Tips on Becoming a Successful Irrigation Contractor
If you’re a new irrigation contractor, there’s a lot you don’t know. Whether it’s best business practices, marketing your company or keeping up with industry trends, getting your irrigation business off the ground can seem like an arduous task. We won’t sugarcoat it — it’s challenging. Experienced contractors didn’t learn everything they know overnight – industry veterans have gained knowledge through trial and error, successes and failures and collaboration with other professionals.
This information is not meant to serve as an end-all-be-all for irrigation contractor best practices, however, it should serve as a baseline to success in the business — hopefully you and your team can find inspiration in one of the points. By focusing on even one of the five main ideas below, you should be on your way to getting your irrigation contracting business off the ground and becoming the best leader you can be.
Stay on top of the latest trends
Be sure to have a grasp on the newest products and the latest technology. While the latest and greatest may not make sense for every application, showcasing a depth of knowledge can go a long way in giving the homeowner confidence. Irrigation & Green Industry and Landscape Management are two publications to follow for updates on trends and new products.
Rain Bird has introduced Alexa-enabled smart controllers for use with the Amazon Alexa smart technology. The ESP-TM2 and ESP-Me can receive Alexa commands when equipped with the LNK WiFi Module. You can inquire on seasonal watering adjustments, watering time remaining and give commands, too.
Hunter recently launched a Bluetooth Tap Timer suitable for simple applications, providing app-controlled irrigation for plants flowers and small lawn areas. Designed for use with a hose faucet, the Tap Timer is a great option for homeowners who would like a smart irrigation option for light watering.
Develop a loyal customer base
Communication is key to developing a positive customer relationship. Offering new services? That should be marketed to your customers. If plans or schedules are changing, customers want to be informed. In today’s digital world, utilizing a branded social media account (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) or sending occasional emails (MailChimp, Constant Contact) can be useful for providing daily or seasonal updates, building an identity for your brand and keeping the lines of communication open at all times.
If customers are pleased with the work you’ve done, politely inquire about getting a testimonial. Customer testimonials are extremely useful on your website or social media and can also be used to influence prospective customers. Be sure to take high-quality pictures of your work to establish a portfolio.
To continually attract new customers, try offering your current customer base a small incentive, 10-15% off their next service, to encourage referrals and acquire new customers.
Not only are events and courses designed to offer information that is applicable to your business, you’ll have the opportunity to network and learn from other irrigation contractors coming from similar situations. A small investment in education can go a long way for your company — expand the services you can offer, build a more qualified team and become more confident in your work.
Reinders is proud to offer several different irrigation education courses through our Online Contractor Training Portal. Whether you or your crew are looking to refresh their memory on a topic or stay busy during a rainy day, the training portal is an easy-to-use, affordable option for continuing education.
Many of the leading irrigation brands offer training courses in partnership with their distributors. For example, Weathermatic offers a handful of hands-on training classes through their ‘College of Irrigation Knowledge’. The program covers topics such as installation practices, electricity, hydraulics, design, and system analysis to name a few. Certified industry trainers lead the courses ensuring the information is easy to comprehend and immediately applicable to your work.
The yearly Irrigation Show & Education Conference is extremely popular within the industry. The event has been held across the United States and attracts distributors, dealers, contractors and consultants from over 48 states and 53 countries. You’ll get a first look at the latest technology, education offerings and opportunities to make new business connections.
How to talk to homeowners
They’re always looking to cut corners – talk about how you and your product are professional grade – not Home Depot.
What separates a professional project planned and executed by a contractor from a DIY project is the execution of installation, professional grade product and support you can provide. Develop a plan, hash out potential issues . Consult the homeowner and execute the plan through a successful installation. The biggest pain point for homeowners is going from a plan to the execution of said plan. That’s where you can showcase your expertise and leadership – communicate what is being done, and how. Being able to simplify the verbiage and details will create a confident homeowner as they can understand what the heck you’re talking about.
Imagine you’re looking for some work to be done on your vehicle, but you have little to no experience with cars (or irrigation systems in our case). You appreciate someone who is personable and gives it to you straight. Breakdown your plan, recommendations and other technicalities to the simplest form. It will be easier for the homeowner to understand and they’ll appreciate your willingness to educate them through the process.
People buy from those they trust
Selling your business and services to a prospective customer shouldn’t feel forced. Let your portfolio of work speak for itself and offer customer references if need be. With an established customer base and proven track record, you should feel confident in your work. Be personable, forthcoming and always remain open to customer feedback. You will find more sustained success in helping solve a homeowner’s problem, regardless of margins or dollars, rather than focusing on upselling while the underlying issues are ignored.
This means being cordial in all communications, punctuality, showing attention to detail and following through on contracts, agreements or promises. When you’re calculating estimates, be transparent and specific. Unanswered questions before a project starts can lead to confusion and unexpected results after the fact.
Market yourself and take pride in your portfolio of work. You’re in business for a reason – promote the good work you’ve done and have optimism for growth and improvement in the future. Look for ways to improve whether it’s education, better onboarding practices or hiring more efficient employees. A well put together operation will give you all the confidence you need.
Becoming a successful irrigation contractor is a difficult process that requires lots of patience, support and hard work. As mentioned previously, you may not see the results you hope for immediately.
Build a team of good employees, be genuine and transparent in your business dealings, and always look for ways to learn or improve your operation. When you begin to grow your portfolio and customer base, you’ll notice new customer acquisition is much easier.
Building a solid base of satisfied customers and success stories is critical to giving your irrigation contracting business the reputation and body of work that demands respect.