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To Plow or not To Plow??`

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by HandyHaver, Dec 12, 2000.

  1. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    I'm looking for some advise here. I have 18 res/drives accounts signed up for the winter so far. In my contract the billing starts at 2"-6". We my get some snow tomorrow night, possibly 1-3". (depends on what forecast you look at). It's supposed to turn to rain and get into the mid-40's in the afternoon. I know there are alot of variables and "what if's" but if it should happen the way I just described, do I plow or wait it out..........


    Mark
     
  2. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,223

    well i would wait it out .your customers will call you if it need to be done but you should of put some type of clause like that into your contract for these snow or no snow storms. it always hard to tell when to plow when there that small
     
  3. PINEISLAND1

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    I go through the same thing here. I have a few customers that want service, for whatever reason (usually cost), at 3 inches.

    If they are on a per plow billing then that is exactly what they get, even to the point of measuring each time and driving away when its not 3. I don't want to be accused of running up their bill for my benefit.

    If they are seasonal customers, and I'm out doing everything else anyways, I will do them. Its much easier on you as a plower to keep them as clean as you can, as often as you can.
     
  4. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    That's always hard to call. Our residentials don't kick in until 4". The problem is complicated by the way snowfall tends to be heavier on the other side of the river. Something about the way the valley channels storms coming in off the lake vaeely, I think, but there is consistently more snow out where most of our residentials are clustered. I've been lucky though, only had one customer question the necessity of plowing and since they were a good customer (4 rental units) and paid promptly I offered to split the price of that one plowing. We both came away happy.
     
  5. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    Well I've already heard from 4 customers and they want me out at 2". Gonna wait to see what tomorrow brings and then just start calling everybody if it's still questionable & let them know I'll be out. Have to wait and see what Mother Nature dishes out. Thanks for the feedback

    Mark
     
  6. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Our contracts specifically state (in the terms and conditions noted on the rear portion of the contract) that WE make the decision if plowing is necessary. Period. By signing the document, they automatically agree with our decision. No negotiaion. Our decision. Doesn't matter how much snow has fallen. If we decide that plowing warranted, it's a done deal.

    We have had people question that (after the fact) by stating that they didn't think plowing was necessary. We do not budge. Ever. And on those rare occassions that people want to argue with us, we (respectfully) point it out on the contract terms. We have yet to lose the arguement, and (interestingly enough) have never lost a customer over it either.

    I know it's arrogant and high falutin, but it works for us.

    My suggestion... if you think there's enough to plow it when you are there - do it. I've been there when rain has been predicted after the snow, and then it doesn't rain. If we all relied on the weatherman to decide if we would work or not, we'd all look like buttheads more often than not. Unless, of course, you're weathermen are of that rare breed that acutually does it accurately most of the time. Mine don't.
     
  7. jrblawncare

    jrblawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 121

    This is a great thread,I may be faced with this Wednesday affternoon,spoke with a client Today about it,its my call,2" to 3" I will push at the transition to rain or mix to get it cleaned off,commercial mainly.
     
  8. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    John,

    I sat down tonight and made a bunch of calls and after explaining that if we get more than predicted, if it doesn't turn to rain ect.. ect... ect... Most were understanding, some difficult. I told them I would be out and will stop. Next year I will add a few extra clauses in the contract. Most of these accounts are good size drives on the main line and they like to bicker. They also like to back the Mercedes or Jags out of the garage and "stop" at the end of drive. Sometimes damned if you do & damned if you don't, so you might as well do!!!
     
  9. Matt

    Matt Member
    Messages: 68

    I'll admit that we too have those terms in our terms and conditions, I wonder where we got the idea? Thanks John! Like John stated you can never trust the weatherman and you never know what the future may bring. Since we are the ones that have many $ invested in the equipment then I quess we should be the one that decides if plowing is warranted. We have had customers ask us to wait until the end of the storm and we tell them that we will start plowing at 3 - 4" and plow how ever many times it takes until the snow stops coming down. The beginning of Thanksgiving week we had accounts that received 22" while other ones received 36 - 40", you think I am waiting until the end think again. We also have in our contract that the $ charge is for accumulations up to 8" additional accumulations are done at a prorated rate of the agreed upon price. That way when the lake effect machine kicks into high gear and we start getting 1 - 2" a hour and it takes 9 hrs. to get route done we get paid for the additional accumulation. I used to try and think of the charges a customer would receive and would try to wait awhile before we plowed, then the phone would start ringing. Were stuck when are you going to plow, since we started making the decision no complaints about having not been plowed and no complaints about when we plowed. We are the professionals that they hired to provide them with access to their property, the way I see it if we wait until they can't access there property than we haven't held up our end of the deal. Customer satisfaction is the name of the game and when they can get in and out of there property they are satisfied.
     
  10. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    For residentials, I always plow for a "marginal" storm, if the customer beefs, hey I will be a nice guy and eat it, its more cost-effective for me to plow 2 inches on a driveway (2 min tops) for free than spend all day on the phone with customers, hearing "well I dont know Ill call u back..." most folks just pay the bill and say nothing. Commercials are now all seasonal contracts so they are either plowed or sanded with any accumulation.
     
  11. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    We do it similar to JA, but for simplicity, I tell people that when the municipal plows are out, so are we. It trains them to move cars etc. in advance. OK -- many are so dense about our business that they can't be trained, but that is our hope.
     
  12. jrblawncare

    jrblawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 121

    DJ,This is what I have told my clients,when the DOT is out plowing, I will be too...so far no problems."Train the customers"Boy,I have a job ahead me here!!JRB
     
  13. Greenkeepers

    Greenkeepers Member
    Messages: 42

    As the snow starts to fall I am going out. When I start plowing residentials I start making calls to those on my list. You guys are going to kill me for this but I don't have contracts on my snow removals. I didn't get a contract made up before the snow started to hit. I'm going to go start a new thread about that. The majority of my plows want it plowed if we have 2-3 inches and then others want to wait. I tell them that there will be an additional charge for more accumulation so they usually say go ahead and plow it.
     
  14. fireball

    fireball PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 536

    I always tell them "if you can't afford me for a one or two inch storm, you sure can't afford me for a big storm" Never had anyone argue the point after saying this.
     
  15. Hemipower

    Hemipower Junior Member
    Messages: 13



    Don't feel bad as I don't either and I've plowed
    some of them for 8-10 years with no prob.
    I save the contract for the commercial jobs.
     
  16. Hemipower

    Hemipower Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Damn dude, you're pretty hardcore.
     
  17. fireball

    fireball PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 536

    Hardcore nothing I'm a pussycat but you can't alter the truth. John Allin has always said that snow removal is a state of mind, either you believe you are going to make money at it or not. The bitter truth is that you have to make money on the small storms because you can't afford to wait around for the big one to make up for all the small ones. Your fixed costs such as depreciation are the same for small storms as well for the big storms. Bottom line is that it costs you 40.00 to drive to the site whether it is a 300 sq ft driveway or a 30 acre site. The quicker you grasp the true costs of doing something the quicker you will be driving a Mercedes Benz. Call the phone company and they will charge you 45.00 to come to your house to tell you that your phone isn't working, then they will charge you for fixing it. I haven't heard of any phone companies going out of business but I sure hear you can't make money on plowing snow
     
  18. Hemipower

    Hemipower Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    I realize we have to make money but if I belittled a customer by telling them if they can't afford a 1-2" plow
    that they couldn't afford a real storm i would be losing
    my customers at a good clip. I go out at 3 1/2- 4 "
    and that is where most people want it done. That is except my commercial lots where I go out at 2" because that is how
    those accounts work. I feel I make enough money without having to force a plow on them that could be taken care of with a kitchen broom. That's all I meant. No offense.
     
  19. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    You're both right, in my humble opinion. And, it kinda depends on what your market demands. I think most of us try to gravitate towards those accounts that want service at lower trigger depths so that we can make better margins and get more 'events' in a season. Also, lower trigger depths means less wear and tear on equipment - so it's in our best interest to try to get the customer to agree to the lower trigger depth. But... sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get business.

    By the way... I DO drive a Benz in summer.....