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Best practices for irrigation installation contracts

February 6, 2019 -  By
Irrigation installation project (Photo: Winchel Irrigation)

Contractors hoping to secure commercial irrigation projects should first ensure they have the equipment and manpower to complete them. Photo: Winchel Irrigation

Making sure your irrigation contracts protect your business and ensure you won’t be left in the lurch should something go awry is almost as important as landing a big irrigation installation.

Greg Winchel, owner of Winchel Irrigation in Grandville, Mich., knows a thing or two about securing irrigation contracts and making sure they protect his employees and his company. Winchel Irrigation has been in the business for 46 years and serves custom home builders, condominium developers and commercial customers throughout western Michigan.

Landscape Management interviewed Winchel to learn his best practices for landing contracts, and creating irrigation installation contracts.

Q: How have you approached securing big commercial irrigation construction contracts?

A: The strategy is to create relationships with general contractors or architectural firms so they learn about your company, know about your projects and quality of work and recommend you.

You can develop relationships in a variety of ways. Perhaps you know someone personally and they make an introduction. It could be a business meeting or a trade show. Could be you’ve done a small project for them and it starts from there and you develop that over years. As you develop and improve your craft, they give you more and larger projects as you prove your abilities to them.

Q:What are some important things to include in your irrigation contracts?

Greg Winchel, owner of Winchel Irrigation in Grandville, Mich.

Greg Winchel, owner of Winchel Irrigation

A: The biggest thing is that when you work for general contractors or large companies, they usually provide the contract, and it isn’t in your best benefit. The contract is usually to protect them.

You want to put things in there that can protect you and your employees. On new construction projects, I always ask for a production schedule.  Our start date is this, our end date is this and the excavator is going to work from this day to this day, so you know how to plan where the project is going to fall. Rarely is that schedule followed because every trade gets behind, but you want the same completion date, so you have coverage for yourself. If it takes more work or more labor, you’re able to bill for that.

I make sure I have a provision in there for two things. No. 1, if my work isn’t able to start on schedule, however many days late we start, that same number of days get added to the expected completion date. No. 2 is you want to give yourself some room for weather conditions. If you are hit with two weeks of rain where you can’t work on the site, you want the Mother Nature clause in there.

Q:What are some best practices for securing these big-ticket contracts?

A: Have a safety plan and safety policies that tell a general contractor or construction manager that you’re an organized company and that you’re following OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations. Those are big-ticket things right now. That is a big factor when businesses select  contractors. Otherwise, it goes back to relationships. You can’t beat the fact that you’ve done work for an architectural firm or a general contractor for 20 years and performed and met their standards.

Understand what your scope is. Reach outside of your comfort zone, in small steps. We get dollar signs in our eyes and see a (big project), but if you don’t have the right people and equipment to do it, you could cost yourself more money than you gain.

This article is tagged with , and posted in 0119, Featured, Irrigation+Water Management
Clara Richter

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