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Per push annually dropping out half way through the season

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by Plowtoy, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    I've come to realize that I have too many clients who want to cancel services part way through the season or want me to service them less as we get closer to the end of the season.

    Example: I have 3 clients in a 3 home "development" they all share a part of the main driveway. At the begining of the season, theres profit to be had, but as the two clients on either side of the middle (3rd) home cancel (to go to florida for the rest of the season), it now makes it much less profitable because I still have to plow most of the main driveway for the middle home. Fortunitly im also out there for another part of my route and its not even a mile out of the way, but I like to make money too.
    The other example is, I hear many times towards the end of the season (as the clients are now used to the snow) that they dont "need" to be plowed every two inches, it can wait until 3-4 or more because they have AWD vehicles. The contract states that we will be out at approximately 2 inches, sometimes its an inch and 3/4 if its done snowing and sometimes it may be a lot more if its early in the morning.

    So, I want to make them happy, but at the same time they agreed to the trigger and I agreed to the cancelation policy in my contract.

    My thought is, next year make it so that when the snowbirds head to florida, they can cancel the parking areas in front of their garage doors but must keep the part of the drive way open up to their parking areas for a reduced fee. Then the one that stays would still pay the full price for their "parking area" and portion of the driveway, but the snowbirds could cancel the parking areas.
    The other thing is, Im thinking that if I offer a "per inch" quote, the clients who want to be done less could choose to just call me when they are wanting to be plowed, maybe its two inches, maybe its 12? I guess I look at that as a way to be paid for all the snow I move? Im not always availible right at 2 inches (contract states that we will be there at aprox 2 inches or as soon as a truck and driver are availible) so my per push sometimes turns out to be more than the 2 inch trigger and that could be a better value for the client than doing per inch.

    Just looking for your thoughts and experiances on something like this. Thanks! Dave
  2. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 7,921

    My neighbor is new a snow bird.
    He didn't want his drive plowed at all.
    His reasoning is, why give the burgeler a nice parking spot by the door?
    Make them trudge threw the snow for it.

    He then says you can then call the cops when you see footprints.

    I went to seasonal for my residential drives.
    Get all the $ by jan1st. No refunds.
    Per push for comershail .
  3. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Not sure I could sell a seasonal with them, and im not much of a gambler. Their proximity to Lake Michigan really makes it hard. Being that their back yard is the beach, there are lake effect events that pick right up over them and drop the snow 3-20 miles inland, and then there are events like this past week where they get pounded for 3 days in a row, but 10 miles inland was sunny. I guess its something for me to try and figure out and maybe offer? Thanks for the suggestion
  4. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,106

    Out here the thieves know you're away because your snows not done and there are no tracks in the driveway. Sell them on that angle...
    I have weekend property owners from the city who ask me every year to plow their lanes on Friday, they don't want it done all week unless they are up. I price them both this is my regular route rate, this is my on call rate. On call rate is 3 times the regular rate and be warned it may take me up to 12 hours to respond. It is hard to have a life already when in this business, get a couple sunny days and you don't want to spend them servicing a penny pinching client to save them money by costing you.
    The other saving grace I have is that most of my customers have oil or gas trucks that need access so reminding them of this helps sell regular service.
  5. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 127

    Snow birds ought to ask their insurance company what they think of leaving the drive unplowed. Last time I looked, most fire trucks don't have plows.

    Around here the thieves will plow it themselves, or use snow machines.

    All owners on common drive have a responsibility for the common part. It is sometimes very hard to convince them of this.

    "Will call" drives are a royal PITA and should be charged accordingly. Charge one price if you can do it after your regular route is finished, a lot more if you have to make a special trip. Include a heavy equipment clause and charge if your truck can't do it. There is no point in abusing your equipment to save some cheapskate a few dollars.
  6. bhmjwp

    bhmjwp Senior Member
    from kcmo
    Messages: 309

    I think this is a common problem the 1st few yours for everyone. I call it thinning the herd. I stay with them thru the year as needed and the following year only offer them on-call service after I have completed all my regular customers. I state this up front. Also, if they call and I get there and they have been done without cancelling, full charge. No exceptions. If they want to save a dollar then they better think ahead. I run a tough program with these folks, no-oh I have to be at the airport in the morning-or I'm stuck in my drive-please come quick!

    Snow-unlike most functions we preform yearly is time sensitive, I have x number of slots I can fill for our trigger customers, and then that's it. Have stayed full book for the last 15 yrs, and always have 20/30 on calls after everyone else is completed. In big storm, on-calls can be 30 hrs down the road, so be it. Just call to cancel if you do not want to see a bill. Price on call work high. Usually double or more. It makes the back tracking and only deep pushes worthwhile.
  7. derekslawncare

    derekslawncare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,003

    I like this.

    Just have a sit down with your customers and be upfront and honest with them. You are a one man operation (if you are) and that you only have so much time available to service accounts. The only way that you can continue to stay in business is when your route is full. And of course, it is very difficult to find a customer mid-season to replace them after they cancel, so this leaves you with an empty time slot that you can't refill.

    I used to run into this all the time in the summer mowing. I would book my route full within the first six weeks of the season starting, then July and August would come along, and all the idiots who don't water would call and say "It hasn't grown, we don't need you this week." Then next week, same thing. It got to where I was skipping 2/3 of my accounts every day and getting home before noon (and of course wasn't making ANY money) They would pull this crap to the point I was only mowing them once a month to keep the weeds down. So then I added a clause to my contract that said all yards will be mowed weekly as needed to be determined by me, so no need to call. If I got there and determined it didn't need mowed, I skipped that week, BUT I never skipped more than one week in a row, so the yard would be mowed every two weeks at a bare minimum. I explained to them why and they understood.

    So, you can do the same thing with these people, you either want it plowed or you don't, but no more canceling mid-season without paying a penalty equal to the estimated charges for the remainder of the season or whatever.

    I also like what was said about fire truck access and also burglars knowing who isn't home due to no tire tracks, so you can use that as well. One final thought. My dad has a saying revolving around the old adage of the customer is ALWAYS RIGHT. He would say NO, the customer is NOT ALWAYS RIGHT, BUT THE CUSTOMER DOES ALWAYS PAY THE BILLS. Meaning: do what you can to keep the customer happy and paying, but sometimes they are more trouble than the income which they provide, at which time, it's time to fire them!
  8. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Well next season drop any driveway that is like this. 1 driveway ,1 owner,no sharing.
  9. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 7,921

    Ok ill go plow his drive and bill him, citing the above reasons. Then when he doesn't pay sue him....ussmileyflag

    around here you will need to have a very long drive before the fire dept will park their rig in it.
    its just to close to the fire.
    there is a hydrant at the corner of his drive....

    It's his INS, his home, his castle= his right.

    who knows, maybe he has a security system with cams that save the video to a off site server. and that he can view the cams remotely?

    not my worries...

    Its nice to see the , sell, sell, sell, mentality come to the forefront.Thumbs Up
  10. Meezer

    Meezer Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 291


    About 70% of my customers are FIB's that rarely come out to their properties during the winter months. For obvious reasons, they are not interested in a 2 inch trigger. I would recommend selling them a 3 or 4 inch trigger & no sharing.
  11. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,106

    I thought you had a tab on your computer that says "prepay seasonal" Did it break?
  12. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    I was not expecting this many replys! Thanks!

    It's starting to make more sense to me, why the last plow guy didn't want to come back. This is my 3rd year servicing these properties. The first year I did use the securty and emergency vehicle avenue with one of the owners and they still opted not to be plowed after they left. The other owner that year agreed to contine to be plowed after they left but only after a higher trigger (which I agreed to). Last year, the one again left and didn't want to be plowed but the other took some convincing. I ended up continuing on with his after he figured out his kid was staying there from time to time. This year, both flat out just said no after they left. I did send an email and asked this question trying to get them to understand the importance of splitting up the main drive between the 3 of them. I asked "if a car eating pothole devoloped in the section of drive that all 3 owners use, would 2 of the owners be less responsable for the repairs since they dont use that section as often?" I think it may have made sense to him as he said he understood my problem. I really think that next season, I will offer break up the billing and allow them to only cancel the parking areas in front of their garage and not the main driveway. By doing this, I would still be making less than when they are all there, but I would still be meeting my personal goal. If they dont agree, then I will drop them and fill those spots elsewhere.

    Not sure if this makes any differance in your opinions, but these 3 properties are very diffcult to service because of their locations. The homes sit up on a hill with the driveway being adjasent to a 75' give or take drop off with no guard rails (just trees to stop your fall). Plowing during a storm is VERY scary because you are plowing blindfolded because the windows are all fogged up and your mirrors continue to get coated in snow.
  13. derekslawncare

    derekslawncare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,003

    Well if that is the case, then here are a few additional things to consider. A) You need to consider if the account pays enough (even doing all 3) to justify not only the danger to you, but also the possible loss of your truck and not being able to service your other accounts if you lost that truck. B)If you decide it is worth it, then I would tell them that the only way that you can justify it is if you make the full amount (all 3) for the entire season. It's ALL OR NONE if I were to even do it in the first place.
  14. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Wore it out,called for replacement.:drinkup:
  15. shooter56

    shooter56 Member
    from ct
    Messages: 57

    I had the same situation a pair of houses 1/2 mile into the woods then split off to each of the houses, One customer went away for the winter, they did not want to pay for the common drive plowing. My contract says both drives one price split between the to customers. I have a cancelation clause it states if one customer pulls out I will cancel the account. I told them to read the contract and called the other customer and told them I was canceling. They freaked out called the other customers and they settled it between themselves. I plow both properties and still get paid. I will pull out of a property that I can't make money on if the customers try to screw me. My advice is to cancel the property and find a replacement that you can make the right amount of profit on.
  16. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    Yep, **my way** or **no way**... Already dropped 3 this season. No, I will not wait and plow three 2 inch storms at one time because $30 a push is such a burden on your millions in the bank. No, I will NOT come plow only for a 6" or bigger storm for $25. No, I will not wait and push the 20" blizzard at the end so you can save $35.
  17. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    You would plow a driveway for a Smuttynose beer:drinkup:
  18. shooter56

    shooter56 Member
    from ct
    Messages: 57

    Great Attitude!!:gunsfiring: