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Service Fees

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by jtrice11, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. jtrice11

    jtrice11 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    I am new to the industry and am wondering what you guys typically charge for a service call? LIke to come out and adjust timers, heads, make sure system is working correctly? I live in Minnesota. Any feedback would be appreciated.
  2. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,552

    Not less than fifty bucks minimum.
  3. jimmyburg

    jimmyburg LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 701

    WE charge $65 per hour dont charge service call.
  4. AceSprinkleRx

    AceSprinkleRx LawnSite Member
    from Wyoming
    Messages: 95

    I just finished my very first "call" from my classified ad and I'm not anywhere near a "metro area" like NYC or Minneapolis where I believe rates can be quite a bit higher. I charged $25 for the Service call and $25/hr. For parts I added an additional 10%.

    Keep in mind I'm just starting out. So my three hour job grossed a bit over $33/hr (Labor + Service call/hrs). I replaced 2 heads, adjusted one and installed 3 RB 6" valve boxes for right at $145.00. Really haven't decided the best way to charge for material/parts yet. So I went with a sum total of parts and added the 10% ($45.00). I have a lot to learn though... I might be a "lowballer" in your area, but for around here I think I'm just below the others enough to get some jobs and experience I might not get otherwise.

    After a few more jobs and when my overall comfort level gets a better, I might look at increasing rates and the way I charge for things. Thoughts???

  5. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    Ace - As you said, the area sets the rates. While I am not in a large metro area like NYC, Chicago, DFW, etc. we are still able to charge $55 - 65.00/hr.and we are a city of around 250000 pop. Check and see what plumbers charge for their service calls. People still don't treat irrigators as professionals yet, so sometimes it is hard to get their rates, but you can get close. Don't sell yourself short even if you don't know a whole lot yet. After all you are trying to repair their irrigation system - research and troubleshooting are all billable tasks. I'd be willing to bet that all of these old, grey-headed, mossy horned, repair techs have ran into a problem or two that they couldn't puzzle out, and had to make a phone call or two to get the answers. And you can bet your butt that the time on the phone with whomever was also time on the clock. They were getting paid for learning too. Keep in mind it is a lot harder to raise rates later after you have been busy around town, because people talk - "That Ace is really good on sprinklers, and he only charged me $25.00/hr."

    As for parts, it depends on where you buy them. If you are buying from a supply house, and you should be, they usually have a discount of 30-40% off of suggested list price. We charge retail list price to the customers. If you are forced to buy from the Box stores (HD, Lowes, etc.) you have to remember that the customer can buy them at the same price you do. But you still have to mark up the products to make a profit and to cover your time to pick them up etc. It is not unreasonable to work on a 25% GP on those parts. Take the price you paid and divide it by .75 to arrive at a selling price. ie-Item costs you $10.00 divided by .75 = $13.33 selling price. That will give you a true 25% gross profit.

    Make the money on the parts, and you can also stand to increase the prices a bit. The market will tell you when you're getting out of line.

    Just some thoughts from my way,

  6. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    We do a walk-through on commercial properties that includes turning on every zone and seeing every head operate. We do not clean nozzles, repair leaks, replace heads, etc. We just walk through the system and make notes. We will adjust time on the controllers, and turn a sprayhead or two to prevent watering the sidewalk, but that's just because we are nice guys.

    Walk-thrus are priced at $3.00 - 3.50/zone with a $55.00 minimum. So they can have up to a 16 zone system before they start paying the zone price add-ons. Just set the controller on two minutes per zone and take off.

    Then submit an estimate to fix the broken stuff, and don't forget to add in a little travel time on the estimate for the return trip. If you have authorization to make repairs on the spot (usually up to a preset dollar amount), then you can flag the offending heads, leaks, etc. The clock for repairs start when the walk-through is over. I don't flag the broken heads, or leaks on properties where I have to make a return trip, because sometimes apartment managers are sometimes inclined to have their maintenance personnel make the repairs. That is fine if they want to do that, but they are going to have to look for the leaks. I usually make very good notes so I can walk right to the spot.

    Can't tell you a going price for blow-outs. Doesn't get that cold here. We just wrap the PVB with a towel when it gets close to freezing. Then two days later we back to watering 'cause it's up to 90 deg in Jan.

    Hope this was what you were looking for.

  7. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    Actual labor rates are economy driven. Get what you can. Here in KS, I am middle of the road at $40/ hour. I charge a $40 service call, but I advertise that as 30 min of ON SITE time. To evaluate a system for a new customer or to do a system check like Jerry described, my price list says $35 and it doesn't matter how many zones. I offer a special quite frequently where I will do a system inspection for FREE to new customers. The catch is I want approval to do repairs (a reasonable limit is OK) while I am on site. The repair ticket starts including a service call as soon as the inspection is over. The reason I don't mind doing the inspection for free is I know on anything but a brand new system, I am going to find necessary repairs and adjustments. The only adjustments we make that would be included in the inspection is to set the controller and walk the customer through how to use it.
    Parts - It amazes me every day the guys who pencil down to the penny what labor should cost, and then give the parts away. Parts are whatever the market will bear. I do 2.5x my cost unless it is an odd ball part, then I do 3x cost. If I buy it from Home Cheepo or another box store, I charge what the parts should have cost me. If the customer balks, I offer to let them do their own service work. Call me when it is totally screwed up. I will be glad to bill them then. Watch out for suggested retail. On some things you get a good discount, on others you don't. Get your markup, you inventoried it, and you have the expertise to install it correctly.
  8. JB926

    JB926 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 150

    first half hour $60
    full hour $85 plus parts of coarse
  9. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    $32.50 to show up at the door plus $65/man hr. 1/2 hr min, 15 min increments, any part of a 1/4 hr gets rounded up.

    You don't get what you don't ask for. Most people don't even ask How much. Plenty of contractors here don't charge that much and that still doesn't slow down my business. Answer your phone, call back on time, keep appt time not too far down the road, supply competent techs, pay them well, get your $$$.
  10. sps2868

    sps2868 LawnSite Member
    from ATL, GA
    Messages: 91

    $75 per hour, minimum 1hr. when I have help I charge total time on site for all parties. 2 guys 45 min = 1.5 hours = $107.50

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