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Customer Service

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by GLOBIL, Nov 30, 2003.

  1. GLOBIL

    GLOBIL Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    I began doing snow removal last year with a whopping 6 accounts. This year , through referrals, I will have between 18 and 20 accounts. All are within 15 miles of my home and break down as follows: 10 commercial accounts ( 2 parking lots and 8 condo complexes) averaging 14,000 square feet each, and 8 residential accounts averaging 2200 square feet. For equipment I own 1 1999 Ford F-250 with a 7.5' Hinniker plow, 1 10hp 26" snow blower, and 1 Toro "snow pup". I plan to use 2 people and this equipment to service the above accounts. My questions are:
    1. Will I be able to provide acceptable service with the equipment and staff I currently have?
    2. Even though my truck is in excellent shape what can I do for backup in case something does go wrong?
    Also can anyone suggest a good tailgate spreader for me? or do you know of a good deal on a used one? (another plower told me that if I bought one he would hire me to salt all his properties)
    I realize this may be "small potatoes" to most users of this site but I really want my plowing business to get off on the right foot and exhibit the professionalism I've observed in other users of this site.
     
  2. CPSS

    CPSS Senior Member
    Messages: 334

    I think you might be stretched a little thin. Commercial accounts want to be plowed as the last flakes are falling. Some residential customers will put up with a little wait, but most will need to be cleared so they can make it to work. I would look for a sub that can help you. I learned early on that if you try and plow too many customers, you will be giving them all poor service and they will complain, or at worse, cancel you during the winter and get someone else. Then the next year you are starting all over.
     
  3. Joey D

    Joey D Senior Member
    Messages: 280

    Maybe get a sub to help you out this year and see how it goes. It would be better for your business long term if you made a little less money this year while paying the sub than have your customers dump you because of lack of service.
     
  4. Boast Enterpris

    Boast Enterpris Senior Member
    Messages: 745

    I completly agree with Joey D & CPSS. It is all about the quality of service. You have to provide great service to make greatpayup
     
  5. LocalTouch

    LocalTouch Junior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 26

    How long does it take you to service your current accounts? (if you have had a plowable event yet). If your condos are only 14,000 sq/ft, I cant imagine they would take that long. Is there many obstacles? If they are pretty easy to do, I would assume a 14,000 sq/ft condo which is less that 1/2 acre, would only take around a half hour. I would think you could get that all done in one night, especially if you have someone running a snow blower. I think back-ups are extremely important. This year we only need 2 of our trucks running all night, to get everything done on time. But I have a dump truck with pro wings sitting there waiting if something happens. Commercial customers don't care if your equipment breaks down. They need their lot clear-end of story. Thats why they hired you-the professional. Last year I had an issue with both of my trucks down for a few hours. Luckily I had a deal set up with a buddy, and he handled a few accounts for me until I was up and running again. It seems to me like you have a good handful of some pretty decent accounts this year. I would strongly urge you to have some sort of back up plan. Like other guys said in earlier posts, you don't want to upset your customers. Think about this, if you have a deal set up with another plower, and the first account you start on you have a breakdown, would your plower be able to handle it all for you??? I would assume he has a bunch of accounts on his own!
     
  6. Boast Enterpris

    Boast Enterpris Senior Member
    Messages: 745

    Sorry I have trouble with the internet service or the computer:realmad:
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2003
  7. 4evergreenlawns

    4evergreenlawns Senior Member
    Messages: 552

    DITTO!!! spread very thin. You might make it through a 2-4 but anymore than that you are behind, running late and the cell phone is ringing. You already have commercial work with no salting services? Who is salting?? Parking lots and condo are two big users of salt, as well as the largest exposure for slip and falls, salt is a must.

    If you plan on growing your business go to a V box. I started with the tailgate unit and found the time spend was waisted and as I grew I needed more capacity and less time. At the condo's are you doing walks and drives with the blower? Have you consider clean ups and revisits for car parked in drives, and on the street? Also condo take alot of back dragging, and lots of obstacle. I think 30 minutes is under estimate on time even with two guys. It is not just the square footage that makes up how much time spent doing the work. Are you prepared to plow for hours on end not stop during a storm if needed or do you have a job to go to?

    I would agree go with a sub that is only going to work with you. Be up front, get someone with a truck that is just looking to make a few bucks but will give you all his attention. This covers you to get the work done timely and if your truck should go down. Adding accounts is great but I am sure you were given the referrals because you did a good job last year, what do you think will happen if you do a poor job this year.

    Lastly, I am in the Chicago area, if I can help further drop me some mail, Forevergreenlawn@aol.com. I went from 4 accounts two seasons ago, 30 accounts this year, all but walk ins, and referrals, but I have two trucks and on sub, with two subs on back up.

    Ron
     
  8. North Country

    North Country Senior Member
    Messages: 141

    You may be a little thin but I agree with LocalTouch's post. It is important to have a good working relationship with other contractors or have friends involved in the business. This will save countless headaches during a snow event.

    We covered for friends and other companies during almost every storm last year! And others have done the same for us.
    - Anything can happen from a simple wiper motor to multiple subs calling out on another company.

    Get out there and network, program those numbers into your cell phone and you will always be covered......

    Even if you have bitten off more than you can chew this year, and end up paying a sub, you are providing the same high level of service; which will allow your business to grow next season.