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new customers still shell shocked with dec 09 invoices :p

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,885

    Well actually im not laughing... i think many clients shocked at their invoices, are now picking things apart and trying to delay, even a few weeks if possible to pay their invoices.

    Mostly new client, that was their first storm so they believe we will invoice them thousands per storm, although we had 18-26" in most parts of central/south jersey december 19th 2009.

    I get a letter, mailed around January 15th 2010, Invoice mailed/emailed on Dec 30th 2009, due on 30day net terms. The letter is an "email" format, which i double checked today, we never received this email although our email address is right, i think it was saved as a draft and printed, not ever emailed. The email is dated Monday January 4th 2010.. not sure what the week and a half hold up was from this original dispute but here it goes.

    Theyre on a flat per push rate of to 4" $155.00 and $185.00 4-7"... if we push 8", 10" , 14feet, we only get $185.00 per push so we make sure were there on time if possible.

    On invoicing, we invoice $185.00 per 4-7" push and put the approximation of inches on site during that visit, crew puts this on their log sheets, its not exact.

    We have pushes of 5, 8, 7, 3 & 7 inches, which they say were billing them for 30" and it didnt snow that much. Of course parking lots next to these big buildings, it surely was blowing and so most clients understand this, i think im going to leave off the "per push amount estimation" from now on after this last big storm though.

    They claim that the storm ended Late saturday, very early sunday morning which is not correct either, maybe theyre at home sleeping through the day? who knows.
    Theyre refusing to pay for plowing done sunday 12/20/09 because we invoiced for 3:25am and they don't think we received another 10" of snow since 3:25am sunday morning to monday morning, which was when they opened up business and our next visit. there was about 7-8" there, not 10" and it finished finally snowing around 10am-noon time sunday not saturday night or early sunday morning.

    If we cleared the lot at noon time after it stopped, they'd still have 4-6" there just from blowing wind all day sunday. Basically theyre frustrated with a big invoice, which is one of our small invoices honestly, and they don't like that there was snow still in the lot monday morning. We could have probably plowed 2-4 times more before monday morning even "through sunday afternoon" , and invoiced them another 2-4 pushes above this invoice.

    I knew they were closed, we were backed up and it wasnt a priority since they'd only be in monday morning, not sunday, i saved them money if thats how they want to look at it.

    They said monday morning that two employees got stuck in the driveway before we got there, again, about 7-8" worth was what i measured myself onsite at 7am... they open at 6am for some employees so i can understand their gripe over this one. I'm even willing to remove the whole charge for 6:58am that morning just because we should have been there an hour sooner.

    Theyre saying, only one lane into the driveway was plowed, not sure what this means yet, its literally less than two lanes wide total.

    The receiving door was plowed shut, again, not sure about this because they only have one door they told me about in november that they use, when i was there at 7am.... there was 7-10" around this door, no snow was plowed against it ever. I backdragged it myself.

    Loading ramp had to be hand shoveled and salted on monday by "clients" employees due to poor quality... im only assuming after reading this that this same receiving door/loading ramp is the same location, that after i back dragged, that they still had a foot of snow against the door itself they had to push away? So we will hand shovel this in the future.

    The public sidewalk was never shoveled....the neighboring business contractor cleared it with a snow blower... Im assuming this is by the street, im sure with the first storm for this client and us, being about two feet, none of our crew knew this front property sidewalk existed. I was only told about the back loading ramp area, side parking lot and front sidewalk to the building. Three areas. Although i have no problem with this extra sidewalk, even included in the price, we were never even told about it until this letter. I probably showed up myself monday morning when it was getting bright out, saw the sidewalk was done and thought nothing of it because "it was done" assuming our crew took care of it. Nice that they inform us about this three weeks+ later. The building is attached to another building and the sidewalk apparently just splits in between, half for one side, half for the other, no problem.

    Claims, their tenant hand shoved the sidewalk to the front door on saturday in order to gain entry to the building? why? apparnetly theyre closed saturday too,

    We were there saturday at 3:40am to salt, 11:10am 5" to shovel/plow and again at 6:24pm..... with two feet of snow in about 24hrs, im sure theres going to be snow on the walkway of the closed building during the course of this saturday... This isnt a retail location, they never were a company looking for "2inch" service every time on the dot with salt constantly. They seem to want us there more often in the beginning/end and next day of the storm yet don't like the amount charged basically for "one storm".

    They're disputing the 12/24/09 salt application at 7:50am, was slick/refreeze and 85%+ of our properties got salt that morning.... not sure why theyre disputing, maybe because they were closed that xmas eve?

    States theyre open monday-Friday each week. Posted hours are 7:00am, but employees arrive at 6:00am... we tried to shoot for 6am intially anyway so we'll work for 4-5am from now on. States they are not open for business saturday and sunday.

    they expect a "SIGNIFICANT" revision to our invoice, and unless they request salting, there will be no need to salt seperatly from the salting service included in the plow service price. This i believe "is the owners wife" that wrote the letter from the company. I don't think she realizes that its

    $130 per salt app only
    $155 per 2-4" push only
    $185 per 4-7" push only

    if we plow 4" and salt, its $185 PLUS $130.00 as billed. Our contracts are fairly simple and i've been told several times in the past couple years that clients appreciate not having to sort through multiple types of charges, and 30 pages of contract just for snow removal.

    On the invoice each month, at the very top, we list their prices per service so they can reference what was charged without having to look up their contract.

    How can we put a clause into the invoice and contract so that its VERY clear for clients to understand that salt of $130 is NOT included in a plowing for $155 and $185 ?:realmad:
  2. Westhardt Corp.

    Westhardt Corp. Senior Member
    Messages: 845

    My head hurts.

  3. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Mine too....and I will never get back the 5 mins of time I lost reading this post......lmao

    Guess you weren't clear on the billing process when you got the contract
  4. 2brothersyc

    2brothersyc Member
    Messages: 95

    i might be the only one saying this but it seems threw all your posts that you need more trucks or equipment. this is not to be mean hateful or bashful but it seems that you have to much work for the amount of trucks you have. it seems that you need more trucks plowing or something. again this isn't meant to be hateful just to let you know what i think
  5. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,468

    Ramair, your post is hard to follow, however I think i get the overall content. WI had a similar storm in early Dec. I have a new client this year that disputed some of my charges as well. On the really big storms it's difficult to do everything the right way as far as timing is concerned, so I feel your pain. I was able to explain all my charges and get paid for all my services, however next years contracts will explain in more detail my intentions on storms over 12". Maybe you should look to specify more clearly as well.
  6. ss502gmc

    ss502gmc Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    In my contracts i have the usual per inch or per push pricing and then i have "blizzard conditions" pricing which is basically a flat rate per 24 hours. Like the blizzard here in mass on 12/20/09 pretty much was a 24 hour event so they paid the "blizzard rate". Which is basically double the price of a 12" snowfall. I also state in my contracts under blizzard conditions that basically in short "its a f-ing blizzard and theres only so much people can do!!! When u got 60mph winds and its piling up the snow faster than u can plow it? Its the way it is and u can only do what you can do. And all my customers understand that. Also i cant dedicate 1 truck to a small lot for 24 hrs to keep it clear.
  7. albhb3

    albhb3 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,505

    tell em to get over it, its almost Feb
  8. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,261

    So if I have this right, they are closed for the weekend and it still needed multiple clearings and saltings? As the owner of that business, I would probably complain also. Why don't you just clear it on Sunday? If I have (which we do) properties that are closed on the weekend, the snow can build up if I feel we need to clear other locations. Then on Sunday (or if we are done everywhere else) we'll come in with the wheel loader and pusher to clear the snow. Perhaps they need a more clear contract to explain what is going to be provided or they should clarifiy that it's not needed a million times on Sat. & Sun.
  9. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,468

    On a large snowfall some of us can't wait and remove it all at once. Needs to be done in chunks if possible. If you have a large loader you have that luxury of waiting.
  10. lilweeds

    lilweeds PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,178

    I think he has the equipment, but it only snow 20" in NJ on very rare occasions and this customer doesn't understand. DO NOT let them walk all over you, STAND your ground and let them know if there is an issue you MUST be called when the situation is current, not a day a week or a month later.
  11. cplmac

    cplmac Senior Member
    from Dundee
    Messages: 113

    I had the same problem this year, was my first year with my own accounts and had lots of issues with the accounts thinking I was over charging. So I told them to get a couple of bids from someone else, keeping in mind that we already had a contract just in case. I knew my prices were on the low side because I was trying to do them a favor. Anyhow, couple of weeks later they got their bids back and I haven't heard a peep since. Turns out I was the lowest bid they had. People just fail to realize that we have been getting 30+ hour long events that need to be cleared multiple times per storm.
  12. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    yep i have to agree here, the real question though is, would they have had better service if it had been another company, if not then tell them to grow up, pay their bills, or to go somewhere else, but still pay their bills. i found myself in a similar situation where i am, with a good 40cm / 16-19 inches my first snowfall in December, the important part for us, (all headaches aside) is that we were done and caught up on our lots long before most of our competition, which tells me we were better prepared for the unexpected heavy snowfall
  13. FordFisherman

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

    A contract is a contract. You both signed it and agreed to the terms. If you did what you were required to do per the contract then you should be paid accordingly. Explain to them that if they want to adjust the terms next season they can, but a bill is due for services rendered. They're looking for a discount; don't give it to them. If it doesn't snow the rest of the season can you submit a bill for service you did not provide? Of course not. How can they expect to not pay you for services you provided under the contract? Have your attorney contact them.
  14. FordFisherman

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

    And as far as "closed for the weekend" is concerned, unless it specifically states that service is modified for weekend storms, it snows, you plow, they pay.
  15. ferdinand711

    ferdinand711 Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    most if not all property managers don't want you to do the service when they're closed. if it storms on Saturday when they're close on the weekend they want you to wait until Sunday night if there is still snow or ice on the property them you can clean it up, I know it sucks but everybody is trying to stretch out their budget.
    When it storms in the morning while they're open, they want you to push the snow every 2"-4" but will ask you to throw the salt on your last pass or when the storm is almost done, again to stretch out the budget of having to pay 2-3 Salting on an 8" storm. some of us will disagree because we want to make the most money out of it but I guess that's what we all would do if we are on the other side of the fence.
  16. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Go seasonal.
  17. Silentroo

    Silentroo Senior Member
    Messages: 147

    That might be your issue.

    Yes we are in this to make money but I total invoices for subs all the time who have trucks that seem to run 28 hours in a day and push 6-8 more inches than we got.

    Every year I pick up business from contractors who bill based on what they saw on the lot rather than what fell at the airport. Or the national weather service.

    Over Christmas we had around 9 inches of snow. I saw a bill from a company for over 15 inches.

    I would expect an honest bill. You may believe your customer got it, they do not.

    I love when guys in town stick to their guns with customers. Heard today about a plow guy yelling and screaming at a property manager that she was stupid.

    Guess what. He lost 40 acres worth of work. Know what else. He was right and She was wrong. Want to know who is talking to every property manager in town?

    I bet it felt good to blow off some steam. Would you continue to work with a company that treats you how you treat your customer? It is the question I ask my subs all the time.
  18. Precedence

    Precedence Senior Member
    Messages: 107

  19. tilawn

    tilawn Member
    Messages: 55

    That is why in my area I charge most accounts this way for example
    Upto 3 inches 50
    4-6 inches 100
    7-9 inches 150 and so on
    also chemicals only putdown at near end of storm
    and fiinally snow will be cleared 24/7 doesnt matter holiday weekend etc.
    oh yeah all measurements are taken by me only at that is stated on my contracts as well

    Now if we are getting a 6 in storm throughout the day we will plow with it to keep them opened up. that charge would then be 100 for the storm and I would plow twice for the storm. This way I am getting same price for pushing everytime I get there. Been doing it this way for 15 years in my area and only have had 2 complaints.
  20. Burkartsplow

    Burkartsplow PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,248

    What the heck was that. I got half way through and gave up.I do large contracts on seasonal. No complaints 99 % of the time. Or just do per push and not the increments. It keeps snowing you keep coming back and servicing the lot every 3 or 2 inches.