requirements for picking a company

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by BSME, May 29, 2005.

  1. BSME

    BSME LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 829

    I'm trying to add a sheet to give the homeowner when I hand them a bid for an installation....

    I want it to have a list of "must haves" for the sprinkler company that they pick....
    off the top of my head I'm thinking...
    -Will be able to service system in the future
    -Pulls all permits
    -licensed plumber
    -uses flex pipe
    -No home depot parts

    obviously there are a thousand different requirements but I want things that the homeowner can find that the other company isn't doing... like every zone has matched precipitation, head to head coverage, blah blah blah....

    anybody have any good ones?
  2. kerdog

    kerdog LawnSite Member
    Messages: 129

    Hey BSME---

    How about telling the prospective customer that you will....

    Have the utilities located before you dig.
    Provide a drawing of the installed system, for future reference.
    Guarantee the system will work, because you hydraulically calculate it.
    Provide a simple contract, with price, stating what you are/are not responsible for, and a written guarantee, what's covered, what isn't.

  3. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    Just one major one, and it knocks most of my competition out of the loop w/o being obvious. Where else do you spend this kind of money and the sales guy doesn't "sell" you the product. We sell the customer on the IDEA. Do we actually sell the system as it has been installed prior to collecting the last check? If you do it, it seems obvious, but the companies out there saying "any idiot can run a sprinkler system, here yours is, send in that final payment" and they get an invoice and book in the mail. Will they SHOW you how to use it and explain how it works so that you understand it enough to operate it?
  4. Instant Rain

    Instant Rain LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    Find out who the main competition is in your area. Give them a better warranty than the competition offers.
    Explain why the brand of products you use are better. Are they better? If you can't explain why they are better than why are you using them? Explain why your system require less maintenance. Your system may cost more if it is installed well with quality parts. Explain that it is important that the system be designed properly and installed properly because cutting corners leads to more money spent in the future in service calls. In my area service calls are from $65 to over $100 per hour. It doesn't take many of those to make up for the extra $1500 dollars one might spend on a system I install.
    Basically anyone wanting a sprinkler system is knows the benefits of owning one. They only need to know why to chose your company for what they have already decided to invest in.
    Also take some pictures of nightmare systems with you to show them waht a bad system looks like and compare to your systems. Most people don't have a clue as to what it takes to install a system that will last 60 plus years, or how bad some systems may be.
  5. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,792

  6. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 562

    I'm friendly. I show up in a nice truck with a logo on my hat or shirt. I have business cards.
    I listen to what people want. I steer them towards "do you want us to put in a rock border here, or would you like a flower garden." "Do you want hydroseed or sod?" Get them visualizing how nice the final product will work, and get them thinking about the visual they have with Doug.

    "When you flush your toilet, does your shower shut off?" "How big of a well do you have?" And then I help them figure it out, cuz NO ONE knows how big of a well they have.

    Then I can give them a bid right then and there. And I can tell them when it will be done, IF they say GO right now. If they want to think about it, I say I can hold that date for 3 days, and name the day. None of my competitors seem able to get onsite and get a quote within 3 days.

    I sell the idea that I pull poly pipe. Pulling pipe means they won't have trenches under their sod 3 weeks after I am done.
    I sell the idea that I am a new businessman with hustle that is building a business for the long term. In order to do that, I am giving some raging deals to get my name out there and have references.
    I sell the I20's as stainless commercial grade sprinklers.

    I ridicule the idea that a customer should give me money up front in order to start. If I can't float the parts/labor, I shouldn't be in the business.

    We did 3 systems last week. I've got 2 scheduled for this week, 2 for the following week, and 35 lots at a mobile home park that I hope I can do in less then a month after that.
  7. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    It's not the fact that you can float the parts and labor, it's about getting them commited also. Regardless of how much you can stand to fork out, if they are into the install with 30% of the total price it makes me feel better. That way they have a vested interest and there is proof that they had agreed to you doing the work. Contracts are a must, and will help you get your money eventually. But in the meantime, it's nice to know that the parts have been paid for at the very least, and the supply house won't be on your butt for payment.

    In nearly 25 years, I have only been stiffed by one install customer, and that was the one that I didn't get a down payment from. We pulled the controller off the wall, removed the valves, heads and backflow device and drove holes in the mainline with a piece of rebar every 10' or so. Looking back there are things that should have been done differently, but that was when I first started.

    Just my thoughts on down payments.

    Jerry R
  8. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,749

    There will be state laws that address this.
  9. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    I bid a quality product at a reasonable price. I am a small outfit and I make no excuses for that. I've lost very few bids over down paynments, and the one or two that I did, the outfit that beat me had fun collecting. I don't work for those kind of people. Every once in a great while, you inherit a customer because a house sold, or more commonly, you acquire a customer from working for a builder. I lost 3 customers last year. One I had to shut the water off and remove the top off the master valve to get payment, one wrote me a bad check for the winterization, and one thought I was rude to bill him for a repair bill to fix the pipe he drove a stake through becaue the system was still under warranty. The other guy can have these customers. I get 60% down from a builder and I get 40% dow to schedule and another 40% down when the work starts or we don't continue. That seems steep, but that last 20% is MINE, over and above all the expenses unless we really screw a bid. I get everything but the part that is true profit basically up front. You can be the guy with all that money to up front all those costs, proves to me and the majority of my customers your making to much money on what you do. On a construction loan, the call it a draw, on an addition you call it a deposit. Nobody in the real world expects people to work for free. The secret to making $$$$ is now and always has been OPM. If you want to be one of the "other people", I respect your decision.
  10. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 562

    builders here get paid for the work they have DONE, not what they might do. the draw is against work done.

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