best. They have not started to shutdown systems yet, but i'm sure they will start soon.

I use NOAA to keep tabs on the 30-day outlook regarding expected temperatures. Reliable nearly all of the time.

Also -- if a homeowner's lawn dries out after the system is shut down, they can always use hoses & sprinklers to water the brown/dry/sunny areas.

CAPT Stream Rotar
09-30-2007, 04:32 PM
I know it's a tough call for sure. We have 3000 lawn care customers, and we subcontract the irrigation maintenance to T & T Sprinkler Service because we think they are the best. They have not started to shutdown systems yet, but i'm sure they will start soon.

I use NOAA to keep tabs on the 30-day outlook regarding expected temperatures. Reliable nearly all of the time.

Also -- if a homeowner's lawn dries out after the system is shut down, they can always use hoses & sprinklers to water the brown/dry/sunny areas.


3K in accounts?


dude i need to move there.

Flow Control
09-30-2007, 04:49 PM
Cause they are too concerned with making fast money than keeping the landscape alive?

Originally Posted by Mjtrole
what do you do with so many customers? I know one company around here has 7500 each season how could they possible finish if they didn't start in september? It happened to them last year where it was end of november and the freeze hit and they still had about 700 unwinterized.

Get more equipment and a bigger crew.

Kiril

You must not be in a market that does winterizations. Easy to be a Sunday QB and look on. But as Mjtrole stated what do you do with all of your customers, you handle them in a reasonable manner. Not sure about you but from my experience a customer will complain less of seeing dormant grass that will come back next year then seeing a $300 service bill because they had freeze damage.

Mike Leary
09-30-2007, 05:28 PM
Origina Not sure about you but from my experience a customer will complain less of seeing dormant grass that will come back next year then seeing a $300 service bill because they had freeze damage.

A $300 service bill would be minor league..how about "start over"?:cry:

Kiril
09-30-2007, 06:05 PM
You must not be in a market that does winterizations.

Correct, but it is not hard to recognize someone who has too much on their plate.

What happens when that number hits 12000 or more? Do you start your blowouts in July or August?

I'm not saying it's easy and it is most definitely a balancing act, I just don't see why anyone would start blowouts 4-6 weeks early just so can finish all their accounts before the first hard freeze. The way I see it, either lighten the load or expand.

BTW, most landscapes are more than just turf. If you kill a 20 year old plant, I'll be willing to bet that it is worth substantially more than a busted valve or 2.

Mike Leary
09-30-2007, 06:23 PM
The way I see it, either lighten the load or expand. If you kill a 20 year old plant, I'll be willing to bet that it is worth substantially more than a busted valve or 2.

Agreed...my mentor told me.."you don't want all the work"...
I see this as a way of not really paying attention to what
winterize is all about..check system for leaks/breaks......
air will tell you. Greed don't get it unless you can back it
up with prompt service.

Flow Control
09-30-2007, 08:15 PM
Correct, but it is not hard to recognize someone who has too much on their plate.

What happens when that number hits 12000 or more? Do you start your blowouts in July or August?

I'm not saying it's easy and it is most definitely a balancing act, I just don't see why anyone would start blowouts 4-6 weeks early just so can finish all their accounts before the first hard freeze. The way I see it, either lighten the load or expand.

BTW, most landscapes are more than just turf. If you kill a 20 year old plant, I'll be willing to bet that it is worth substantially more than a busted valve or 2.

This may help: Say you are a lawn mowing company and you have X amount of customers (say 600) and it is a full time job Monday through Saturday. Well they all want their grass mowed ON Friday before the big party at 4pm at the house and Thursday night is rained 4inches. What would you do? Same type of problem.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-30-2007, 08:24 PM
Agreed...my mentor told me.."you don't want all the work"...
I see this as a way of not really paying attention to what
winterize is all about..check system for leaks/breaks......
air will tell you. Greed don't get it unless you can back it
up with prompt service.

I think what Mike is saying if I'm reading him right is that it is better to do fewer blowouts at a higher price and being more thorough and allowing for a later blowout than put yourself in a position in which you have to start in mid sept to finish all blowouts by Nov. and be price sensitive. BUT I know nothing of the realities of blowouts so don't flame me please.

Kiril
09-30-2007, 10:58 PM
This may help: Say you are a lawn mowing company and you have X amount of customers (say 600) and it is a full time job Monday through Saturday. Well they all want their grass mowed ON Friday before the big party at 4pm at the house and Thursday night is rained 4inches. What would you do? Same type of problem.

I don't see how this is relevant? Your have created an almost impossible scenario with less than a day window, using a service that in most cases is done on a weekly basis. You then are trying to compare this to a yearly service that most likely has a 2-4 week window.

I would expect in most areas people have a prime window of opportunity when the need for irrigation is minimal and you get your first damaging hard freeze. How long that window lasts will vary depending on the area and local weather conditions. Naturally when we are talking about weather, this window can change at any time, but for the most part it probably holds true. I do understand the difference between a freeze and a damaging freeze, even though many clients probably don't.

So you have the crew and equipment to handle 2000 blowouts in that time period, but because you are greedy and want easy money, you take on 4 times more jobs than you can handle in that time.

So without sacrificing quality you either have a choice of expanding or starting way earlier than necessary and risk damaging peoples landscapes because there was insufficient available water.

Of course guys that do this probably won't do the blowout for free if the client turns the system back on so their landscape doesn't die, nor are they likely to fork out compensation for any landscape damage due to their negligence.

It comes down to the classic scenario of not having enough time to do the job right the first time, but having plenty of time to go back and fix it.

More work than time is a breeding ground for sloppy work and mistakes (you can use that one if you want Purp).

You either choose to be known as someone who provides high quality work they will stand behind, or as someone who is only concerned with their short term bank account balance.

Disclaimer: This is a general post and is not directed at any single person

Flow Control
10-01-2007, 06:28 AM
Our winterization season is 6 weeks on the average that is why I used the six 6 days in the the example. So what I was getting at is that you cannot service all the customers in a week like a mowing company cannot service all customers in a day. It was worst case scenario just the same as we are talking about about how this warm and almost drought like weather is putting some winterization markets in a worst case scenario.

Mike Leary
10-01-2007, 03:57 PM
[QUOTE=FIMCO-MEISTER;1980589. BUT I know nothing of the realities of blowouts so don't flame me please.[/QUOTE]

No flame..you read me right...paying attention during winterize spots
problems w/ breaks, wiper seals, etc., which means to us..winter work!
We inspect every head for leaking & air will find hairline cracks in piping.