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Another fizzle in Vermont

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Alan, Dec 12, 2000.

  1. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    It happenned again! Forecast was for snow going to freezing rain then rain and back to snow. Timeframe was from midnight last night to early afternoon today. Temps were to be in the 30s overnight and dropping to near zero by tonight.

    I anticipated using quite a lot of salt, possibly plowing the contract accounts, depending on how fast the snow came.

    What we got was about a half inch of snow, startting around midnight. By 2 AM it was freezing rain, nasty driving in some places. By 5AM it was all rain and coming down hard. That had blown through by about 8:30. We never did get the snow. Wind had been south and gusty while it was raining, that changed to west and pretty gusty and the temps started dropping. Gone down 20 degrees in the past four hours so I guess they got part of it right.

    What I did was get up at 2, rolling by 2:30. Had a load on the truck that I had picked up at the supplier yesterday, just under 3 tons. I had dumped 18-20 gallons of Magic on the load, spread out in trenches that kept it contained while it seeped down into the salt. The augers on the spreader mixed in in pretty well. Salted 12 stops by 6AM, broke up the crust and pretty well did in the ice even before the heaviest rain hit it. Loaded the vee box in the pickup and took about a quarter yard of mix to one site that is partly gravel and had iced badly.

    No plowing again. Here I sit with a new urethane edge on a straight blade and a new-to-me vee plow and neither of them have seen any use yet. This is starting to look a LOT like last winter. My cash flow is heading for the toilet at this rate.

    [Edited by Alan on 12-12-2000 at 07:44 PM]
     
  2. lawrence stone

    lawrence stone Banned
    Messages: 8

    Alan wrote:

    >My cash flow is heading for the toilet at this rate.

    That's because you have no clue as to write a contract that provides income if it does not snow. You are offering a guaranteed service. You need to be paid even if you are on a stand by basis.

    Even though I do not offer any snow removal services I know a great deal about the business end since I attended a snow and ice management seminar at my local lesco in the fall of 1998 provided by Mr. John Allin.

    Thanks Mr. Allin.

    Knowledge is power those who do not have the knowledge have no power.
     
  3. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Thank you for the kind words, however you shouldn't be so hard on Alan.

    He is venting, and we are his friends. It's ok to vent to friends.

    I know Alan knows how to generate income, and I know that he has SOME money coming in from Contract Accounts...... he's just p.o.'d that the gravey money isn't forthcoming.

    We all go through it from time to time.

    Alan... be careful what you wish for.....
     
  4. snow

    snow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 1,002

    PLEASE STONE!

    That's coming from someone who wanted to turn a toro wb into a wood chipper. When you have 4 trucks( i think) , years in fabrication (built his own trailers, hydroseeder, etc), plowing contracts then maybe you could compare to Alan, But, you don't so i wouldn't talk about knowledge as far as snow removal because he has a lot more than you. He is a member of SIMA, which john allin is the head of. I think Alan has a lot of knowledge. Just because your "class" got shut down, you don't have to get po'd.

    Bryan
     
  5. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    Another "Expert"

    Mr Stone, I've had the displeasure of watching you insult everyone you can over in the lawn side of this site. You have badmouthed every one over there with your constant labeling of all others as somehow inferior to you and your methods. Please stay over there since you have no connection to snow removal and no experience to offer here.

    Not that I have to justify my practices to someone like you, but just for your information I carry a large volume of my plow route on contract, but as John pointed out, the per push customers are the gravy.

    Moderators, I would ask that if Mr. Stone starts to add his vitriolic comments here about how the rest of us are "scrubs" and "lamers" that you exercise your ability to remove his posts from this board.
     
  6. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Mr.Stone
    Please do not come over hear and tell us how to do our business. If you an idea to share, please do so in a considerate and pleasant manner. This is your one and only warning. We have a polite group here, and we intend for it to stay that way. Your opinions are welcome, but please treat others with respect. DO a search under seasonals or pricing and or contracts, and you will be surprised at how on top of their game these peopel are. Trust me Alan knows how to manage snow ice and cash flow appropiately.
    Dino
    moderator
     
  7. lawrence stone

    lawrence stone Banned
    Messages: 8

    Alan wrote:

    >Not that I have to justify my practices to someone like you, but just for your information I carry a large volume of my plow route on contract, but as John pointed out, the per push customers are the gravy.

    Why have any per push accounts? They are not providing any income. They are a liability in dry weather.

    Last season in NE PA the first plowable snow was around January 15. As of today there is no snow on the ground and none in the forecast. I would think that in Vermont you would get enough snow to demand to be paid in equal monthly installments starting in November.
     
  8. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I carry per push accounts as well as contracts for a couple of reasons.

    Probably the main one is that residentials around here are not done on fixed price basis. That's something that has never caught on. May not be an ideal, but that's how it is here, other areas seem to do fine putting residentials on a flat rate.

    Also, in the case of an extremely busy winter where the contracts start to get sketchy the residentials are pumping in cash in fine shape.

    I've got enough on contract that all my fixed expenses are covered by plenty. I'm not going to come up short with my system. It may not be the way it's done in other places but it works for me and a lot of other plow contractors as well in this area.

    Our average snowfall here is not all that spectacular, only about 80". Not all of Vermont gets the heavy stuff. Go 15 miles east of us and it jumps to 120".
     
  9. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Plus not customer wants a seasonal contract. I have over the years been able to sell this option, but I now have more seasonals than ever before. So now I need to increase my per push customers, so that in heavy years I have cash flow coming in even when you I may have plowed many times at the seasonals. For what it is worth, my seasonals pay in 2 or 3 installments max. That way I have all my money by mid January.
    Stone snow is a very different animal than lawn care, even tho many LCO's plow snow. While the grass will grow every week, no assurance that snow or ice will fall. Plus Alan like myself, has spent alot of the preseason money on new equipment, so we really need the per push accounts to rake in the gravy.
    Dino
     
  10. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Mr. Stone has apparently gone to the other extreme, and I fear I may be the reason. When I spoke at the LESCO service center he frequents a few years back, and he was in attendance, we had quite a discussion about maintaining cash flow in areas of the country that don't get much snow. In his market 'per push' can lead to bankrupcy and he has taken my suggestions to heart. Granted, this seasonal practice probably saved his business's cash flow, but in some markets 'per push' is the prefered (and most profitable) method.

    The snow industry is highly regionalized and what works in Cincinnati may not fly in Vermont. Opinions can get murky when discussions are going on between individuals from different regional markets. For example: in my market if you have only seasonal contracts, bankruptcy becomes an issue if the rest of our season is similar to the first 6 weeks (mucho snow that you didn't plan for).

    So.... everyone needs to keep in the forefront of their minds that the regionality of our industry comes into play, and that "hard and fast" statements about how people should charge for their services can lead to misunderstanding and unwarranted animosity.

    Just a few thoughts based upon what I have read above.
     
  11. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    Larry,

    Your in the wrong classroom. Kindergarten is down the hall. You'll find that many snow operators retain a percentage of accounts on "per push" for the reasons that J.A. and Dino mentioned. Those same operators also line up enough seasonal contract accounts to cover their butts if it's a slow winter, like last year.

    Besides, it's nice to know that each time you go out your going to make some "extra" money from the per-push accounts. It's why snowplowers look forward to storms, and not dread when the snow hits.
     
  12. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    John, you missed the part in Stones first post where he admits to not doing any snow work. He gets his jollies by implying that everyone else is inferior to him in all matters of business or work practices. I just happened to be the focal point of his ire at the moment.
     
  13. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    I don't usually jump into the fights, but this one is close to all our hearts. I can't add much new to Dino, John and the comments of others above, other than to reiterate that it is prudent (ie GOOD BUSINESS SENSE) to have both forms of accounts. Anyone in the businss for several years will know this. Our by-the-timers are the gravy that allow us to bid contracts in areas that are alittle out of our way, and still be more than competative.

    Secondly, I would hope that in any post, as above, the author re-reads the post before submitting it to make damn sure that what is said is what was intended. It is too easy to say one thing and have it say something else via the choice of words.

    Third, there's enough people up here that I can pick a fight with when I'm in the mood, without taking up my free time to snoop around on this fine, respectable site.