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Very aggrivated... (Very long post)

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by GimmeSnow!!, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. GimmeSnow!!

    GimmeSnow!! Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    I priced a job in early October that included around 24 lots and squeezed in as the lowest bidder. These lots were supposed to be quoted under the following conditions:

    Priority 1- (8 lots) - To be done in-house and only quoted for reference (The contract is 50 pages long and at some point it states that the client may choose to add or remove properties as necessary)

    Priority 2 - (8 lots) - To be completed within 4 hours by contractor

    Priority 3 - (8 lots) - To be completed within 8 hours by contractor

    The two companies that bid against me have about 20 to 30 trucks each, are about 20 minutes away, and have been in business for much longer than us. We only have six trucks and are about 30 minutes away and have been in business for 10 years. That being said, we have a lot of connections and friends in this business and have financial stability.

    The sales guys at the competing companies were not very attentive. Only one of them showed up at the pre-bid meeting, neither showed up at the bid reading, and both over-bid 3 of the priority 3 lots due to lack of clarification. (There were a lot of walks on these sites that were not included in the contract, and the specs were only written to cover the clients *** so they stated all walks must be cleared. This makes sense for the public buildings, but not so much for the parks. so the only reason I knew is because I asked a lot of questions.)

    Unfortunately, I also failed to get a clarification on a small portion of the bid and thus Undercut 3 of the priority 1 lots due to the misunderstanding by a pretty decent amount. The lots were labeled as recycling centers. Each one that I stopped at was about 10k sq. ft. and was right next to the dept of works sites. They had their own separate driveways, and three recycling containers sitting on them. My dumb *** assumed that DPW would be handling their own lots and therefore were not even considered in the bid and we would just be handling the smaller sites next to them. Since these sites were supposed to be done in-house anyway, I didn't pay much attention and threw a min price on them and moved on to the next one. When the bid reading came up I realized that the other two companies bid the entire DPW lots as the recycling center and these were much larger than the tiny lots I bid on. Honest mistake right? Surely they will see where the confusion came in and understand how the prices are so much different. They were planning on doing those sites in-house anyway.

    So..... I call one week later knowing that I'm going to need to do a little prep work to get plans worked out. Purchasing agent, "Our head of DPW will be getting started on this early next week." Great!

    Two weeks later I'm talking to one of my references, he hasn't heard anything. I call back and leave a message stating that I wanted to see how the decision process was coming along. No response.

    One week later I call again. "Well something came up and the director will be getting to it very shortly." I tell him that it's getting pretty late in the season on such a large contract.

    Finally, yesterday I get a call to schedule a meeting. The guy asks what time will work. I ask him if Friday will work. "No, we will be busy on Friday, how about 9AM tomorrow?" I ask him if we can postpone it until the afternoon. (At this point I haven't even looked back at the contract for about two weeks because I had pretty much given up on even hearing from them. I wanted to sit down and refresh my memory and work out what questions I had for him and issues needed to be worked out) I ask him to at least give me until 10AM so I can make sure the guys get out and there's not too much confusion. He tells me that he can't do that because they have an appointment at 7AM and 11AM so the only time he can do it is at 9........

    WTH? Why did he even ask what time was good for me?

    So at this point I drop everything else I'm doing and start brainstorming on what I'm going to need to do to be prepared quickly to take on the contract and still take care of my other customers.... A plan quickly starts to form but I don't have all of the pieces of the puzzle put together and its time to go home for the night to get some rest.

    Leaving my house this morning I see that I have a flat tire and have to scramble just to get to the shop on time for the guys to show up.... I finally make it and the guys are about to head off for work, I tell a couple to stick around for a few so I can introduce them to the client.

    The director and the foreman show up 20 min late and I start to show them around. The first thing the director sees is 4 plows lined up to the front of the shop. "Is this all the plows you have?" No, a couple of them are out. They see a couple brand new trucks and some trucks that are a few years old and don't really say much because they are in pretty good shape. I tell them that I plan on purchasing a used dump truck to help out with their contract and that I have already got a few I have been looking at. He says, "You're only going to purchase it if we hire you?" ..... Well yeah, it's a pretty decent sized contract and it will save us some time and help us out in a few areas.
    Next he wants to go in the office to ask some questions. He asks how I plan on monitoring the snow being 20 miles away from them. I tell him that they are right in between us and our furthest contract which is 35 miles away and I know for a fact he asked that client a lot of questions because I used them as a reference. I told him that we monitor that client frequently, we monitor the weather frequently, we know a lot of businesses and people around the area, and one of the tools we use is the networking platform on this site. I started to show him what a typical night looks like on the SE michigan snow and ice thread and how there are people from all over monitoring and giving feedback on the conditions they are seeing. I read one post to him and he interupts me and laughs in my face telling me that we don't need somebody that sits by some blog and waits to see if the snow is here. I tell him there is a whole lot more to this tool, such as the fact that the weather updates every 4 hours, and with this I get instant notice. He cuts me off again and starts in with a lecture about liability and exposure...... I have a 4 mil. liability policy and handle some high profile lots which were listed as references in the bid packet. I got very angry and started to lose my cool. I held myself back but managed to get out, "If the only thing you got from what I'm trying to tell you is that I sit in front of a computer and wait for Joe Blow to tell me when I need to handle my business then you obviously weren't listening."
    My wife was in the office and knew I was about to lose it so she stepped in (thank god) She starts talking and something was mentioned about her brother being one of our top guys (which is true, he has lived with us for a while and has seen every aspect of the business from the inside out, he's family and therefore has a vested interest in the success of the business) The guy looks down at the bid packet that asks for every employee of the company and years of experience and says "So some guy with 2 years experience is your best employee?"
    She didn't by any means say that he was the best, she said one of the best. I told him that my brother-in-law was in the military before he started working for us and has one of the best heads on his shoulders that I have seen. He was thrown behind a plow truck very quickly and is very capable. He handles every salt run with me, is the first driver out and the last one in besides me every night and directs the guys where to go with me throughout the storm. He helps me route, draw up site maps for the jobs, he always turns in complete paperwork, and helps me go through everyone else's paperwork after every storm. He is truly professional and I would put him up against any of his plow drivers with ten years experience in a heartbeat. I also went into a rant about the difference between ex-military and the19 year old kids that are available for these jobs in the industry. (I have always admired the drive and mentality that these guys have and am truly lucky to have three ex-military guys working for me.) The other thing that ticked me off is during his rant about exposure he mentioned something about our responsibility of the recycling centers...... So in other words these were going to be handled in house but because you screwed up on the bid we're definitely going to take advantage of you. He didn't even try to discuss the pricing fluctuations between our companies.

    This guy sits in front of a desk all day long because he has a college degree and has nothing to do with the actual physical labor. The fact that he can come in to my office after being so irresponsible to put a job that requires three trucks on the back burner until the middle of November and act so rude, entitled and pompous is unbelievable. On top of that the specs were vague and poorly written to say the least.

    Honestly, the most disappointing part of the whole thing is that I was off of my game and I could have turned the tables around on him and changed the way things were going. I'm usually really good at reading people and taking charge of a conversation to get it back on track, but my lack of preparation, the distractions in the morning and the fact that I took what he was saying so personally made me completely botch the interview. He said we should know sometime in the beginning of the week either way. I truly believe this guy walked out of my office without understanding anything about my business and how we are different from our competitors, he doesn't know if we entirely understand all of the areas of responsibility, or even how we plan to do the job. None of the details are worked out, I guess it's just wait until we do the work and if we screw it up they will tell us. All of this is entirely my fault and I have been beating myself up about it all day. It also makes me wonder if he either knows someone at one of the other companies, or is just bitter because the jobs are being outsourced and it threatens the way him and his friends make their living.... Or if one of my dad's favorite things to say is true ..... "Don't mind him, he was just born an ******* and never got over it"

    I know this post is extremely long, I just needed to get it off my chest. If we don't get the job we'll be fine and if we do get the job I have a feeling that things may get very rough if I don't work on some communication with this guy and work some magic on getting everything together very quickly.
  2. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    I probably would have punched him in his rude mouth.

    IPLOWSNO PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,619

    I hear you, some people just rub me the wrong way too, I know if it was me in your shoes I'd be looking for more work and possibly bail money lmao
  4. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 6,733

    It also makes me wonder if he either knows someone at one of the other companies, or is just bitter because the jobs are being outsourced and it threatens the way him and his friends make their living....

    Your instinct is probably spot on and he had no interest or intention of placing the work with you.
    By this guy behaving the way he did should be an indicator of what you'd deal with if awarded the work. When I'm meeting with a potential new customer I interview them too, I've walked away from a few and wish I had walked from a few during the first few weeks of the season and didn't send in bid the next year.

    Don't beat yourself up over this in hindsight you'll realize you're better off in the long run and karma will eventually catch up with him
  5. Wilnip

    Wilnip Senior Member
    Messages: 583

    I would bust my a$$ trying to find work to take the place of this job and then when the jerk called tell him you are booked. He waited to long and better work came up.
    If you don't get this account, it may be a blessing in disguise.

    I hope venting on here helped and good luck.
  6. DuramaxLML-42

    DuramaxLML-42 Senior Member
    Messages: 258

    And this is why i keep telling guys to take their time and not beat up their trucks for ******** like that. Its not worth it anymore. He had no intentions of hiring you. He was looking to flex his ego and take jab at you.

    All these people want us for is our insurance policies. That way they're not liable. Seriously though dont beat yourself up. You did all you could given the situation. Guys like him are miserable because all they do is sit behind a desk. They get barked at all day and when they have their chance to hold some power they take it.

    Just dont bust your ass or equipment up for guys like that. Its not worth it anymore.
  7. ddobson

    ddobson Junior Member
    from pa
    Messages: 29

    Life is too short to work for people like that. I believe they will do you a favor by selecting another company. Someone else said hustle to fill up your remaining availability, I agree.
  8. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,696

    I've seen DPW heads act this same way. He has a boss....write his boss a letter and copy the mayor on it.
  9. wilsonsground

    wilsonsground Senior Member
    Messages: 201

    I don't do any big properties, mainly residential and small single building commercial lots. But if someone came into my office/home acting like that I'd be telling them to get the f out and don't call me. 'You're asking me for help, you're not going to treat me like that!' I'm sure you've got plenty of work with 10 years in the business and could do without this *******.
  10. GimmeSnow!!

    GimmeSnow!! Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    Thanks guys, I appreciate it, I'm not really all that upset about the work. We'll stay pretty busy. It just kinda sideswiped me. I just took things too personally, which is understandable seeing as I've put so much work into this business. Nobody likes to see something they work so hard at belittled like that.
  11. MSsnowplowing

    MSsnowplowing Senior Member
    Messages: 687

    The one thing that stands out is you gave him too much information.

    Like when he asked how you plan on monitoring the snow being 20 miles away from them.
    Simple answer, local news and radar tracking for all storms.
    Along with we send a plow truck out to moniter real time conditions.

    While plow site is a great place to track storms -(I follow them here also, we have some really sharp guys that have been better at predicting the snow than the regular news) I wouldn't tell a client that's what I use because they wouldn't understand that and get the wrong impression.

    But the way you wrote it happened, I don't think anything you did would have mattered.

    It really sounded like he was just looking for any excuse not to hire you.

    Like someone else said "this could be a blessing in disguise".

    Do you really want to deal with this type of person?

    And if you do get it, can image what this guy will be doing after every storm?

    The way he sounds is he would nitpick you on every single storm finding fault in everything you do.

    I wouldn't walk away from this, I WOULD RUN.

    Let us know what happens and if you do get the contract.

    Oh if you don't, taking a page from another thread, I would subscribe the guy to some nasty gay porn to be delivered to his office every month :mechanic:
  12. thelettuceman

    thelettuceman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,216

    Nothing left for me to add to this comment !!!
    Very Well Said !!!
  13. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    Call the city of Wyoming and ask them how the low bidder did on the lawn contract a few years ago. I think there was another city/township that ended up in a similar situation. The contractor fell flat on their face and even bounced.

    Location managers whose necks are on the line by hiring subcontractors should be out inspecting contractors business locations. These guys want you to be working for them only, they are to be your priority.

    I dunno about telling any customer that following some blog is how you track snowfall conditions - me the customer wants to hear that you have someone driving thru my area on the hour every hour - boots on the ground verses hearsay on the net.

    Flip the coin and look at it from his side. He hires you, IF you were to drop the ball, it coud possibly be his neck too.

    If I was a property manager, all my lawn contracts would be completed in the fall and all my snow contracts would be completed in the summer but we all know it doesn't happen that way with everyone
  14. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,106

    I agree with this. From his own admission he has half the equipment, is 10 more min away than other contenders, gets put off his game by a flat tire and is low bidder. Don't take it personally is my advice.
    How you react to his demeanor tells him more about how you will react to complaints. It's like crossing the border, certain questions/statements are designed to put you on edge. The way you handle them determines your path. Getting your foot in the door should be priority one. Most people are nervous during facility inspection, don't sweat it. If you feel you didn't impress him and you base whether you're going to work for them on that; you've already lost. Make a better impression by sticking to your bid and doing a stellar job.
  15. MSS Mow

    MSS Mow Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 981

    Any conclusion to this yet? Just curious how it turned out.
  16. GimmeSnow!!

    GimmeSnow!! Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    I completely understand the argument from his side however if he is so concerned, maybe he should have thought about that before he waited until the middle of November to pick a company to complete the job. I will have a tall order to fill with very little time on my side to prep for this job.... I have capital, people, and resources available. The bigger companies have more capital, people and resources available. I'm sure these companies don't just have 3 extra trucks sitting around in case a job comes up. They can put their backup trucks on it but then what happens to their backup? Either way someone will be making purchases for this contract. Had this gone through when the job was bid I would have had plenty of time to prepare. I have no problem with them being skeptical and honestly don't care if the job comes through, if it does I have a lot more work ahead of me and more responsibility / headache, but a lot more money. If it doesn't I can relax. What I do have a problem with is irresponsible / wreckless people that can walk into a business, and act as if they are so much more superior when in fact they know absolutely nothing about that business, it's people, or it's capabilities, and furthermore make absolutely no attempt to learn about them.
  17. GimmeSnow!!

    GimmeSnow!! Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    Thank you, I appreciate this advice, and the feedback. I definitely have some work to do on my salesmanship. As for the quality job done, I have a strong hard-working team and we are working to do a stellar job every time.
  18. GimmeSnow!!

    GimmeSnow!! Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    He said he would get back to me at the beginning of the week but did not call today, I will try to contact him tomorrow.
  19. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    Brother, I'm not knocking you at all.

    I didn't mean to insinuate or whatever the word is that you lowballed this quote (like the fools in Wyoming did) - I think you said you squeeked in as low bidder.

    Like someone or others said, sometimes we are all guilty of saying too much, trying to explain too much etc.. We know and do what's right for our business, sometimes it's hard to explain that to others.

    A contract in Michigan of any size that hasn't been awarded yet is a bit crazy IMO but what do you do? Walking into a guys shop and tearing him apart really isn't the best way to act also, that'd probably call for an adjustment in price or a kind "no thanks" unless you really needed the work..

    No matter what the cost, for me, I want our eyes on something verses someone elses opinion - **** I have to put a 2x4 in each truck to get guys to know when there's more than 1 1/2" on the ground - I just don't trust anyone else.
  20. GimmeSnow!!

    GimmeSnow!! Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    Thanks guys, we are still fine on work just needed to vent to other people in the business that understand what it's like. They awarded it to one of the other contractors and didn't even let me know. I called the guy today to find out. Then the guy told me that we didn't need it anyway as we were too low on the recycling centers. I asked him why those were being added in if they were priority one sites. He told me they were priority 2. I had the contract in front of me and told him where they were at. He told me that he wrote the specs and he knows what is in the contract. I could tell that he's just one of those guys that knows everything and there was no point in arguing but the guy doesn't even know his own specs. Ok, I'm done whining, I handled things much better today and kept an in-road for upcoming work, I've got a great local company that we sub through and just picked up a large site that we did a few years ago that asked us to come back this year. Everything happens for a reason.