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Site Check fee for per push accounts?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Plowtoy, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Does anyone have a separate fee they charge in the event that a property does not have enough snow to trigger a push, or a residential has already cleared their own driveway?

    We have been out plowing, but it has all been lake effect for us. I have several clients on the dunes of lake Mi and they have only received about a half to 1 inch since the event started on Sunday. All my other properties (1less than a 2 miles inland from these) have had enough to trigger a push or two. I am considering changing my contract next year to include a site check fee since the lake effect snow is so unpredictable. I'm thinking only a couple bucks each residential and maybe $5 for commercial (would be enough to cover my fuel expenses), and would only charge it if the amount of snow predicted was the same as the trigger amount or more, and the client ended up getting less at their property or they choose to clear it by other means (I have one client that his wife will shovel because she enjoys shoveling when she has time). The client would only be charged if their property was unserviceable at the time of the check. Keep in mind that everything I have is per push.
     
  2. Laszlo Almasi

    Laszlo Almasi Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    The only time I'd charge anything extra might be when I showed up to plow and it was already done. I wouldn't charge anything to drive by and see if it needs plowing. That is a part of the business IMO and you'll end up losing more than you would gain in the long run.
     
  3. Mike NY

    Mike NY Senior Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 103

    I do not charge for site checks, but I will put the date of the site check on the invoice so they know I'm looking out for them.
     
  4. Raymond S.

    Raymond S. Senior Member
    Messages: 513

    If it's close to the trigger, I do it and charge them. We are in the heart of lake effect and the past few days has been evidence of that. My properties cover a distance of about 15 miles, or close to it. I have a few factories at the furthest point that didn't quite hit the trigger today but we plowed them anyway. We are forecasted to get more and at the end of the day what's the difference between a solid inch and almost two inches? I've never had anyone complain that we over serviced them. If they did, I'd drop them on the spot. I'm not getting out of bed at midnight to freeze my balls off to drive around and check on their property just cause I like riding around in my truck. Our customers know that there may be times when we plow and it's a little on the light side, but they're well aware that we do it with their best interest in mind and also we have a business to operate, just like them.
    There have been times when we have gotten to the furthest point of our route and the ground is barely covered. Obviously we don't push the lot. Down the road we go. We have enough salt accounts spread throughout to make up for the few minutes we wasted "swinging by" those lots.
     
  5. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    If you are showing up to self serviced residentials than something is wrong. Contract wording too loose, trigger too high, failed to set expectations. Bottom line is if you show up in a timely manner to service what should be serviceable than it should be billable. The majority of your costs occur regardless of the plow actually contacting the ground. The physical act of plowing is a very small portion of the rate you are charging. The majority occurs the moment you decide to offer plow services. Of course when you have the type of customer that self services in hopes of not being charged, than there is a problem. They should be charged, but of course that type of customer will find some other sucker if you do bill it. You should not hold back out of fear though. Those types of customers are not ideal.
     
  6. merrimacmill

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

    Build the expense of site checks into your company overhead. Whether its you doing them everyday and what you feel your time is worth, of if you are paying someone to do them, ensure that it is compensated through overhead.

    Customers would not like to see charges for that. Marketing wise, thats like when you buy a concert ticket for $35 and then get $55 in fees and charges for nothing.
     
  7. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,223

    ever look at a rental car fee you rent a car for 100 say for the week then there is the battery fee the reg fee tire fee and some other but the point is like Collen said if its in the price but seeing them seperate i know burns me up. now if a driveway was plowable and it hit your trigger and it was already done then i think i would bill for that.I had a neighbor of a customer do that during the day and i'm sure he knew she had the driveway plowed was not the first storm but where is he late at night when i'm out plowing i sent a bill and she paid it i should thank him for doing the drive for me.
     
  8. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Good info guys... I just feel like these are the home's that cried wolf. I get to the point where I feel it's not worth going out there just to check, and wait maybe I should wait for them to call and let me know if they need service, of course they would then wait till there's a foot of snow. I make good money when I go out there and actually work, but its just so frustrating not getting paid to make the trip and burn the fuel at $3.50 a gallon. I guess I will keep reading, maybe its time for a rate increase...
     
  9. merrimacmill

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

    Like some of my leased backhoes for this season from one company. Backhoe monthly rate is great. But then we have 'environmental charge', 'fuel convenience charge', 'disposal charge' 'transport fuel charge', administrative charge' etc.... It really ticked me off. After all the fees, it added several hundred dollars per month I didn't know I was going to have to pay when I signed up...
     
  10. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Must be a per plow guy. Get them seasonal contracts and let them shovel all they want.
     
  11. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    They are always the ones. 5% cause 95% of the problems. Your best customer pays instantly, above market, card on holidays, and wouldn't call even if there was 12" on the driveway and they needed to get out. Your worst customers pay late, argue charges, and are the ones to call at 6am because it stopped snowing at 5:59am and they need the driveway done right away but then don't go out, oh and this is only when it snow 1.5". When it snows 12" they have a party and good luck getting the cars moved efficiently. Add a clause to your contract for next season that clearly states they will be charged even if self serviced. Of course if there is some crazy emergency and someone needs to get out than who you use it on is up to you. I do not see how you can just add it now if you do not have it in your agreement, unless...
     
  12. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,223

    when i would got to nations rent or now sunbelt and get a rental rate for a hoe with a hammer or a any other thing a compactor i would always ask what is the rate with everything taked on all there bs fees , because they did that to me once i asked they said oh the rate is this so i figures some on top of that rate then found out about all the stuff you just mentioned and it really ticked me off i asked for total rental rate so i could build it into my price not end up with more after. and some of there rates enviromental fee for a 1 qt oil replacmnet that never was changed.
     
  13. merrimacmill

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

    I got one machine with the two front tires in such horrible shape that they will not hold full air pressure for more than a couple days. An operator got in, turned on pavement and popped the tire off the bead. Well, I called for a replacement and they said tires are all on me at my expense and to call a tire company. So I did, and I did pay for the entire job of replacing them. However, I plan on putting their crappy tires back on the unit prior to returning it. No way will I hand over $400 in tires for free.
     
  14. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,223

    all there stuff seams to suck bigger co you think your getting better stuff. i think the next time i need a machine i will rent from a small co get better service and better equipment. the hammer i rented from them one time was not working right called them to get it fixed never got anyone out to me . another time i needed a min excavator they could not tell me when it would be in if your not spending a million dollars with them they could care less about us. i would do the same Collin would put there crap back on and give it back to them .
     
  15. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,853

    this is what I use in my contracts as far as others doing it(full price charge)

    8. Customer understands & accepts that if anybody other then JGD Handyman performs snow removal to your property, you will still be charged accordingly. This is due to JGD Handyman's resources spent driving to your property. Unless JGD Handyman is notified prior to arrival.

    As for site checks you have to know the customer & their expectations, it is possable to charge for site checks, cause I have 1 account that I get $15 for site checks & seem happy to pay to be sure nothing needs doing, but all other accounts are on my dime cause I dont think they would stand for extra charges.
    Resi's I dont think you should try to charge, only HIGH maintenance commercial would possibly pay it.
     
  16. Buswell Forest

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

    Active radar loop should be able to tell you if they got enough snow for a push...
     
  17. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Lake effect is tricky. You could be 2 streets over and have a foot of snow. Right now were having lake effect south of me. Less then 10 miles and they are over a foot since last night and we got a dusting.
     
  18. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    never mine
     
  19. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    That could be cleaned up a little, but the point is appropriate. I would nix the last sentence. If you chose to wave that is up to you. I could see the real cheapos calling you at 3am telling you not to come every storm except that once a year blizzard. Need to specify the actual rate charged and I would change it to be less specific on your reasoning. I would argue it does not cost you $40 to drive over even if it does.
     
  20. Deut2210a

    Deut2210a Member
    Messages: 39

    don't mean to hijack this thread

    I think you have raised a good question and have some great replies. I would charge a reduced fee if I showed up and the lot or drive was done. If done partially, finish the job and bill accordingly. Use it as an opportunity to communicate and solve a problem.

    What I am wondering is a bit of an extension of the problem. When we have years of little snow like we have in Chicago for the last two years what will we do to minimize our losses? Raise per push rates, lower seasonal rates, or add a retainer fee to per push accounts for having services available? It occurs to me it would be a fair way to make a hybrid of per push and seasonal rates but doubt that I could sell it easily.

    At this point I'm glad to get a few dollars for staking out a property and am especially thankful for the couple of salt and seasonal accounts I have.