9 Ways to Make Spring Irrigation Start-Ups Go Easier

The irrigation season has arrived. Phones are ringing. You have a long list of systems to get ready for the season. Central has some tips to make the whole process a little easier:

1. Set Pricing in Advance. Many contractors charge a flat rate for the start-up and then price time and materials for repairs. However you chose to set your pricing, do it in advance to make invoicing faster and to allow you to price start-ups for new customers that will be calling you in the days ahead.

2. Carry Backflow Parts. There are a million reasons why broken backflows seem to happen, even with systems that are properly winterized. Be sure to have repair kits on your truck.

3. Call Ahead. Contractors who call clients 30 minutes before a technician is to arrive enjoy increased customer satisfaction and fewer mis-connects when clients aren’t home. Customers like to know they can run an errand without the fear of missing a service visit.

4. Have a “Come Back Later” Procedure. If your technician has a long list of service visits to complete in a single day, he won’t have time to make advanced repairs that some sites need. Examples of advanced repairs include changing head layouts to accommodate new plantings or hardscapes, adding new heads, major repairs, etc. Have a procedure for getting those customers started and then following up later in the season to correct those issues.

5. Observation + Recommendation = Profits. Check the condition and age of every system component, paying attention to heads, nozzles and controllers/sensors. Suggest replacements when items are worn or at the end of their useful life. It often makes sense to switch all of the heads or nozzles in the landscape if many are functioning poorly, as it saves the customer from future service visits.

6. Route Efficiently. If you have a service visit scheduled in an area, have your office team call the owners of adjacent properties to alert them that your truck will be nearby. Grouping start-ups dramatically cuts down on time wasted in traffic.

7. Restock Trucks at Your Shop. Set a procedure for replenishing supplies each evening when trucks return to your shop. Encourage technicians to keep a list of materials and supplies that need to be added. Chasing down missing items during the day can be a big time waster.

8. Specialty Tools Make a Difference. Irrigation service is a specialty, so arm your technicians with the right tools. From riser extractors, to wire locators, to insect spray, there are critical tools and supplies that every service person should carry.

9. Communicate. Leave door hangers to let clients know when you’ve visited or when you need to come back. Confirm service visits with automated emails. Include comment cards with your invoices that include a question that asks if the client needs any help with other outdoor projects.