I will apologize ahead of time for the length of this post, but we have a LOT to cover.
You know you are getting old when the days go faster and faster. Seems like we just finished sprinkler blowouts and here it is almost time to do them again………
We have made a lot of changes and additions since last season. Hopefully, these changes will make it easier for our customers to keep track of what we are doing, and when.
We are starting this year on October 7.
Early Weather Change
The temperatures are starting to get down into the mid to high 30’s at night now, but most nights in the 40’s. Although it is not cold enough to damage even an above-ground backflow preventer, we suggest that if you are finished watering for the season that you winterize your backflow ahead of time for peace of mind. The instructions for pumps, irrigation filters, and various backflow preventers are available at this link: Winterize Your Backflow.
We have changed our payment processor for credit cards from PayPal to Square. Unfortunately, if you have paid by PayPal before, we won’t be able to offer that service.
PayPal decided for no apparent reason to permanently limit my account back on January 1 with several thousand dollars in my account. I was told that I would not be able to get my funds for 180 days as per their policy. I wrote several emails from the CEO on down with no solution until I contacted Senator Mike Crapo’s office. Miraculously I received an email from PayPal a week after giving me access to my funds. Hmmm. I have had a Square account since they first came to be, but found PayPal had better services and invoicing at that time. Square has come a long way since then and we have been using them since January 1. It turns out that many other local businesses also use Square for processing.
Those wanting to pay by credit card can easily do so in person or with an invoice in their email as we have always done.
New Website Is Getting Finishing Touches
I had just redone our website a few years ago but added so many features that it got too code-heavy and was hurting us in the search rankings. I am almost finished with a new design that will have the same great information, with some new additions, but will be easier to navigate, and also more responsive to cell phones and tablets. Especially our various forms for blowouts, start-ups, backflow testing, cancellations, and general contact, which were not completely showing on some cell phones. I am still old school and prefer to do my web surfing on a computer and leave the cell phones for phone calls but to each their own…… The new site is live, and I will be doing some finishing touches until blowouts start. During blowouts, I rarely have time to blow my nose, so the website will have to wait until sprinkler blowouts are complete. If you find anything that isn’t working properly let me know so I can fix it before we start.
Speaking Of Sprinkler Blowouts……….
We picked up another compressor in June to help with the blowouts this year. I am going to try and add a new one each year, but it seems that no matter what we do we keep growing by 500+ blowouts each year. Thanks to referrals from our customers. One of my sons moved up here from Mesa, Arizona to work for the company, and help us with sprinkler blowouts, and Justin will likely work a few days a week to give me a break so I can catch up on paperwork. This time of year takes a toll on this old man. I get about 3 hours of sleep a night for about 7 weeks.
Sprinkler Blowout Notifications
For several years we used blog posts to communicate our route and schedule, and then about 3-4 years ago we added texting notifications. We will continue using both, but there have been occasions where our mass texts did not reach all the customers they were sent to. Apparently, their service providers blocked them at certain times and not others. The only foolproof method of communication is still the blog because we have total control over the posts without interference from a third party.
This year I have prepared a calendar page for our upcoming website where I hope to list a week’s worth of our sprinkler blowout route. I am not sure how well it will work because we never really know how a particular sprinkler blowout is going to take or if we will run into any complications, but we are going to give it a try. We will be using a Google calendar, so everyone should be able to access it without issue.
Cancellations And Non-Cancellations
In the past, we have asked that customers send in their cancellation at least 12 hours before we are scheduled to be at the property or face a non-cancellation charge. We find this very fair because some of our competitors want either a 24 notice of cancellation or as high as 48 hours. We asked for a least 12 hours because it is difficult enough as it is to put routes for several machines together, but when we get last-minute cancellations after our routing is finished we have to start all over again.
I have worked out a system where I can change routes more easily than before, so as long as we get notification BEFORE we arrive at a property, we will not charge a non-cancellation charge. If one of our techs arrive at a property and we are told on site that service is no longer needed and a cancellation form has not been submitted, there will be a $25 charge. Some of our competitors are charging $40. Furthermore, if no one is home and we hook up to the sprinkler system because we haven’t been informed it is no longer needed, it counts as a blowout and the customer will be charged the cost of their blowout.