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Setting the bar too high?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by big acres, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    The manager of a new HOA account told me that they had 15 complaints this last weekend because we did not hit our 6am deadline on not one, but TWO events.

    She was all apologies when I told her that Friday's powdery inch did not meet their two inch trigger, yet we gave them a full plow with walks by mid-morning. Then on Monday, we got another 1.5inches. I was told that one of our guys measured, yet I doubted him and went to see for myself... he was right. Again, I gave them a full plow but now walks done by 10:30 am.

    I asked the manager to reply to these people that we have not technically had a snowfall serviceable by contract yet this season, and ALL work done for them was a bonus to show how we take care of our customers. Surely we would not sit on several cumulative inches without any service, but for the record it is not a cumulative contract... and it is bid that way too. This manager had more snow across town where she lived and laughed when I told here how little they had. She said you would have thought that cars were stuck everywhere.

    All this after sending a post snowfall blast email to all customers explaining that though we only flirted with actual trigger depths, we plowed everything because it was the first event of the year and it offered a chance for a complete run thorugh without the weekday pressure. Do you guys ever run into this when you give them a little extra service at no charge?
     
  2. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,741


    I have had similiar complaints. Well when we get a 1" storm, and I send the guys out to get practice because they are new this year. Well its a prepaid seasonal route with a 2" trigger (signed contracts). Then a couple days later we get another 1" storm and I dont send the guys because the bugs are worked out and they dont need the practice anymore. Well then I get emails and calls:
    "Where are you?"
    "Sorry we did not get 2", which is what the service agreement states as a minumium requirement for us to show up"
    "But you came the other day and we didnt have 2"...."
    "Yes Maam, I am sorry we sent them out at 1", that was a practice run for the new guys to get used to the flow..."
    "Okay can you come at 1" in the future"
    "Sure, That will just be XXX more for the season"
    "Oh, nevermind, I can take care of it if it's just an inch then"

    Gotta love the joys of customers.
     
  3. Lux Lawn

    Lux Lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,137

    Seems like a majority of people expect the driveway/lots plowed every inch even though there is a 2" trigger. If they want it cleared at an inch...no problem but you are going to pay for it. I get the same thing with the calls, some guys here even plow an inch for something to do. Every time guys are plowing an inch my phone rings, my neighbors drive was plowed why isn't mine. My answer is always the same, " we went out and checked our routes, you have less then 2 inches of snow...but for an extra charge I will be happy to take care of it for you."
     
  4. dirtmandan2

    dirtmandan2 Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    I did an estimate this fall for a Family Video... Of course my first questions are who's doing it now and why are you looking for someone new... They were not happy that there lot always looks like crap and the guy doing it is not doing a good job. So they tell me who it is and I respond that I know him and that he does good work. Then he tells me a 3" trigger, well that kind of explains why the lot looks bad I told him. Gave them an estimate with a 1" trigger and they laughed at me. I told them that that is the only way I'll do it... Never heard from them.. go figure.
     
  5. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    I have a hotel that I have serviced for over 15 years. The plowing is a set rate and the salt is additional. I've been there long enough that I can walk back in the kitchen and grab a cup of coffee or just walk in the office of my manager. A lot of people come and go each year, especially the service desk staff. A couple of years ago, this new brother working nights decided he was going to get smart and bust my balls about dropping my blade w/ only 1" of snow in the lot, the other brother who worked security (gunless wantabe) decided that he wanted to get in on the action and stood about a foot behind me as the other guy continued his little rant, even followed me out to my truck and stuck his head in the window to continue, until he almost got bit by the dog, who was sleeping on the seat...priceless! The next day I made a phone call and the desk guy wasn't there the next time that I came in, and the security bro (who I usually would find sleeping in front of the tv) was eventually replaced as well. I'm nobody special, but now when I go in to sign in...the staff treats me like I own the place. People now come out from their stations to greet me and bring me a cup of coffee and sometimes even go outside to give the dog a cookie. Like I said, I'm nobody special...but if you treat the right people right, sometimes it pays off !
     
  6. kashman

    kashman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,070

    respect is earned not given.
     
  7. heather lawn spray

    heather lawn spray PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,206

    I find the hotels are the most gracious people. We had 160% of average snowfall last year, all under fixed rate contract. No skin off their nose, my problem, but one of the hotels gave my wife and me an end of season dinner and even offered to include the crew. I took them up on the 2 dinners but figured the crew was just a little too rowdy for such a nice place. This year they re-uppped for 10% more and referred us to yet another 2 hotels.
     
  8. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    OK...one more, One of my first plowing contracts was a very large apartment complex. I gave them a bid after talking directly to one of the owners, from a cold call, who told me to talk to the property manager. I just told the guy that Mr. so and so told me to meet w/ you concerning the plowing...I guess he thought that I was somebody special (because the owner is almost untouchable)...anyway I got the job when I was only 21 and just starting out on my own. I went through 4 property managers in the 9 years that I held the account, until the owner retired and passed the job off to his kid...who brought in one of his buddies. What's always been funny to me is how property managers seem to develop an illusion as to who they think they are...never considering why and how they got their low paying job in the first place...they like to feel special, so I let them...The last one who was #4 to me, I bumped heeds w/ a lot. I would get crazy calls from him late at night...I could never understand why. One day while doing clean up, I noticed him coming out of the convenient store across the road, carrying a 12 pack under his arm around noon time and then several times again thereafter...I kinda knew that he wanted me gone, so the next time that he gave me one of those special late night calls...after clean up the next day (when he was sober) , I had asked him how his liquid lunch was, nuff said. That bought me 2 more years of contract. :D
     
  9. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    couldn't agree more
     
  10. LUCKY 7

    LUCKY 7 Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    Customers need to be better educated. All of our accounts have a 1" trigger & per/hr pricing. This way no matter what happens from 1"-on, we're covered. The lots clean up well because of the low trigger and the customers are happy as well. Any customer that wants a higher trigger is nuts or doesn't know any better. I'm curious about you fellow plowers out there- seems to me you should be pushing lower triggers too. It will get those trucks out working alot more & the lots will look much better not to mention be much more lawsuit-proof. Maybe you are trying- I don't know. Just curious.
     
  11. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    We do... believe me. 1.5" is the standard for HOA in our market, and I inform them that they are going with a bit less service, obviously to save money. If it is 1.75 or better, we'll plow a two inch account, but in this case it was barely 1.5.
     
  12. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    The one thing i learned about the HOA and condo business is that there is always a percentage of people who will NEVER be happy.

    The unfortunate thing is that though the management companies are supposed to be educated and experienced, more often than not they arent.

    Management companies treat every busybody resident "complaint" like its sacred.

    In my experience 90% of these "complaints" could be handled as soon as a resident calls the management.

    The property managers love to call the contractor and tell you "We're getting a million calls"

    Even though 99% are BS.

    There is no amount of educating or reasoning that will change that.

    Ive tried meeting with managers, boards etc. And they all seem to understand when you explain the nature of the snow business. But that all goes out the window as soon as it snows again.

    I have one more season in the snow business and Im out....I cant wait
     
  13. qualitycut

    qualitycut PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,227

    I have a HOA I got subbed to me and they complained because we used snow blowers on the longer sidewalks. I showed up the other day at about 5 to do it and there was a guy shoveling his driveway and complained because it wasnt done yet and he had to get to work even though it quit snowing about 430 that day. From my experience so fa i dont really care if I do another one again, From people I have talked to there are a PITA and there are always people who bi*** about something.
     
  14. MAR4CARS

    MAR4CARS Senior Member
    Messages: 246

    Sunday we had anywhere from 0-3 inches on the ground depending on what part of town you were in .My buddy has a contract with a condo complex for a 2 inch trigger and sand/salt mix for every event paid by event not seasonal .Well that complex had 3 inches he plowed and sanded it and sent the bill off to he property owner who i guess in turn sends the bill to the condo association.Well the ass. manager calls the property owner after receiving the bill and refuses to pay it stating that there was no need for plowing and sanding .. aside from the 3 inches on the ground the following days forecast was for 27 degrees. So now hes waiting for the property owner to make a move or hes dropping them for breach of contract on the condos end.
     
  15. Lux Lawn

    Lux Lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,137

     
  16. plownoob

    plownoob Senior Member
    from ny
    Messages: 128

    I live in a HOA and I can't stand it. Every little thing I do I got some old nosey retired bastage spying on me. Im gonna leave a big bong on my front window one day and some bags of white powder.
     
  17. LUCKY 7

    LUCKY 7 Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    you're absolutely right- someone is always gonna complain no matter what you do. we generally try to stick to the commercial accounts- usually only one person to deal with then. Not 50 of them complaining at the same time.
     
  18. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    We've got HOAs who we hardly hear a peep from, and those that have gone from good to bad wiht the changing of the moard members. Bottom line is they actually pay pretty good and the monthly contracts keep the bills paid. We have actually fired an HOA for being a PITA, and I'm sure we will again someday.

    This was a new account for us, so that makes it the "get acquainted snowfall". Hopefully they'll realize their getting serviced above and beyond. This is also through a new mgmt co, and the guy is very cool to work with... invited me to see his band play and buy me a beer!