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PM doesnt know what 2" trigger means

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by sectlandscaping, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. sectlandscaping

    sectlandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    At about 5:45 the snow stopped. I went to the driveway and measured 1". So I tell the guys to get some sleep. The rain starts at 6:45 while I'm out salting. This stuff is turning to a slushy mess so I clear the driving lanes while I'm saltng. Leaving the rest of the lot untouched.

    I get a call from the PM saying noone did the walks and the parking lot looks half done. I told him plowing starts at 2". After that he claims that I;m supposed to clear the lot no matter what. Then I was told by the PM of the other building I do with this company when bidding that they maintain the first 2" of sidewalks. So he tells me that the building are different. I say the contracts are the same and I was contacted and showed the scope of work by him.

    He passes the boss the phone. This lady has a attitude and we have the same conversation. She tells me that seasonal means I plow whenever it snows. I say yeah whenever it snows more then 2" inches. So we argue about this. She then switches it to it snowed more then 2" and they pay good money for a service I'm not providing. I tell her no one is calling me to plow today. They pay good money too for me to plow when its over 2". Next its I didnt sand. I say I dont use sand I use straight salt. Well you didnt do it. Do you see ice? no. Thats cause its melted. You didnt sand. If If I put salt in a cup of water would you see it? She has the nerve to tell me I signed the contract. Well I did but you cant read.This went on......

    Now the kicker is the PM for the other building has no problems at all. They cleared the walks themselves as per the contract and understand that I'm only suppose to plow when it snows more then 2".

    The problem is this lady is the boss of both of them. I dont know if she was having a bad day or what but heres the wording in the contract.

    Contractor will plow all designated areas once two (2) inches or more has accumulated.
     
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Time for a pow wow with all 3 of them to straighten things out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  3. scott3430

    scott3430 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,005

    You may have to physically go and show her the contract she signed, to REFRESH her memory. It seems some people have a bad day and it's the plow guy who gets questioned.

    She maybe forgot the trigger point that she agreed to? Still no excuse.
     
  4. sectlandscaping

    sectlandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    The problem with that is she was reading the contract to me on the phone. So she know what it says. She just doesnt comprehend it and when she did she tried to lie about the snowfall amount. She still swears I didnt salt and the walks are fully my responsibility.

    These apartments have a deere with a plow blade, a older dingo with v plow, a few 36" blowers and a few snowex push spreaders. Why would you own this equipment if you didnt maintain the walks?

    I did already talk to the other PM and maintenance supervisor since I was there when the phone calls started. The maintenance super said he would try to straighten it out and mentioned there was a inspection there today.

    I just dont need to deal with this every event. I'm not going to plow a inch of snow.
     
  5. Raymond S.

    Raymond S. Senior Member
    Messages: 513

    The problem is you're half way through January and she thinks you're sitting at home doing nothing (obviously these are bid on a seasonal w/ 2" trigger.) If you had been plowing 3 x a week I bet she wouldn't still be complaining. Seems like she's just a *****. I'd simply sit down and remind everyone of the contract. If she really wants zero tolerance on the walks then tell her you will renegotiate the contract for the one building and move forward. I have had property managers send out bid packets for medical plazas including plow, salt, walks, and ice melt for a 2" trigger...w/ zero tolerance! I had to call and explain that what she really wanted was zero tolerance and get rid of the 2" trigger because the bids were not going to be apples to apples.
    I have other buildings that the contract is 2" trigger and we plow them at about 1". When they actually see 2" on the ground it looks more like 4" and they freak.
     
  6. sven1277

    sven1277 Senior Member
    Messages: 480

    I've found that seasonal contracts are completely different from per push/storm contracts. I have several seasonal contracts. One 55+ adult complex specifically wrote 2" trigger into the contract. I have serviced it every storm, including today, with about an inch on the ground. It is easier to plan on servicing the property every time. I've been there with those same conversations with pm's. They're all pitas.
     
  7. ponyboy

    ponyboy Senior Member
    Messages: 956

    I would have did it just to make them happy especially after last year and the lack of snow this year but that is just me
     
  8. Buswell Forest

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

    One of my lots is a 2" trigger in theory, but it ended up being "when it's over / when we ask"..they don't want to spend the money. Even a 1" snow gets cleaned up though, it's a business.
     
  9. Italiano67

    Italiano67 Senior Member
    Messages: 639

    The 2 inch trigger is more snow than they think it is. It almost never would fly as a trigger because of what just happened to you. I would do it at an inch and forget about it.
     
  10. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,161

    Tell her to email the office...once you have the request in writing do it and bill it as an extra....we all know the problem with just trying to make them happy, it causes an expectation outside of the contract terms. Given the year I've had this season, I probably would've just taken care of it.
     
  11. ponyboy

    ponyboy Senior Member
    Messages: 956

    I agree but do it for free then point out 2 inch trigger is too high for a commercial site up sell them a 1 inch trigger and make more money
    With things being the way they are I hope that this does not cost you the account in the future
    Always try to sell them on service and get paid for it
     
  12. sectlandscaping

    sectlandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    I did end up taking care of it but just 40 mins after talking the snow was almost completely melted. I wouldnt call it plowing it was pushing a squeegee.

    This the 3rd under 2" inch event that was handled like this and the first time I heard something about it. She refered to the 9" storm as the first time but that was 3rd and this was the 4th.

    If I lose the account screw it. It will be February see what reputable company you can find in short notice that wont gouge you. These people also pay 40 days late. Its a joke one way or the other Ill end in court by the end of the year.
     
  13. MahonLawnCare

    MahonLawnCare Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 851

    The worst paying customers always complain the most.
     
  14. NICHOLS LANDSCA

    NICHOLS LANDSCA PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,302

    I don't do 2" triggers, won't do it. As someone already said 2" is way more than they think when it's on the lot, and you get a few 1"er's or even a few dustings and everything turns to ice I'm guessing with a 2" trigger you don't salt. When I first started out I had a place that wanted a 2" trigger. I tried to talk him out of it telling him all the semi traffic would pack it down and would end up being an ice rink. What did I know I was just a punk trying to screw him, well after about a 5 snowfalls the owner calls screaming because there were trucks stuck in the lot and in the loading dock. Long story short I ended up salting the CRAP out of the place and scraping the whole lot with a skid and dirt bucket. Cost them more than if they had payed me to plow 1" trigger and salt:D
     
  15. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,822

    I love when I see 2" in a contract, especially seasonal. Its such a completely ridiculous concept that a commercial business would allow 2" of snow on the parking lot, and have it just left there not doing anything about it. SO unrealistic. However, I'd say 90% of the scopes that I see come in have a 2" min amount to plow. I try to explain and visually demonstrate what 2" actually is on a parking lot because its so much more than it sounds when signing in in the summer. However, people think they can get a cheaper price by saying 2".

    Now comes the snow. If its a seasonal contract, they don't care what the contract says, if its snowing they are on the phone already. The whole 2" thing immediately goes out the window when they see customers struggling to push shopping carts through 1" of snow. On the other hand, if its per push/per event they get to play both sides. If your on top of it, plowing right at or before 2" you will receive complaints of over servicing and possibly even refusal to pay portions of the bill. However if you wait till 2", most likely you will receive a phone call freaking out about how much snow is on the pavement.

    My solution has been to bid mostly seasonal, and service everyone essentially the same to my standards (which are higher than most scopes want). Once the snow begins sticking to a lot, we are already on the road. I essentially ignore the nonsense of trigger amounts that these people (who have never left a desk, let alone understand snow) write into scopes. I find the most trouble with this in national accounts. Not nessicarily the "nationals" everyone likes to complain about. But anything where the hiring control is not in the local managers hands. Heres what I've had play out time and time again: Corporate has some moron sit down at a desk and write a scope that makes no sense, then the local managers receive the specified service and don't understand that it is what we were hired for. So after I explain and show them that we are doing exactly what we are hired to do, they realize theres nothing they can do. So they call corporate and tell them "Theres 4+ inches of snow on the lot and no ones here!", then I'll receive an infuriated call from corporate, and once arriving at the lot I see that they barley have 1" on the pavement. So essentially the locals lie to corporate to get them angry at us so we will plow beyond our scope. This is where EXTREME photo documentation comes into play. I take pictures of the salt on the pavement, put references like a soda can or ruler in the snow and take photos to send to corporate to show the real amount of snow on the pavement, etc.. I'll send emails out with so much photo and video documentation that most property managers don't even know what to say.

    A simple complaint from a customer will render an e-mail to management with 10-20 photographs and 1-2 videos from me showing EXACTLY why they are wrong. Even at the end of the season, if we are accused of breaking an irrigation head (this is one that comes to mind) I will go out and disassemble the irrigation head on video, while I explain and demonstrate how its impossible that it was caused by us. Of course if I am wrong, I am always first to step right up and admit, and correct my wrong doing.

    Now the other thing I have to say is that I am always getting ridiculous scopes of work from property managers. I recently got one that was per event, 2-6" 6-12" and then a flat price for any storm over 12", salting was "per pound". I wrote this guy an e-mail well over 20 paragraphs completely ripping apart his scope and even explaining to him why he is throwing money out the window by having something so broad. I re-wrote it for him so it actually makes sense, and allows people to price much more reasonably. He got pretty angry at that though (I was honestly just trying to help). Needless to say, we didn't bid on that property.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  16. sectlandscaping

    sectlandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    I see what your saying. I been on the other end too. I plowed per event at 2" and got a phone call for showing up. I also got complaints about to much sand before so I switched to about 90% salt with just a drop of sand. Then I get complaints that I didnt sand at all. You really cant win.

    I think part of it is its a slow season so they start to expect us to show for anything.

    I might just starting turning in bids with 1" triggers no matter what they ask for. That way at least I'm getting paid to do it.
     
  17. V_Scapes

    V_Scapes Senior Member
    Messages: 942

    The contracts for the churches that we service are 2" triggers but we end up plowing even if its less, it makes a mess anyway. When I bid on the one church the bid sheet said 3" triggger! I was like no way.
    I write in all my contracts 2" trigger unless prolonged periods of freezing conditions are expected. Havent had any problems so far this year and we've had 5 pushes already.
     
  18. DeereGuy

    DeereGuy Senior Member
    Messages: 346

    I've had some of those battles on smaller accounts as well in the past. Even with my own contract which is laid out basically to inform the client what I am providing and what I am not for their dollar. I've given up with the logical in some cases and just asked what it is that the buyer thinks they have purchased for their seasonal money. If I can do it, I do. It has meant some long term contracts in the smaller private sector. I pick my battles.

    The 2" trigger is a sticking point with me though. I alway spell out in bold that all accumulations will be cleared; with a goal of a clear, dry lot. If the " all accumulations must be cleared" is nonexistent in the client contract, I always make sure it states what will happen with the small storm.

    I realize I'd be dead in the water on the larger big box sub jobs and some of that contract language. I lost a papa gino's and an applebees proposal because I rewrote both contracts to include language that made sense this year. It's hard to bid competitively on idiocy, But there is enough gray area without a bad contract. So I guess there is an upside to Residential, your contract, your rules. Something I am considering for next year.

    As far as acting pre-emptively to better service an account, in my experience it backfires. I have tried to pre salt with treated salt before a forcasted ice storm and across the board I lost. Salt has always been extra so the clients would simply say that it was not needed. I got angy phone calls that I put down material that was not used to clear anything. After all, his lot never froze or was dangerous. He needed to experience the ice in order to pay out for a solution. Ridiculous logic given that the operation alleviated his area from liability exposure that surrounding businesses realized. After that winter, I dummied down my services.
     
  19. MR. Elite

    MR. Elite Senior Member
    from E Town
    Messages: 549

    my opinion.... Just like GV said... Have a lil meeting with the 3, n if that doesent get U where U need to b (all on the same page) next option would b 2 redo the contract at 1" n..... payup payup payup
     
  20. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 813

    Come on now, this is one of the things that makes this job so much fun.

    There is soooo many variables to doing this it isn't even funny - you get real close with a customer, then management changes or finances change or someone took a dive in the lot - I can't think of a business with more fluid targets than snow / ice control.

    I think the verbage 2" trigger is in our contracts cause you have to put something there, when someone wants three inch, that means they don't want serviced, a 2" trigger but salted lot is ridiculus - it's literally all hog wash.

    We used to get a lot of snow in this area, 70" or so with lake effect good times, I think it's sort of funny to see the levels of service flucuate thru the year. In early December, we plow anything, scrap the dust off and salt it but by late January you see 1 1/2 inches on the ground and think it's not that big of a deal - you plowed two foot out in the last three days. One year, we got 4-6" of wet think sloppy mess in early March, one customer complained that we plowed it because it would have melted in a few days..

    Comunicate and do it often - and we'll still be wrong in someones eyes but what else can you do?