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Second guessing myself

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by copandplower, Nov 11, 2002.

  1. copandplower

    copandplower Member
    Messages: 44

    Got a call the other day from a lady who wanted an est. for plowing. She is a customer I would like to have because she is lives within my route. She also asked my to look at her sons driveway which is about a mile outside my route. I looked at his driveway and saw potential problems...not much room to put snow. Also, it will be very time consuming. I would have to charge 3x my normal rate for driveways. I politely explained to the guy my concerns and asked him to look for another contractor. When the mother found out she was disappointed. She has not yet signed up w/me and I hope I didnt blow my chance because of the son. I am building my business and would like a very tight route arround my house. This ladys account would help because it is on a strret where i have none yet. If I get hers I know I could get some of her neighbors. Did I make a mistake here? If so could what could I do to fix it? Have you expierenced this type uf situation? What did you do?
  2. paul soccodato

    paul soccodato Senior Member
    Messages: 430

    people are nuts. i think your going to have a problem with the mother (because of the son's drive). my advice would be to do the sons house for what you think it should cost. this way you pickup the good customer too. maybe tell him since he's outside your route, you cant get to him till last? it depends if you can fit him into your route or not. a mile is really not that far.
  3. Mick

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

    I'd say you didn't make a mistake and if it costs you the mother's account then consider yourself lucky. First and foremost - you have established your service area. The mother doesn't run your business, so don't deviate from your business plan just to please one customer. You'll wind up resenting plowing the son's driveway and your attitude will carry over to the mother. You'll wind up losing both and gain some bad publicity in the process. Explain to her politely that the son is outside your service area at the time and that you'd have to charge him so much, he could easily find someone closer. Even refer him to someone else if you can.

    Do not let anyone hold you "hostage" by dictating terms.
  4. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    I agree with Mick. I don't think you made a mistake but...

    Starting and/or expanding your snowplowing business won't be that easy. If you want to start or expand you would have to increase your snowplowing route distance. We would be happy to have a tight snowplowing route but in order to get that you have to start by going for more distance. Get some money to pay off for your expense and to build customers base. When your base builds up, you can start breaking down and create a tighter route. You will know which customers you will want to plow for and which to not plow for. This is normally how the experienced snowplowers are able to build a tight route that you may be seeing in your area.
  5. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    If your trying to build a tight route you did the right thing.

    Expanding your route in a concentrated area means coming in with lower prices & being more flexible with contracts. If all you're doing is res. this will be more profitable as it eliminates windshield time.

    I have some streets where we do 20-30 side by each. Huge $$$ makers & all lower than the avg. snow contract. They took a few years to build but low prices will get you the concentrated volume.
  6. copandplower

    copandplower Member
    Messages: 44

    Thanks for the advice. I forgot to mention that I am a sub, doing my own accounts and work ful time. Im trying to keep my route very tight because of my time demands. I have 10 of my own drives so far and only want a few more this year. Next year I will not sub and want 20 of my own accts. Thats my business goal. I got these 10 all on 1 street from selling myself to the 1st person who inquired. That was 1 week ago and so far 9 other neighbors have called, all signed. At this point I will continue sign for that street (which is 500ft from my house). By the way I got the 1st customer just because he saw my plow in my driveway last year, was unhappy w/his guy and wanted someone closer.
  7. Mick

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

    Ten accounts in one week??? Just starting??? I tip my hat to you. Going like that, I sure wouldn't worry about having to go outside your planned territory. I know most have to do that, like wxmn6 said. I did and am now tightening up. I raised one a little this year cause he was outside my planned area. He let me go and found someone else.
  8. bison1973

    bison1973 Member
    Messages: 69

    Per mile charge?

    For plowing jobs outside a certain radius from home would you guys consider a per mile charge to get there? I live in a more rural area so I know I'm going to run into this problem. And what might be a good or fair rate to charge to make up for your time in driving there?
  9. Mick

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

    per mile charge - I wouldn't call it that. I just figure how far it is from my house and figure that into the rate. Most people will accept paying $30 for what you might charge $25 if it was next door before they'd accept a $5 "mileage charge". There is an added benefit to you - if you charge by increment (3" to 6", 6" to 9" etc), the incremental increase also applies to the $5 extra.
  10. copandplower

    copandplower Member
    Messages: 44

    I know....I got very lucky with that 1st customer. He is a well respected guy in the neighbrhood. The others figured if I was good enough for him they would give me a chance. Its a close knit neighborhood so I figure if I do my best by my customers more will come.
  11. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    I wouldn't bother to call out a "mileage" charge. I'd just price it with consideration for how long it takes to come and go. I have told people that due to the distance my price might not "be as competitive" as some others they might get. (I think that phrase communicates, "we don't want to quote you what might seem like an unfair price, but we need to turn a profit too", without having to be blunt about it.) They seem to understand.

    Copandplower, you might try to use that as an explanation to that customer you want.
  12. Mike Fronczak

    Mike Fronczak Member
    Messages: 64

    Keep it tight, I know from experience.
  13. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075


    When I started my own route, I offered my customers an incentive to help me grow my route, one free plow for every referral that signed on as an account. It worked great, I only used it the starting season.

    Be careful how you word it though, it can bite you in the rear end. I had one customer who referred an account across town, outside my coverage area and demanded her free service. It went to court and the Judge sided with her.
  14. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Not rying to cause an issue here but Ihave to ask.
    Didnt going to court cost alot more than a free driveway plowing? If so, why not just do the free plow, rather than all the hassle of going to court?
  15. Big Todd

    Big Todd Senior Member
    Messages: 126

    Tight route?... What's that?

    We've grown by leaps and bounds the last few years, but we've had to make the decision to stretch a bit on our routes. Don't get me wrong, we have limits, but because the compitition on the side of town we live on is stronger than on the other side of town, we made some comprimises.

    I did turn down two accounts that were outside of our area and did my best to recomend other companies that I knew would do a good job.

    However, we took on a driveway that is about five minutes out of our way because it is the friend of one of our long-time customers. When I bid it, I priced it as if it were a comercial lot and estimated the time it would take to plow it plus drive time one way to the nearest account that is on our normal route (made sure it was worth our while...). It ended up being about twice what I would normallly charge for that size drive. I explained everything to the customer and politely told them to take it or leave it. Because of our reputaion with thier friend, they gladly accepted.
  16. copandplower

    copandplower Member
    Messages: 44

    Guys thanks for your replys. Happy to say the mother called me last night and is sending the contract today. I explained to her that her son would would probably pay less for another contractor and why. She seemed to understand. I was not able to recomend another contractor though, the comp I have been subbing for is outside his area and was not interested. Because Ive only been in the game 3 years and this is my 1st year starting my own accounts I am a little short on knowledge when it comes to other companies in my area.