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My first property damage

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by JeffNY, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. JeffNY

    JeffNY Senior Member
    Messages: 484

    this whole driveway is up hill, I looked at it last night when the guy signed up with me, said his last plow guy isn't plowing anymore (weird.)
    So I get there this morning after about 5" of wet snow, drive up to the top, and start back dragging away from the garage. I come to a stop at the top, and the truck slowly starts to slide to the edge towards the pine trees. picked up speed as it went down hill, hopped the 3" lip of the railroad tie bordering the drive, and put the side of my truck against the pine trees, and the back about 6" from a landscape cylinder light pole thingy, about 4' high.
    Tried getting out, but only slid further in.
    Called my buddy, thank god he was about a tenth of a mile away doing a drive, came over and hooked a chain up to pull me out. He wasn't going to do the same thing and go ahead of me, so there was only one way to go out, back.
    Which meant going over the light, breaking some branches on the pine trees, and making a mess.
    Guy was outside the whole time, seemed to understand, obviously knows the driveway is hell, said just do what I can, doesn't have to be perfect. Meanwhile I can't wait to leave and never come back.

    I have to call him tmr er something, not really sure what to tell him, or offer him. See if I can fix the light once the snow melts, not sure how much he cares about the trees, not like theres anything I can do about them. Guess I won't be charging him for the plow either.

    Just thought I'd share my first property damage experience.

  2. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,780

    Bummer. It happens. Learn from it.
  3. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    That stinks. All you can do is be honest, and apologize. It would probably be wise to find out right away what he is expecting from you. Hopefully he will be cool and just say fix the light, and not to worry about the trees. Is that drive hot top or gravel? If hot top, maybe do some presalting so you have a little grip. FWIW, I plow as much as I can before backdragging anything. This might be a help in the future, if you still plan to plow for him. Sounds pretty obvious why the previous guy isn't doing it anymore.
  4. Chris-R

    Chris-R Senior Member
    Messages: 321

    I agree with the pre-salt. Either that or make sure to plow with the storm and take small bites. I also agree that you don't back blade until you've plowed as much as you can. Take a good look at that driveway and study how you will plow it. Take a few pictures so you can re-think things at home. Lastly, call that homeowner ASAP, apologize, and ask him what you can do for him. Hopefully he just wants his light fixed. I plow a few super steep drives with no problem. It's all about doing your homework up front. Also, we all break something so don't feel bad. It happens.
  5. BlackIrish

    BlackIrish Senior Member
    Messages: 888

    Although doable I doubt you'll ever make $$ on that property, it will be a money pit. The first time you slide out into the road out of control and get smoked by a semi will prob be your last. :alien:
  6. JohnnyU

    JohnnyU 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,037

    Doesn't seem that "weird" anymore, does it? ;)
  7. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,748

    Sorry to hear about that. That's a tough one. It's hard to tell from the pics, but would a snowblower work ok? I mean it would take a while, but you can charge extra for that. You could maybe drop off one of your employees there so he can blow it off while you go plow somewhere else.
  8. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    looks like chains might be in order if you decide to keep the account.

    IPLOWSNO PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,619

    do you also do landscape maybe an opportunity to fix the problem? if theres a fix that pic sucks for showing grade imo
  10. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    I would pre-salt too.
  11. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    We do three rather difficult extremely steep drives and charge appropiately. They get salted and plowed and get billed about 40% more than other accounts, meaning we service the crap out of them cause our trucks ain't sliding off that mountain.
  12. KGRlandscapeing

    KGRlandscapeing 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,660

    Black top thats been plowd is super slippery you did the right thing back dragging first. Its just a light though i have seen those things for along sidewalks go as much as 300 bucks a pop. But most likely i would just back up in there and push out. Because the drive dosent have to be perfect if its a nasty grade i dout they leave any cars in the drive anyway. I am sure they have the same problem you just did.
  13. 6feetdeep

    6feetdeep Senior Member
    Messages: 141

    S..t hapens, stuff is going to get broken.
    I personally wouldn't have left before notifying the homeowner (You said he was there?), and at least finding out his expectations. Even if you won't be back there again, make it right with him. I've broken stuff and had the homeowner say "Well, s..t happens, you didn't do it intentionally, I'll take care of it", and I've had them make me pay or fix it.
    I'd be PI$$ED if someone tore up my place and just left w/ out notifying me immediately, even if it was a total accident.
    Dont take it wrong, I'm not bashing you, just making a suggestion to save face.
  14. Tommy10plows

    Tommy10plows Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    I say it again. CHAINS !!! I don't know why some of you plowmen have an aversion to chains. You are lucky you don't slide into someone's living room some day.

    At a minimum, chain the fronts because that is where all the weight is, BACK UP THE DRIVEWAY, and take small bites pushing down the driveway, with your plow angled to the low side. Take your time, and you can get this done.

    I plow the steepest drives in my town, and would never even consider doing without CHAINS. The way to plow with chains is to start off slow, do not spin your wheels excessively, and let them work; You will not damage a driveway that way, and you will keep a customer for life.
  15. JeffNY

    JeffNY Senior Member
    Messages: 484

    There was 2 cars at the top of the drive, and 2 cars in that little middle spot, just to make things worse. And the guy was outside shoveling his sidewalk when It happened, he's aware of the damage, I just told him i'd talk to him later about it.

    Supposed to be 55 tmr, that'd be a good day to go look
  16. We use sand or even kitty litter here to get extra grip. We don't like salt because of Lake Tahoe and all runoff goes to the lake. When you do get stuck, try slipping a floor matt under your spinning tire(s). Carpet ones work well. That will usually give you enough bite to get out. When I plowed, I had sandbags in the rear for weight and I could always use the sand for grip too.

    Chains are a must but you may get away with just studded (and siped) tires. Siping makes a huge difference and also make tread last longer. Studs give you a safer feeling and better stopping distance in ice and snow. But they may be more slick than regular tires on dry roads.

    Also, when I start a slide, usually just picking up the plow (or in my case the blower) will add front end weight on the tires instead of that cutting bar (which can act like a ski). That will usually stop the slide.

    All we deal with up here in Incline Village are steep driveways. I will break tire chain crosslinks when climbing up many of my record steep runs. I also use square link chains on my equipment and feel they give better bite. Also, minimal crosslinks so you can get some rubber to the ground. Nothing is more slippery that metal on pavement.

    And finally, ask your owner how he seals his driveway. Many do-it-yourself kits ad quite a slick surface to the pavement. And drives that are slippery from sealing should not be sealed every year...

    Fix your damage and in my case, I would refund the contract. Let someone that walks behind a snowblower do that property. You will gain more accounts and have less liability if you skip problems like this. You will also keep clients happy (and your stress down).
  17. Scott's

    Scott's Senior Member
    Messages: 416

    Wouldnt chains mess up the black top?
  18. Vinnie

    Vinnie Senior Member
    Messages: 156

    Do everything you can (whithin reason ) to make that customer happy with the repairs . I had a similar thing happen to me a while back and after I fixed the damage the owner told everyone how we took care of him . I actually gained a couple of really good accounts from that. Again , good news travels fast but bad news travels faster .
  19. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Simple. They aren't legal everywhere. We can't even have studs. I live and plow right on the Niagara Escarpment so I have plenty of sloped driveways to worry about--not much I can do but good tires, lots of ballast, and low speed.

    There's only been one I couldn't do, very narrow and steep downhill and curvy with trees and fancy landscaping. Attempted it once and said NO THANKS. Whoever laid out that artsy-fartsy driveway needs a beating, seriously... I've always said that before anyone can get an architect's license they need to spend a week mowing lawns, and a week's worth of nights plowing snow. Then we wouldn't get nearly the stupidity they design into everything.

    Reminds me of a (government funded) job we were involved in electrically here a few years ago... dumbasz architect designed the offices with round walls... then everyone wondered why none of the (square) furniture would fit... :rolleyes:
  20. lumps

    lumps Senior Member
    Messages: 365

    I do a lot of my plowing right across the river, in Lewiston and the Falls on this side. Definitely some hill stuff, and can be a pain.

    I also very much agree on making them mow and plow, designs would be so much better that way!