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Contract bid question

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by thelawnguy, Jun 22, 2000.

  1. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    I have been asked to bid on a CVS/Pharmacy (not a 24 hour job) any suggestions on pitfalls to watch out for would be appreciated. Or should I just pass on this type of establishment. I presently have contracts with industrial park and residentials-a different type of traffic pattern. The store is new since last November, Im not sure who did it last winter but based on the job they did I can see why its out to bid again.<p>Bill
  2. n y snow pros

    n y snow pros Senior Member
    Messages: 246

    We do large commercial,industrial lots,as well as Eckerds drug stores.Also some other small strip type stores and i ask myself sometimes why do i bother with them.The money is ok from these smaller commercial accounts, but do to the environment of a constant car traffic flow and customers in and out of the stores its not easy to keep these accounts happy.It seems easier for us to keep our large customers happy but the constant phone calls from the smaller ones give us the most trouble.I havent figured out how to keep the small accounts happy short of being on there property all the time and if that happens we dont make money.Maybe someone else will answer your question better than i and if so i sure would like to know the secret of keeping these accounts happy and make good money from them.<p>----------<br>J PARKER<br>914-485-4200
  3. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    We did the local 24/7 jug milk chain (11 stores) for one winter. Besides no getting paid until June 15, we were pestered with their calls, particularly about slush being tracked in from their parking lots and packed snow. <br>We found that we were basically tied to these damn stores - do all 11 and then start over. Our longer-term accounts suffered. Next year, we declined them. A royal PITA.<p>----------<br>John<br>
  4. Rufur

    Rufur Junior Member
    Messages: 25

    pay attention to foot traffic clear em good make sure you charge for plow throughs I did 8 of them everytime you come to do a plow through stop in quick and talk to the manager they may have special requests charge for it offer to leave a bag of salt in case something freezes over... these places have alot of foot traffic! focus on that biggest problem is people leaving their cars there include this in the contract
  5. plowking35

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

    I have spoken with many people about this, I personally stay away from commercial/retail establishments. I do commercial asiited living/condo and industrial manufacaturing.<br>A reatial place is like haveing 25 driveways and getting payed for only one. I also dont do restuarants, except one that feeds us for free, or gas stations.<br>If I did pick on e sure as hell It would be done by a sub, and not me.<br>One of subs did 2 gas stations and a strip mall, last winter, and it took him forever, it was all packed down, and he always had to go back 2-3 times after the storm to slush off. He thought no big deal, I will get payed for each recall. Nope, his price was for a 0-2,2-4,4-6 and so on. Unlike me that charges per push, and call backs are stated in the contract as an extra. <br><p>----------<br> Professional Ice and Snow Management <br>Products:Services:Equipment www.sima.org
  6. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I used to stay away from small stores and stip malls. Only you can make money at those, without too much work. Also as the guys who went to the SIMA conference know, most of the lots up here are small, except for some of the ones in the city. If they went to the Maine Mall in south portland you saw the lot that got plowed with a bull dozer.<p>So i plow small lots, and make money on them. Not as much as condos, or private roads, and schools. Only i use some different plowing tactics then a lot of the other guys too. In Maine we tend to let the snow pile up more than the southern states. I try to never have more than 3&quot; of snow on a private road, lot, or school during a storm, its 6&quot; on a residental drive.<p>Geoff

    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    i have had good result plowing chain type stores currently a fleet of walgreen drug stores yes probably more work than the regular factory machine shop but i charge almost every trip to the location yes foot traffic is heavy keep the walks wet and constant contact w/ manager is your best betwhen bidding keep in mind you will spend more time there than other account and structur you charging/billing accordingly<p>doug
  8. Greenman2ooo

    Greenman2ooo Banned
    Messages: 107

    Just wondered how the CVS bid worked out? The stores in your area are managed by a company that establishes a price and then you accept or reject the contract. From my experience, they are willing to pay fair market value for services.
  9. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Just curious..... is that CVS store manager hiring the plower ??

    We have 6 CVS stores we do, and a property manager in another state is running the show. Same with Eckerds (at least here). We also had some problems getting paid with the CVS sites.

    Generally, we charge more for smaller sites and make the margins higher on smaller locations. We also charge (at least something) for every visit. If we clean the aprons after the city trucks come thru, it cost's them (even though it is a pro-rated lower amount than the full per push rate).
  10. Greenman2ooo

    Greenman2ooo Banned
    Messages: 107

    Just curious. With CVS was the problem paperwork related or was the firm just slow to pay? I understand they have a lot of hoops to jump through such as activity sheets detailing what was done at a particular store, etc.

    Not trying to put you on the spot, just curious if the payment problem was resolved and what it revolved around. Your experience could help others, so let us know.
  11. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Pizza Hut

    We plowed a local Pizza Hut for one season. We gave it up basically by not bidding on it again. The reasons, well, there are a few. The main reason was not getting paid soon enough. Sometimes it took months. Then, when the payment did come, it was not the amount we billed for.
    I think most of it was paperwork related, and also a lack of communication (internally by them).

    A few times we plowed at night, when the place was closed. We billed for it, but they didn't pay for it. We didn't find out until our check came. Months after the fact, it's hard to "prove" you were there, and did the work. Another problem was that the place changed managers. These places often have a high turnover rate of employees. Other times, we plowed, but the manager didn't see us plow. I think as Greenman stated, theydo have a lot of paperwork to do, and "hoops to jump through".

    If you do get the lot, as was said earlier, get the MANAGER to sign an invoice, stating that the work was completed. We tried this, and a few times accepted employees signatures, which weren't "valid". I'm sure this hurt us. Often the manager was not there, or was too busy to come out. I think you need to establish a GOOD relationship with the manager, if you want to get paid properly. Sometimes these places have several managers, be sure you know them all well, and that they know you just as well.

    I can also say there is a CVS right next door to the Pizza Hut. Every year there is a new contractor doing the plowing there. Every year, it the same lousy service too. All of our accounts surrounding the CVS had been done for hours, before the CVS was plowed. Then when it was plowed, they did a horrible job. Not just one contractor, but all of them since the CVS has been there. I'm not sure why they have all done such a poor job, it's just an observation I made. Another observation, is that they only plow the CVS after the snow fall is over. So on a particular storm where we got 8", and plowed all our accounts twice, the CVS was plowed once, after it stopped snowing.

    I'm not sure the reasons, like I said, if you do get any CVS, Eckerd, Pizza Hut, Burger King, etc, be sure to KNOW ALL the managers well.

  12. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    In our case with CVS, it was paperwork. We found out that the management company was getting paid once a quarter (which I cannot imagine dealing with), so they were always hurting for cash. Once we knew the problem, we dealt with it.

    We deal with alot of out of town property managers here, and we've learned to document every move we make with regards to those accounts. Of course, there are problems - but that seems to go with the territory.

    I don't think we'll find any consensus with this particular issue. It's there, we all deal with it, some of us avoid it by not taking on those types of accounts, some of don't have many problems because we've been lucky with who we are dealing with, etc. I think that the handling of "Snow" with large multi-location accounts has been an ongoing problem simply because the property managers don't really know how to deal with us (as service providers) and with snow in general. It is my understanding that this is one reason 'janitorial' and 'landscape maintenance' and 'parking lot maintenance' is all handled by outsourced property managers - the owners didn't know how to deal with it in multi-location situations. I would venture to guess that eventually the property managers will go to specialized snow managers to oversee that portion of their service contracts once they get the idea that it "takes one to know one". It is the premise we used with First Union. Time will tell if we make it work well.

    In the meantime - take all the opinions you get from this forum and sort thru them to see what "feels" best for your situation and go with it. It won't be easy, but look at it this way..... if it WAS easy, everyone would be doing it - instead of a few hardy types who are looking to provide good service at a fair price.
  13. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    One more thought.... maybe the way to go is to give them a seasonal cost that is all inclusive. That way you don't have to deal with the managers and you can price the work according to your market demands. We have 11 Burger Kings and that is how we handle that particular account. Seasonal, year round (including the landscape maintenance).

    Just an idea.
  14. iowastorm

    iowastorm Senior Member
    Messages: 358

    All of the commercial strip malls we bid on this year and the ones we plow in the last couple of years were done on a flat monthly rate. We figured up to 4 pushes per snowfall event so we could have some extra margin. In fact, most of the properties are owned by out of state companies who have hired loal property managers. We added a clause in our contacts that states 'all invoices are due upon receipt' and add significant fees for invoices paid after 31 days. I make sure to inform the property managers that since they expect and receive prompt and professional service, we in turn, expect to be paid promptly too. I our invoicing we always detail our services over the past 30 days and go over them with each manager. Someone said above the communication was key and I agree 100%.
  15. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Thats why if its a national chain, not managed locally. IE MC'D', BK, Rite Aid, Wall Mart ( a really fun one to deal with) its a seasonal contract or we don't touch it. Only i really don't have many accounts like that. Most of my accounts that have national ties, are in strip malls managed by the local guy.

  16. JCurtis

    JCurtis Banned
    Messages: 862

    While we are on the subject of commercial verses Industrial or residential.

    I would like to mention Condos... I will never do any condos again. they are the worst customers. I sat down with one condo association member, discussed what they wanted, and what services I provided. I sent them a written contract. They signed it, the first storm the drove me crazy, not enough salt, too much salt, not enough salt etc. etc.

    when they they got the first bill they freaked. Only got paid for half of it... would have sued them, but it with attorneys costing so much, it would have cost me twice as much in attorney fees to get what I was owed by them.

    It was quite clear that they wanted a professional job for an amatuer price...
  17. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I have had good experiences with, condos. Just make sure ya tell them what you will do, and for how much before ya start. Maybe the people are just different from place to place.

  18. iowastorm

    iowastorm Senior Member
    Messages: 358

    We did a townhouse complex last year and we passed on it this year. The reason why is that with so many residents, someone is always complaining about something. We sat down and spelled everything out before the season and it was also a T&M job; they wanted first rate service, but didn't want to pay for it. I think the biggest problem is that because the residents all pay association dues, they feel they can complain for every little inconvenience and expect us to be camped out at their property to provide round the clock service. Sure, no problem if they want to pay for it.
  19. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    I filled my plate with lesser traffic accounts, so did not need to pursue the CVS. Now Im waiting to get a urethane edge, and let it snow.
  20. Snow Pro

    Snow Pro Senior Member
    Messages: 146


    I've had good luck working for 2 CVS stores last winter.
    Bid on 13 this winter. Waiting to hear. If you do industrial parks, you can do a drug store. Good luck!