How do you choose a sprinkler system installation company? In the “olden days,” you’d pick up the phone book and let your fingers do the walking –straight to the “Sprinkler System” section.
There, you would find companies with names beginning with three “A”s—sometimes four—and you’d probably pick one, sight unseen.
Today, things have changed—a little. Today you fire up your computer, search for a sprinkler system installation company in your county and walla: a plethora of options appear before your eyes, complete with customer reviews, links to their websites and photos of their work.
So you read the reviews, visit their websites and look at their pictures—and you’re still not sure how to pick between them all to find the right sprinkler system installation company.
Reviews may or may not be true. Websites provide limited information. And pictures are nice, but they likely represent only the best of a company’s work. This probably won’t come as much of a surprise to you, but not everything written on the internet is true (gasp!).
So how do you go about finding the right sprinkler system installation company when you don’t know if you can trust what you’re seeing?
You follow a time-tested six-step process that’s been helping people connect with high-quality businesses since the Yellow Pages were being carved into stones.
Knowing what it is you want before you set out to procure it makes a lot of sense. After all, you wouldn’t buy a new automobile without knowing whether you want a car or SUV, a coup or a sedan, automatic or hand-cranked windows.
So the first step is to do a little research about lawn sprinkler systems. Learn as much as you can about the different brands and their attributes—Rainbird versus Hunter, for example. Understand the design and installation processes. And get a sense of what you’re looking for in a lawn sprinkler system installation company. Then start looking at companies.
Your research will likely reveal dozens of companies willing to sell you a system—and many will offer to do a whole lot more. There are companies that specialize in lawn irrigation. There are companies that say they specialize in lawn irrigation and landscaping. And there are companies that say they specialize in lawn irrigation, landscaping, exterior lighting, and seal coating.
Look at each company’s website and see if they seem to know what they’re talking about when it comes to irrigation systems. Do they clearly list all of their services? Do they provide authentic information about the process? Or do they seem a little too confident in their ability to do … everything?
Winnow away the weak
Once you have a list of the companies you’d like to consider, it’s time to winnow away the weak.
If a company doesn’t clearly list their services and provide information about the process, cross them off the list. If a company tries to sell you a seal coat along with a lawn sprinkler system, cross them off the list. If a company has built its reputation on installing sprinkler systems, offers credible information and seems legitimate, leave them on the list and move on to the next step.
Ask friends and neighbors
Your friends and neighbors are a great source of accurate information. Find out which of them have worked with the companies on your list and then give them a call.
How do you find out? You ask—at church, at the local hardware store or on an online community forum.
All you have to do is put the word out that you’re looking for information about certain companies and people will be willing to help. Ask them about the overall experience. Ask about the installation. Ask about customer service. Ask about how the companies have responded to concerns.
Ideally, they would be people you know. But even if they’re not, don’t worry. You can talk to them, hear their stories and then stop by to see for yourself if what they’re telling you is true. Which brings you to step four: See for yourself.
See for yourself
Seeing is believing, so after you speak to your friends and neighbors, head on out to their homes to see their systems in action.
Look at the way the system works—does the right amount of water hit the right areas of the lawn? Look at the lawn—is it lush and green? Look at the areas that were opened up to install the system—has everything been cleaned up adequately, is the lawn free of sink-holes and scars?
Once you have an idea of which companies do the highest-quality work, take a look at how much each company charges.
At the end of the day, cost matters. The best way to compare costs is to meet with your top two or three options and ask them to do a site visit. Each company will send out a technician to inspect your lawn, talk about your goals and come up with a design and cost estimate.
Go with your gut
Chances are good that you’ll end up with a couple of quotes that are very close to each other. At that point, you should go with your gut.
Pick the sprinkler installation company that has proven itself to your friends and neighbors, delivered a quote that is competitive and fair, and sent a technician to your home who was engaged, professional and responsive.
You can’t go wrong if you do your research, winnow away the weak, talk to friends and neighbors, see for yourself, compare costs and, ultimately, go with your gut.
Photo courtesy of Hunter Industries.