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What would you do in this situation?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by LarsonLawnCare, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. LarsonLawnCare

    LarsonLawnCare Member
    Messages: 55

    So the recent ice/snow storm here in St. Louis has been a difficult task for me. I was at my customers houses 2-4 times each. Some I am still not able to get the ice up from their driveways while others I finally finished yesterday (the storm was last Wednesday). I am sending invoices for the work provided. I plan to charge them extra for the extra work. So far 2 have complained. One said a neighbor came by the day after me and completed the job. I told her I will have to charge her $15 for prep work. I cleared the snow off of the top, removed the very heavy ice mounds at the bottom of her driveway caused by the street plows and I applied ice melt. She said that the work I did didn't do anything for her. Then I explained that it was prep work so I could come by the next day and clear everything off. She said she "doesn't think she can pay" me. I am sending her an invoice telling her her neighbor would have never been able to remove the ice if I did not provide the prep work and that I am not looking to profit from the service, I am only trying to make my money back from gas and ice melt. Then another customer calls to say her son completed the job. I was at her house twice attempting to get the ice up and managing to get quite a bit up and I provided the same prep work as I did with the other person. I told her the price would be $15 more than a normal snow but she said I didn't get everything up so she doesn't think she should pay for extra services. What would you guys do in this situation?
     
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    As soon as the phone call went negative, you should have run right over there to talk to them in person. Without face-to-face conversing, things can and will be said the wrong way, and the other person will more than likely take things the wrong way.

    If they don't want to pay in the end, let them go in a nice way so that when another storm like this comes up, they'll be calling you back.
     
  3. LarsonLawnCare

    LarsonLawnCare Member
    Messages: 55

    The first person I have had many issues with in the past so I am telling her to pay and if she doesn't, I am done. The other one was a referral from a v.i.p. customer of mine. I am thinking of the old saying "kill them with kindness". I plan to tell them there is no charge for the services provided, but I know they will pay at least part of the bill. I think it is a good gesture that will be conversed between this person and my v.i.p. customer. I still don't like the fact that I am giving away services for free but I don't want to be portrayed as someone trying to get over on someone.
     
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    I agree with your thinking.

    Quote I heard one time. "The nicer you are to people, the harder it is to mess you over."

    It's just a fine line in terms of Business Ethics. You don't want to be portrayed in a bad light, buy you also don't want to be taken advantage of. Each situation posses it's own uniqueness, so ultimately you are the one who has to decide how to handle it.

    As much as I want 100% satisfaction for my customers for the the services they request, it's just unlikely to actually personally attain it. There will always be someone you can't please.

    Just hope it's not your wife.......... :laughing:
     
  5. LarsonLawnCare

    LarsonLawnCare Member
    Messages: 55

    Ha! yea women are impossible.
     
  6. LarsonLawnCare

    LarsonLawnCare Member
    Messages: 55

    I also put on my invoices for every other customer the price I would like to get for the extra services, but I said on the invoice: "since we did not discuss a price for ice removal, you are not required to pay the extra cost, but it would be very much appreciated." Most of them know how hard I have been working for them trying to get this stuff up, and I don't think many will have a problem paying extra for it. But I went with the kindness again, as to not upset any of them in case they are in the same mindset as these two people.
     
  7. grassyfras

    grassyfras Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    I am in the same situation as you. Some people I skipped all together. Some older woman told me the job was unacceptable and I had to just quit doing their drive. wasn't fun.I am charging people the same or slightly more if they were understanding and didn't complain. I think this storm shows what customers are worth keeping while it also shows the customers that we as contractors were determined to do everything possible. Good luck no matter what you do.
     
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    My brother in-law lives in Champaign, and though not nearly as much snow as we got, an all the ice you guys got, they still go 4 inches of ice and sleet. Their route took them twice as long as the blades wouldn't bite into the layer and keep tripping.

    I just talked to him Yesterday and they rented a mini-skid to do sidewalks at an apartment complex because it was so bad. They still aren't finished.

    So ultimately I feel your pain as we were supposed to get more freezing crud before the big storm came in. I did pre-treat just about everything I had permission to do just in case, and to also give me better traction if it's all snow as that is what we got.

    I think pre-treatment is key, even at your own cost.
     
  9. KMBertog

    KMBertog PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,129

    Completely agree. Good, reliable, and safe service is hard to find.
     
  10. LarsonLawnCare

    LarsonLawnCare Member
    Messages: 55

    I didn't do much research on treating ice but I was told a week before the storm that I should pre-treat, but the problem was the time between rain and sleet wasn't enough to get the ice melt down. It would have washed away in the rain. There was no way I would have driven to all of my customers houses during the storm and put myself and my vehicle at risk. Even the semi trucks were parked waiting for it to stop. I have customers that asked that I do not put salt on their driveways because they didn't want it to ruin their driveway but for this storm, I recommended that I put some down and get it off as soon as it melts. I have been using calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. I bought about 500 lbs of the stuff.

    You are right grassyfras I will find out who appreciates and who doesn't. Everyone that we talked to on the phone was very understanding and I kept them updated on what my next step was. I think we had to call everyone at least 3 times.
     
  11. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    Before the ice storm we got here, I called every one of my customers, to explain to them what to expect as far as services provided, and to ask if there were any special requests. I think because of the calls, my frustration factor went out the window. I have never been more calm and relaxed during a storm. A few of my resi customers have already paid for services, before I had time to get bills together, and sent. I have even re-signed about half of them for next season already, since they knew what to expect, and I followed through with exactly what I told them I would do. So killing them with kindness seems to really work.
     
  12. LarsonLawnCare

    LarsonLawnCare Member
    Messages: 55

    Sounds like you knew what to expect. I didn't have a system of operations in place for such an event. I sent out a letter that explained everything they should need for my snow removal services: timing of removal, method of removal, how much needs to be down before I begin, let me know if you or somone else has cleared the snow so I don't show up, and I explained that if there is ice under the snow, the only thing I can do is put ice melt on it, and that I will not be able to remove it. I obviously didn't stick to my guns on that. I didn't want to leave anyone hangin. The letter will now include ice removal and basically say I will be charging out the a** to remove it.
     
  13. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    it's too bad you weren't able to get salt,calc ect down under the sleet. we were able to treat all our properties and it made a world of difference. we saw lots that went untreated and some are still sheets of 4 " ice that are hard to get up today even with skid loaders. at least you learned something you can use next time. what area's do you service here?
    steve
     
  14. LarsonLawnCare

    LarsonLawnCare Member
    Messages: 55

    North and West County. Hwy 367 to 109... it's worth it for mowing, and usually snow but not this time. It's just too far to be driving to pre treat during something like that (in my opinion)
     
  15. Burkartsplow

    Burkartsplow PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,245

    That is why my contract states snow removal with a 2 inch trigger for residentials, nothing else. It also states if they want ice removal I charge a 1 hour minimum labor and cost of supplies and they have to call for the service. They know what they are getting into if they ask for the service. I have been burned when I first started my company with doing extra work because "i thought they wanted it". I would let it be and take it as a lesson learned.