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One to ponder.....

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Sno, Jan 12, 2003.

  1. Sno

    Sno Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    I lost a customer yesterday,

    An elderly lady I have plowed for two years with no complaints.
    She wanted to add her son on the route this year, and she said she would pay for it and to shovel the walks also. I took it, no problem.

    every since, the guy would try to "beat me to it" and shovel them both before I got there.... Ok, still no problem but I did feel the vibes here, he didnt want me plowing... Up at the crack of dawn shoveling and running across town to get his mom before I got there.

    Anyway, last snow I accidentaly... (fist time ever) took an 8" divit out of his lawn with the plow. Not hard to believe since this was like the first time out of 5 snow events he actually let me beat him to it. Mind you I discounted both of them because of the two properties but was actually only getting to do less than before.

    he called, I said I would fix it in the spring... He said ok. I thought it was over.

    Then she calls me the next day, and said my son thinks your plow is just too big for our driveways. Could you, or do you know of anyone who could shovel the drives or has a lawn mower with a blade?

    I said no... And tryed to assure her the plow was not too big. She said well, on your bill it was 12.50 to shovel the walks and 25.00 each to plow but you took off 25.00? I said yes, I took foff or the 8" grass damage.

    Anyway, she hinted there was as much snow on the drive as the sidewalks, (City sidewalks included) and why not shovel the drive for the same price as the walks?

    I dont think she see's the plow and truck is what she is paying for, not the shovel.

    In other words, they only want the labor and not the overhead.

    I seen where It was going and turned it down.

    Anyway, since her son got involved it turned into a real pain. So I'm not too upset about loosing it. I discounted for the extra work and actually recieved less. So, I took on more hassle and was being paid less and they are now asking for even half that.

    Something to think about? Or not?
     
  2. Dont worry abut it one bit, ive come to learn that someone complains about something, and you think its something dumb, they re looking for an excuse because they dont wanta pay the money. just find someone else that can fill that job slot and plow for them, dont let it bother you, its gonna happen every year and sometimes more than once a year.
     
  3. Sno

    Sno Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    Well, anyone watching my posts over the last week or so...

    I dont mind shoveling one bit and it pays decent but,
    I've just about had a belly full of shoveling.

    That alone wont make you a living for sure, and when you do offer it, they seem to think of you as a kid walking down the street with nothing better to do.

    :rolleyes:
     
  4. One thing to try, ive just about thrown out all my shovels, each truck gets one, but they also get a 3.5 hp 21" snowblower, all i have to say is if your doing THAT MUCH shoveling, i think its time you upgrade to a blower, it is SO much easier and takes less time, and you dont even have to worry about piles of snow right next to where your working, just used the snowblower to throw it in the middle of the yard.
     
  5. ebaron

    ebaron Senior Member
    Messages: 110

    Losing Battle

    You know, this is the life of snow plowing residentials. I try to do everything possible to provide the service they want , and be fair, but, at the end of the year, you need to make a profit. I have had these little discussions with folks. They'll call you when there is 29" in the drive, have not had it plowed in days and want it at the regular price. BUT, when you transmission bites it in the middle of a storm, do they all chip in some $, because they are nice?

    It's probably just a combination of being cheap, trying to be 'smarter' and just lacking experience and knowledge of what it takes to plow.

    I would be respectful to the customer, stick by your price, let them know it is what it costs to stay in business. Bottom line, the customer is probably not worth it now or next year.

    While you are plowing the neighbors, the son will be in a competition to finish shoveling first. I have fun with these guys, I wave, I smile, I plow, ... he heaves, he shovels, he has icicles off his nose, he's. Proud!... I' warm, in business and listening to Willie Nelson on the stereo!.:D

    The only thing you have to worry about is when he puts a plow on his Kmart garden tractor and gets stuck in a snow bank in of your accounts
     
  6. Sno

    Sno Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    Kent Lawn Care,
    I have a blower but I usually dont bother with it till over 2".

    I've found a snow pusher is just as quick with anything under.

    Takes the same time either way.

    I thought about snow blowing the drives but,,, I think I would rather have a customer who wants plowed. After all, there sits the 38,000.00 truck and 4,000.00 plow and now I'm eating there snow dust with cold ears.

    While I'm shoveling or blowing so the possibility of a yard scrap is gone the competition just hung a new plow account for twice the money and less hassles and less time.

    I dont want to go there so as bad as I hated too loose an account... I refused.
     
  7. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Let it go. Don't even think about it, anymore. You're in business. He's trying to beat you out of a profit. The son has more influence with the mother than you do.

    The grocer doesn't try to compete with the person who grows thier own food. So why should we worry about those who want to shovel thier own?
     
  8. fordman

    fordman Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    I agree with Mick, just let it go. They soud like they were a PITA anyway.
     
  9. ceaman

    ceaman Senior Member
    Messages: 372

    Id rather shovel then have to sit in the truck and listen to Willie Nelson.:D :D :nono: :drinkup:
     
  10. OffRoadPlow

    OffRoadPlow Senior Member
    Messages: 247

    I am with you Ceaman, I would as well however not sweat loosing that account. Too many houses to worry about the PITA's on a route, you probably spent enought time thinking about it while on the way there or leaving to have done 1 or 2 more accounts. Take a deep breath, look at the networking forum, offer the job to someone else, and get a diffrent account close by, so you can laugh at her son shoveling the drives by hand when it takes you all of 5-10 minutes to do it. :drinkup:
     
  11. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    To move a given amount of snow from the pavement does not require anything resembling rocket science. Most people are capable of doing a job that they themselves will be perfectly satisfied with. Once snow depth, or the number of square feet reach a certain size they may want to pay to have someone else do the job. That's why the phone rings a lot when there's a 12" storm, and not when there's a 2" storm. Professionals like us have invested in the equipment to do the big jobs. Nobody calls me to bring the backhoe out and plant their petunias. On the other hand, I don't know anyone who's ever dug a 12' deep sewer trench by hand.

    I've made the point before, and I've made it in a visit to Lawnsite as well, in the kind of service we're providing we compete not only with each other, but with the customer's ability to do it themselves. Before my wife and I moved into this house the prior owners had a company mow the lawn. I'm an excavator, not a landscaper, but I can push a lawnmower. If a landscaper offered to cut my lawn for $10 I'd jump at it, but if it's going to cost $50, well, I can use the excercise. (I'm guessing there's about 8,000 square feet of grass--anybody interested?) In another 15 years I might not be feeling as energetic. Some homeowners, or their sons, look at having the driveway "professionally" plowed in the same light.

    Mick's comment about grocers competing with those who grow their own food is exactly on point. (On the other hand, I'll bet not many of Mick's neighbors, or mine, could make a coconut cream pie without a trip to the grocers....)
     
  12. BRIMOW525

    BRIMOW525 Senior Member
    Messages: 259

    Its all how bad they either want to save money or think they are getting a good deal. Its funny how no one tries to talk the heater man down in price at 2am with no heat. Everyone including res. and com. people think we set our own prices and have some kind of ability to move on that price. I don't know about anyone else but I can't get a better deal on gas than joe shmoe. I can't persuade my insurance co. to lower my rates "because I'm on a budget". The tranny shop will probably laugh when u tell them that someone else will do the repair cheaper, and then tell you to go there and get it done for less then. I can't get my sidewalk salt cheaper than anyone else either.I could go on and on. After you build up your cleint base and start making good money than anyone who comes along wanting your business is at your mercy. Plain and simple.
     
  13. mike9497

    mike9497 Senior Member
    Messages: 466

    i don't bother with people like that.they have tons of money but yet they think your JOE MILLIONAIRE or the little boy around the corner.i don't replace any kind of damage unless i see it was my fault 100% i wouldn't of showed up after he kept beating u to plowing his drive.get some commercial accounts.next year im going to plow commercial only
     
  14. fastjohnny

    fastjohnny Senior Member
    Messages: 654

    Commercial only here

    At one time, I thought it would be nice to roll into a block or subdivision, and clean up on as many houses as I could. But the commercial accounts are happy for the good service, are not going to do it themselves, and realize it is a cost of doing business. And I find they pay faster, and more reliably. It helps that in the language of the contract, it spells out that unpaid accounts will not be plowed untill the account is up to date.
     
  15. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Sno,what happened to you is why im backing out of resdiential accounts any more.Why deal with the aggravation for 25 bucks to plow.Ill stay in commercial lots where im needed,where there is room to manuever my truck without scratching it up,and where they dont complain when i show up at 12" and plow and salt.
     
  16. SIMONE'S LAWNS SERVICE

    SIMONE'S LAWNS SERVICE Member
    Messages: 63

    Not the kid next door

    Ditto here-except in my neck of the woods it's more like 2" instead of 12" I have no residential snow accounts at this time-but it's only my second year plowing. I've learned this lesson with my lawn service though-IMO the commercial accounts are the way to go. They don't keep near as tight a grip on their purse strings, not looking over your shoulder, etc. I think they just have a better understanding of how business is because they themselves are also in business and know it costs money to operate one.
    I had a little old lady approach me at a large fall clean-up this year -we had some pricey equipment at the job (Bobcat,dump truck etc.) She was inquiring about doing her yard accross the street and started the conversation with "Now last year I paid the young man who was doing it $7.50HR"...:confused: ...:p
     
  17. Sno

    Sno Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    LOL,,, :D

    Yea, been there too..

    And while they tell you that, you can see they already know better. But , they say it anyway.

    LMAO
     
  18. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    I meant 2",not 12.