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Terminating my first customer

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by skmodmsl, Jan 29, 2004.

  1. skmodmsl

    skmodmsl Member
    Messages: 43

    This is my first year of being in business for myself. I already have my first "problem" customer. Sofar in three snowstorms I've only plowed this man once. The plan was to plow at 3" or more. The first storm was just under 3". I did my other customers so I took a ride up there and figured I would plow his drive. I get there and the driveway is plowed already. So I went on to my next customer. I called the guy and inquired about the driveway being plowed. He said the guy he carpools to work with plowed the driveway when he came to pick him up. He said the guy was done by the time he came out of the house and didn't have time to stop him. The customer assured me that he still wants me to plow.

    The second storm comes. So I call the guy and ask if he wants me to plow. Storm ended at night. We got about 4". "Come on up an plow he says. I'd like to meet you". When I took the job it was via phone. I went and looked at the drive and wrote up an estimate sheet with the prices and left it behind. He called back and agreed to the price I quoted.In fact he left 2 messages the same day to call him back. I go up and plow the drive. I meet the guy for the first time. He really like the job I did. "I can't pay you today because the wife is out of town and has the checkbook". No problem. I don't expect payment right on the spot. I told him to send a check when the wife gets back. Later in the week he calls me to say that he has cash and I can come and get it. I said he could send a check. He did call so I wasn't worried. Another storm (this past in fact) was due to come. The wife would be back by then so I told him he could send a check to cover both storms.

    This last storm dumped about a good 6" of snow. I go up there to plow. Guess what ? It's been plowed already. Now I am totally furious.

    The plan is to call the guy and inquire about my payment for the time I plowed. I want to pick it up in cash and when I am face to face with the customer I will politely tell the man that I amnot going to be servicing him any longer. I feel that it's time to pull the plug.
     
  2. poncho62

    poncho62 Senior Member
    Messages: 431

    He sounds like a bit of a tool, don't be suprised if you have a hard time collecting. Something seems odd here. If the guy that picks him up for work has a plow, why did he call you to start with?
     
  3. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    After you receive your payment due, push all the snow you can dig up onto his driveway and make a huge pile in front of his garage.:nod: I'll send you a check for that service.:D :waving:
     
  4. Snow Jaw

    Snow Jaw Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    if it is no paying.. push up the snow to his door from the street....

    it's taking your time and gas driving there.
     
  5. JElmWin

    JElmWin Senior Member
    Messages: 232

    skmodmsl
    :waving:
    I've dealt with these idiots at least once a year,every year that I've plowed. My solution was never let them go for more than one storm without paying. A polite visit before they get the chance to screw you always works too. If they seem to be slow in paying let them go. They'll always be nice to your face. Some idiots get off on ripping you for a "freebie".
    :rolleyes: This reminds of a who frantically flagged me down to plow one storm. He said he had a tractor that he plowed with. I always would call him and ask if he wanted to be plowed (usually 12" or more). One year we had 2 major storms in one week. First storm, I called, second I didn't. When I came to collect he said "oh, I was going to plow myself out" and "will $5 do it for you?". I told him to wipe his a** with his $5!
    A year or so later I'm at a family reunion. My mom says "I'd like you to meet my cousin Fred" I turn around and guess who's looking back at me.
    Moral of this story, if you don't have it in writing for some it's a bigger thrill than internet porn.:dizzy:
     
  6. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    ask him for the money a couple more times. if that doesnt work, wait until that other guy plows his drive, then get all the snow rounded up you can and pile it in front of his garage door. if you reallly want to have fun put a pile at the end of his drive to.:D :D
     
  7. JElmWin

    JElmWin Senior Member
    Messages: 232

    You guys have seen the movie "Beautiful girls" too many times!:p
     
  8. PROPJCKEY

    PROPJCKEY Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    go and file a lein on his property before 90 days of your last plow there expires! Wouldn't you love to see the look on his face when he sells/re-finances and he has a dirty title and they won't let him close without paying you! Especially funny if it happens in July!payup
    -Doc-
     
  9. Tom Smith

    Tom Smith Senior Member
    from IL
    Messages: 149

    I never let a customer get away with screwing me on a bill. No payment after my final notice due date and its off to the court house to file a small claims suit... I dont think its fair for me to get screwed when i preformed the service... $10 bucks or $1000 Bucks... Then they end up paying the court costs and have to take a day off of work.... haha I win a** hole !!!!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2004
  10. skmodmsl

    skmodmsl Member
    Messages: 43

    I appreciate the replies. It would be a great feeling to "bulldoze" his front door. Unfortunately I have little faith in the Court system. I think I will let it rest. The "small guy" gets it in the end. I have several other customers who are more than satisfied with my work. I now have more time to service them. I don't feel that it is a loss. More to my gain.
     
  11. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    Just a fact. People that let stiffers get away with it is the reason they exist. You are teaching him bad behaviour and encouraging him to do more of it. You will win in court if you have a contract and your court costs will be given. He will tell others that he stiffed you.
     
  12. classicman

    classicman Member
    Messages: 67

    I disagree

    If the guy offered to pay you in cash it doesn't sound like he was trying to hose you. It seems to me that the path of least resistance is to invest in a phone call requesting a moment of his time to talk face-to-face... preferably right now,sir, if possible. If this were my customer I would explain that I have a route to do, that I am in a "time-compressed" business, and that I must know if his buddy has been out there to plow so that I don't travel to his home only to find it done. I think you mentioned that this is your first year plowing, so I imagine you are not running so tight with accounts that you cannot afford to keep this guy on an as-needed basis, and based on what I read of this guys conduct to date, I suspect he's dealing out of simple ignorance as opposed to malice- he may have went to bed and his buddy came over and plowed him, for example. I would give him the benefit of the doubt, at least until you speak to him on the phone and/or in person, because the surprise could be pleasant once you express your concerns in a diplomatic fashion... e.g. payment for your travel time in addition to the work you did. Good luck with a situation that is somewhat like one I just had. One of my accounts is a beverage store (beer store). They pay immediately upon invoice (I invoice next day, in person, and touch up all accounts). One of the owners asks me to do his residence, as his wife does it now because he's always at the beer store. I go there the other night and it's done already, except the municipal plow has been through and swamped him in. Well, I have a full load of accounts and my time is tight, but I clear off the municipal plowing and also clear his walk again. At the time I'm thinking I'll charge him for the push, then debate charging him for half, then debate charging him for a third... you know, I'm tired and everything is exaggerated. I sit down next day to quick books and decide to throw it in for free. No harm, no foul is my thinking. I invoice him for the beer store, he writes me a check, I tell him I plowed him out, but some pesky good samaritan had already done it-- he says ya, he got home and it was done by his neighbor who knows of his long work hours and did it for him without his knowledge. He went on to say that he should have called me (1am), but he forgot to. I told him I will be happy to continue to roll up on his residence and if not done, go ahead and do it, he said cool and thanks, and oh, by the way, take a few cases home---loads five cases of bud 16ozers in the truck for me gratis. You think any of the gazillion guys out there plowing snow drink beer? You think any of them offer to do his lot for beer? You think he ever takes 'em up on it in the teeth of being able to probably save significant bucks? He does not, because he knows I have always been reasonable with him... I say bend over backwards until you can't bend anymore... it pays in the long run, and of course you'll get toasted once in a while, but I guarantee you will be rewarded once in a while too. I try to think like a customer- NOT A CONTRACTOR, because that's who pays my bills.
     
  13. nor'easter1

    nor'easter1 Senior Member
    Messages: 140

    My first response would always be to do evil but over time I guess I have mellowed out, or gotten more sinister. I had same situation guy calls at beginning of season like five times in the same day. I look at it agree to price, stake it out out and wait for storm. First storm plowed him out sent bill. A week later another small storm go to plow it has been done. I blow it off because sometimes guys do the wrong houses or there employees do. A couple days later another small burst go to his house done again. Wait a month to get payment and do not. My wife who loves to yell at delinquent payers sends final notice and we will not plow your driveway ever again. I never got response back from the guy and I thought about railing snow up his driveway and then it hit me. He declared he was running for some elected town position. I said there is my chance for revenge. When voting time came I did wait until a good crowd was around the guy. I walked right through the crowd went up to the guy shook his hand and said my name is....... and you never paid me for plowing last winter or even had the courtesy to call and tell me why. Just like in the movies a hush came over the crowd and he turned bright red. I then said I don't think you will get my vote and walked away. The guy did not win and I'm sure it had nothing to do with me but he got his in the end and it was worth the thirty bucks he stiffed me.
     
  14. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    Classicman:

    You seem to have a good attitude. You know what they say, there are three sides to a story. Yours , Theirs, and the Truth. Keeping your nice attitude when others don't is character. CLASSIC too.
     
  15. classicman

    classicman Member
    Messages: 67

    ...and one more food for thought regarding "problem" customers

    One of my new accounts this year was a 30 dollar residential push off a letter I sent into the subdivision. The wife called and asked me to bid it, I did, she requested that I only come at 4"+. I, of course explained the ramifications of that, she said her and her husband have 4wd, yada,yada,yada. She skips a storm, still hasn't seen pavement because no wanty chemicals either, but does call and say "you were right, I was wrong, do it your way from now on" I could have explained what's what up front, been the all-knowing contractor, but I let her learn for herself and bent over backward to compensate for her ignorance by re-pushing her daily without request or compensation. By now I'm sure many of you are saying "It's guys like this that make it tough on the rest of us", and you'd be right, except for the wrong reason. You see, I made a bid yesterday for the largest builder in Harrisburg, Pa. for one of their brand new subdivisions, as the present contractor wasn't doing his yob. They had asked for current references and I gave them 20. The owner picked up the phone with all of us sitting at the table... Me, New Home Sales Manager, Director of Contractor Affairs, Secretary and somebody else that I forgot what he does (get the picture- high pressure grilling on expertise, etc.) GUESS WHO HE CALLED? yep, lady not down to pavement, but she apparently said some nice things about me, because he got off the phone, told me to get my butt over to the new subdivision of 141 homes that he just awarded me and fix what the guys he just fired messed up. THAT contractor thought like a contractor, and he just bought me some new trucks, spreaders and blowers. Thanks if you're reading this- you definitely know who you are. payup
     
  16. classicman

    classicman Member
    Messages: 67

    Kind words, Bolts

    I read your posts. I know who is who in here. I listen to you.

    Dave
     
  17. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    When I was young, an older man told me everybody has a product to sell, the same as yours, and priced about the same. In the end when the customer decides, he decides about YOU not the product. I like fussy people that want a good job. I find these people respect your work and don't mind paying extra for it. Go the extra mile and get the extra money. Show them YOU are better. If you are doing good work your phone should be ringing more every month than the month before, not less.
    In short, SELL YOURSELF not the product. SELL SERVICE - SELL SERVICE- they will pay. Man don't I get carried away.
     
  18. classicman

    classicman Member
    Messages: 67

    I may be buying Blizzard because of Bolts

    I'm on hour 24 with no sleepy and no snow, after the other 24 no sleepy with the snow, thanks to what I have previously posted about. I presently have a crew of subs out at my brand new account. I also have a pending bid, also with a big builder, also due to poor service by a colleague in this business. I am not a low-baller, either. Simply a simple fella selling and more importantly, delivering on what I'm selling. My pager is not going off, hasn't all night, and the place is looking great- I just checked- because the guys working with me are pros that think like I do, just like most of the posters in here do. Mine is a get rich slow scheme, and I'd recommend it.
     
  19. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    I'm not here to sell. As a user of a Blizzard 810 power plow. I highly recommend it to you because it will make your jobs go faster and easier and increase your profits. Better than a V. I did a little plowing the other day with the other truck that has a straight blade and I was lost. I got frustrated. After using the 810 I AM SPOILED. Never will go back to straight. Ha Ha no pun intended.
     
  20. Hubjeep

    Hubjeep Senior Member
    Messages: 501

    I could see that being true if prices were equal. It seems as though everyone I ask has a different opinion of what to charge. I give them a set price up to 10", anything over that I charge 50% more.

    Some people say to charge every time you "drop the plow" other's charge the same. :confused:

    -John :cool: