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How to deal with the neighbors....?

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by johntwist, Oct 30, 2004.

  1. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    I'm getting ready to move to a new neighborhood and I'm wondering how to deal with the question of whether or not to offer to plow out my new neighbors when the first storm hits. I just bought my plow at the end of last season, so I never really had to deal with it where I live now. But one interesting thing did happen with 2 of my neighbors last year.

    The lady across the street, who is our version of "Mrs. Cravitz" from the old "Bewitched" TV series, took it upon herself to send her plow guy over to do the driveway of the neighbors next door thinking she was doing them a favor. Of course, she didn't call and ask them, even though the wife was home that day. So, the guy goes barrelling down their driveway with his plow a few times and leaves. Since he'd never done their driveway before, he didn't know it was gravel and not blacktop. He also didn't know it was "L" shaped at the end. I think you all can figure what happened, he tore up alot of gravel and about 5 feet of their lawn at the end of it, because he didn't know it turned to the right. The husband was understandably pissed when he got home from work, but of course he couldn't ***** at Mrs. Cravitz because "she's sensitive". I just shook my head.

    I'm trying to find the balance between being a nice guy and maybe putting myself in an awkward position. There are alot of homes in this new neighborhood I'm going to, so the first thought is just how far do I go in being nice. I won't have the time to do it for everyone, so where does it end? Do I do just the guy across the way and the guy next door or the whole street? Then, who'll get an attitude if I'm not able to do it for them on a regular basis?

    Then again, should I do anyone at all unless they ask me? It's not like it couldn't happen where you're trying to be helpful but end up pissing someone off because they don't have driveway markers and you end up tearing up some of their lawn or something. I should point out that it's a nice neighborhood with homes in the $400,000 range, so I have to figure that they all either have snow blowers or can afford to hire a plow contractor of their own. I also have to throw in that I really need to make every dime I can with that blade this season, so time being charitable is time lost making money.

    So, stories from all of you about how you deal with this where you live would be helpful. I've always been the type of guy who wants to be a good neighbor and help folks out when I can, but I also like to stay on the side of caution too, and not be taken advantage of. I'm curious to see what you all have to say about it.

    Thanks, John.
     
  2. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,202

    I don't do any of the houses on my street anymore. If your neighbor was a plumber and you wanted to put a bathroom in your basement is he coming over to do it for free. I have only done 2 houses on my street before. The next door neighbor when her husband was hospitalized for a month with a flesh eating disease(this one I did for free) and the people across the street when her husband went to work in the Bahamas for a year. The way I look at it is, I get up and leave when it is snowing and the last place I come is home. They will be the last one to get plowed and usually the first one to *****.
     
  3. 042500hd

    042500hd Senior Member
    Messages: 251

    Why Worry?

    I don't see why should be concerned at all about your neighbors especially considering they're new. It costs money everytime you drop your blade and there is the potential to break your equipment. That's what I told my inlaws when my wife mentioned I could "maybe" plow there driveway. That said I live in a duplex so I'll do the driveway on the other side of my house, because I'd feel ignorant if I didn't, and maybe I'll knock the snow down that the town plows leave at the approach,for neighbors I know well. I'd say that if your living in a neighborhood dominated by half million dollar homes there's no need for charity, I also think if you do it once people will come to expect it all the time.
     
  4. grotecguy

    grotecguy Senior Member
    Messages: 148

    I do mainly commercial accounts, but I plow 2 neighbors. The one on the west mows part of my yard while I trim his and mine. This one I plow for free, he has a big snow blower that I can use if we gat a bunch of snow.
    The one on the east as we have kind of a shared driveway, the drives are side by side and I plow both of them together. I also do the walk and I get $20.00 for doing it.
    Another elderly lady caught me one morning snowblowing her walk. She insisted on paying me to do it. She's been a good customer, always comes down to pay me.
    Just don't sell your services too cheap, especially to your neighbord. They will be the first to complain.

    Just my $.02
    Mark K
     
  5. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Overall, I'd say that with you living in an affluent neighborhood; they don't need charity and you may just might wind up inadvertantly causing damage. Then what happens?

    Also I'd like to relate a true story for those of you who want to be "Good Samaritans" by plowing someone's driveway for free:

    In December, 1970, I was 21, newly married, wife was pregnant, just out of the Army and had just started a minimum wage job in the town where I'd grown up. We were living paycheck-to-paycheck and barely getting by. But that was the way I was raised and thought everybody lived that way. I was just another guy working and providing for my family. A few days before Christmas, a group of people from a church I didn't attend in my small town, stopped by with a food basket. At first, I thought they were going to ask me to go with them to deliver it. Then I realized it was for me. I was completely devastated. I had never thought of myself as poor and now I thought to myself "I am poor - these people say so". It sounds stupid, but I actually thought that to myself and didn't think of myself the same as I had. I simply couldn't feel good about myself after that and, after a few months, wound up going back in the Army for a few more years. I've never lived in that town again.

    Bottom line - make sure your gesture is welcome. If you want to plow their drive and shovel their walk, just ask. Tell them you'd like to do it to repay their kindness or just for being a good neighbor or whatever.

    But your still liable for any damage you do. Get insured.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2004
  6. gpin

    gpin Senior Member
    Messages: 390

    I do both my neighbors on either side of my property, no charge, no problems. I feel they are reasonable about not complaining about my equipment being in the driveway occasionally. I tell my other neighbors who ask that I have commercial accounts which are my first priority and I can do their driveways after all of our commercial work is done and that I cannot gaurantee that their drive will be done. It is also on a cash payment basis. I am reasonable on what I charge, but I have to be paid for each event. I also ask that they call and request service to avoid the old "did it really need to be plowed?" problem. Your problem is if a neighbor ends up no pay, or gives you the old "I lost my job", (I live in $500k plus neighborhood), what are you going to do? Take them to small claims? Put a big lump of snow at the end of their driveway? Most of the time your neighbors aren't worth the aggravation. The bottom line is that snow removal is an expense which most people resent. Especially after the 3rd or 4th storm and sometimes they try to weasel out of paying.

    Driveways are tough on your equipment. Go the networking section, find someone local to sub for and you will make more $, less wear on your truck and less aggravation.

    Free advice. Good luck.
     
  7. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    I have been plowing for over 20 years and all the advice on this thread is good. It always seems the ones you do for free are the ones you have the most problems with. (breakdowns and complaints)
    I do the same for my neighbors as anyone else in town because they are all my neighbors.
    Don't plow unless asked. Charge for your work weather it be by trade or payment for services. If you feel uncomfortable charging then tell them your route is full and you can refer them to someone else.
    That does not mean if they are braking there back shoveling a berm you should just smile, wave and drive on by.
     
  8. JustUsDe

    JustUsDe Senior Member
    Messages: 181

    I don't do any neighbors driveways. I don't even do my own the wife shovels it before we get home with the plows. Its not worth pissing someone off. Rule of thumb don't do any plowing where you live. Just asking for some kind of a problem.

    Ray
     
  9. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    I used to do the elderly neighbor on our right side because she would let me back the wood truck up and dump firewood in the back yard there, now she put up a vinyl fence and I dont want any issues with something getting broken because the drive is <18" from the fence

    I also used to do the main enterance and main drag to our neighborhood but not anymore, someone was bitching about some snow in their driveway caused by doing the road and " not to throw it in her drive/yard" I told her "thanks to you I am nolonger going to plow the road, and I will be sure to let everyone know who screwed up the freebie at the winter HOA meeting" I mean comeon, I used to drop her and get the snow off the road as a courtesy to our neighbors but if people are going to complain about a free job then I am not even going to bother, go buy a 4x4 and a plow if you want it done a certian way.
     
  10. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    This is the way I would look at it. would this particular neighbor do the same for me?
     
  11. b2driver

    b2driver Member
    from MD
    Messages: 89

    I'm in the same boat. Should I plow my neighbors or not. They've helped me at times. The cut my lawn when I was down for back surgery. We don't get much snow here anyway, so I'll probably end up doing it. After I mention it to them of course. We live on a private road, I plan on plowing that anyway, just 600'.
     
  12. Dnipro Max

    Dnipro Max Member
    Messages: 60

    One of my neighbors down the street called and sign contract with and payed for the services, so she just my customer/neighbor, i have no problem with that,
     
  13. jax1013

    jax1013 Senior Member
    Messages: 114

    re;neighbors

    They say the best neighbors have the highest fences. Therefore,after plowing the block one year (b/c Dept of Sanitation is non existing)...and the wonderful women across the street complained that i turned the blade toward her house/driveway and not mine...i then proceeded to clear the entrance to her driveway...my plow left scrape marks on her 20 year old concrete...when it snows i start the truck lift the blade and leave the block...i have 4x4, the wife has 4x4, no need to plow my driveway or block...even if you did they would expect it every storm... and not even say thank you..is it worth it, personally i don't think so..sorry for the venting.. Be safe..
    JM
     
  14. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    jax:

    Thanks for venting, that's why I started this thread. And stories like yours and a few of the others above are exactly what I was afraid of.
    So, when I move in to the new digs, I'm just gonna mind my own business.
    But, like Dwan said, I don't think I could just smile, wave, and drive by the guy across the way as he works his way through a berm and towards a heart attack.
    I'm just going to play it by ear, and if someone asks I'll deal with it then.

    2000 Dodge Ram 2500..............$17,000.00
    New Boss 8' Trip-Edge.............. 4,000.00
    Amber Mini-Strobe................... 100.00
    Getting sued for helping your neighbor.............Priceless
     
  15. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Actually, your neighbor's lawyer would be quite able and happy to put a price on it. :waving:
     
  16. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Mick is right, you can put a price on anything :rolleyes:
     
  17. INF350

    INF350 Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Business is business, neighbors or not. As with anything else in life if you offer it for free they will line up, but if you charge only the interested will come. Don't get yourself in a mess with this. My neighbor has plowed for years and only does my drive if the snow is real bad, other than that he will hook and wave if he see's me out shoveling.

    Your worth the money!!!!
     
  18. glenspot

    glenspot Senior Member
    Messages: 255

    cookies

    When my neighbor would run a swipe across the end of my driveway, I appreciated it so much that my wife baked him a plate of cookies and brought them over as a "thank you".
     
  19. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    I get a plate of lemon bars evertime I do one of my neighbors. Now that is a good return on my $40,000 investment.
     
  20. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    Dwan you've got one hell of a sense of humor for a guy who's known to be willing and capable of removing the hand(s) of those who would be foolish enough to steal from you! :waving: