Sometimes I get overly detailed on notes

mitchgo

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Redmond, WA
This was a new customer from Mid March- we had multiple visits from other crews and they couldn't get everything figured out, so I was sent out. I feel bad however we are basically telling the customer we don't have time to fix there system right now because of the spring start up season and if they want our service they will have to wait until august. I sure got an earful from the lady about poor business practice, the reality is our crews shouldn't have taken the project.

The customer bought the house 1.5 years ago and expanded there house- a 4 month project adding easily 1,500 SF to the house.

I wrote this up for there invoice notes- more to the point to give them the understanding why there system sucks so much in hopes they understand we don't have the time to take care of it.

The estimate I have isn't attached, only the notes

Todays Visit:

Today's work has concluded repairs necessary to provide a somewhat funtioning irrigation system to the landscape . An estimate for continuation of work for Zone reparis, Zone rebuilds and system documentation is attached to today's invoice. Please read below

System Info: The sprinkler system system has a total of 11 zones ( We thought orignally 12 zones) with the controller located in the Garage. The system is quite aged with a guestimate of 60-70% of the original sprinkler components from the installaton most likely when the house was built in 1989 ( 29 year old system) . I visually see low- moderate maintance to the irrigation system throughout the years.

Valve Location -Most were buried 1-6" under soil. Zone 1 Front Right corner of garage 10', Zone 2 - Front Left corner driveway in Planter- ( Standard box) , Zone 3- unknown-possibly non working zone 15' from left side of house under rhody ( Single pit) , zone 4 - Front left corner driveway in planter bed ( Single pit), Zone 5 - Edge of grass midway of front lawn next to zone area, Zone 6- 2' from Back Flow Assembly, Zone 7- Back Lawn edge midway in standard box ( Apart of zone 9 ) , Zone 8 Uknown- wire is broken, Zone 9 Back Lawn edge midway in standard box ( apart of zone 7) . Zone 10- West side of house along fence , Zone 11 - west side of house along fence.

Upon Arival of todays visit : 6 out of the alleged 12 zones were not working electrically. Only 2 out of the remaining 6 working valves were intact zones that were functional and operating correctly without pipe damage from house constuction on necessary changes to the zone in order to appropiately use it. This means when I arrived today only 18% of the sprinkler systems entirty was operating .

After todays visit I was able to bring the system to 81% of it's operational entirity- 9 out of 11 Zones working. Current Non working areas: Lower Back Lawn and Shrubs Left of the Front Door/ east Side of house- Assuming Zone 3 and 8. Today I broke down the sprinkler system in order to repair it; electrically. The system is installed in a old style manner with single pit valve boxes placed throughout the yard . Overtime almost all of these boxes were buried , these valves are main components to the system and are necessary for the sprinkler system to work. The previous crews spent quite a bit of time attempting to track down the valves. I as well spent time tracking down valves, As of today 10 out of the 11 valves have been located. I discovered two main issues today which surprissingly had Nothing to do with the house construction project. Issue 1) One of the main Common wires that supports the wire system was plugged into Zone port 12 on the controller instead of being plugged into the' common 'port on the controller. This wire was white - the same exact color as all the other zone hot wires as well as it had a marker writing stating ' 12' . If you look at the common wire in the port , it's ' Red' . The only red wire on the system- indicating a common standardized method that this is the' Common 'wire. It's very rare to have the common wire accidently wired into a zone port- I run into this situation only 1 or 2 times a ear. Unfortuantely without breaking down the system as I did today there really was any way to know that this wire in particular was a ' common ' wire, without the this wire plugged into the common port on the controller automatically half the system wouldn't work. Issue #2 ) This common wire had a bad wire splice in the field that prevented all zones that this wire supported from operating, I had to track down the corruded wire connection and bypass it in order to get the zone to work.. Please Read Below for system break down

Zone 1- Front Lawn Strip Right of Driveway - This zone is operational however has some aged components . It's suggested to replace 2-3 sprinkler heads on this zone where the seals have gone out on the head and straighten 1-2 sprinkler heads.

Zone 2- Front Main Lawn Left of Driveway- This zone is operational however has quite a few aged components with sprinkler heads leaking out of there seal or improperly adjusted. It's suggested to replace a few of the main leakers and adjust this zone to the best of it's ability.

Zone 3- This zone is NOT operational- At the moment the wiring for this zone has not been tracked down . All prelimanary work shows that the wiring to support this zone was damaged from house contruction and a large section of wiring was removed. I believe this zone is 1 of the 2 non working zones on the system- Both Zones Left of the front door/ side of the house.

Zone 4- Front Entry Shrubs- This zone is operational however has aged components and plant blocking spray. It's suggested to raise/ replace a few sprinkler heads on this zone.

Zone 5- Front Shrubs NE Corner Left Driveway- This zone is operating OKAY

Zone 6- Front Shrubs West Right Side Driveway. This zone was heavily effected from the house contstruction. Most of the breaks have been capped off however there are few sprinkler heads to install. It's suggested to use this zone as a dedicated shrub Zone Front Right side of driveway only- up to the fence.

Zone 7- Back Hillside lawn/ Shrubs. This zone is operational however has many aged components and this zone only covers about half of the upper back lawn.

Zone 8- . This zone is NOT Operational- I have located zone 8 wire on the west side of the house damaged, exposed and pulled out of the ground from house expansion. My assumption is this wire fed to the two zones on East side of house that are not funtioning ( 1 Valve we know the location and the other we do not)

Zone 9- This zone works electronically however not physically. The valve is located mid Back yard on west side of property . The water meter does not indicate water flow passing through this valve when turned on electronically or manually turned on. With so many other issues wrong with the system we can only guess what is wrong- A variety of issues such as a Bad valve, capped pipe, spare zone. If this zone did work my guess is it either watered the 2nd half of the upper back lawn or the lower lawn. Perhaps the homeowners zone guide/ description that was made the other year has some insight on this ( I did not get to review this guide)

Zone 10- This zone works electronically however with the new house construction the physical layout of the zone is completely destroyed. It's suggested to utilize this zone as a back west side of house dedicated shrub / lawn area .

Zone 11- This zone works electronically however with the new house construction the physical lout of the zone is completely destroyed. It's suggested to utilize this zone and rebuild the lower back lawn .
 

jbell36

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
KANSAS
So here's a question. How do you keep track of all this info. How does everyone for that matter keep track of info like this?

I ask because I completely agree, the more info you have on a system the better off you are. You can better service the customer this way, meaning you can quickly trouble shoot since you have all the notes as opposed to starting from scratch each time there is a problem, better efficiency means charging less for the customer and more jobs get done in a day. The best way to do it is zone by zone notes. Anyone has a specific software they use?
 
OP
mitchgo

mitchgo

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Redmond, WA
I know many of the guys here have some sort of booking program and a way to review documentation. For us we actually have a homemade program that is dedicated for the company. So we have accounts for each customer and inside the account has history - for invoices I can write up a professional note on the invoice and I can write up a separate tech note so we can read the job notes in a quicker manner. On our paperwork that last 3 invoice tech and appointment notes are printed so we can see recent work tone. What I wrote was a Invoice note. I could pull up the account on the laptop and review that invoice note if I was looking for some insight.
 
OP
mitchgo

mitchgo

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Redmond, WA
Be upfront. If it is to much for you don't take it on. No reason for a customer to wait almost 4 months for service
I agree the job shouldn't have been taken. It's not that it's too big of a job, it's spring time with 1,000's++ of existing clients to serve and there isn't time. However, I will say you never know what you are walking into. I can walk into that exact story and fix everything in less then a hour.. Or 1 min if you are really lucky. Point being is we are too busy to continue on, they have to wait and if not there are other guys out there.
 

Mike Leary

LawnSite Fanatic
Good points, everyone! "You don't want ALL the work". You screw one would-be client and the word starts getting around at the Country Club that you are are slow and undependable. I worked for a guy that took great pains to explain what was what, ad nauseum, to the client..You could see the drool dripping down their chins after a while. The copious notes are important, but care has to be taken to not overload the client! :nono:
 
Last edited:

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
No ones going to read that
So who is the information intended for?
The customer?
Your boss?
Another technician?
Or the court?

Because it’s written like it’s for the court

These are not notes
It’s an essay

Notes are like
Clock:
12 zones possible
11 zones in service

Valve boxes:
No map location provided
16 man hours spent to locate 9 valves
2 valve locations still unknown as of x date

Zone 1; repairs
Zone 2: repairs
Etc etc

Deficiencies noted but not resolved as of x date.

Condense all that verbiage

Where should it be entered?
Customer notes on whatever software you’re using
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
Another thing
Repairs/extra work is WHY we as professionals in this industry DO startups.

Let’s face it
Any doofus can turn the clock and the water on.
We are LOOKING for repairs.

Booom you guys found the gold mine and are telling a customer your too busy because why?
You’ve got 1000 little $50 turn ons to do literally anyone can accomplish?

So how do you handle this?
What’s a large repair during turn ons for your company?
$500?
$800?
Whatever that threshold is
You simply have a company policy, anything that’s obviously a repair larger than $500 call a supervisor in on, and move along to the next job.

The super then estimates the project and talks to the customer about options for the upsell.

In your case you could spent lots of money on an old system
To the tune of what it would cost for a new one.
So super could give them a price of $9000.00 or take the $70 plus parts and overtime and hold their breath hoping you guys come out somewhere lower than $4000 to get an abused 30 year old system to work on par.

That’s a supervisor conversation.
That way you keep the techs plugging away
And if the super sells it, it’s going to be OT Prices so
Yes you have the time

NEVER tell someone with money you don’t want it
Just tell them how much
Let THEM say no
 

magna111

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
NJ
Another thing
Repairs/extra work is WHY we as professionals in this industry DO startups.

Let’s face it
Any doofus can turn the clock and the water on.
We are LOOKING for repairs.

Booom you guys found the gold mine and are telling a customer your too busy because why?
You’ve got 1000 little $50 turn ons to do literally anyone can accomplish?

So how do you handle this?
What’s a large repair during turn ons for your company?
$500?
$800?
Whatever that threshold is
You simply have a company policy, anything that’s obviously a repair larger than $500 call a supervisor in on, and move along to the next job.

The super then estimates the project and talks to the customer about options for the upsell.

In your case you could spent lots of money on an old system
To the tune of what it would cost for a new one.
So super could give them a price of $9000.00 or take the $70 plus parts and overtime and hold their breath hoping you guys come out somewhere lower than $4000 to get an abused 30 year old system to work on par.

That’s a supervisor conversation.
That way you keep the techs plugging away
And if the super sells it, it’s going to be OT Prices so
Yes you have the time

NEVER tell someone with money you don’t want it
Just tell them how much
Let THEM say no

We would handle it about the same as Mitch. Get as much operational as feasible, and the rest would be on hold until we are done our spring rush after the 4th of July. This time of year it’s tough to do anything but get the startups done. I’d rather keep 20-30 customers with $150 startups happy than 1 three day project.
 

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