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suggestions please (good story)

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by snowcrazy, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    This will be a long winded read but very interesting read.

    Okay, I have had a pretty large strip mall (approx. 4.5 acres) that I have taken care of for the past 5 years. This year is the sixth year. I deal with the property management company which has always been fairly easy to deal with for the most part. I am employed on there payroll to clean the stip mall a few times per week. I also am a contractor for them and have taken care of the mowing landscaping and snow removal and had zero problems getting paid by them.

    Now, I know everyone is going to want to know what my contract saids and the answer for you is I DO NOT HAVE ONE nor have I ever as they stated from the beginning that they would not supply me with one nor accept one from me. As I said, the past 5 years have been a success.

    Ever since the beginning they have always stated that I have a 2" trigger to plow. Anything less I am to salt only........ They limit me to 1500lbs of salt (yeah not enough right) for the strip mall. normally would salt only front parking areas most customers used to park. There is an IGA store, Chinese restarant, dr office, cash and go, physical therapy place, clothing store and a beauty salon in this mall. I was told verbally from the beginning the only thing I salt in the back is loading dock for the iga store. no employee parking areas.

    So as we all know it has been a crazy year. It took no time to start getting complaints from customers when we got 1.5" storms and all I could do was salt...... Temps were crazy cold and salt didn't work well so in case made my work look like crap. I tried to get the prop manager to either drop the trigger or give me a lot larger salt allowance with no luck................ So I get a call from the property manager a few weeks ago, she tells me that the Drs. are wanting to know why im not salting there employee parking area in the back and that one of the drs fell on Ice. I tell her that they told me not to salt anything in the back except for the loading ramps. She then proceeds to let me know that these drs are very important and to start taking a few bags of my 30 bag allowance and spread behind the building for the drs. So I did that.

    Mind you throughout this year ive been getting complaints because spreading this small amount of salt over this lot when there are upwards of 1.5" of snow and temps near zero, all I am told to do by the property manager is to have the tenants call them and Im not to discuss the agreement that we have between us.

    So the other day we get an ice storm which dumps right at 3/4-1" of ice. mind you all I know dam good and well the 1500lbs of salt isn't going to work but its all they allow as they told me long ago that no matter what the accumulation amounts were, if it wasn't 2" I am not to plow. So storm ends at 3am Im there at 4am and spread my allowance and head out to plow and salt the other 15 accounts that I have which include several banks, restaurants, insurance companies, etc. So about 1pm I get a phone call from the property manager and she states that the drs and several other tenants called and saids the lot is treacherous and I haven't been there to service the lot. I tell her its been done to her specific specifications and that I know the lot is in terrible shape but when she makes me follow these goofey specifications I can only do so much. She demands I get back up there and plow the ice off the lot. So after bickering back and forth with her about why I didn't plow (that was her dam fault), I tell her this is exactly why I wanted a contract or atleast a signed scope of work so they couldn't question what I did. She said that will never happen. So while Im out there plowing one of the drs comes out with an attitude and saids its about time I show up. I explained to him the situation and he saids that after they complained the PM called them and said that they had a "talk" with there snow removal contractor and that this wouldn't happen again.

    So the next day the PM wants to meet with me and she has some a fella there that starts questioning my intelligence. He asks me if I understand how much different ice is than snow. Now with me not being one to take any Chit from anyone I tell them that I knew it needed plowed and why do they think I plowed everything I have besides there lot?? Because they put the regulations on me and that I did exactly what the told me to do!

    One thing lead to another and by the time its all over were screaming at each other and the cops get called. I know all the town cops and assured them that it was just a big disagreement. He wanted to know what we were arguing about so we both explained. THIS part I love!!!!!!! Our police chief looks right at the property manager and saids, "well I was on duty yesterday and know every property that he services and they all looked great besides this lot"............ MAN THAT MADE MY DAY! All my other accounts we have an understanding that I am to do whatever needs to be done to get there property safe for employees and customers. So all of them got plowed and salted and were down to wet concrete/blacktop when the strip mall was still a sheet of ice.

    Now for the interesting thing........ They Owe me right at 9K bucks to date which 6500 of that they are late on paying me for. Sooooooo I figure Im done and that's what I want because Im not going to let there regulations run my business name through the mud any more. So I get a phone call from the PM and she states that THEY WANT TO MOVE FORWARD and put things behind us and continue service. I tell them they are late on payments and I need paid before that can happen. She saids she will call back and I hear nothing back and cannot get them to answer my calls....

    Sorry for the long story. I figured it would be a nice read. Whatcha think I should do and do you think there is any way they can screw me out of this money when I have proof of them paying me for the past 5 years without a contract???? AND, even though I don't want to keep servicing the property, Im kinda scared to quit on them mid season for fear they may not pay me for that reason??
     
  2. beanz27

    beanz27 Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    Tell them only way you can continue work is with a contract or scope of work. Bring up the fact of no issues in 5 years. If she says no tell them pay in full, plus a retainer to continue till april 1
     
  3. allagashpm

    allagashpm Senior Member
    Messages: 705

    I would not service it without a contract. They owe you 9k and are late on 6500? That's a lot of money without a contract. If you know that isn't enough salt I wouldn't do it. It will leave dangerous conditions and you look bad. Sometimes you can't just shrug and say "whatever you want". She doesnt know how much salt it takes dont let her dictate it.
     
  4. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,554

    Sounds like the PM has PMS.

    Does she have a boss? She sounds like someone who does have a clue and dealing with a clueless person will never end good for both parties.
     
  5. NThill93

    NThill93 Member
    Messages: 96

    get a contract and change the terms. is this the same PM u have been dealing with for 5 years or someone new? seems weird that you had no issues then this year its only problems. Its up to you though is it worth the risk? or could you get by without this contract?
     
  6. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,868

    Correct!......
     
  7. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,868

    Plowing without an agreement can be troubles.
     
  8. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,182

    Market is down and service levels are through the roof this year, this is when it is important to have a written agreement. The cracks are showing....the blame game begins and you're the bottom rung.
     
  9. CowboysLC_DE

    CowboysLC_DE Senior Member
    Messages: 174

    I would say they need to immediately pay the $6,500 since they are already late and maybe give them an extra week extension on the remaining $2,500. Gotta go with a contract for next season for these clients because if they don't screw you over this time, they most likely will in the near future.

    Michael
     
  10. nepatsfan

    nepatsfan Senior Member
    Messages: 727

    I would play nice and I would try to at least get the 6500. It's a tough situation without a contract. I would tell them that because of the previous incident/misunderstanding you must put everything in writing. Tell her welcome to 1960 we use contracts now. I have 1 place- a liquor store that we don't have a contract with. Small account, they never want any salt, pita. Reading this makes me think it's time to switch them over. I've had em for probably 10 years without issue but it's not nearly as big as that.
     
  11. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Yes, there December bill I sent out on January first was to be paid within 15 days, that was $2,000 , the last bill I sent out for January was the large bill of $4500 and it was due yesterday. I sent the PM a text asking her about the first late payment that was due on January 15th and she text me back saying the first one there was a check cut on January 15th and mailed and the $4500 check was to be cut on Feb 15th which im fine with but I have a hard time believing ppl when they blame the US postal service for something being lost in the mail. So I told her that I didn't receive it and can she cancel the check she sent out and send me a new one. She saids that I will need to pay a $40 canceled check fee.......... As my blood pressure rose to the max with this comment I told her that was fine shave off the $40 bucks from my pay but be sure my $200 late fee was included in my check......... So then we were both pissed at each others comment. How the hell do I know if they really sent the check out is what I told her...... I guess If things went to court I do have the texts between her and I and the one from her pretty much states I was gonna get my money.


    As for them making my business name look bad yeah your right on the money with that one and that is what I told them both in the parking lot that day that the cops were called out. The crazy part about this story is that the Dr. that fell just so happens to be my neighbor. I talked to him personally and I told him the situation. This particular Dr. isn't one of those Drs. that is a weirdo. Ive gone to nascar races with him and his family, hell were on first name basis friends. With that being said hes one of the few drs ive met that is a genius but also is common sense smart. youd never know he was a dr if you met him out in public. with that said he understood my situation and when I told him about the 30 bags of salt for the entire strip mall he laughed about that. He hit the nail on the head when he said "those ppl are skimping because it is there job to save the owners money and it doesn't matter who falls because there going to blame you for it" and he was right on the money with that.

    As for the last 5 years being no problems, I wouldn't necessarily say that. Its just never been so bad that tenants are calling just about every time it snows because of the very cold temps which never allow the snow and ice to melt. Plain and simple even with triggers, it is best to get the snow and ice pushed off asap so the lots don't get into a chunky frozen mess. It wouldn't matter how much salt they allowed me when the parking areas are frozen solid and temps near zero. I told them that day in the parking lot that I wasn't an idiot and they needed to let me make some common sense decisions which they said WOULD NEVER HAPPEN because it can cost them big time in the end.

    One suggestion above is a good one. to tell them next year its contract or nothing. That's the way im prolly gonna go and if they don't want me to do that then fine by me. Its amazing how I can explain to them that allllllll my other customers are as happy as can be with my work but there pissed. I tell them its there regulations on me that hinder me from doing a good job but they still already have all the answers burned into there head that what they say is golden and mine is horse chit.......... Plain and simple, this is the typical pencil pusher behind the desk that think they know everything about an industry they have no clue about.

    As for the 30 bags of salt yeah they know its not enough but its easier to save the money and make there numbers look good in the end and make me look like a jack ass to the tenants that occupy the mall. Sorry, another long winded post. I APPRECIATE EVERYONES ADVICE! Its all been very good advice so far.
     
  12. Chineau

    Chineau Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    Do you have a lawyer you use? In writing attempt to contact them and thank them for wanting to move forward and explain that to do that the following will take place, payment of all amounts in arrears, establishment of terms that you set out as the snow professional servicing the property, terms of payment and rate of interest on over due payments. You get the idea, most of us who have been at it for awhile have a list, hopefully small, of lessons learned by work we have done and not been paid for. Now I asked if you have a lawyer you work with after you have attempted to contact them and if they fail to respond hand it over to council and move on. My test for this is it exceeds 1,500 dollars they owe you and it will cost about a thousand or more to chase your cash down. Do your very best to keep angry out of it the calm pro is generally the winning one, Good luck let us know how it turns out.

    Has it been the same property manager for the whole time?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  13. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Yes the same property manager. Its a little confusing honestly because when I was first hired I was hired by someone lower in ranking than her because he dealt with snow removal etc for so long so he kinda calls the triggers and salt but remember he is still high up with the company. I used to only deal with him although the lady was always in the picture. For some odd reason last year it seemed like she called me about issues more than he did so........................... Anyways, Ive never in 12 years of being in business had to contact a lawyer so the answer is no I do not have a lawyer I deal with. With that said I did get a consultation last week from a lawyer. It was 50 bucks. Anyways, he said the main thing is to try and not "stick it to them" and not to just quit because that's where the could turn around a screw you out of money. So that is what Im doing, trying to stick it out. It just suck because we have a salt shortage and I cannot get anymore and im shelling out salt to a place that may not pay me and if they do who knows when that will be. According to the lawyer it would be hard for them to bone me since I have years worth of bills that were paid with no issues.....
     
  14. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH PlowSite.com Addict
    from pa
    Messages: 1,132

    He has an agreement per the PM's request. The problem is, he doesn't have any "contract" or something written and signed stating the scope of work. With a 9k balance due, I'd be there everyday asking for my money.
     
  15. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Well, keep in mind that $2500 hasn't been billed yet because that is snow that has been dealt with in February and I haven't sent a bill for that yet. The $6500 is owed to me now though............ I can call them every day but the problem is this company is based out of a totally different state. They manage several different malls.......... I am not going to put there business name on the net..... It would be about a 3 hour drive to get to there office......... Although Id take that drive in a heart beat to get my $6500 check!!!! LOL
     
  16. Triton2286

    Triton2286 Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    "YAWNS" I guess you learned your lesson of not having a contract...
     
  17. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Yep, your right....... Keep in mind over the past 5 years I added up that I made about right at 70K in snow removal without a contract at this site and it was head ache free........ your right though, I am learning a lesson. The worse part about this is I am located in a very rural area and most things are hand shake deals. Even with businesses. Everyone in this small town knows me and who I am. When you get to dealing with a larger corporation where your nothing but a number, that's when these things come along......... Easy solution though, contract or nothing from now on but honestly I think an even better solution is to deal at store level and the hell with the rest. I have turned down a bunch of work this year that would have been great to have because im full tilt with my trucks and crew. Would have been nice to known this was going to go south I would have dropped them and taken on a number of smaller jobs. I feel that is the best thing to do anyways as hourly I smoke the larger jobs. That strip mall is 75 bucks per truck hour and 10 bucks per bag spread on the lot. I can do 3 small restaurants in an hours time with one truck and make $400 while my other truck is working its nuts off pushing a lot more snow for $75......... Ive been told that is to low by several on here but there are contractors ready to murder me to get this work at that rate......... They can have it after I get paid..........
     
  18. Urdum2

    Urdum2 Member
    Messages: 34

    This is also a very strange year for snow....very seldom do you see white fluffy stuff turn to ice in such a short time....I am also sure that with this bitter cold and snow, most people have CABIN FEVER.....makes bitches and ******** out of us....Forget about it, get your cash, get a contract, and continue to do business....for 9 k, guessing you don't need the money if ya can dismiss a account like that....take pictures of your other accounts, show each tenant and person in charge of your account...first question they will ask is....why are those lots so much better....then whip the math on them...be cool, be calm, be business
     
  19. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Don't get me wrong, I hate to lose it especially since one of my trucks is a 4 door long truck that is pretty much worthless for 90% of the other tiny lots that we service......... I don't want anyone thinking im playing Mr. big shot snow removal guy throwing a 9K per year job in the trash because Im definitely not a big company that has endless money. Will I starve? Hell no, and that is because I never budget Snow money to live on. You just cannot depend on snow where I live. This has been a rare year where we have gotten an enormous amount serviceable snow storms. I live off my lawncare company and snow is just a bonus if we get it...................... I need to work on the cool, calm and business part in the worse way. Most times all I get is "thank yous" and "you did a great jobs" so when someone thrashes me for something that was beyond my control im quick to snap back........ Now on the getting paid end of things ive not gotten chitty with them one bit. Just stated to them that it was late......

    As for the pictures there is no need. These tenants see me right across there parking lot servicing a mcdonalds, long johns silvers, and 2 banks. they know my other places looked good when these storms come through.......
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  20. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    So got a little update on this....... I got phone call yesterday from PM and he wants me to come up to talk...... I figured one of two things.... He's got something in writing as I demanded to continue service or I was getting canned.... I could have cared less either way........ Well I get there he said we are gonna need to cut ties..... I told him no sweat off my back what so ever but I need to be getting paid asap for what was owed and late on top of that..... He said that I will have zero issues getting paid and that the checks are already in the mail........ So with that said we shook hands and even bullcrapped a little bit about how we had done business for 9 years and was a successful 9 years up until now..... We both agreed that our business relationship had just run its course and it was time to move on..... So ending our conversation I ask if they have found anyone else yet...... He saids yes but doesn't want to discuss this with me as they know me quite well. I just let him know that I would have known every person that would have picked up the work in our town so no biggie.... Then I get a call from one of the locals saying he was the one that got it...... Lol I was giggling lime crazy when we got off the phone!!!!! Even though this fella is a good guy and a hard worker I along with several others have had to bail this fella out several times in the past years..... Junk equipment, spreader always broken please come salt for me..... Now when his stuff is up and running he does a decent job don't get me wrong but that's about 50% of the time..... So he gets into his pricing and that's when I realize why I was canned!! I was always 75 bucks per truck hour which I thought was to cheap as it was.... It normally took 7 hours on a normal snowfall (sometimes over 10 hrs.. You know how it goes if we get big snows) to plow lot and stack where they wanted..... He gave them a per push price of 300 bucks for this place...... When he told me that I just hung my head..... He also told me he figured the lot wod take about 15 bags of salt (3o bags wasnt near enough which is what i was spreading) so he gave them a per spread price which was hideous... PM probably thinks there geniuses for finding this guy..... Little do they know!!!!!! Lol.... But its all about the bottom dollar with these ppl... Its going to bite them there is no doubt..... Of course we have had storms fall at a bad time every time this year which always put us in a pickle for getting things perfect for store opening hours and wouldn't you know his first storm is going to fall perfect for him tonight...... If his stuff doesn't break he will have all the Tennant's and everything thinking they have hit the jackpot..... I'm gonna get some popcorn ready because he had trouble keeping up with what he had. Now adding another 4 acre lot? I'm loving it....

    Oh and here is a good one...... The property manager that I met with told me my checks were in the mail already.... I get home and the lady property manager that I emailed that morning about late payment sands look for checks to be cut middle of next week?? We shall see.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014