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What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Dr Who, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Ok, I am new to the site, somewhat new to plowing, been doing it for a couple years as a sub. But unlike most one man shows (not counting my ground man, he is a help more then I would had thought) I have done alot of research, on this website (been a big help) and asking questions from people that used to push snow for a living (dad and a good freind).

    Ok, my problem is I am trying to get my own customers to pull up some slack of the sub work, since they like to take there time to pay or quit me cause they get someone cheaper.

    I am by no means a "low Baller" I do a good job and I charge for it, now my equipment is paid for, so I can charge less, but apperently I am still to high. I take pride in my work, I am careful, I put the snow were its out of the way, I clean the lot as best I can, shoveling away from anything I can not get close to with the plow, I try to get the lot to look as mostly black top as I can, then I put down ice melt (people cry if you use salt 'MY CONCRETE!!!!).

    We only get on average 12-13 inches of snow a year, we have already gotten that this dec. our winter (snow) usualy don't start untill mid Jan-Feb, then its over (in Lexington Ky), so we do not have a lot of call for snow plowing.

    Ok, I charge about 50 or so bucks (per push)for a 1/2 acer commercial lot, doing the sidewalks included most times, a fair price I think, I charge .50 cent per Lb for ice melt applied, again the going rates are 45 for salt ad 65 for ice melt.

    I can not get anyone to get me to plow there lots, the stupid 2 large landscaping companies here in town do the same lot for 35.00, but they only clear the drive area, no parking areas, will not touch the walks and push the snow were ever they can, even up to the sidewalk in the front door!

    I lost acouple due to my contract that I coppied from this site (thanks Tom's Plowing)
    One paid someone else to clean there lot the 2nd snow, I left it clean as a whistle, the next guy, well the folks that rented the stores from him were shoveling out what he left, which was mos of the lot..

    I am not going ot go down on my prices, I think I am fair for the job I am doing, but it rubbs me the wrong way that I can not do good work and get paid for it, but people do crapy work and get all the contracts! I know its the way it is, but dang! why pay for a crapy job when its a libility to have slick parking lots and all it takes is one fall and your up the creek with out a paddle...

    my rant for the day, stay tuned for more!
  2. LB1234

    LB1234 Member
    Messages: 91

    I'd start here.
  3. BossPlow2010

    BossPlow2010 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,027

    You copied a contract from this site?! It's supposed to be used as a reference. But I guess if you had a lawyer look at it, it's legal.

    Check out SIMA. They have some good programs that will help you win the bid sorta say!
  4. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,868

    That line stood out for me as well.
  5. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Sorry, I should rephrase that, I used it as a base/guide. I changed it all around to fit my needs, as for the lawyer..."what's this for?"....

    I have not even got to use the stupid thing other then run off 2 business cause they had to commit to me....

  6. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Ok, give an example.

    I priced a vet clinic the other day at 55.00 salt/ice melt not included, it included all the walk areas, sidewalk and parking lot. the lot fit about 25-30 cars or so. They wanted the MSDS on the ice melt(due to the animals) so I gave them the website to print it out from.

    I was there casue I was doing the business next to them, they wanted a quote becasue the last person that plowed it started at the road and pushed the snow up to the sidewalk infront of the building, they made two passes as it and quit, never touching the sidewalks, or most of the parking area, You had to walk either over or around the snow to get into the building.

    They paid someone (I did not ask who) 40 bucks to do that, but my 55 for eveything (excluding icemelt/salt)was to high!

    My equipment is paid for bacasue I bought stuff needing repairs and fixed it myself, the plow was picked up 2-3 years ago in the summer (600 bucks), over the last few year I have completely replaced.rebuilt it. the truck was a steal of a deal, boy needed money and the truck needed exhaust, 4 ball joints, rear spring hangers (its a Ford) and tires. Right now after replacing everything on the truck I have 3500 in it, the plow I have about 1000 in. So total its 4500-5000 bucks, in the complete setup.

    I have to make money as I do not have any other income in the winter, but I am not going to be a lowballer just to get the work, I would not do the vet lot for 30 just ot get the bid becasue someone will come behind me and do it for 20.

    I do quality work, I have my pride and my name is on my truck, I want people to call me casue I do a good job, not becasue I am cheap!

    Mcy D's Burgers are cheap and taste like crap
    Outback Stakehouse Burgers are high and taste like heaven

    you get what you pay for. I am all about saving money as I do not make much (thanks ecomony) but when I do somehting its done right or I will not do it.

    Yes, I should charge less to ebcome a lowballer and get the jobs, but then in acouple years I will be working for nothing or not working at all.
  7. South Seneca

    South Seneca Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    "We only get on average 12-13 inches of snow a year" and " I have to make money as I do not have any other income in the winter."
    Plowing snow there might make a good hobby, but after you pay for insurance, it's not going to feed you, let alone keep a roof over your head.
  8. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Oh again I type things not making it clear :)

    No I have no other income in the winter due to choise, I do Cultural Resource Managment, I work outside 8-12hrs a day if I can (weather permitting). I am tired of working in 10 degree weather 10 hrs a day fighting the frozen ground. So I take the winter off, sell junk I aquire during the summer, do some snow removal ect.

    I do it more becasue I want to, not casue I have to. I by no means am wealthy and I work my tail off in the warm months all over this half of the country, but in the winter, well its a vacation if you will.

    my insurance covers both, mainly casue I do more sub work then anything from what I understand.

    If I had to depend on snow for anything, well I would be living in my truck, its a hobby business if you will. So yes I have no other income in the winter, casue if I went to work I would be in some other state when it snowed, not able toget to my lots I sub for, and I have to make money and charge a good fair price so I am not under selling myself/my service but mainly so I am not called a "lowballer" :)
  9. Aimfor1337

    Aimfor1337 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Well; since the last guy gave them a ****** run for their money, i would point this out to them in a polite way and then explain that since they ARE in fact a business and have regular customers throughout the week; that it would be in their best interest and greater decision to choose you for their removal needs. If you do in fact make it this far; state points as to WHY you think that you'll be the best choice for the price; and barter with them. Cut a deal. Let them know the cost of fuel and maintenance is on the rise; and that you know it's not their issue; but it would sure even out to be the correct rate for the given task.

    State points such as:

    Clean Lot
    Walks Clean
    Stairs Clean
    Snow piled in inconspicuous/proper places.

    Wheel-n-deal with them. See what they think is a FAIR price; and then go off of what you think is fair. If they say 45 for the plow AND salt; Tell them that you can do this: 50 for removal; and 8.00 for salt application. Make sure that you remind them of WHY you're the best choice... and don't forget a contract! Good luck.
  10. Westhardt Corp.

    Westhardt Corp. Senior Member
    Messages: 845

    Since the plowing guys seems to have you covered from a plowing POV, I will address something else...

    When posting on an internet forum, be very specific, because a lot of people will read your words, and interpretation can be a killer. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

  11. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Yes, that is a good point and something that I have not mastered as I am new to forums all together. I was on a few many years ago, but people got hateful and I just quit.

    As for saying what I mean and making my point clear, well I have trouble with that when talking in person....:)

    I do have to work on this, so that I am not missunderstood, or what I say is not missunderstood...
  12. Westhardt Corp.

    Westhardt Corp. Senior Member
    Messages: 845

    My advice (and my practice)?

    Type, proof, repeat. Then post.

    If you're "arguing", walk away...re-proof/read, then decide if you want to put it out there. Here, you have no edit after a few minutes--it is what it is, so "speak" carefully.

  13. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    see, I just got the first and last step down, kinda missed acouple steps..

    great advice that I will try my best to follow...
  14. plowzilla

    plowzilla Senior Member
    Messages: 289

    Dr Who, My advice would be to do what you do best. Do not change your style of removing snow. If a customer is close to your home, headquarters, you may consider lower your price. Also, if a potential client is in route to one of your existing clients, you can also consider lowering your price. This will allow you to be more efficent, which will offset the lower price you quoted them. I believe efficency is the 'name of the game' in snow removal. Finally, be patient. Good service is like the turtle in a race. The cheap rabbits get most in the beginning but the turtle's un-waivered pace wins in the end and people will start looking for the winner. This happened to me in the beginning and now I occasionally have to refuse some business. Good luck and God Bless
  15. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Great Advice, I think I am going to follow it as best I can..

    I figger that if I am already in the area, yes I can charge a little less, but if I got to drive across town, well gas is 3.15 gal right now!

    I would not change the way I clear the lots, its that pride thing getting in the way and yes I ahve no other income in the winter, but plowing is a hobby business since we realy do not get that much snow as it were.

    You are right, the rabbit gets the most, but burns out quickly, I think that is one reason I ended up with the sub work this year, the company had bit off way more then they can chew and they came to me for help. I charge them a fair price ( way lower then what I would bid the property for) but I make sure that I charge them enuff to be worth my time, but then again I want them to make money since it is there accounts.

    I am going to pick up another truck this summer, have 2 running or a backup which ever, and just do what I have been doing and hope we get a heck of a snow. Clear my lots,make them all nice and pretty black (or as close to it as I can) and let the others do what they do, my phone will start ringing.. If not, well I have my 2 resitentual that love me to death and I can keep my street clear since the city don't. My stuff is paid for and I can alwyas just sell it if I don't want to fool with it anymore (now if I can just figger out how to get the niebors to throw some money my way) :)
  16. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    A few things come to mind.

    You likely are expected to be low because of your age.

    You also may need to work on the sales pitch, cause inexperience will show.

    You may be headed for trouble due to poor understanding of business operating expenses.

    Your prices may be too low, and the other prices you are talking about may only be to drive you lower.

    You really should educate yourself on ice melting products so you can properly inform the customer about the benefits and problems of each should it come up.
  17. Westhardt Corp.

    Westhardt Corp. Senior Member
    Messages: 845

    Agreed--this is more important than many people think. AND, I totally missed this...

    Keeping with the "knowledge is power" theme, it's important to know that the vast majority of "ice melters" out there revolve around an NaCl ("salt") base, with additional chlorides blended in--all of which carry their own pros/cons. The old "salt eats my concrete" line, well... (open door for the sarcasm to flow, gentlemen!) IDK what kind of "ice melt" you're using, but you should definitely buck up on the knowledge, for your own benefit as well as your clients.

    I also agree that your age can be a nuisance, from a sales POV. BUT, if you present yourself well, and speak well--and knowledgeably--you may actually impress a prospect even more because of your age.

  18. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    I agree on needing more knowlage about ice melt, that is my homework for the summer in prep of next winter. My biggest problem is I am not much of a salesman, either you want to buy it or you do not,I can not pressure someone into something they do not need, so I need to learn a betterway of selling something they need and just dont know it.

    Business opperating expence I kinda have down, "buy cheap, Sell High" so to speak.
    I have operated business before, one was an automotive repair shop that I did real well, untill I took on a partner to grow even larger, well his pocket grew as he stole me blind over the corse of almost 6 months before I found out ,by that time I was far far in debt, working 2 jobs to keep the shop open after 2 months of that I closed up shop.
    Had fairly good lawn business 2 years ago, but started loosing customers due to the economy (I was half price of what they were paying I was low balling,but making money), got a good offer on all the equipment (doubled my money on the equipment, after it paid for itself) and walked away with a smile looking for another oppertunity that is more resession proof.

    Prices to low I do not think is the issue, as I have been told I am to high by what properties I do bid on by the owner/manager (go figger). But the people I sub for, they think I am high, but there doing what the other landscaping companies are trying to do, get all the contracts they can to make more money reather then take a bunch of good ones for a fair rate, doing a crapy job on all reather then a good job on some
    Give you an example, what I would charge 75 bucks on, other companies do for 40, the fly by night people, well about 20-25. So I am not sure that its my price, maybe just who I am pricing to ie my client picks.

    as for my age, not sure what that has to do with it, i'm 35 but look about 40 due to the beard and the grey hair that invades it. I have a good friend (ownes a lawn business, used to push snow also) that is close if not 60 and he keeps forgetting I am in my 30's because of the way I carry myself and act, he think I am closer to his age, not his sons :)
    But then again, if you are in your 50-60's then you think I am young, just like I think someone in there 20's is young.
    I owned the auto repair shop when I was 27, was asset. manager at a repair shop when I was 20 (was dads, so it may not count). I grew up in the business world, my father owned 10 gas stations in and around Pontiac Mi when I was a kid, I grew up in the floor board of a Chevy running the roads, watching him make a mint. I also used to ride with him when he went out and plowed, alwasy wanted to push snow! :)

    I am going to try to put to the test everything you guys have sugested and with the help of the good Lord and you "old farts" on this site I hope in 5-8 years time I have the biggest and best snow removal company in central Ky...or maybe just broke, time will tell....
  19. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Oh, I forgot about one that I was going to tell you all about. Got a call from some Dr at the University of Ky hospital last week.
    Had 3 inches of snow on top of 2-2.5 inchs of ice, which was mostly packed down.
    have to scrape off the snow, throw down ice melt, scrape again after sitting and then ice melt again, and if I am lucky, I do not have to return to scrape for the 3rd time.
    was a duplex, short walk and the drive was about 20-30ft long.10-12ft wide +/-
    I told him 100 bucks, this included all salt, all walkways and all the scraping. this was to get his drive/walks clean.
    He said I was nuts and hung up...
    He just bought the duplex and had the movers comming in next day, did not what them to drop his furniture, but 100 bucks was to high?
    I thought is was fair since if I had to return 3 times to get it clean, including the salt/ice melt which I figgered would take about 100-120# (@ about 20-25$ cost) 100.00 was a good fair price.
  20. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,034

    Got any pics of your truck?