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View Full Version : aeration customers failing to flag sprinklers


americanlawn
10-07-2009, 08:27 PM
We're skipping 2 or 3 jobs everyday (per aeration crew) cuz the customer fails to mark their heads. We call them 7 to 10 days ahead to give them plenty of time. We also have "Iowa One Call" come out and mark utility lines too (which they do right away).

I just don't get it. We notify customers a week (or more) in advance so they can mark their sprinkler heads, but when we get there......no flags/paint/or any other kind of markings. :confused:

Anybody else having a hard time getting their customers off their butt? :confused:

p.s. Would I be wrong to charge these people a trip charge to cover the cost of downtime? (Experienced personel, expensive equipment, trucks, fuel, overhead, etc). Thanks, rscvp

DUSTYCEDAR
10-07-2009, 08:49 PM
who me do what no way man

jfoxtrot9
10-07-2009, 08:53 PM
I have been giving a 2-3 day notice with no problems at all. Maybe 7-10 days, they think they have plenty of time, then forget? I would suspect that although I agree with you that to send a crew anywhere has enough of a cost to it, charging a service charge would probably lose more customers than straighten anyone out. (??)

Maybe try the shorter notice. Worth a shot, eh?

Good luck!

turfsolutions
10-07-2009, 09:16 PM
If you want something done right, do it yourself. That's why I mark the sprinklers and charge well for aeration.

LushGreenLawn
10-07-2009, 09:36 PM
I call my customers the morning of to make sure its done, I can do this on the road before I start heading there.

Also, about half of my customers opt to have me mark their heads for a nominal fee of $25. Two guys with radios, takes about 5 minutes. This is easier if the boxes are located outside, as the customers do not have to be home.

group501
10-08-2009, 07:07 AM
We call the customer 5-7 days before. If we show up and the heads are not marked advise the customer to call when the heads are marked. We let them know that we will not return until we receive a call. During the aeration or seeding seasons we only do aerations 2 days a week. The customer is advised of the supplemental days and told that there is no guarantee that we will be able to guarantee they will be scheduled if they don't give us a couple of days lead time. We currently have 3 power seeding jobs left to do, 2 of them have not been marked for the past month. Messages were left that after this coming Monday they are SOL.

AI Inc
10-08-2009, 07:21 AM
We mark them . Customers dont want to deal with that.

LushGreenLawn
10-08-2009, 08:14 AM
We mark them . Customers dont want to deal with that.

Yeah, but sometimes its easier for them to mark them if their box is inside, then they don't have to be home for a appt.
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AI Inc
10-08-2009, 08:18 AM
Of course its easier, always easier to have other people do things. Its also one more reason for them to say " screw it, I willnt bother having it aerated this yr , I dont feel like doing the flags"

jfoxtrot9
10-08-2009, 08:33 AM
Of course its easier, always easier to have other people do things. Its also one more reason for them to say " screw it, I willnt bother having it aerated this yr , I dont feel like doing the flags"

Amen to that.

It's exactly what I was thinking reading this thread. I encourage my customers to mark their own heads, but have and will do it for them.

And I certainly wouldn't say a customer is SOL if he/she doesn't get it done. Aren't we trying to make money here? Hey Budman(group501), I wished you lived closer I would gladly take those customers off your hands!

HISnHERS
10-08-2009, 09:00 AM
We call about one week in advance and also on the day of. Before starting we do a quick walk through the yard looking for anything that may be damaged. If they don't want to mark the heads that's fine - we just make sure they understand who's responsible for potential repairs.

After a call from a customer we send an email to confirm address and provide the customer further information - in our initial message to the customer we stress the need to clearly mark anything that may be damaged. (irrigation, pet fence, cable, phone, water shut off caps, small plastic super hero toys, etc) We offer to attempt to locate the heads if they want, but assume no responsibility if something is cut or damaged. So far the responses have always been that they understand and go ahead, do the job. Nice thing about email is that we then have documentation of their OK just in case.

So far this has worked well for us and I guess if we've lost someone here and there, that's OK.

foreplease
10-08-2009, 09:16 AM
If you want something done right, do it yourself. That's why I mark the sprinklers and charge well for aeration.

I do not do homes but agree completely. If I had American's problem I think I would jump prices and offer a credit if sprinklers were marked when I arrived. Flags are cheap. Presumably aeration is not the only time these customer's lawns are being seen. I think I would get a boatload printed with my company name, leave them with the customer on the previous round and explain what they are for, how to use them and why it is important, and that they will be reminded when it is time to put them in.

10 days is way too far ahead. If the customer did follow instructions, the flags are coming out next time the place gets mowed, especially if another company is involved rather than the homeowner doing the mowing.

One way or another, I agree I'd rather mark myself. The problem, of course, is he is finding them unmarked on the day of and has not access. Those folks are not going to pay a fee for not doing it. Also, I agree with AI's two posts.

Customers do not care at all about our production goals or what contractors find convenient. They are buying convenience and service.

AI Inc
10-08-2009, 09:20 AM
Sprinklers can be turned on thru the valve box , ask them where the valves are located, most people know.
When ya there ya can also do a quick scetch and scan it. Allmost all of the aeration we do is for irrigation customers so we have a drawing on file already.

LushGreenLawn
10-08-2009, 11:30 AM
Sprinklers can be turned on thru the valve box , ask them where the valves are located, most people know.
When ya there ya can also do a quick scetch and scan it. Allmost all of the aeration we do is for irrigation customers so we have a drawing on file already.

I did not know that, I don't do irrigation systems.

In my previous post, I was trying to say that it is easier for the customer, not for us, for the customer to mark them, because they would not have to make an appt. To be home to give us access to the controller if it inside.

The fact that you can turn the zones on right at the valve box negates this issue though, I am very glad I read this post, I am going to get m› irrigation fuy to show me how to do that.
Posted via Mobile Device

AI Inc
10-08-2009, 12:27 PM
Its simple , open the valve box and turn either the bleeder thumb screw or the solonoid counterclockwise. This way ya can have a customer flag just the VB.

grassman177
10-12-2009, 08:50 PM
that is a bunch of crap larry and i would charge them extra when you do get to do it. most we mark ourselves when we arrive and it is included in the price, but some it is easier to have them do it, sometimes we even provide the flags on their doorstep and this has proved to be effective. consider that if the drive is not too much to justify the cost

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-12-2009, 09:07 PM
We mark them . Customers dont want to deal with that.

You mark em your liability if you miss one or another obstacle in people's lawns. I don't want that liability on my books.

I advise its the custs responsibility to mark as per agreement and that I am not responsible if THEY miss one of their heads or other obstacle.

americanlawn
10-12-2009, 09:37 PM
That's what I was getting at on my original post. Thanks DA.

I spoke with perhaps the 'most reputable sprinkler system company in our area' last week, and asked if it was smart for us to "tinker" with sprinkler systems so we could locate heads & control boxes. First thing out of his mouth was a loud laugh.

Questions quickly arose:

1) Are you willing to take responsibility for damage?

2) Has the system already been winterized?

3) Do you trust the homeowner for providing accurate information?

4) If the homeowner has failed to have the system marked for over a week, that means "they probably just don't care".

By the time our conversation ended, we both agreed that it's always best to let the sprinkler system company (or the homeowner) do their job.



You mark em your liability if you miss one or another obstacle in people's lawns. I don't want that liability on my books.

I advise its the custs responsibility to mark as per agreement and that I am not responsible if THEY miss one of their heads or other obstacle.

lawn king
10-16-2009, 08:55 AM
The problem here is clients getting blown out way to early! I will have to address the importance of fall watering in my annual letter.

mdlwn1
10-16-2009, 09:13 AM
That's what I was getting at on my original post. Thanks DA.

I spoke with perhaps the 'most reputable sprinkler system company in our area' last week, and asked if it was smart for us to "tinker" with sprinkler systems so we could locate heads & control boxes. First thing out of his mouth was a loud laugh.

Questions quickly arose:

1) Are you willing to take responsibility for damage?

2) Has the system already been winterized?

3) Do you trust the homeowner for providing accurate information?

4) If the homeowner has failed to have the system marked for over a week, that means "they probably just don't care".

By the time our conversation ended, we both agreed that it's always best to let the sprinkler system company (or the homeowner) do their job.

Its not their job....It yours! You need to learn how to train your customers to have sprinklers available late season. Doing wok for them and asking them to share in the work never works out well. You really need to learn how to make the whole process move forward...under any circumstanses. If you dont know how to manipulate a sprinkler system...I highly doubt you know how to improve a lawn.

Im speaking as "you" understood...not directed at you neccessarily.

Exact Rototilling
10-18-2009, 12:50 PM
Its not their job....It yours! You need to learn how to train your customers to have sprinklers available late season. Doing wok for them and asking them to share in the work never works out well. You really need to learn how to make the whole process move forward...under any circumstanses. If you dont know how to manipulate a sprinkler system...I highly doubt you know how to improve a lawn.

Im speaking as "you" understood...not directed at you neccessarily.I really don't know much about sprinkler systems at this point myself - in fact with all the half price irrigation folks in my area that will never change.

I've helped a customer mark sprinklers if I need to but it is only because I have showed up and nothing is flagged. It's easier to have the customer advance the system and run around and flag them myself than to reschedule etc. I have found that the time involved in specific aeration marketing, giving estimates, kicking the tires with the customers can take away from lining up customers that overall pay off more with more profit over the entire growing season.

Anyhow having customers flag more than a day or 2 before aeration is too long. The evening before is ideal. Kids end up pulling flags and more time is wasted overall.

I'm considering offering a provide your own flag discount for next spring and give them a $10 - $20+ discount or more for a large estate property. I ordered those little plastic flags from http://www.rndsigns.com/merchandise.asp for this last fall, so I can mail flags, but unless the grass is very short they don't show up that well even being pink and they fade quickly in the sun and they impinge normal sprinkler water flow.