The Perfect Irrigation Service Technician
If you’re looking to hire an irrigation service technician, what qualifications would you list in the job description? Of course, you want someone who is experienced in the field and perhaps has a long list of references. But what if you were looking for the perfect irrigation service technician? What particular skills would you want this person to have?
I would think the first qualifications you would want in an irrigation service technician is someone who has a thorough understanding about basic irrigation principles. He should have some knowledge about coverage, hydraulics, pumps, electricity, cross-connection and the like. The candidate also should have a good amount of experience working with installation crews, so he has knowledge about sprinkler system installation, in order to be able to operate the timers, backflow, and all other components.
He would need to have sharp diagnostic abilities and be able to analyze problems on job sites to quickly diagnose problems, correct them in a timely and cost-effective manner, and deal with client’s frustrations.
For example, you come upon standing water on the lawn of one of your customers. Is this water from a leak in the pipe? Could it be a “weeping” zone valve? Is it the result of the wrong nozzle in the sprinkler heads? Or could it be that the zone is set to water too long or too often? Or maybe it is just poor drainage. The ability to determine what is happening on jobsites is invaluable.
The perfect technician should keep the service vehicle clean and organized; this eliminates trips to the supply house and the rescheduling of service calls. Making sure you have all the parts you will need to complete your day’s work leads to completion of service calls on the first trip, most of the time. Also, know where the parts are on the truck. You don’t want your technicians wasting time rummaging through cardboard boxes, bins, and even under the seats, looking for a nozzle or clamp to finish up a service call.
In servicing irrigation systems, as in many service industries, time is money. It is a valuable asset for your tech to not only be on time getting to work in the morning, but also be able to stay on schedule during the day.
The perfect irrigation service technician goes above and beyond servicing inanimate objects. They should also be able to work well with people, and have some sales skills, so they can take advantage of any upsell opportunities. Whether it’s a rain sensor, a remote unit, or even just a new controller, a good technician needs to be able to explain to the customer how the new product works, how it can save him time or money, and be able to quote the customer a price on the spot. That way, if the client wants to purchase the product, the tech can install it while he’s there. Being able to quote a price to add additional heads or zones is an added plus.
A service technician is a front-line representative of your company. He must be able to get along with customers on a face-to-face basis under all types of circumstances.
As far as working hours go, a service tech must be flexible. He may have to work late many days to accomplish all the service calls, especially during system activations in the spring, and winterizations in the fall. Additionally, when a service tech finishes his calls early, he should be willing to help the other technicians who might be running behind schedule.
A service technician is a front-line representative of your company. He must be able to get along with customers on a face-to-face basis under all types of circumstances. Customers may become irate over any number of issues, from the service person being late, to questioning the price or quality of the work they are performing. A cheerful personality and a positive outlook on life can be a huge plus when dealing with angry clients.
It is absolutely imperative that you feel comfortable with your service technician, who is driving around with your money. They may have in their possession checks or cash totaling several hundred dollars, or the client may give them a credit card number to pay for invoiced work. You don’t want to worry that the tech will run off with the proceeds at the end of the day. If you feel it necessary, you can run a background and credit check, but most of the time there are signs that will alert you to anything suspicious.
For example, does the technician do “side or moonlight” jobs? If so, does he or she use parts off your service truck for these projects? If any of your personnel continually are missing parts that are not invoiced, there can be a problem.
Having a clean driving record is imperative to a service person. It is important to check his driving record; even speeding traffic tickets, or fenderbenders can cause your insurance rates to skyrocket, If you can find an applicant with a few of these qualities, you may be able to fine-tune them into good service personnel. If you find any with all of these qualities, hire them and then do whatever it takes to keep them! Also, clone them because I know of hundreds of landscape companies that are looking for people with these qualifications.