Service Contracts Can Get Your Business Through the Seasonal Slump
“If not for maintenance, I wouldn’t be in business today.”
That’s how one irrigation contractor recently described the value of maintenance services for his business. At this time of year in particular, maintenance can be the key to survival in the landscape irrigation industry.
No doubt you are already offering winterization and spring start-up services to your new and existing customers. But an irrigation service contract would go beyond that.
With a service contract, customers pay you a monthly fee to perform general maintenance on a regular basis. By offering your clients an annual service contract, you can augment your month-to-month income by maintaining irrigation systems year-round.
It’s a great way to provide your business with a stable, reliable income while also keeping your customers’ irrigation systems in tip-top shape. And a service contract can save a customer large sums of money in repairs. So it’s a win-win for both you and your clients.
Service Contract Do’s and Don’ts
- Do: Try selling service contracts on every install.
- Do: Make it easy for customers to see the cost of adding a service contract.
- Do: Explain the value of a service contract to customers who need help.
- Do: Stay in touch with customers who don’t yet have service agreements.
- Do: Explain the bottom-line costs with and without a service contract.
- Don’t: Hesitate to offer a service contract to existing customers.
- Don’t: Assume some customers aren’t candidates for service contracts.
Source: Commercial Integrator
Services to Include
In addition to winterization and spring start-up, maintenance services offered in your contract should include programming controllers to prevent over-watering in November and under-watering in July. Most clients would not make this adjustment on their own, but it can save a significant amount of water – reducing their water bill and helping the environment.
You’ll also want to include the following services:
- Inspecting the controller and ensuring it’s plugged in and functioning.
- Updating the time and date.
- Checking the connection on all of the wires and ensuring that rain, wind or soil-moisture sensors are connected.
- Replacing the back-up battery.
- During times of drought, changing the watering schedule to reflect the allowed watering days and times.
- Adjusting the Seasonal Adjust or Water Budget on the controller. (This can save up to 60% of the water used over the “set and forget” schedule.)
- Turning on each zone and checking for system damage such as:
- Leaking valves or pipes
- Broken or missing heads
- Clogged nozzles
- Seal leaks
- Sunken heads
- Tilted heads.
The Bottom Line
So while winterization and spring start-up are both important, think of them as components in a full array of services which you can provide to your customers through an irrigation service contract. Armed with education and training, year-round irrigation system maintenance can be a natural add-on service opportunity, resulting in happy clients and a more lucrative bottom line.
Do you need help drafting a service contract for your landscape irrigation business? There’s plenty of help online. Check out the following links:
Irrigation & Green Industry
Alliance for Water Efficiency
Two-Day Member Summit to Focus on Management Skills
Team management will be the theme of this year’s Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association (ONLA) Member Summit. The 2019 ONLA summit is a two-day, intensive program for business owners and key decision makers.
This two-day retreat is specifically designed for owners and key decision makers who want to take their management skills to the next level and develop a productive, efficient workplace.
December 11-12, 2019
Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center
100 Green Meadows Drive South
Lewis Center, OH 43035
$399 per person, includes all meals and education sessions.
Advance registration is required!
Discounted rates start at $139.00. Reservations can be made HERE or by calling Nationwide Hotel at 614.880.4300 and mentioning Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association.
What You Can Expect
At the 2019 ONLA Member Summit you can expect to:
Hone your leadership skills.
Learn best practices for cultivating high-performance teams.
Network with like-minded professionals and sponsors.
Get energized and motivated to create lasting, positive changes in your career and business.
Jim Paluch, President, JP Horizons, Inc.
For the past 30 years, Jim has motivated thousands of individuals and organizations across North America to strive toward excellence. He has written hundreds of articles and been published as an industry expert dozens of times.
Jim has a remarkable ability to help audiences address obstacles and discover opportunities that lie between their current state and their future desired state. His talent in facilitating a group, and creating a collaborative effort where ideas and solutions can emerge, always produces inspiring results for everyone involved.
Jon Petz, CSP
Whether he’s focusing on performance mindset, deeper client and team engagement, customer surprise and delight, or growth at all organizational levels, Jon Petz offers much more than “just” a keynote!
A former sales and marketing executive, Jon led his teams to break-away performances withing various industries and environments. Jon is an engagement and performance expert, who has delivered motivational keynote programs for world leading brands, industry and association conventions, and organizations of all sizes.
Jon has authored three books, two of which, Boring Meetings Suck and Significance in Simple Moments, hit the business best-sellers list. His work has been featured by the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, ABC News, Success Magazine, and The Globe & Mail, among others.
John Kennedy, Owner, John Kennedy Consulting
For nearly two decades, John Kennedy has inspired well over 250,000 audience members throughout North America, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean with his world-class training programs.
John’s success was galvanized in the hospitality and tourism industry, as a restaurant and hotel executive with a strong sense of teamwork, sales and leadership. John’s client list includes: American Bus Association, The Baltimore Ravens, Marriott Hotels, Orvis, U.S. Air Force, Bermuda Gas, Elizabeth Arden, Taco Bell, Canada Bread, as well as more than one hundred local, state and federal government agencies and associations.
Jon Petz Experience
John Kennedy Consulting
Grow Your Business at Irrigation Show 2019
Show will be December 2-6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center
Did you know that the Irrigation Association’s annual Irrigation Show is the world’s biggest trade show dedicated to irrigation professionals? It’s where the irrigation industry comes together to network, learn and promote irrigation.
Register by Nov. 1 to save on education classes, full registration and exhibits. Discount housing is also open, and attendees can book their hotel online.
To download the Irrigation Association’s 31-page Registration Brochure, click here.
This year’s Irrigation Show is being co-located with the National Ground Water Association and American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. The collaboration hopes to provide an action-packed week focused on the one resource we all strive to manage responsibly — water.
The show floor will give you a firsthand look at all of the latest products, services and technologies in landscape irrigation to help you expand your business, satisfy customers and grow your bottom line. With two days to explore the exhibits, you can:
- Inspect the latest technologies at the new product contest and watch the judging
- Find solutions to ancillary landscape markets such as ponds, waterscapes and outdoor lighting.
- Check out new and innovative products, and services.
- Explore new suppliers.
- Learn about the latest business trends and irrigation best practices.
- Network with current business partners and with industry leaders who share the Ohio IA’s commitment to efficient irrigation.
For exhibitor information, including booth space fees, assignment, and a 2019 floor plan, click here.
One of the top reasons for attending the Irrigation Show and Education Week is the comprehensive educational offerings.
Education Week offers five days of seminars, technical programs and education classes conducted by some of the industry’s leading experts and researchers. You can discover the latest cutting-edge research, technologies, techniques and best practices in landscape irrigation, while earning valuable CEUs.
This year’s “Industry Insights” promise to take the educational sessions to a whole new level. Here’s a taste of the new and different topics being offered during Industry Insights:
- The Irrigation Consumer Bill of Rights
- Mobile apps for water conservation in turfgrass
- The H-2A & H-2B guest worker program
- Severe weather and ways to protect your crew and clients
- Social media and how to use it in your business
- Rainwater collection Wi-Fi technology and how to incorporate it in your business
- Research updates and reports from around the country
These sessions vary from 30- to 90-minute formats and include everything from single presentations to panel discussions.
Exams for the following certification programs will also be available at this year’s Irrigation Show:
Improve Your System’s Efficiency and Avoid Costly Repairs with Routine Maintenance
Did you know that your irrigation system accounts for between 50% and 75% of your home’s monthly water usage? Did you also know that more plants die from overwatering than underwatering?
Those are just two of the many reasons that regular maintenance is needed to keep your sprinkler system running efficiently year after year. Here’s another: Damage from lawn equipment or improper winterization can result in costly leaks and other serious problems.
An Ounce of Prevention
Here are a few simple checks to perform on a monthly, annual or periodic basis to ensure your sprinkler system is operation at an optimal level:
Every Month During Growing Season…
Inspect the controller and make sure it’s plugged in and functioning.
Check the connection on all of the wires and sensors.
Adjust sprinkler head positions and spray patterns to avoid watering sidewalks or structures and to provide necessary clearance over growing plants.
Remove obstructions that prevent sprinklers from distributing water evenly.
Check the pressure. Pressure can change over time and negatively affect your system’s efficiency. If the pressure is too high, it’ll result in significant runoff.
Inspect your system for leaks — a huge water waster. This step requires the help of your irrigation contractor. He’ll not only check for leaks and broken or clogged spray heads; he can also advise you about common problems to watch for between visits.
–Article Continues Below–
Once a Year…
Winterize, winterize, winterize! This routine maintenance procedure is critical. Overlook it, and you can expect costly damage to your system. But this is something best left to the professionals. Your irrigation contractor has specialized equipment to flush out the water that could otherwise freeze, resulting in cracked pipes, valves and other parts. (See related article, “How to Winterize Your Landscape Irrigation System.”)
Get your back flow checked. Federal and state laws require that your backflow connection be tested annually by a state-certified tester. (This is typically part of the winterization process.)
Once in a While or As Needed…
Now and then, it’s a good idea to have your system audited. Hire a Certified Irrigation Auditor to conduct an audit and uniformity test. If your system is watering unevenly or improperly, he can make the necessary adjustments.
Replace your controller’s back-up battery whenever you replace your smoke alarm batteries.
Adjust the watering schedule to reflect the current season and irrigation needs of your landscape.
With the proper routine maintenance, your irrigation system will serve you well for seasons to come!
Alliance for Water Efficiency
As a landscape irrigation professional, have you ever wondered how to go about becoming WaterSense certified? Look no further!
Becoming a certified WaterSense professional demonstrates to your customers that you have the knowledge and experience to help them save both water and money. And certification entitles you to exclusive EPA benefits. Such as:
- Inclusion in the WaterSense online Directory of Certified Professionals.
- Work opportunities for new home projects, federal facilities, and LEED® projects.
- Use of the WaterSense promotional label on business cards and marketing items.
- Increased exposure to customers through national recognition from EPA as an environmental steward.
- Access to helpful tools and materials created by EPA.
WaterSense offers the following certification programs for landscape irrigation professionals:
Irrigation System Design Program
The design program teaches you how to tailor irrigation systems to match the surrounding landscape and local climate conditions. This course is offered by the national Irrigation Association.
To become a Certified Irrigation Designer (CID), you must:
- Register for the exam. Recommended: three years of irrigation-related experience or education in an irrigation-related field.
- Pass the general landscape/turf exam. The four-hour general landscape/turf exam includes 150 equally weighted, multiple-choice questions on irrigation equipment, hydraulics, system components, scheduling, precipitation and application rates, spacing, soil-water-plant relationships, efficiency/uniformity, economics and pumps.
- Pass a landscape/turf specialty irrigation exam. Candidates have four hours to complete a specialty exam in commercial, golf course or residential landscape irrigation. See the Certification Candidate Handbook for details on specialty exam content. Candidates may not take both the general landscape/turf exam and one of the landscape/turf specialty exams on the same day.
- Comply with the Select Certified Code of Ethics.
- Remain in good standing. CIDs must submit 20 continuing education units per two-year cycle.
Irrigation System Installation and Maintenance Program
The installation and maintenance program teaches you how to select the appropriate equipment, lay out the site, and ensure proper scheduling for optimal irrigation system performance.
To become a Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC), you must:
- Register for the exam. Recommended: three years of irrigation-related field experience.
- Pass the irrigation contractor exam. The 3½-hour exam includes 150 equally weighted, multiple-choice questions on irrigation design, irrigation installation, irrigation scheduling, water management and conservation, maintenance and repair, federal laws and codes, and general business management. Candidates have 3½ hours to complete the exam.
- Comply with the Select Certified Code of Ethics.
- Remain in good standing. CICs must submit 20 continuing education units per two-year cycle.
Irrigation System Audits Program
The irrigation auditing program teaches you how to identify systems that are distributing water unequally or inefficiently and determine how to improve performance.
To become a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA), you must:
- Register for the exam. Recommended: one year of irrigation-related work experience.
- Pass the irrigation auditor exam. The three-hour exam includes 125 equally weighted, multiple-choice questions on irrigation audit procedures, soil-plant relationships, irrigation scheduling and equipment/technology.
- Submit a landscape irrigation audit. Audits must be completed independently and verified by an IA-certified professional in good standing within one year of acceptance into the certification program. (See audit guidelines and worksheets.)
- Comply with the Select Certified Code of Ethics.
- Remain in good standing. CLIAs must submit 20 continuing education units per two-year cycle.
Are You Already Certified by the IA?
If you already have an Irrigation Association certification, and wish to become WaterSense certified,you’re in luck!
All you have to do is apply for the WaterSense certification and agree to uphold the terms of the WaterSense Partnership Agreement. No fees are required to become a WaterSense certified partner if you already hold an Irrigation Association certification.
Watershed Wise Landscape Professional Program
In addition, WaterSense has certified the Watershed Wise Landscape Professional (WWLP) program, offered through Green Gardens Group (G3LA):
The WWLP training presents a holistic watershed approach to outdoor water use efficiency, emphasizing plant, soil, water relationships, and rainwater as a resource. Certified professionals assess the proper functioning of irrigation systems, perform irrigation water audits, recommend watering schedules, and conduct whole-site evaluations. This certification also requires a solid understanding of the principles of watershed management in the landscape. The program is available throughout the United States.
To receive this certification, you must:
- Complete the two-day (16 hour) WWLP coursework offered in your area by a G3 Qualified WWLP Trainer.
- Successfully pass the WWLP certification exam.
- Submit a landscape site evaluation form.
- Maintain annual CEU requirements.
For more information, contact Green Gardens Group.
Cheaper in the Long Run If You Join the IA
All exam fees for programs offered by the national Irrigation Association are $250 for national IA members and $495 for non-members. If you’re not currently an IA member, you can save money by joining now. Here’s how:
- Because the Ohio IA is an affiliate member of the national association, all Ohio IA contractors are eligible for a $100 discount off of the $520 regular IA membership rate.
- The IA membership year is Jan. 1-Dec. 31. If you join midyear, you must remit full-year dues ($420) with your IA membership application; however, your dues will be prorated in the second year of membership.
Green Gardens Group