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How to handle this....

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by RSE, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. RSE

    RSE Member
    Messages: 90

    I have a commercial account I perfected in the past 10 yrs. They are contracted. The area consists of three loading docks (two are on a steep hill) and three parking lots, each about a half acre. It is on a busy 4 way intersection. there is a 5'x 200' sidewalk, 15 entranceways and 3 fire escapes. There are 43 retail tenants too, which amounts to 50+ cars scattered at any given time.
    The reason I say I perfected this is because I know most people in the building and their schedules, I have the place and all the angles down and can do the plowing with very minimal effort and time. The shoveling I farm out to a local outfit and the sanding I cover too.This place has been a great money maker over the years and got easier as I progressed.
    The owner called me in tears yesterday. I know her very well and when she was like this, I really felt bad. The building manager has been forced to cut costs due to an astronomical heating bill and a lawsuit they somehow got tangled up in. They have no money in the coffers to cover this "impending doom" storm that will be here in like 12 hrs. I suggested we certainly could stretch out a payment plan, as per contract, but they are already in the hole for monies owed to me from last month. She is playing on my outside help clause which states in an emergency situation the building owners can call in outside help at their discretion, only in an emergency. This was really intended for the roof shoveling and major loader work or if for some reason I could not make it there, again only in an emergency.
    Apparently the 300yr old handyman has stepped up and offered to do the plowing only for whatever hourly rate they pay him to sweep the floors and clean the bathrooms. He has some early 90's truck with a 7 ft plow and thinks he is gonna push this storm around. I am no one to judge so I wished her the best. I said we could keep on with the shoveling and sanding (still a money maker)
    Its not the money I am concerned about. Its more of the fact I know the plowing will not get done properly and I will end up getting begged to return. They will wait until the snow reaches 20" and realized they failed. Then I will have to what??? :confused:
     
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Why would you give them the right to call another plow company? If they call you back ,you have 3 choices,just plow it as normal,tell them you will plow but need a check before you start or cancel and be done.
     
  3. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    I'd walk away. Sucks to lose such an income, but it is what it is. When they call you back what makes you believe you'll get paid? I'd jump off the ship before it sinks me with it.
     
  4. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    Radical thought here (and I do mean radical) offer to do this one storm for free or at a minimal cost. Just once mind you, and make sure they understand this is not a habit, but a one time thing to help out a long time client who has been good to you.
     
  5. theholycow

    theholycow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,180

    I'm with this guy. Sounds like you've had a great relationship with them for a long time and have made lots of money that they've willingly paid, but now they're in trouble. Throw them a bone. If she starts calling you crying before every storm then walk away, but this one time seems like the decent thing to do.
     
  6. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    Not only does it make you look good, but it keeps the 300 year old guy with his plow truck off the lot, because there is the off chance that the guy can do a good job and then you will never see this client again...just saying
     
  7. peteo1

    peteo1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,660

    There is also the chance that he will do an awful job (more than likely), have a slip and fall and then that plaza will be totally screwed. I'm with the idea of the one time freebie for an old client. I also like how you gave them the option to stretch out the payments, just be careful you don't get stiffed on that part.
     
  8. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,498

    Just get the heck out of there. They already owe you money, just walk away. If they are on the cost cutting bandwagon and the heating bill is sooo large and lawsuit...blah blah...and want to let the old guy plow, you're done there already, you just haven't excepted it yet.
     
  9. RSE

    RSE Member
    Messages: 90

    Took a ride past there and gave them 2 passes, looks as if no one has been there yet and there is already like 8". I have no idea what they want to do but, I sent another invoice for Jan. today as a reminder. I think I will let this one go for the season. I am almost positive I will get to bid again next year and this time....NO clauses. I handle snow from top to bottom.
    I think they want to dedicate a plow truck to the location unlike me who plows it out and has time to go and do other places.
     
  10. beanz27

    beanz27 Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    I'm for one freebie, or at least reduced cost. If it's a long term client thats always paid on time, and you have a good relationship with them, then by all means, keep them. They will not soon forget the blizzard that their plow guy helped them through when they had rough times.
     
  11. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,498

    Actually, they will forget it. Different mentality nowadays.
     
  12. plowzilla

    plowzilla Senior Member
    Messages: 289

    I agree with a lot of the posts about a freebie, but I would ask to at least cover fuel and other expenses. It sounds like they are going to call you soon anyway. Also, if they can't pay your last bill, then they certainly couldn't pay this one, so they would still get it for free:eek:
    at least you'll feel better than not getting paid and can write off the loss.
     
  13. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    i agree mostly with everyone else but think it should be at reduced cost , not totally free, but I don't know if your predictions are like Boston's..that would be asking alot of you.

    I am guessing that her phone will be burning up from 43 retailers calling her about the lack of service...she might wind up being in a tougher spot than you are
     
  14. Oxmow

    Oxmow Senior Member
    Messages: 127

    Has anyone thought about going to some or all of the retailers and asking them to help out...it certainly would hurt their business if noone could get into their doors.
     
  15. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    More than likely they already have a maintenance charge in their lease.



    .................
     
  16. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 813

    I'd think I'd let the old dude have at it but keep going thru it like you normally do - maybe he can save you some time by peeling some of it away. Track what you do and when this system or year is all over, sit down with your long term customer and figure it all out.

    You really have 43 customers in one spot, they are counting on you so that they can open their doors. You might not get paid, but you've made how much over the years, not saying anyone wants to give anything away but there's a chance that losing a little will gain you in the future.

    If things don't work out after it's all over, at least you held up your end of the agreement, which is sort of a big deal if you end up in court.
     
  17. greekmaster

    greekmaster Junior Member
    from IOWA
    Messages: 23

    Help the old guy out. Charge for fuel. Client will appreciate it and you will look better to the complex. 43 additional people and businesses will appreciate it. word of mouth is a great thing.
     
  18. doh

    doh Senior Member
    Messages: 252

    Walk Away.

    I lost my major contract 6 years ago a client I had for 10 years, when a competitor walked in and said "I want your business" The Municipality had to put it out for bid,With 3 bids coming in.

    The Equipment Owner (instigator) came in double my "With a Truck price"

    The third came in at the same "Per Hour" price, with equipment.

    The customer figured that "With Equipment" the job should be done quicker. and therefore cheaper.

    I drive by at 11:00am and they still are not opened up. I had it cleared by 6:00am, when their customers start to arrive.

    All of the worker's there wish they had me back, due not only the fact that it was cleaned before cars are parked in the way of plowing, but I did the sidewalks, and enterances for them.

    Now I m making more money, with less time, but more travel.
     
  19. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,498

    You guys do understand he said he hasn't been paid for last month yet right??? When the OP mentioned that, he made it sound like this client could no longer pay their bill due to financial difficulties. Why would he keep spending money on servicing a client that won't be able to pay? "Word of mouth" doesn't pay your fuel bill, or truck repair, or rent, or groceries, or.....

    This isn't some 2" snowfall, this is a major storm. You can't give those away for free and stay in business.
     
  20. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 7,292

    We may build personal ties with long-term customers, we also may throw them a freebie on occasion but at the end of the day we run a business. They're behind in paying, they're in financial distress and they've made it clear they no longer can afford the service. Part ways on good terms and when they're in a position to afford a pro you'll probably be the 1st guy they call.