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Mike M
08-19-2008, 07:28 PM
I've been going at it with landscape lighting for the last year, and I also have about 22 full-service landscape accounts on the side. This summer was brutal for lighting, and I've been exploring ways to diversify, expand, add-on, etc.

I learned some basic irrigation while destroying it with my spade. Today I bought a Toro controller to replace my repeatedly faulty Hunter, and decided to add a dedicated drip zone for my plants, including a new valve. My distributor always takes the time to teach me how to do this stuff, and I enjoy irrigation immensely. At the dismay of my wife, I can watch rotors/rotars for hours and I love how the large scale commercial systems run on the golf courses.

Since moving south, I taught myself how to do basic stuff with irrigation for my lawn accounts. Now I am ready to learn more, but I want to know more about business strategies at this point.

Where is the profitable business model for service calls--in annual maintenance contracts or in specific repairs as needed?

Any help with business info on service calls would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Mike

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-19-2008, 07:32 PM
I've been going at it with landscape lighting for the last year, and I also have about 22 full-service landscape accounts on the side. This summer was brutal for lighting, and I've been exploring ways to diversify, expand, add-on, etc.

I learned some basic irrigation while destroying it with my spade. Today I bought a Toro controller to replace my repeatedly faulty Hunter, and decided to add a dedicated drip zone for my plants, including a new valve. My distributor always takes the time to teach me how to do this stuff, and I enjoy irrigation immensely. At the dismay of my wife, I can watch rotors/rotars for hours and I love how the large scale commercial systems run on the golf courses.

Since moving south, I taught myself how to do basic stuff with irrigation for my lawn accounts. Now I am ready to learn more, but I want to know more about business strategies at this point.

Where is the profitable business model for service calls--in annual maintenance contracts or in specific repairs as needed?

Any help with business info on service calls would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Mike

Really really bad timing. Can't you hear the distant cannonballs?

Mike Leary
08-19-2008, 07:34 PM
"Fire when ready Gridley"

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-19-2008, 07:56 PM
Welcome aboard Mike..

enjoy this group, we are a lively bunch...

Mike Leary
08-19-2008, 08:07 PM
I can watch rotars for hours

Let us know if you learn anything.

Mike M
08-19-2008, 08:19 PM
I tend to overlook the learning part, ask multiple similar questions, and seem to miss everyone's points.

But I'll let you know.

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-19-2008, 08:20 PM
I tend to overlook the learning part, ask multiple similar questions, and seem to miss everyone's points.

But I'll let you know.

check out my poly vids.....

its how us yanks sprankle

irritation
08-19-2008, 08:26 PM
check out my poly vids.....

its how us yanks sprankle

I guess I have alot of rebel in me, that's not how we "sprankle".:rolleyes:

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-19-2008, 08:32 PM
I swear to god brandon said to me..

"eddie, how you gona sprankle this hill"

irritation
08-19-2008, 08:37 PM
Maybe you were hungover and thinking about waitresses.

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-19-2008, 08:39 PM
Maybe you were hungover and thinking about waitresses.

no @ that time i was sinning with a mother of 2 in asheboro

irritation
08-19-2008, 08:42 PM
So you were no good in Carolina either?

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-19-2008, 08:43 PM
So you were no good in Carolina either?

my 570 was good.....thats a fact..

irritation
08-19-2008, 08:46 PM
570's were never good. My 1800 is what they want.

Mike Leary
08-19-2008, 08:48 PM
I swear to god brandon said to me..

"eddie, how you gona sprankle this hill"
I like that kind of talk.

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-19-2008, 08:51 PM
So did you?

yup..more than once.

irrig8r
08-19-2008, 08:53 PM
Mike (Murphy, not Leary).... moving over to the wet side, eh?

I've been up to my elbows in irrigation since the mid 80s. I've done a heap more sprinkler installs and repairs than lighting...

Lighting will often bring you more profit in a days work, but you might spend more time and energy lining up that work too, and lay out more for materials. And, since there's not as much aesthetic element in sprinklers, you're not contending with the homeowners' opinions after you set up a demo, etc.

Find out what the local regulations are concerning things like backflow prevention, etc.

Just make sure you know your sh*t Mike.

Best thing I ever did was enroll in community college irrigation classes (part of the old OH program at Foothill College in Los Altos, CA) George Masamori was my teacher something like 20 years ago. He was tough, and besides having a lot of landscape experience (and as I recall a Cal Poly OH degree) He was the head of a local parks dept. These were night classes, and tough to get to sometimes after a hard days work, but they sure helped me along.

Also, from classes at Ewing in things like valve and wire troubleshooting... and of course Bill Derryberry's book (ask Capt. Stream Rotar about that one)...

Check out other titles in the Irrigation Assocaition's bookstore too, but just remember.... respect around here also involves getting your hands calloused, muddy, and stained a little with purple primer...

irritation
08-19-2008, 09:21 PM
Primer is way over rated. I've seen more leaks from using too much primer than using none. I don't use purple unless it's an inspected job, I will use clear and only if I'm installing Sch. 40.

lowvolumejeff
08-19-2008, 09:45 PM
The classes I took included hands on as well as design. We used Pete Melby's book, Simplified Irrigation Design". (Available used on Amazon). I also found the Online Irrigation tuorial by Jess Stryker helpful. Get your rep to give you a copy of the current RainBird catalog, if you don't already have one. Run your designs by this forum and wear a fireproof suit.

Good luck, and this is a different group than over on the lighting forum.

Jeff

irrig8r
08-19-2008, 10:12 PM
Primer is way over rated. I've seen more leaks from using too much primer than using none. I don't use purple unless it's an inspected job, I will use clear and only if I'm installing Sch. 40.

Primer finesse is a learned skill.

And if you agree with Friedrich Nietzsche and G. Gordon Liddy that "whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger" then it's practically a health tonic...

...NOT!

Experience reparing other people's mistakes has taught me not to use anything but SCH 40 in installs, but then I rarely work with pipe larger than 2". (Don't remember at which point CL350 has a thicker wall.)

irritation
08-19-2008, 10:16 PM
Yea, learning to not use it.:laugh:

irrig8r
08-19-2008, 10:38 PM
Yea, learning to not use it.:laugh:

Become one with the dauber...

Mike Leary
08-19-2008, 10:42 PM
Primer finesse is a learned art/ not to use anything but SCH 40 in installs, but then I rarely work with pipe larger than 2". (Don't remember at which point CL350 has a thicker wall.)

I agree with sch 40, after 6'' class is thicker.

DanaMac
08-19-2008, 11:29 PM
my 570 was good.....thats a fact..

Was that the 2" pop up? :laugh:

Kiril
08-20-2008, 12:13 AM
I agree with sch 40, after 6'' class is thicker.

Ditto ...... and stop taking advice from counter monkeys.

Note: I used 2" class 200 on a system this year ....... my central vac system!! :laugh:

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-20-2008, 07:51 AM
We use class 200 here 90% of the time. Our biggest problem are dingbats that don't know how to glue pipe together. Especially those that don't usePURPLE PRIMER

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-20-2008, 05:35 PM
Was that the 2" pop up? :laugh:

LOL!!!!!

zING!!!

we could def work together and get along.

DanaMac
08-20-2008, 06:20 PM
we could def work together and get along.

I would be honored :)

koster_irrigation
08-20-2008, 08:11 PM
getting back to his original post,

FYI, TORO controllers are the worst for homeowners with learning curves.

should have got a rainbird ESP or another hunter.

and dont bash me, i was 100% TORO for at least my first 10 years in business......

Mike M
08-20-2008, 08:33 PM
Well, I didn't want to start any trouble asking the Q's like which manu is best. I learned with mowers and power equipment that it's best to pick your dealer first (service) and then go from there.

Is it the same with irrigation? I like the place that sells Toro, but there are other distrib's too. We are having a lot of problems with Hunter controllers in my area. I had my own replaced and then it failed again.

The Toro guy is very good with teaching me technical stuff, and he is doing an all-day seminar I signed up for next month.

I learned with lighting that it's in my own best interest to pick one good distributor and not shop around for every installation.

Wet_Boots
08-20-2008, 08:37 PM
You can cherry-pick the Toro line and do very well.

Waterit
08-20-2008, 09:32 PM
By the way, Mike M, nice looking website.

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-20-2008, 10:11 PM
mike M..

get some installs this winter and hire me to come down and play with the glue...

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-20-2008, 10:51 PM
Mike M can I be your friend too?....

irrig8r
08-20-2008, 10:52 PM
Mike... Toro has a reputation around here, and it ain't good.. (not so much here on Lawnsite, but here where I live.)

When it comes to controllers, if you're gonna use theirs, look only at the ones that were Irritrols and carry the Toro name now... do NOT go for the Greenskeepers... or ECX or whatever they call them...

570s in any version are inferior to RB 1800 series... weaker springs, thinner bodies, etc.

I prefer Hunter to Toro too...

I like dealing with a bigger outfit like Ewing and a smaller local distributor too. And I get some stuff online at www.irrigationdirect.com, a Lawnsite sponsor...

irrig8r
08-20-2008, 10:58 PM
BTW Mike, Unique is in Escondido, not Escondito... :)

Waterit
08-21-2008, 12:47 AM
Mike... Toro has a reputation around here, and it ain't good.. (not so much here on Lawnsite, but here where I live.)

Actually, it does have a bad rep here on LS, and we all live there...

When it comes to Toro, JUST SAY NO!

Mike M
08-21-2008, 01:59 PM
Well, what's up with the Hunter controllers? I had mine replaced because it was unreadable, and then the new one went a few months after that. Then people around here are telling me it happened to them, and now at least 2 customers of mine have the problem, and two people in my neighborhood told me they have the same problem...

Model: Hunter Pro C is what they all have in common.

The Toro I installed to replace both mine and a friend's was the TMC-212.

btw: everyone can be my friend. "Let's be independent together."

irrig8r
08-21-2008, 02:21 PM
The Toro I installed to replace both mine and a friend's was the TMC-212.


The TMC 212 looks a lot like the Greenskeeper/ EXC. It does say it has a non-volatile memory... can 't say I've ever seen one up close.


Toro did make a version of the Irritrol Rain Dial, called a Toro Turf Pro, but it looks like they don't anymore.

Here's Toro's version of the Irritrol Total Control, called the Toro Custom Command:

http://www.toro.com/irrigation/com/lgturfcont/custcommand/index.html


And in the long run, if you insist on using Toro, you might want to learn more about this one and get certified for it:

http://www.toro.com/irrigation/res/smturfcont/intelli/index.html

It's also known as an Irritrol Smart Dial, and they are both based on a system called WeatherTrak (http://www.weathertrak.com/smart-controllers/index.php) from a company called Hydropoint.

Mike M
08-21-2008, 05:09 PM
Gregg;

I thought there was a sensor now that measures the water saturation level in the soil. Wouldn't that be even better than regional weather-events monitoring?

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-21-2008, 07:54 PM
Gregg;

I thought there was a sensor now that measures the water saturation level in the soil. Wouldn't that be even better than regional weather-events monitoring?

Not Gregg but INMO no...........

irrig8r
08-21-2008, 09:17 PM
I think the big divide regarding ET based controllers is are you relying on (1) a subscription to a satellite or Internet based service that collects regional data (possibly more accurate data but further away from your site specific microclimate) or (2) an on-site weather station that you or someone will have to maintain.

I think theToro/Irritrol solution is the most practical for most homeowners.

That said, the Weathermatic Smartline has a lot of nice features and can be used either as a standard or ET based controller. And the on-site weather station I installed on one seems fairly accurate.

Neither concept is foolproof, and both require monitoring.

And neither ET based strategy takes the place of good irrigation design, considering sun exposure, slope, soil type, as well as plant material in defining/ separating zones.

I got a call from a fellow contractor last week who knew I was certified for the Smartline/ Weathertrak/ Intellisense (takes about a half hour online to get certified).

He had installed one of the Smartline controllers according to a landscape designer's specifications, but maybe hadn't been so careful with planning the zone layout because he had never installed one of these before... and the LD didn't say anything to him about that, or to the homeowner about the subscription fee...

Anyway, I suggested that maybe he ought to swap it out for the Irritrol PC12 if the H/O wants to get really involved, or a Rain Dial if not so much...

Kiril
08-21-2008, 11:37 PM
Gregg;

I thought there was a sensor now that measures the water saturation level in the soil. Wouldn't that be even better than regional weather-events monitoring?

There has been for a long time ...... and yes, it would be better. Problem with soil sensors, in order for them to really make sense you need 1 per hydrozone.

Personally I think a combination of ET and soil sensing will provide the most accurate watering.

Ignore Fimco, he is still bitter about his sensor test that he has yet to report on.

Kiril
08-21-2008, 11:42 PM
(1) a subscription to a satellite or Internet based service that collects regional data (possibly more accurate data but further away from your site specific microclimate)

And for that reason alone I refuse to use any that require it. Also as mentioned, the accuracy of the data is highly questionable.

irrig8r
08-22-2008, 01:28 AM
....I got a call from a fellow contractor last week who knew I was certified for the Smart Dial/ Weathertrak/ Intellisense (takes about a half hour online to get certified).

He had installed one of the Smart Dial controllers according to a landscape designer's specifications, but maybe hadn't been so careful with planning the zone layout because he had never installed one of these before... and the LD didn't say anything to him about that, or to the homeowner about the subscription fee...

Anyway, I suggested that maybe he ought to swap it out for the Irritrol PC12 if the H/O wants to get really involved, or a Rain Dial if not so much..

Smart Dial.... Sorry I meant Irritrol Smart Dial, not Weathermatic Smartline...too many similar names....corrected above.

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-22-2008, 06:18 AM
There has been for a long time ...... and yes, it would be better. Problem with soil sensors, in order for them to really make sense you need 1 per hydrozone.

Personally I think a combination of ET and soil sensing will provide the most accurate watering.

Ignore Fimco, he is still bitter about his sensor test that he has yet to report on.

Only person on this site reporting an attempt at it. Et is fine, sensor is nice but overkill.