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Residential Customers Experience

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by ALarsh, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. ALarsh

    ALarsh Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    What are your guy's experience with residentail customers? They make up 95% of my customer base but they seem just so hard to please. I have to start my route at 1-2 am depending on the snowfall in order to get them all done before they leave for work. Now the city plow comes around at 5 am after most of the driveways are plowed out. They expect me to come back and clean up what the city plow has put in front of their drive after I have already came!!? Anybody else think this is ridiculous?

    And also, I have a 2" minimum which is stated all over my contract. We get 1" of snow and people are calling in wondering where I am. Then I go through my plowing route and I get a call asking why I plowed because it wasn't 2". Anybody else think this is a helpless cause? :gunsfiring: :gunsfiring:
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Where are you Mr Plow Guy? There's a foot of snow in my driveway. Yes,I know it's a Blizzard and there's 2 feet of snow in the street but I have to get to McDonald's for the free senior coffee hour!
  3. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,195


    I know what you mean. 70 % of my business is residential, with a 2" trigger. I am in contact with the city plows. When I can, I follow right behind them, to save me that second pass. When the snow is finished and its less than 2" I leave a message that explains I will not be coming around. It does happen that the plow goes by under 2" then I have no choice, but to clear them out. I have 2700 clients, its lots of time, organizing and calls, but pays well. I have said before when I decide to take it easier, I will do commercial snow only. Lots less stress.

  4. Plowfast9957

    Plowfast9957 Senior Member
    Messages: 280

    I had a hard time my first year. You will get to know what people want. Also you will be able to weed out the real PITA people and slow payers etc. The worst thing to do is gurantee a plow time and trigger amount. I tell them it is at my discresion most people dont have a problem. I think you just need some revision in the contract. If there is 4" of snow and it is ending at 7AM I will not plow until its over. 99% of people can get out if they have to. I have a few exceptions like steep uphills to get out and the Fire chief in town.
  5. ALarsh

    ALarsh Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    Paul- Are you the Tony's Snow Blowing guy in Canada?

    Where do you get your lawn markers that have the advertisement on them?
  6. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,195

    I am from Canada

    I have a brother who works with me named Tony, not sure if he's the guy your referring to. As for my driveway markers I just met with David Star. He is going to make a new and improved model, to what I presently have. I think they will be very interesting, and cheaper. Will keep you informed.
  7. ALarsh

    ALarsh Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    Paul- No, it must be a different guy.

    I am interested in hearing about where you purchased your last ones and how they look along with approx cost. I would definitely order these for next year.
  8. Blazin

    Blazin Senior Member
    Messages: 185

    I have all residential drives, and three small apt. buildings. I tell them right up front,
    (1) I don't guarantee I will be there before you go to work. Not everyone can be first. I also start my route from the other end every storm so as not to always leave the same ones till last. If its a bad storm I will just blow in and out to open them up, Then I come back later to clear all of it.
    (2) If I think it needs sand it gets sand, no exceptions. If I cant get traction I cant move snow. If they get stuck then I have to screw around pulling them out or plowing around them etc. If I get stuck because they didn't want sand, then I am that much later for all the rest of my customers, and risk damage to my truck.
    (3) I leave my house at 2.5 inches, and they all get done. No exceptions.
    If they don't like those terms I tell them to call someone else. I have about 40 to 45 driveways every year. Have 12 that I have been doing since 1991, several since 95 96, a few since 99 2000, the rest are since then. Drop a few every year due to selling houses, they got them selves a snow blower or plow truck etc. I pick up a couple every year too, new residents etc. two of my oldest accounts, one has had two owners, one is on its third owner this year. I have one the guy has a 90 HP tractor with a 9' Fisher plow. He calls me from time to time from the airport if we are having a storm on his way home and ask me to hit his driveway so he can get in, its about 1/2 mile long. I did it for four years but he figured it was cheaper to by his own machine, I still sand for him. I figure with a customer base like this I must be doing something right.
  9. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,030

    Pretty funny guy!
  10. ECS

    ECS Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............................... 100% of my customer base is resi and never had a problem. Well, once in awhile they will call to tell me that they are having a dinner party on such & such a date, and can I come as late in the day as possible or that they have to be at the airport by 7:00 AM on such & such a date, so can I plow them the night before or first thing in the morning. :D: drinkup:

    After reading posts on here and on LS, I love my customers. They treat me real fine, give me bonuses and most importantly, they all pay. payup
  11. ALarsh

    ALarsh Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    Dave- That wasn't meant disrespectfully. I saw another post of his about the driveway markers and was just curious.

    Don't get me wrong I am doing something right also, I have about 75-80 drives, but it just seems these issues can be impossible to solve.

    I like the responses and will have to put some of these suggestions into affect next year.
  12. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,195

    I'm not that Tony guy from Ottawa, checked him out. Not good. I'm from Montreal Quebec. I presently use a 4 foot rebar, and slide a corrugated plastic over it with our name and phone number. Total cost around $4.00 each. The best advertising i've got. I will take some pictures and show later in the week. Don't get me wrong about residentials, its my bread and butter. Its just you can't please everyone. This year I had 3 clients, who called every time it snowed. I just sent them back their checks, the're not worth the headaches.
  13. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,748

    I don't have any problem with my residentials. It's all I do this year, and they treat me great. I try and treat them the same in return. I think that's the key. Now, I know there are some people out there that are just nuts, and nothings ever good enough, but for the most part, if you provide a good service at a good (high) price, you'll find good customers.
  14. ALarsh

    ALarsh Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    I didn't have any complaints last year with 30 accounts, but now with 75 I guess there is just more to go wrong. Part of growing I suppose.
  15. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,748

    Yeah, I agree with you. I don't know if I would ever want to have 75 accounts with one truck, it's probably impossible to have everyone pleased. There are always that picky few, where nothing is ever done right. If someone bugs you too much, just tell em! lol Good luck.
  16. The mayor

    The mayor Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    Being from south east wisconsin maybe you ended up with some of my old pita customers.:) I found out getting residentals in this area is very easy. I don't even advertise. That being said when there is un nessary complaining(customers that think they should be first, changing the trigger from 2" to 4" etc.) They are gone. When you weed out the crap there is no complaining. There was only one residental call this year that I had. They thought they should be the first on the plow route. I suggested they find a new snow plower that can meet there needs. I still have them...no more phone calls.
  17. Burkartsplow

    Burkartsplow PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,248

    Last year during the valentines day storm i lost client that I plowed and serviced there lawn because they missed a dinner party. They said they could not get out of there driveway and that they were having someone else take care of there drive and lawn the upcoming season. the funny thing is I stopped by the house later that day and there drive was plowed, but the street had over a foot on it. The people that just fired me. asked me to plow out the road and i said I cant. i can get in trouble by the city. I told them even if you get out of your street. why would you want to be out in this s@#$.they said they needed to go get coffee at the local coffee shop. i said have a nice day and drove away.
  18. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    It's great to see someone in my general area that shares many of the same philosophies as I do. I've never really said point blank that I can't guarantee being plowed by work time, but I try to keep those times in mind (it's probably a good thing to tell them -- can't always be first, and I can't always be there by a certain time). While I don't sand, I know that's a great rule you have there (one that I might have to adopt sometime for a few places in particular). I have 2 relatively small commercials & about 40 driveways, and that's about all I can imagine doing with 1 truck. I put a 1-inch trigger on commercial and 2" on residentials. For years everyone always said 3" for residentials. I don't know about you, but 2.5" left on a driveway makes a pretty good mess, and then there's always the row at the street. I said 2" and only lost 1 PITA customer, and I have gained 2.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2008
  19. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,361

    I'm in the same boat Austin- I have to start my route by around 3Am at the latest to get them plowed out for the commute in the AM. You can't please everyone. What I figure works best is to go around once early to plow them out at least. Then go back around real quick (for me after school), and clean up what the road dept. has plowed them in with and clean up a little- keeps everyone more or less happy!:nod:
  20. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    I find that a majority of the customers are pacified by the mere appearance that I've been by prior to morning commute, not that they're CLEAN at 6:30 all the time. So long as I'm back around to get things cleaned up at the end of a storm, all is generally right in my world.