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Lowballer Rant #32461

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by NW Snow Removal, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. NW Snow Removal

    NW Snow Removal Senior Member
    Messages: 532

    Got a call this morning from a huge commercial management company that we have been trying to get a foot in door for for years. Property manager tells me "I am so so sorry but we made a mistake and the HUGE shopping plaza we told you we were awarding you on Friday is actually being awarded to someone else, who came in with a lower bid. There was some sort of mix up and your company's name was on the paperwork when in fact we chose this other company to service the plaza weeks ago."

    I tell her that we've already allocated a bunch of equipment for the project (which we did) and that we've turned down work since she informed us that we would be servicing the location (not so true). She said she felt terrible and that our company would be first in line to pick up any other property that "came down the pipeline".

    At first I had to resist the urge to just start screaming at her and threatening to sue her. Then I figured that I should just be cordial and hopefully we can pickup some work later on or at least remind her of how she screwed us over when bidding season comes around next year.

    We serviced this lot last year when it was managed by another company. It's got a chain grocery store and about 25 other stores in it (half of which are now vacant) and we were instructed to replow it every 4-6 hours during an ongoing storm. Needless to say, it was a HUGE moneymaker. During my conversation with this property manager I asked her if we could at least try to match the bid that came in. She read off the prices that the other company gave her and I was SHOCKED at these prices. I am convinced it's just a bunch of guys in a row with shovels that are going to be servicing this place. Absolutely ridiculous. So, I guess I don't feel too bad about losing the account but I never thought a Mgmt Co with such nice shopping centers would be on the lowballer bandwagon. She told me straight up that "due to the economy we HAVE to go with the lowest bid." Yeah, have fun answering your phone when your tenants are all complaining about the crappy service after each storm.

    Now that I'm done bi*&^$ing, I'm curious as to everyone's opinion about when and if things are going to turn around. I know that a few light winters (last 2 winters in Chicago have been heavy) will stabilize prices but half of these retail shopping centers are empty.

    If things keep going the way they're going I'm just going to start targeting medical properties and old folks' homes. God knows there's no shortage of sick people....
  2. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    sorry to hear about this, unfortunately things might not be improving for a little while for you, the best i can suggest is when things are on the upswing and these guys can't find contractors, stick it hard to them, i had a similar thing happen with a management company here, and when they came to me this year with the same additude, they were informed that if they didn't give me a couple places and lowballed them all, i would never do work for them again, nor would i come bail them out like i did last year when one of their contractors bailed on them, that kind of loyalty can't be bought, and low and behold they come through with some contracts.
  3. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    Thats ok

    I have a year left on a 3 year condo contract.

    Property manager made a mistake and thought I said I wasnt doing snow anymore so she put the place out for bid and awarded the contract.

    I call property manager to tell her equipment is being dropped off and she fell off her chair.

    She didnt cancel the contract, it was still valid.

    However. In the end, she invoked the cancellation clause in the contract. So ill be responsible for 60 days and the other company takes over.

    Some way to do business.

    Provide great service, and because of someone elses mistake, still lose.
  4. sparky8370

    sparky8370 Senior Member
    Messages: 234

    My buddy had a huge plaza for years. I kept telling him to get some other properties, but his thought process was that by him concentrating all his effort on one site he does a real good job and that they appreciate it. He was always doing stuff for free too, and mentioned that. I told him if he's gonna put all his eggs in one basket like that, he's gonna get screwed when they drop him for a low bidder. He insisted that would never happen because he treats them so well and they are very happy with him.
    This spring they told him that they wanted him to sign a seasonal contract for less than 1/3 of what he normally charges them for just snow and ice. Of course he refused and they dropped him. He was very upset and the property manager told him to calm down and don't burn any bridges. He was told that by the time winter comes around he will probably have it again if he keeps his head on. So as soon as the other contractor took over the place looked like crap. I was there right after they mulched it. They blew the mulch in and it was everywhere. They didn't clean any of it up, and there was trash everywhere throughout the parking lot. Picking up trash was one of the duties he had carried it out.
    So they ended up calling him in several times throughout the spring and summer because the other contractor couldn't keep up.
    Then for the plow season they told him they are still going with the other guys. He was so sure he was going to have it back that he didn't try and get anything else.
    He's screwed now. That was all his winter business and 50%+ of his annual business.
  5. ADBsnowremoval

    ADBsnowremoval Member
    Messages: 43

    So where in the chicago land is this management company, so that I can stay away. I too have been screwed by the lowballer this year on a shopping center and others. I am in the north burbs
  6. FordFisherman

    FordFisherman PlowSite.com Addict
    from 06611
    Messages: 1,593

    Its everywhere this season. Just lost my biggest account to someone who gave a "package deal" for plowing and landscaping. I can deal with being underbid, its business, but the VP of the company wouldn't return an e-mail or a phone call for 26 days- I turned down 2 other accounts in those 26 days thinking I'd be overbooked when my main account signed on (they were always late to confirm in the past). Now I'm kicking myself. Are you reading this stuff guys in the "New to the Industry" forum? Guess its back to driveways this season...
  7. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    Yeah, i hear you and it sucks, I have the same problem right now, my biggest client hasn't confirmed we are doing the snow, i have already warned them that if i don't hear back from them this week, i am booking other stuff, i am not going to be left in the cold by them, the good news is they have already had us in doing stuff already.
  8. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    Think about all the guys who "thought" they had Walmart accounts this year.

    Finding out a couple weeks before the contract that they no longer have it but they are welcome to be one of the bidders at 50% less than before.
  9. nor'easter1

    nor'easter1 Senior Member
    Messages: 138

    It is a "mad" world out there and it hurts bottom line. Contract no contract, he said she said, every thing is so temporary. These collection of so called contractors that are pricing snow for many of the management companies must think they will be plowing in Miami Florida. If accounts are being taken at a minus cost how do you pay yourself, bills, and employees. Cash is not king because it is non existent! Every day I think snow and go over my accounts in my mind all of the scenario's and how to exceed customer expectations because one slip up and it's over there have become way to many snow pushers and it hurts companies like mine that have been plowing a long time and depend on it. That's right I said depend on it. Many "veterans" of this site say your a fool to depend on it, I say fine if you don't depend on it quit and take the scrubs who are low-balling this industry with you! I love it, need it, and won't stop trying to better myself and my company.