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Some %$#*&%# people!

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Alan, Dec 3, 2002.

  1. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    As far as people we have to deal with, it's not that it takes all kinds, it's just that there are all kinds! Three prime examples here.

    #1, 00-01 season this guy didn't want to go with a contract price, so we did the job by the push. Heavy winter, he took a hosing. 01-02 season he was all hot to go with the contract number. Wanted to keep salt usage down to save his grass, OK,, we can do that too. Light winter, he took another hosing, but part way through he was complaining a bit about how maybe it needed more attention in front of the building, a little ice sometimes, tenants were complaining. OK,, went back to normal salting, things were cool. 02-03 season he's going to save money, bought his own truck, no spreader. First storm he didn't get going until after 7AM, got stuck a bunch. Last few days we've been getting dribbles every night. He's been letting sit and pack/freeze. I was up there this morning, skating rink, tenants should be going on pretty heavy about now. I saw him when I was there this morning, he made a point of avoiding me. Maybe afraid I'd offer to salt the rink for him.

    #2, local McDs. Last year the managers boyfriend was plowing it. Poorly! I salted for him, good thing I did or it would have really been bad. He had a problem getting up in the morning, keeping the old beater running, etc.. We've got it on contract this year. May be a problem here. Seems like it you're NOT boinking the manager you are held to a higher level of service. Got a call the other morning, had an inch of flurries overnight and they were asking when they could expect it to be plowed. Methinks we may need to have a discussion about trigger depths and salting times, just in case she has a problem understanding the written word.

    #3, high powered veterinary surgeon office. Probably a really good dog doc, but a total drone in the real world. Had a fit last year when we scuffed off the grass on the first plowing. You know, the stuff that gets shaved off the high spots when the ground is frozen. No real damage, nothing needing any work this spring but he thought it did. I never tried to get back on there this year, too much of a PITA. First snow it was SOFT, somebody pushed snow and plowed and harrowed a bit of turf. Ol' Doc was right on the phone to me, "Did you plow down here?"

    "Nope, you didn't call so I assumed you had somebody else"

    "Oh,,,, I guess that lets you off the hook,,, somebody plowed it and tore up my lawn! Could you send me something for this year?"

    "Same numbers as last year. And you have to expect damage when snow comes this early."

    Haven't heard from him, don't want to and won't re-sign him now, but I will explain that he needs to get his priorities realigned. Couldn't make him understand that the first snow has to go waaaaay down THERE! to make room for what comes after it. Not gonna try again, not worth the hassle.
  2. snowplowjay

    snowplowjay Banned
    Messages: 890

    Its the spirit of the winter season. Snow brings it out in plowing customers and The end of November brings it out in comsumers traveling to the stores for Christmas. It seems as if all the idiots in the world shine out brightly like a clear bulb in a multicolored set of Christmas lights. Good luck Alan and the rest of you guys as we once again dive into this wonderful time of year.

  3. KatWalk

    KatWalk Member
    Messages: 83

    Alan.....just stopped laughing...well, not reallly. Charles Vander Kooi says that you have to add the ding-dong factor to those like the Vet to cover the aggrevation......sometimes it may be 10% and sometimes it may be 100%. I say add the dollars at a rate that you should go to confession and take his stinkin' , dog ticklin' money!!!!!

    SIPLOWGUY Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    Alan welcome to the 21st century!
  5. Roger Dodger

    Roger Dodger Senior Member
    from nw Pa.
    Messages: 240

    All the whining and complaints towards me are from my own family members!! They know full well when deer season is here my priority is that and driveways will get done later at night when I return.

    But NOoooo! They're calling the wife and crying about their driveways when in fact they have 4WD SUV, & snowblowers. Driveways maybe have 4"... big deal! I've got a date with 2 more deer! I'm walking a mile in shin-deep snow carrying hunting gear and lunch and they have 4WD and 4" of snow to get stressed about!:(

    DYNA PLOW Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    Alan,i feel your pain a month ago i submitted a bid to the local auto zone parts store,drew up a fancy contract and everything.
    spoke to the new manager several times to try to get a good in.
    called him 2 weeks after i gave him the contract to see if he made any decisions yet he said he had not, waited another 2weeks and stopped in to talk with him,said he gave it to the guy that did it last year...my jaw hit the floor,this is what i know about the guy
    that did it last year .....renegade carpenter/construction guy my wife works at the bank that held his business note and they forclosed on him took his trucks and everything else. my guess is he's got a beater with a plow on it and he's out trying to drum up some cash with the old accounts, i'm shur he didn't write a contract as most in my area don't and i bet he doesn't have insurance.
    example#2 2 weeks ago i was asked to quote a drive way for
    someone i new they said they had a quote from some guy for 20.00 and he straight out told them that he is the cheapest and they probably won't find anyone that can match his price.
    this driveway should be priced at 35.00--40.00
    needless to say i was pissed another renegage plowing for side money...junk truck no insurance i was so mad i told them i would do it for 20.00 also and they gave the drive to me.
    example#3 found out today that a big name excavator in the area is plowing with his wheel loaders at 60.00hr and pickup trucks at 55.00hr. i'm trying to make 70.00hr and i'm strugling
  7. Waterchikn

    Waterchikn Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    Ding-Dong factor

    Thats funny. I am going to have to remember that.
    And of course you have the businesses that want the lot cleared for their "Prime" time but don't want you criusing through the lot
    at the same time...that would be great if you could tell mother nature to hold on during those times. Cracks me up. The Ding-Dong factor. hahaha LOL!
  8. bison1973

    bison1973 Member
    Messages: 69

    Dyna Plow I'm in WISCONSIN too..

    so I know what you're talking about. I'm trying to start a legit business(and do things professionally) and have found out most people don't want to pay jack for snowplowing. No offense to most of you guys on this board(mostly guys out east) but I think some of us (northern midwesterners) get a skewed view of the profitability of this line of work by hearing about your accounts. Around here there arelots of guys with trucks and plows just out trying to make a buck. It kind of screws us guys trying to do this the right way. I just had to get that off my chest.
  9. Tim C

    Tim C Member
    Messages: 70

    ALAN: just a note. Last wed went to push drive-way custermer told me he could be last on my list. Well got there drive plowed by last year plower. I got the job cut his lawn last season. Sent him bill for 10.00 . his lose my gain. cancelled him and picked up 3 drive-way plus common drive. Getting it by refferal and getting a bigger check.:drinkup:

    Things work out for the better when you give your custemers excellent sevice and not takeing them for a ride the money will come.

    Tim C LET IT SNOW:drinkup:
  10. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    I'd like to preface this post by saying that I am not trying to ruffle any feathers here. Many of you are friends and associates. Consider my advice "tough love."

    The more that contractors sit and complain about how little their competitors charge, the less our industry progresses and the less profit each of us (myself included) make because we have spent unnecessary efforts to expend negative energy. Again, I am just as guilty as others sometimes, so please don't feel I am pointing the finger.

    There are several contractors in my market, both big and small who charge half of what I charge. I am the new guy on the street, so to speak.

    Selling is a numbers game. If you don't contact enough people and submit enough bids, you will have to let each individual customer dictate price, etc.

    I still have customers that I courted last year and this year that I have not signed. They will be the first people I contact when I start selling snow removal again next year. I am persistent to the point that some potential customers consider me a pest. If that is the worst thing that happens, who cares? In the mean time, my experience shows that I am rewarded for my persistence.

    I realize each market will vary, but sometimes I feel that in my market some just settle for whatever they can get not realizing they are not making a worthwhile return.
  11. Got Grass?

    Got Grass? Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    Aprox. 1.5 acre lot 1/2 new pavement 1/2 old untill spring, so various areas have a 2inch rise in the lot. Required to be completely open 7am-7pm every day + random other times when an event is planned. No salting. Snow can be pushed on 1/2 of 3 sides of lot.

    Guess what the winning bid was for a seasonal flate rate price???
    $750 YES $750. To a landscaper plowing for the first time.
  12. WNY PAT

    WNY PAT Member
    Messages: 31

    They Almost All Come Back

    My experience has been that so log as my service is good, I'm reliable, and I charge a fair price the customers come. Have I lost accounts to "low ballers"? Of course. However, I always smile a bit when my cell phone rings that first big snow... like we had a couple of days ago here.... here's how it usually goes:

    Customer: "Pat?"

    Me: "Yes."

    Customer: "This is Mrs. Smith over on Mulberry Lane... you plowed for me the past two years and I had hired someone else this year. Well, I'm wondering if you can add me back onto your list?"

    Me: "I'd be happy to Mrs. Smith. I'm assuming you've not been happy with the other person you hired?"

    Customer: One of four complaints:
    1. He said he would be here by 6:00 AM and he doesn't ever arrive before I need to leave in the morning.
    2. He pushed all the snow up onto my neighbor's lawn and dug it up.
    3. He pushed the snow across the street onto my neighbor's property and they want him to come back and shovel the six foot pile of heavy snow from their sidewalk.
    4. He never showed up.
  13. Got Grass?

    Got Grass? Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    Have I lost accounts to low ballers? NO. I have lost many many bids to them. Do I care? NO, not worth having as customers in the first place.

    Now that things have fallen into place & contracts are back in. I kept every single customer from last year except one(thank god I got rid of her). Did I lowball for thoes jobs? Nope, lawn customers love the work I do for them & beg me to plow their drives.
    Neighbors see my drives are always done, the right way & on time. Even with 7ft of snow, while thay are stuck. I've had neighbors become best friends because thay went next door to ask who their plow guy was... Me of cource.... :D

    Once a customer relizes thay get the best of service for a fair price. They are willing to pay that price & stick with the guy thay can trust & count on.
    Most of my customers are sick of looking for a new plow guy every year. Dr., Nurse, FD, Police, Dialysis patients can't be snowed in. Some people can't afford to loose thier job, life & put others at risk. Thoes people can't simply call in. I'm trign to specialize in thoes "priority" costomers.
    The bad plowers stick out so far from the rest & thay get the media attention brining the rest of us down to their level.
    Yeah there are a ton of "good" guys out there but people take us for granted. The really big guys get the good media attention, but thats usually about: "how to avoid being riped off". Or how the town plow drivers put in countless hr's & drive arround in the worst of conditions. Not about how much of ourselves (the small guys) we devote to providing a great service.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2002

    DYNA PLOW Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    i'll keep plugging away until i find that group of customers that fit my plowing ideals. my head always stays above the water.
    nice to here from you bison1973, i'll have to look on my state map and see exactly where Chili is .
    stay cool guys,
  15. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    One of the few classes I actually paid attention to in my abortive college career was Economics 101. To put it all in a nutshell it's "supply and demand". There's a line on a graph which represents how much vendors are willing and able to supply, and another which represents how much buyers demand. Where they intersect is what the prevailing price will be.

    Gold is expensive because, well, no matter how much vendors are willing to supply there just isn't much around. Dirt is cheap. It's everywhere and everybody probably has all they want already.

    Those who sell (or place taxes on), things like gasoline, cigarettes, alchohol and medical treatment know that people will buy it with little regard to price. They can't live without it.

    This a real peculiar business. Most of the year there's a supply of plowtrucks that nobody needs--it's not snowing. Once every few years at any given location there's snow up to your eyeballs and the guys who have been making payments on those plowtrucks can just about name their price.

    Some people demand superior service, and since by definition, the supply of superior service is limited, those people expect to pay a higher price. Some are satisfied with inferior service, and again by definition, there's *lots* of inferior service available. Those people will pay less.

    Often you're bidding against someone who's providing the same level of service as you at a similar price. Some of those you'll get and some you won't. Sometimes you get hungrier than other times, and sometimes you're hungrier than your competitor. I think everybody here is probably OK with that.

    The trouble is that there are lots of inferior service providers who'll be more than happy to convince customers that they're going to provide superior service at a reduced price. (Some might not even know how inferior their service will be because they haven't yet had to meet their overly ambitious commitments. Some are deliberatly deceptive.) Those are your "Lowballers". They are a fact of life. In an ideal world all customers would be able to tell the difference.

    It ain't an ideal world.
  16. Rob

    Rob PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 306

    After plowing this last storm, I have a "some people story...."

    We were at our last residential account, about 4 AM. This account is last because the people are usually away for business during the week, but require that the walk gets shoveled for the mailman. No problem, as long as you're last.
    So, It is a fairly small drive that goes to a 2 car garage. I pull in, clear in front of the garage and am making a final backdragging pass out of the driveway to clean up the end before startinig the walk. As I am at the end of the drive, I see a lady next door hanging out the front door holding a toddler in one arm, waving frantically. She did not look in distress so I am thinking it might be better to "not see her" at this moment and continue on. Well, when I get out to do the walk she is yelling "Hello, Yoo-hoo", so I acknowledge here at which point she starts ripping into me. "How dare I come at 4 in the morning, You woke everyone in my house, I have a 2 year old you woke as well as myself and my husband... blah, blah, blah." I apologized to her for disturbing her, but stated that I had the homeowners permission to be on the property and would be leaving momentarily. Apparently that wasn't good enough, as she is now threatening to call the police, and I had better NOT dare to come back there in the middle of the night again, as she has to get up for work in the moring. Again, I apologize to her, but told her I can't control the snow which dictates when I have to work, and advised her that she should go back to bed so she would be good and rested for work. At which point, I get sworn at and the door slammed.
    Keep in mind, I supposedly disturbed her sleep, yet she is yelling from the house next door. I wonder what her neighbors were thinking :rolleyes:

    Well, at least it kept the eveing interesting !!
  17. Acorn

    Acorn Senior Member
    Messages: 103

    I'm like the soup natzi on Seinfeld except it's plow natzi. They piss me off once and its a stern warning ... second time it's "NO PLOW FOR YOU!!!"

    "some people" story...
    I was on the road looking for a residence. With me 8' Fisher as high as it would go, it was still catching snow on the road. White out conditions. Didn't see a 5' snow drift that went accross the street. Got stuck in the middle of the street. An old lady (not a customer) started yelling :realmad: profanities and shaking her fist at me and telling me that she didn't want her driveway plowed :rolleyes:
  18. DanG

    DanG Senior Member
    Messages: 240

    Been there too!!!:)

    Had one customer pull that on me.

    Wants to be plowed before 6:30 am or before 3:30 pm if it's snowing on a work day so she can get out or back from work.

    Was plowing one night/early morning when she called me on my cell screamimg at me that I woke her up at 4:30.

    Said she wants to be plowed as close to the times above as possible so that I don't interupt her sleep in the morning or so that there is little or no snow in her drive when she gets home.

    I calmly informed her that she ISNT"T my only customer, and that I have a route sheet that I use and I Start plowing once the snow depth has reached the trigger depth(3").

    I had one other customer ask that I only plow when she calls me to do it($20 drive)&( I plow the houses on either side of her's).

    I told her that if I have to make a special trip out just to plow her I'm going to have to charge her from when I leave to shop to when I get back at $50 per hour. And that I have a 1hr minimum.

    Changed her mind real quickly and told me to do it when I did the others.

  19. copandplower

    copandplower Member
    Messages: 44

    Wow, how do you guys not go off on those people? I have no patients for ignorance, I lost mine from dealing with knuckleheads for many years at my full time job. Basically I hate people. I like to plow because no one is trying to hurt me and I dont have to deal with anyone, its just me, my tunes and hot coffee at 4am.
    Rob, Im sure you know this but that b%tch had no reason to even think about calling the cops. Not sure about your local laws but in NY harassment only occurs when your actions serve no legitimate purpose or your intent is to harass, threaten or annoy.
    Also noise ordinances are usualy written to govern unecessary and unreasonable noise.
  20. plowking35

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

    I took on 4 driveways this year all owned by little old ladies who the youngest has to be 80. They all started calling 2-3 days before a storm, and call everyday up to and throughout the storm. Dont come now, come between 8.05 and 8.07 am not sooner not later. Shovel the walk to the bird feeder, sweep off my car, I have never payed more than 11.00 for my driveway to be plowed. On and on it goes.After the first storm 2 jump ship and get someone who will do it as a favor. That leaves just two now. I get there at 8 am on friday and the driveway is all done. I am ripping made, until I see the woman, she is 4.6" tall, and as grandma looking as they come. I soften instantly,ask her if she found someone else, she says no her grandsone came by and he was able to plow it. I say fine see you later, and that should now about end it. The only one who never called except to inquire the first time, had an eay 100' straight drivway. She never called to complain and was nice as can be. But her sister that needed the car brushed off, talked her into the other guy. Oh well.
    Now I have a handicapped family,( guy had polio in the 50's) and they are the nicest people in the world. We shoveled all around the van, and swept it off for him. When we left it looked like the middle of summer around that van. They never complain, and I happy to extras for them. In fact I forgot them last week,all he did was call and ask if I was OK, because I never plowed. I felt like scum, I ran right over and plowed him, and they still had me in for pie.