Greenscape Standard

Is it Just a Case of Sprinkler Envy?

By Dave Harrington

I first met Bruce Morton, owner of Watering Systems, Ltd. one late May morning as he was rushing around Ottawa making sure his sprinkler crews were keeping up with the pressing demands they face every spring… when the first crocus appears and everyone wants their sprinklerbrought out of winter “hibernation” at the same time.

And since has been recognized as the dominant force in the Eastern Ontario lawn sprinkler industry for over 25 years, I was asked to discover their secret for staying so consistently at the front of the pack.

“That’s easy,” Morton replied. “We established the ‘Standard’ for installing and servicing our sprinkler systems when we started the company… and aside from improving it, we haven’t varied from it since.”

Intrigued, I asked him just what this ‘Standard’ was? He replied…

“We Do What We Say We’ll Do… ”

It sounded so simple when he said it… but my own experience with plumbers, the cable or phone guys, and lots of other service providers has been – they say one thing and then do another. I can’t count the times I’ve waited all day for a service call and no one showed up, or called… leaving me waiting.

Morton continued, “Why asked ourselves, what if your service providers actually did what they said they’d do?

We realized there was a void between client expectation and most of the services delivered – so we decided we’d build our business on actually ‘doing what we say we’ll do.’ And for over 25 years we’ve done everything in our power to do just that.”

“When Mother Nature Plays Tricks… ”

“Last spring we had countless calls from panicking people who weren’t our clients asking us to service their sprinklers,” Morton said.

“They told us their regular sprinkler contractor wasn’t answer the phone or weren’t returning their messages, so they called us.”

“In fact, they told us we seemed to be about the only sprinkler company taking calls.”

“It had been a tough start to the season – snow on the ground to hot temperatures within a week… no Spring, no rain, and everyone’s lawn & gardens drying out fast. Needless to say, it threw everyone’s opening schedules into disarray. We simply couldn’t open everyone’s systems as quickly as they’d have wanted… but that’s no excuse to avoid your clients.”

Morton told me everyone was understandably upset waiting to have their systems opened as they watched their lawns dying.

“We wondered why we were the only sprinkler company answering our phones, dealing with upset clients – while the rest were actively avoiding their clients.”

“It boiled down to the simple fact that everyone at – cared! We cared enough to face upset, disappointed clients, to take their calls, and to do the best we could… even for those who weren’t our clients.”


“There were some very upset people… and rightly so.”

“We’ve always accepted responsibility and tried to do what’s right for our clients, first and foremost… even if it means admitting to a mistake, should we make one… we’ll never leave you hanging.”

“Missing Pieces… ”

It was an interesting start to our conversation, so I asked Morton to tell me a bit more about what other sprinkler contractors had been up to. He went on to say that to get a contract with price conscious people, many contractors leave key components out of their quotes to keep prices low.

“By leaving items out,” he said, “their price will inevitably be lower than one that includes all the key elements we consider essential.”

“Can You Really Afford to Buy the Cheaper Sprinkler System?”

“While you may get a system for a little less if price is your primary consideration, your contractor will often ‘strongly recommend’ those ‘missing’ elements – after getting your contract – or perhaps even during the installation.”

“And if those elements aren’t proposed or included, your long-term costs (water, repair, maintenance, etc.) will undoubtedly be much higher than you might expect, when compared to a complete system.

Our ‘Standard’ dictates that every sprinkler system will be designed and installed with all essential parts and components required to ensure effective service… or we simply won’t take the job.”

“We always provide a list and description of all proposed system elements and why we’re recommending them for a specific area,” Morton added.

While contractors proposing a bare-bones list of sprinkler components (sprayheads, valves, timer, etc.) may be common…

Excerpted from Canadian Sprinkler Magazine

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