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OVERBEARING customers

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by jonw440, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. jonw440

    jonw440 Senior Member
    Messages: 139

    I had my "neighbor (10 houses away never saw him before today) call and wanted me to plow.The drive is 80' long double wide. I said usually I would charge you 35.00 but today it will be 50.00. I back dragged in front of the garage and pushed it in the side yard. Then he came out and started digging his car out from beside the garage. I said "I hope I didn't bury it to bad". (Side trail off from 16"). He pulled the car out and asked me to plow that spot. (Not bad it was also tar).
    Then he wanted me to widen the drive by two more swipes.
    Then he said I would be a "hero" if I cleared the mailbox out.
    I did that and said how is that? He looked down and said "could you push this back a little bit more"
    (I was already there for 25 minutes by now)
    He asked how much I said $50.
    He then had the gonads to say
    "If you could come back and clear any new snow from the end of the driveway left by the town plow trucks I would like that. :angry:
    I said sure but it will be another 35.00.
    He said I just paid you 50.00.
    I said Yes you did, but that was for THIS visit. Any more visits results in another charge. He looked at me and said Gee thanks neighbor. (Sarcastically)
    I said if you want me to come back call me and left.

    Another customer likes me to call so he can clean the cars off.
    I worked my regular job last night and didn't call him. I showed up and broke through the end of the drive so he would damage his Saab and other car getting it out of the drive.
    He looks out and yells "Why didn't you call first"
    (I have no cell phone)
    He has those little Poles marking the drive and leaves NO extra room.I cant lush anything onto the grass and is very picky on his property.
    I was done and he gave me the regular rate of $30.00
    Then I have other customers that I would do anything for!
    Never complain, always nice and don't ever ask why I charge a certain amount.
     
  2. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    I had a guy this weekend stake his drive and he didnt leave me any room either. I couldnt pull in without taking out 2 of his 6 stakes. Some people just need to get a clue!!!
     
  3. streetsurfin'

    streetsurfin' Senior Member
    Messages: 770

    My prices were also questioned today for plowing 11.5". I was discounting the guy too since he's a friend that I've worked with for 20+ years. The problem, I think, is that he's most often been paying the 2-4" rate since I started plowing for him. We haven't had a lot of big snows. I already give him a break on the lawn service of 5.00 off a week. I also gave him a break on his friends drive that he wanted me to take care of as a favor between them. Charged him the 2-4" rate for that drive because I picked up lawn work for that residence for the upcoming season. I'm just trying to take care of him since that's alway been his code-Take care of me, I'll take care of you. I hate the feeling I left with, knowing that he thinks I'm trying to take advantage of him. Actually I am learning not to give breaks to folks just because I know them...I need to take care of #1, me. I'm just thinking out loud here as I prepare to talk with him about it and clear up any misconceptions he might have. Thanks for listening and good luck to you with your customers too. There are others out there who won't question your prices as long as the service is good.

    p.s. Another pisser was getting the cops called on me by a neighbor across the street from the second drive mentioned, whose lawn(parkway) was used to deposit the snow. This is standard practice in tight neighborhoods here and usually not a problem. This is a problem lady :dizzy: who's always calling the cops so I got in no trouble but there was a report filed. I actually scratched a 1" x 2 1/2" (that's right-3.75 square inches) area of grass. In the spring I plan to take a piece of sod to her door and show it to her and tell her I'm there to repair the damage I did :D , although I don't feel obligated. It didn't even dig into the dirt or roots so it will grow back, but I just have to do the sod thing for kicks.
     
  4. RidgeCon

    RidgeCon Senior Member
    Messages: 144

    It is funny how (some) customers always seem to get so hard to get along with during a big storm. They seem to want to lose their minds and take it out on the guy who has been in a truck for a lot of @#$% hours. Anyways folks take care cleaning up from this one.
     
  5. sodking

    sodking Member
    Messages: 45


    Tell them you don't do this for practice, you are a professional and this is your chosen trade. Your truck cost $42,000, Insurance, labor, repairs all come at a cost. If you prefer, you could shovel the driveway yourself. That tends to be cheaper than hiring a professional.
     
  6. RidgeCon

    RidgeCon Senior Member
    Messages: 144

    I agree with you 100% however how can we get some customers to understand without beating them over the head with the idea. Summer work is no different. You can have truck, trailer and gear sitting at the end of their drive(value of 70k) and they quibble over40-50 bucks. This frustration is not new and everyone here shares it i know.
     
  7. Robo

    Robo Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    "how can we get some customers to understand without beating them over the head with the idea"

    You can't without beating them over the head some people are just this way :nod:
     
  8. RidgeCon

    RidgeCon Senior Member
    Messages: 144

    Robo, what type of wood do you suggest for the stick for this "beating".... :)
     
  9. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    a nice chunk of oak would work best. :)
     
  10. scuba875

    scuba875 Senior Member
    Messages: 250

    I had a lady call me today! She has a dirt drive and want's to know if I can come get her drive plowed out. I told her there was 12" of snow why did you wait so long you should have called me on Friday. I would have come 2 or 3 times.

    She said well I didn't want to pay $75.00. This way I can get it done for what it cost last time, $25.00. A little back ground she works as a sub teacher where my mother works and the last storm we got she called me there was about 4" so I charged her $25 ( it should have been more but my mother asked me to do her a favor).

    I had a hard time in there with 4" and told her that next time please call before the storm and I can come in for the first swipe around 2". I explained to her that there was no way I could get in there with 12" and that she may have to call someone with a bobcat.

    She asked how much will that cost I told her I have no idea but I was sure that it would be a lot more than $75.00. She was very mad and said I was just trying to rip her off and this was my way of getting even.

    Well I am sure I will get an ear full from my mother tomorrow. Sometimes you just can't win but I'm not going to go in there, tear up my truck or end up with a wrecker bill to get my truck out.

    Screw residential work, I figured it would be a way to pick up a few extra bucks after subbing. Out of 15 people who called yesterday there were only five that were grateful and actually said thank you, one guy even tipped me $5.00 and a can of diet coke. The others all questioned why it was so expensive (40.00). I will go do those five if they call again but no more. It's just not worth the aggravation.
     
  11. Robo

    Robo Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    Ah well there are several that will serve the purpose nicely. If looking to straighten out an annoying customer I would prefer something in a white ash hewn to an oval shape about 3' long (ressembling a sledghammer handle) :waving:

    I am lucky I am not a total dependant professional only dealing in lawn or snow removal service. I have a regular job all my plowing is gravy payup I have a hard time with people in general anymore customer service for most people (working behind counters etc.) is non existent. On the other hand people seem to just hen peck you to death when you are serving them or act as the biggest idiots period.

    Since I am ranting a bit I will continue to do so. Yesterday I was plowing the condo complex and I finish a calldasack(sp??) and move on to the next (these calldasacks are the worst I have ever seen to plow mind you). Guy drives his car up behind me I almost back over top of him and says to me "can you come plow my driveway??" I said yes but its going to be a minute. What really crossed my mind and I had to bite my tongue when speaking was, didn't you f'ing see/hear me plowing your area?? You could have moved your piece of sh!t car 15 minutes ago so I would have more room to work. But now you come out and want me to come back over just to service you when I could have already been done with it if you would have extended me some f'ing courtesy. :gunsfiring:

    He may have gotten that treatment if it was my account and not a sub job...
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2005
  12. bcf

    bcf Senior Member
    Messages: 206

    I get one lady who I plow and salt her drive at 6" twice and clear the walks once, and she gives me a hard time about $85, when I started at $100, but the best is my friend who I tell I am starting my route around 4pm. He calls around 6:30 wondering why I haven't came yet, even though he tells to put him last on my route. I tell him I probably won't get around there til midnight. "My baby goes to bed at 8." I tell him I can't work around his baby. "Then wait til tomorrow." With more snow on the way, I say I'll have to charge him more. "Then I'll shovel it myself. OK, no skin off my back. Gotta love friends. :dizzy:
     
  13. Luppy

    Luppy Senior Member
    Messages: 325

    I don't take on many regulars but I do run ad, and when we get big storms like the one yesterday I get a lot of demanding last minute callers who expect to get the deal of a lifetime.
    Had a message on my answering machine from a guy who stated he'd like someone to come plow his driveway between noon and 2 pm.
    Had another lady call around 8pm last night after nearly all the other plow trucks were home sleeping. Never saw here place so didn't want to quote her a price and get there to find I'd lowballed myself. Ran right over there after hanging up the phone.

    Turns out she's got a steep incline with 4 foot stone retaining wall at the mouth of the driveway. All the snow from the entire event in her driveway (26"+)
    Told her I wanted 50.00 and she said that was too steep, I said so is your driveway. She thanked me for stopping to have a look and I was on my way.
    LOL. As I was typing this another call came in from a guy who wanted someone out to his place asap. Claims he has a double width drive about 40ft with all the snow from the entire storm. Told him I'll get right over there by 6am and I want 70.00 to dig him out. He said oh thanks I'll get back to you. People think they're in a position to bargain when they aren't regular customers yet they want it now????????? I don't think so.
    This is why I charge the same amount for over 2 feet of snow, whether I clear it in 3 separate visits or one. People will learn if we are all consistent on that. There will always be a few jackasses in the crowd that will argue. Doesn't bother me I just move on.
     
  14. plowman777

    plowman777 Senior Member
    Messages: 227

    dont discount low snow amounts!!

    i spent 40 minutes at some living large house...last year i had charged him less for small storms but this 14 inche storm i wanted $95.00 still a bargain for him cuz you can get $45-60 for a drive that takes 10- 15 minutes here. anyway, he remembered the 4 inche snowfall amount of $60-$70 and only wanted to give me me $80...still not bad but the moral is dont give a break for less snow cuz thats all they remember.

    another guy did the same... his price since 5 years ago was $50, today i asked for $55 and hes like "what happened, last year you charged $40!"
     
  15. plowman777

    plowman777 Senior Member
    Messages: 227

    Luppy how much does your ad cost?..you run it every week? or just a few times?


    last minute people are the worst!!...they think " i wont shovel all this 30" of snow, i will get some plow truck for $35.00 and save me the work!" when you tell them this storm is $75.00 they go " i will call you back" and thats that.
    going out to give quotes is an equal waste of time after it has snowed. i remember a blizzard of 30 inches, the guy was shoveling it and half done. not yet to the 4 feet of muck at the street.after driving all the way over there, i told him $50 to finish it and he said no thanks, i just do it myself...so lesson learned. i just give a high price over the phone and they take the bait or not.
     
  16. edosher

    edosher Member
    Messages: 32

    Freinds and family....

    Long story.. I take care of this one family in town because the father got my kid brother into the union and is his foreman. He keeps my brother working all year long and I plow his driveway pro bono. This year, I picked up all five of his kids, aunts, second cusins twice removed, etc bringing me another 15 accounts. :) The Father retired this fall and spends his winters in Florida, but asked me to plow the drive anyways because another friend of the families' mother was renting his Mass house over the winter. So three families, three sons, moms and all if you can figure this out.

    Saturday night I went out for the first run in the truck at 10pm and blew a u joint on the front axle, so I limped home to see what I could fix and to line up someone to take care of my accounts. My brother found a 24 hour Napa in New Hampshire that had the part so I sent him with $200 to get the 8.99 part. All of my customers were very understanding with me and told me not to worry about it. I plowed in 2wd thruout the storm untill my brother came back at 4am.

    After lying in the snow for what seemed like forever, we found out that the u joint was for a Dana 44 axle, not the Dana 60 that I have but I put the thing in anyways. I'm a cabinet maker by trade and can cheat a 1/16"! I did my route twice, babying the truck so I wouldn't blow this u joint to hell. At 10 am I finally crash at the house for a power nap and who calls? The mother that is renting the house!! She is calling me to ask

    1. Is my truck fixed? I said sort of, but I don't know how much more it can take.
    2. When can I come over to shovel the 7' snowdrift off of her car that is parked at the end of her friends house? Oh, she'll need a ride to it also...
    3. How many spaces can be plowed out for her party Sunday night?

    Ok, she is my best friends mother living at my brothers foremans home and I have been running on 5 hours of sleep in two days, but I am paitent. I told her that I only am charging for one space of plowing (NOT REMOVAL) and that she would have to call a taxi for a ride.

    What the hell is wrong with people??? It's bad enough when a PAYING customer wants a little more, but when a tennant make crazy demands like that? Maybe I should send out crack pipes with some of my invoices....
     
  17. Boutallnite

    Boutallnite Senior Member
    Messages: 197

    I'll just say this. Over the weekend there were some customers that could NOT wait and would get someone else to do the job and would have to give such a lexture on how this was unexceptible. And there are others like the last one I did last nite around 7pm. A lady came out to aks me to do the steps and I said "sorry for being so late" and she responded " G_d bless you for coming"
    Now why can't all of them be like that.
     
  18. Luppy

    Luppy Senior Member
    Messages: 325

    Plowman777 you're right. The last minute callers can be the worst. That guy who I mentioned called me earlier, which, it was 4:30 in the morning btw when he called. Well I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and I awoke at 7:30 to find 14 messages on the machine, 3 of them from that guy. I call him back and tell him I have a few others to hit before him, and I can get over there in a couple of hours, and I'd call him on my cell when I was on the way. He agrees and thanks me up and down because nobody else had returned his calls. Call him on the cell in the promised time frame, no answer. Leave message, call again he answers and says oh I got someone else. Son of a.............This is how lots of people are here.

    Even if you give a high price over the phone, these people stand outside and wave down trucks and they get someone else to clean their driveway when they're already arranged for you to come and do it. They don't even have the courtesy to give you a call to let you know. First kid that comes by in some crapcan truck flinging lowball prices gets the job. I hate the lowballers more than anything! Some kids just drive up and down streets giving much lower prices than everyone else. I suppose it's the name of the game to beat out others, but they are usually here today gone tomorrow plowers who come and go when I've been reliable and established for 17 years. Oh well.

    My ad is a small classified in our local small town paper that goes out once a week and costs me around 36.00 per month. Every year I usually pay for 12 weeks in advance.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2005