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DanaMac
09-23-2004, 10:12 AM
I'm trying to get a few posts going on the biz end of irrigation instead of the technical posts

Do you prefer service/repairs, or installs. Why?

I myself prefer service/repairs. I can go to many different homes per day, see and talk to many people, troubleshoot problems, fix other companies mistakes. My overhead is also very minimal. I can run the company from my home, our main equipment is 2 trucks (which my employee drives one home every night), hand tools, cell phones, and what ever inventory we have (not really overhead). I don't seem to have the patience anymore to stay on one job for more than a few hours. A few days - forget it. When I'm working I like to keep moving and hustle.

Down side - training employees to troubleshoot and repair if they haven't installed before. Learning to fix screwed up systems from other contractors or homeowners (although the challenge is fun), lots of driving around town, which leads to lots of gas money.

jerryrwm
09-23-2004, 11:05 AM
Agree that repair and maintenance is my preference.

Overhead is low - no equipment but that which I carry in the truck.
No employees for service work. At times I would like someone to dig that hole, but I just suck it up and do it, knowing that the money earned from that project is mine.
Most profitable is the monthly walk-thru. Turn on the controller for a two minute test cycle, follw the sequence and make notes. Depending on the customer agreement, I may fix the problems right then up to a specified amount, or submit an estimate for repairs for authorization to procede. If I have pre-authorized agreement, I charge for the W/T and then start the clock on the repairs and submit both invoices. Any large ticket repairs are submitted for approval and then done as schedule allows.

Don't like installs, but will do them if specifically requested by customer. Requests for installs are mostly from referrals. If they want me to do it, at the price I want, then we have a deal. If they just wander up and ask me to give a bid so that they can compare prices, I usually reply that I am scheduled pretty far out and may not be able to get to them for several weeks. I usually pre-qualify before going over to even look at the yard. If they don't balk at my off the hip price, I'll talk to them further, but they also understand up front that I am probably going to be one of the higher priced bids, and that there is no 'wiggle room' in my bidding. I hire temps to do the digging, clean-out, and covering. I do the installation, nozzling and fine tuning. But I really don't like to hang around on a property for several days. Get tired of looking at the same scenery all the time.

Most of my contracts are with commercial properties - apartments, HOA's hospitals, strip centers, etc. Provide on-call emergency repairs, and do the necessary renovations as requested.

Fixing screwed up installs is what keeps my mind active. How many times have you opened up a problem area and then thought, "what the hell were they thinking?" Many times it's like an Easter egg hunt when trying to figure out why that stuck valve isn't in the most logical place, or why the wire path isn't anywhere close to the mainline path. But, that's what they are paying me for - to find the problem and fix it. Oh the stories I could tell!!

It works for me.

Jerry

TClawn
09-23-2004, 05:56 PM
I prefer doing installs because I'm starting with a clean slate and don't have to deal with the mistakes of the previous landscaper ,like on repairs.

DGI
09-23-2004, 10:39 PM
Which do you find more profitable at the end of the year?

For us, it's install. Startups and blowouts are a whole other boon, though.

Mdirrigation
09-23-2004, 10:56 PM
service is more profitable dollar for dollar , installs are more labor intensive .

Green Sweep
09-24-2004, 06:33 AM
Generally service is more profitable for us. However, it is nice to throw in a contracted install every now & then. I have one guy right now that works with me. We just installed a 9 zone system in 4 days for $6,000. At $40 /man hr. - it is impossible to generate that kind of dough in 4 days doing service work. Another good example is this year we spent a month repairing a huge commercial system (major fiber optic lines installed - trashed most of the system). Time & Materials = under $15,000. Last year, we spent the same amount of time installing a commercial system (contract) for around $60,000. What a difference.

SprinklerGuy
09-24-2004, 09:54 AM
I can't answer this question.

I love service for the lack of difficulty in selling it. Meaning that when they call and have a leak...they don't care how much it will cost, for the most part. In installs it is a fight to get them to pay for it.

I love installs because typically I can make a bit more per day per man hour and no driving around wasting gas.

In the end....the installs tend to be more profitable per hour for me....unfortunately we work fewer hours on installs, therefore, service is more profitable and steady annually.

FEELIN' DUCKY IN PA
09-24-2004, 10:51 AM
I believe installations are way more profitable than service because if the job is estimated right, you get to put it in the ground the way it should be and not trying to run around finding pipes or leaks in something you didn't install. I don't think service end is as profitable because you need to add in all the factors that go with the bottom line dollar amount like the salaries of workers, the gas it took to get to the job and the materials. If it's not estimated right, you could end up losing money on what should be a money maker.

TClawn
09-24-2004, 06:04 PM
Generally service is more profitable for us. However, it is nice to throw in a contracted install every now & then. I have one guy right now that works with me. We just installed a 9 zone system in 4 days for $6,000. At $40 /man hr. - it is impossible to generate that kind of dough in 4 days doing service work. Another good example is this year we spent a month repairing a huge commercial system (major fiber optic lines installed - trashed most of the system). Time & Materials = under $15,000. Last year, we spent the same amount of time installing a commercial system (contract) for around $60,000. What a difference.

around here a 6 zone system goes between $10,000-$15,000.

SprinklerGuy
09-24-2004, 07:39 PM
Yeah but in Hawaii a big mac at mcdonals is $8.00!

Green Sweep
09-24-2004, 08:55 PM
10 - 15 grand - Wow. We are usually on the higher side of the bids here in thr 'burgh. If a big mac is 8 bucks, how much is a new 4 bedroom 2 car garage house in Hawaii.

Rob
Here We Go Steelers!

TClawn
09-25-2004, 02:36 AM
A 4 bedroom 2 car garage house goes any where from $700,00-$850,00.

2 years ago the market for houses (and landscaping) was not nearly as good as it is now. in fact, when my parents bought our house we got it for $250,000... now it's going for high 500,000 to to low 600,000. everything is more expensive in hawaii (gas is 2.65 a gallon) and milk is $5.00 dollars a gallon if you don't buy it at costco and there it's $3.00.

TClawn
09-25-2004, 02:39 AM
oops, I forgot to tell you that price is for common bermuda grass and top soil thrown down too.

jerryrwm
09-25-2004, 11:41 AM
oops, I forgot to tell you that price is for common bermuda grass and top soil thrown down too.

So, for that $10-15K you are doing the soil prep, fine grading, irrigation installation and then spreading the topsoil and sodding the yard.

Now you are back in the ball park. Not sure how big a '6 zone' system is. Might be 4 - 5 rotor hds per zone, 8 - 10 spray hds, etc. Or if the service is big enough it might be 10 - 15 rotors or 20 spray hds per zone.

Standard sized 80' x 120' lot with 1500 - 2000 sq ft house around here runs an average of $400-$500 per zone for those that bid that way. Or if you do the per head bidding method, $35.00/spray hd, and $80.00/rotor hd then add the BFD and controller. These are good for giving an on the spot estimate to the tire-kicking homeowners, but I sure wouldn't want to think I had to bid a job that way and hope I made money on it.

Jerry

TClawn
09-25-2004, 01:24 PM
So, for that $10-15K you are doing the soil prep, fine grading, irrigation installation and then spreading the topsoil and sodding the yard.

Now you are back in the ball park. Not sure how big a '6 zone' system is. Might be 4 - 5 rotor hds per zone, 8 - 10 spray hds, etc. Or if the service is big enough it might be 10 - 15 rotors or 20 spray hds per zone.

Jerry

no soil prep, just top soil and grading. If I were to try to do soil prep it would take at least a week to get done. the soil in the neighborhoods that I'm doing are like solid rock.
the price is not for sod, it's for seed.

one zone can have up to 4 rotors or 6 full sprays per zone.
a 6 zone system will fit a 8,000 square foot lot with one zone for drip line.

remember that in hawaii that I don't have to bury the lines too deep because there's no freezing. I bury the main line at 12" and lateral at 8"