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Irrigation for Realtors and Home Sales

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by RhettMan, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    Rhett, I'm glad you've started charging a Service Call fee, your knowledge is what's really valuable and when you give people a free, itemized bid for repair you're giving that away. We bill flat rate, as many of you know, so we can typically tell a customer what to expect over the phone from their description of the problem and because of this, we also tell them that we're coming to repair the system, not give them a bid. I think I've only been on 3 or 4 calls in the last few years where I didn't make the repair on the first visit. On top of all this, I raised prices by roughly 20% across the board last year. I had more work than I could handle and thought maybe this would slow it down to a manageable level while also increasing the bottom line. What actually happened was that I still had more work than I could handle, I was just getting paid more to do it.
  2. RhettMan

    RhettMan LawnSite Silver Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 2,601

    BCG.... I agree with what your saying...I charge flat rate as well, for good reason.

    I do beg for your thought and help on the following:

    (Actually before i start, i want to beforehand say, that it seems to me, this next observation might appear to be one of finding fault in your above metioned method.

    Its is not that at all !

    but rather a curiosity, that perhaps you can help me solve for my own use.)

    I also gave flat rates last year via phone before visiting/diagnosing (some flat rates were accepted, others had fits, and I think some caused prospective customers to flat-line, right then and there on the phone, as the connection must have been disconnected as they fell to the floor.)

    The problem, that i began to understand, was that i was: listening to the problem, then asking a few questions, and basically, diagnosing problems for free, over the phone.
    After which the customer would then visit some store and fix or attempt to fix, themselves, or have their handy-person fix.

    With this method, it was only the "hidden" vb's that I was deemed use-full and got the go-ahead. The other jobs, I had already "solved", during that phone call.

    Secondly, if my stated assumptions during that phone call were not correct due to not actually making my own on-site-hands-on diagnosis, i can only believe the customer would then advertise me as being incorrect.

    So this year, tho we are still flat rate, All calls are answered with "First, Diagonosis of $xxx, this is usually waived by the customer awarding us the repair."

    Sorry so long winded.

    I would like to learn to be able to be a little more "helpful" on the initial call without simultaneously solving all these lucrative problems.

    What do you think?
  3. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    I don't answer the phone, my office girl does. She knows enough to be able to offer possible options for a problem but not enough to offer a definitive diagnosis. So for example a customer calls because they have a head running non-stop, she would say that it's probably a leaking diaphragm, which would be $xx, but might also be a bad valve or a leak somewhere in the mainline, which would be $yy or $zz. For electrical problems, they're told there's really no way to give a price on that because the problem could be anywhere and then all the basic stuff (broken heads, obvious leaks, etc.) they already know the issue so we're just giving a price to repair it.

    As far as them using our phone diagnosis to repair the problem themselves, well if they're going to do that, they'd have probably figured it out from Google anyway, so I don't really worry about it all that much. We've got about 2,200 active customers (meaning they've used us at least once in the last 18 months) and 90% of our work last season was from repeat customers so there's plenty of work available but my market is probably 40x the population of yours so it's not a real apples to apples comparison.
  4. AI Inc

    AI Inc LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 26,993

    Not to mention the diagnosis is the toughest part. Why do the hardest part of the job for free.
  5. RhettMan

    RhettMan LawnSite Silver Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 2,601

    thanks for clearing that up for me

    you are most definately making things happen sir.

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