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Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Mowman, Dec 3, 2000.

  1. Mowman

    Mowman Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    How do you guy's please all your customers? What I mean is it seems everybody wants to be FIRST!!!!!! I got so furstrated last season I gave up. Did the ones I could and lost the ones I couldn't get to first. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,031

    I made it a point to tell all of my customers that their driveways/lots will be done by 6am, and then I'll hit em again after I get off of work at 4pm. They all seemed okay with that... but we'll see once there's a foot of snow in their driveway at 4:00pm.

  3. allabout

    allabout Member
    Messages: 50

    commercial work is first if need be it 2nd too driveways are LAST.
  4. plowking35

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

    First welcome to the forum.
    Next you have to get professional about snow plowing , or do yourself a favor and sub for someone else. That way you can concentrate on plowing and forget about the management part. I pick up accounts every year becuase people do not estimate correctly how long it will take to complete their route in a timely manner.
    So here are a few ideas, first if you are serious, join http://www.sima.org. They alone will put you on the right page. Next education will help you put together routes, and teach you how to manage the routes. Also use products that will aid in your ability to complete the route.
    You have to determine what your client wants are before you write the contract. Once you have that determined then you can set priority customers first then fill other accounts around them.
    For instance, we do medical facilities that need 24/7 zero tolerance service. Naturally they pay alot more than the church that only needs to be done before Sunday morn at 8 am. We also do several businesses that have different opening times. We know what the target time that all pieces of equipement and operators need to at the first site, in order to complete the route on time. Then we do condos that need initial runs prior to 6 am and then they can wait to be cleaned up mid am.
    By rotating your customers individual needs to suit your plowing scheduale, you will attain an organized system to this plowing thing. Its the systems that work, once that is established,then it is very easy to even have someone else implement them. Do not over sell yourself, and have people available to help out when you get jammed up.
    What I just experienced was unintisipated growth late in the season, so if we get snow fall tonight things would be tight, but new truck and plow should be here by wed, and that will take care of the problem.
    If you have any more questions, feel free to call me at 860-859-0739, look for trade magazines that will also help you organize your operation.

    [Edited by plowking35 on 12-04-2000 at 12:02 AM]
  5. landscaper3

    landscaper3 Senior Member
    Messages: 309

    We run a year round landscape company that maintains from Big commercial accounts and condiminiums too residential homes. Communication is and will be a big plus to you and your customers, we have a work specification sheet attached to all our proposals stating what work is to be done and whats not, we also have a waiver section to protect you. You must tell everyone that you will make a pass for them to get out say you will make a pass around 5am and come back within 2-3hours and clean up driveway or after storms end. Our policy is to make a pass on all residential homes prior to 5am and go directly to our commercial accounts to plow and sand before there company employees arive. We then go back and clean the residential homes out.
  6. allabout

    allabout Member
    Messages: 50

    I have no problem doing my own route for 12 yr. & going strong run 3 truck all 95 & newer i was just saying I would do a $8000. town home contract 3-4 times before i would think of going to miss.jones house. (i don't even do the jones house. Planning is the key.
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    When pepeople (residential customers) call up saing I'll sign with you provided you can gurantee I will have my driveway done by this time, I explain to them I can not gaurantee a time because with snowfalls as we all know there is never a set time that we start. I explain each route takes us 6-8 hours to complete depending on conditions
    but that they will never have a problem getting out of their drive (we will not let more than 4-5 inches accumulate in their drive. Last season we routinely didn't start residentials untill 6:30 am, but our town doesn't realibly have side roads plowed till after that time. Retained around 80% of my res customers, another contractor I know would plow before this time, then go back and cleanup from street plow, he lost ALL his customers because he tried to raise his prices $ 15 to account for increases in fuel prices. I raised mine roughly the same and retained 80%, depends on customers you get, I don't like complainers (res)and don't have time to be bothered with them so they don't get a contract sent out the following year.
  8. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I would never agree a completion time for residential drives only on commercial accounts.

    Here is why.

    Where I am from it is very rare for a residential customer to request sand/salt or salt.

    If I tell a residential customer that their drive will be plowed by 8 AM. They are going to hold me to it, if it isn't clear at 8:10 they will be calling the office/dispatcher.

    If we get a storm, where the total accumulation is 3-5" ending around noon. At 7 am there is 2" on the ground, anyone can drive through 2". If I had to plow by 8 AM I would be plowing not even 1/2 half of the storm, also 5" can be plowed in 1 pass no problem.

    With out providing a completion time, I can plow only once, this puts more money in my pocket. For per push clients, this appear to give them a better deal, because I am only billing for one visit, vs 2 if it had to be plowed by 8 am. However by not plowing it twice, I am saving labor, wear and tear on the truck, and convience, of not trying to have everyone plowed by XX am, when the snow is still falling.

    This is why we can wait till the storm is over on residentials, or on a big storm, we can wait till there is 5" on the ground, before our first visit.


    [Edited by GeoffDiamond on 12-04-2000 at 02:17 AM]
  9. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Residentials get no guarantees at all,but i will make sure they acan get out,usually ill have atruck there by the time 5" is on the ground,if its a major storm.They have to expect this since they are generally cheaper and i do not charge them by the inch,just per plow,but i never let it get more than 5".If your having that problem,tell then you cant get there by so and so time and the only way is if you sign a commercial contract since they want commercial service.When they see the commercial prices,they will shut up or get someone else.I give a little break to residentials,knowing i can let them slide a little,I like that cushion of time.
  10. Lazer

    Lazer Senior Member
    Messages: 399

    Very intriguing the service level given to residentials and the price.

    I'm sure I know why, but this very interesting.
  11. landscaper3

    landscaper3 Senior Member
    Messages: 309

    Our contracts state on the plowing specifications as follows, Ideal Landscaping will respond to all weather events during this contract period. Accumulations of (2) inch or more snow shall be plowed and sanded as needed. Storms in process while we are on duty will be plowed for accessible areas with final cleanup delayed till storms end. During continous storms, we will visit the site approx. each 2 hours and make plowing passes on all roadways, loading areas and other areas not occupied by vehicles or equipment on heavy to severe storms. (We cannot give residential customers anyone certian times but states we will plow passes to get them out as early as humanly possible.)
  12. yardsmith

    yardsmith Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    Well said Geoff-
    I always tell residential customers that businesses come FIRST, because "they have liability issues involved". They usually understand that. I integrate my route by geographic location, so they are in the mix anyways. But if we get a sudden storm, or one during the day, they know I do biz.'s 1st. Just so they know up front, in case we can't get to them until later.
  13. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    Keep in mind, the fewer promises made, the fewer you need to live up to.

    I too give no time promises to residential customers. The residential market in my area is such that homeowners are happy just to get the drive and walks done before the spring thaw ;)
  14. jaclawn

    jaclawn Member
    Messages: 92

    You need to have a balance of different types of customers. If commercial, get a few that need an early morning clearing, then maybe a few resturants that don't open till lunch, maybe a church that does not need cleared at any particular time, sans Sunday morning, and perhaps a funeral home that is not too busy, and only needs a morning clean up when they are not having a funeral.

    If residential, then have some retirees that don't have to go anywhere, or some that work from home that don't need to get out at any specific time.

    No one can give every customer service before 7 a.m.
  15. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    This'll offend Lazer but I make promises to my residential requests. I promise them that it will be anywhere from 24 - 40 hours after the storm ends before I get there. Then I promise them I won't be upset if someone else did it before I get there, but if they want to wait, I'll try to come do it. ;)