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Some thoughts and observations

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by plowking35, Dec 3, 2000.

  1. plowking35

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

    We speak alot of how hard seasonal contracts are to sell. I have signed 5 new seasonal accounts this season alone. Here is what I do, and see if it may work for you.
    When asked to bid on a site, we go and meet with the owners, we find out what their needs for plowing are, do they want black and wet, what are your trigger depths, how often do we need to service your site and so on. They we lay out our plowing plan. And at the same time show them the benifits of a seasonal contract.
    Then when we send the contract in, it is laid out for seasonal pricing, with payment plan, amounts per month, and details regarding low cap and high cap on snowfall.
    Near the very end is the per push pricing. Now once they get the contract in hand, I stop pushing the seasonal idea, I dont want to over sell the option. Yet everyone that I have done this to, has decided to go with that option.
    In the last 5 winters, we have barely reached our average of 45" for a single winter, in fact last year we only recieved 15" of total snowfall, so it isnt because we have had hard winters that the managers are opting for seasonal. If you are confident in offering the seasonal sale, you may be surprised at how easy it is to sell it.
    We also won a contract because of being a SIMA member, when the manager saw the logo on the contract, and called to find out what they were all about, and then found out we were the only members in our area, he was impressed at how we are learning more about the industry, and not waiting for stuff to happen before we jump on the bandwagon.
    Dino
     
  2. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Well put.
     
  3. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I have never had a problem selling seasonal contracts.

    I have been going about it, the way you recomend for years.

    I ask the customer what they want. Then come up with a payment plan.

    Geoff
     
  4. iowastorm

    iowastorm Senior Member
    Messages: 358

    I agree w/ all of the above (or below), but we're still fighting the old "I don't want to pay for services that aren't provided" mentality, along with the scabs that will work for gas money.

    All that said, we did pick up 12 monthly accounts this year!
     
  5. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    Well most of my customers (present and potential) still remember the budget-busting 110+ inches of 95 and would prefer to not have a financial repeat of that season. Probably the biggest selling factor for seasonal snow removal pricing.
     
  6. allabout

    allabout Member
    Messages: 50

    Seasonal contracts are great it snow insurance for the customer & stedy income for me.
     
  7. site

    site Member
    Messages: 61

    We do a whole bunch of medium and large condo associations and they are all on seasonal contracts. I sell them on seasonal contracts by reminding them how easy it is to budget for the season. They pay a fixed amount no matter what and they can budget. The last thing the president of a condo association wants is a fight with other residents about suprise bills. I've had most of these accounts for several years and I make a lot of money on them. Sure once out of every ten years I might take a hit, but the other nine will easily pay for it
     
  8. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    Dino I know you like this plan and so would I but I jhave read your sample contract and you have so many loop holes written into it you can charge what ever you want so it really gives no assurence of a price per month to your customer.Which is a win win situation for you but not alot of benefit for the customer.
     
  9. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Thats the best type of contract out there, for us contractors. Whats wrong with that?

    Geoff
     
  10. plowking35

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

    Digger
    You mentioned that its a smaple contract and nothing more. Do all my contracts look exactly like that with all the wording? No. But it was written as a guide to help others who dont know where to start. If you would like, fax or email me a copy of your contract and I will be glad to scan it and post to my site for another sample for people to look at.
    And yes there is alot of wording to my benifit, and thats the way I like it. The value to the customer is our service. We have had no complaints to the wording we use. As a matter of fact, most all our customers are fairly uneducated when it comes to snow removal, they think we are all just plow truck drivers and that anyone can do this. As we all know that isnt true, so any angle and benifit to me is fine with my conscience. If we get a 24" blizzard,and we have them cleared in good time and ready to reopen before other stores, than I should be paid accordingly. That is why that loop hole is there. I have never used it, but I would if I had to. That line came straight from a SIMA symposium speaker Rick Kier, he had a 24" snow fall and people were calling and offering him stupid money to plow, but he did his customers first, and many complained because he had to 2 and 3x plow areas,and they didnt want to pay the extra. So he now uses similar language in his contracts, and I just plagerized the idea.
    Anyway the point is, that I am a legit and ethical person and would never purposely try and decieve the customer, but I also need to CMA. I also delight in the thought that you had to make sure that you found fault in something I did this week. My blodd pressure was just about back to normal, thanks for kicking it up a notch.
    Dino
     
  11. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    I like your loopholes Dino,anyone taking advantage of them will not be in business long anyway.
     
  12. plowking35

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

    The only comment I hear from my customers is how professional the contract is. Their last plow guy just had a one line proposal.
    So if nothing else it looks impressive.
    Dino
     
  13. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    I guess the point I was making was that a stable monthly charge is one of the big benefits touted for that type of contract and I belive you would never abuse it, but then it does not provide the assurence that I thought this type of contract is known for.I too am all for covering my butt,but I feel that I need to be clearer as to the way I upcharge for larger snow falls.

    As for your little blood pressure comment I was a little confused ,and thought that maybe I forgot what I wrote but after reading it I was still confused.Do you always throw a fit when someone as a question reguarding your proceedure?You need to start reading with your head not your blood pressure and stop taking everything so personal.Respond to the questions don't whine about them.
     
  14. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Ahh... Now we're getting back to normal ;) . I'm confused too. Dino, I gotta admit Digger's comments were legitimate concerns & didn't seem malicious, although I don't agree with his angle. After watching all of the death & destruction of snowplowers in my area after the Blizzard of 96 I've been a CMA kinda guy & agree that you have to have the heavy snow loopholes. I do agree with Digger about making things real clear in those situations & I try to word it so that the customer has to give the OK for the extraordinary measures that may need to be taken, so they aren't surprised when they get the bill, even though they were open for business ASAP. Communication is the key to good relationships with customers.
     
  15. plowking35

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

    I agree with the communication thought. We do communicate with our customers, what I wanted to point out, is that what you saw was a sample contract. Being a sample, I have it as middle of the road as possible, and try to cover many different pricing ideas. It certainly is not a reflection on the way all my contracts read. Again, if have a contract you would like to share with the group, feel free to do so. Till then dont harass those of us willing to share.
    Dino
     
  16. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Dino...

    You havin a bad day ??
     
  17. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    So we have a thread named "some thoughts & observations". Surely noone could expect all of the responding thoughts & observations to be of the same opinion as the original thoughts :) I know Digger likes to get his shots in whenever available, but I don't think he was harrassing in this case. I do think he missed the point that Dino makes about his sample being a middle of the road one showing different options available in writing a snow plowing contract. Had he looked at it from that angle I would bet his comments would have been a little different but still make the good points he brings up. I for one thank Dino for posting a very informative sample for all to use. I stole parts of it to improve my contracts & my contracts are definitely not similar to the sample. I have talked to a few people that were referred to that sample & explained the idea is to use the parts that you need for your situation, and that it is not necessarily the exact contract one would use.
     
  18. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    Thank you for the clarification,Its hard when one sample contract includes all the billing options rolled into one, to decifer it's total intent.
     
  19. iowastorm

    iowastorm Senior Member
    Messages: 358

    Now this is just what I needed coming back from a night and day of plowing. Thanks guys. Dino; I'll buy you a beer and a SIMA sticker next summer at the conf.
     
  20. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Actually every time you disappear for a little bit we start kicking Dig & Dino in the shins & when they look for who did it we point at the other one of the 2. Then they start in on each other & we hope this entertains you upon your returns to Lawnsite Iowa. And make sure you check that Dino's credentials are legit before you part with that sticker ;)