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What's your policy?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Gr8WhiteNorth, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Gr8WhiteNorth

    Gr8WhiteNorth Senior Member
    Messages: 212

    So we finally had our first snow event of the season and it makes me think that I need to set some formal guidelines that gives my guys rules to follow upon questionable start times.

    This particular snowfall totalled 4-5 inches of wet snow in 2 days.

    For commercial customers:

    we normally tell them - no service unless there is a 2" accumulation by 10:00PM. This snowfall started at 3:30AM and by 5:AM there was 2". By 9:00am it was 3". The phone was ringing off the hook with pissed off customers.:confused: On a large snowfall we have to start plowing by 12:AM to get done in time for businesses to open.

    Do you think the 10 PM rule is good business? poor service? Would you make exceptions?

    For residential customers:
    We start our routes at 4:30AM no matter what. It could still be snowing and we'd be out shovelling.

    Do you think changing the rule to - No service until the snow stops falling makes more sense? What would you do for commercial sidewalks or handicap residentials under this policy??
     
  2. nekos

    nekos Senior Member
    Messages: 586

    I'm not exactly sure what you mean ...
    You wont go out and plow snow until after 10PM ?

    You plow the snow when it starts falling. If it starts snowing at 3AM and your lot's have to be cleared by 6AM you run the lanes until the snow stops then do a final. Telling your customers you wont be there until 10 is going to = a lot of unhappy customers.
     
  3. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    i understand what you mean, we have our stuff arranged that we start at 12:01am, but what we do is have two tiers of service, the first it the priority, so for each lot we have the full contract, if we can start at 12, then we have the basics which means, if we don't get snow until 3-4am, we have specifications (bare minimum) that customers need done to do buisness, also we do a lot of banks, and they get full service no matter what, but they pay BIG money for that. it is important that you do sevice your commercials, even when it snows at weird hours, clear lanes, loading docks, etc.
     
  4. cseutah

    cseutah Member
    from Utah
    Messages: 54

    its almost impossible to give your customers an exact time in which you start to plow or not, due to weather is not scheduled. the best thing you can do is lessen your work load, that is the reason snow removal is so expensive. if it snows enough to plow at 6 am you have to be able to service everyone at once. my advice don't over burden your equipment with too many properties and raise your rates to compensate. you will see that more people will not care if everyone in town plows cheaper than you if they never have to worry about their snow.
     
  5. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    Not sure what your core customers are? For us, commercial comes first and resis second. So if our commercial customers knew we had ANY trucks on the road at 4:30am, and none of their lots had been touched... you bet they'd be pissed. They are businesses and need to appear maintained or their biz suffers regardless of what they signed.

    I would seriously think about tying your contract to accumulations and start/cessation of snowfall rather than a hard start time. The way you have stated it says you are in it to make it work for you, regardless of whether it works for them or not. You might say

    You do need to be able to hold your ground when a storm comes in at 4am and dumps a couple... of course you won't get all your commercial completely cleared. They need to understand the dynamics. When all else fails, use the standard answer "We have a trruck on the way" and make it happen. set up a meeting with pizzed customers to re-present what you have sold them in a way that they will understand.
     
  6. show-n-go

    show-n-go Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    What i get out of the first post is this. If there isn't 2" on the ground by 10 then your guy's report for work in the morning versus getting them out there at 2 or 3 in the morning. So if it starts at 10 and there is 2" on the ground at 12 then you don't start your routes untill 4:30?

    We start as soon as there enough snow to start plowing, time means nothing. when it starts we start, when it end we go home.
     
  7. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    i think what he is saying, is that if he doesn't have enough snow to start at 10pm, then he can't do all his clients before morning opening time, i think he is going to have to work out something with his clients so that their buisnesses can be done on a limited time schedule.
     
  8. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,496

    I really have no idea what your talking about with regards to commercial. Are you saying you waited until closing that night to plow?

    One thing is for sure, you made a huge mistake by pissing people off on the first snow! They won't forget it. Sounds like you need more equipment to get done faster.
     
  9. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I'm with everyone else,when you hit the trigger go plow time. If you need a place open by a certian time you better have it plowed out.
     
  10. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    Simple...when its snows (and it hits the triggered amount) you go. So to answer your question...yes poor service
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  11. TLB

    TLB Senior Member
    Messages: 274

    Currently I do rural & city driveways as I am employed at a Chevrolet dealership & I have no set time to start plowing . If I know we will be get snow over night I'm up around 4am to check to see what we have so I can have my people all plowed before I leave for my job at the dealership and if it keeps snowing all day I'm back in the truck when I get home.
    These people understand that I will be ther when I can.

    If this was my only sorce of income I still wouldn't have a set time, the snow doesn't start the same time everyday does it ?
     
  12. Burkartsplow

    Burkartsplow PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,245

    Poor Service! I think you are over thinking the way you set up your contract terms. The old saying "KISS"
    KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Follow that rule and you will be fine.
     
  13. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,868

    Why wouldn't you start plowing when the trigger is hit?

    Last Dec we had a storm that didn't start until about 3 AM. By noon we had a 12"+. If I understand your contract correctly, you wouldn't have started plowing until 12 hours later?

    You start when the trigger is met. End of story unless you want to be out of business.
     
  14. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    If you NEED to start your route at midnight to have everything done by 9am you arent giving yourself enough time/ have too many accounts and not enough manpower to get them handled. I write for snowfalls accumulating to 1'' + by 2am we will have your property done by 7am in my contracts. at minimum, we can get everything salted if its a real late starting snow 4-5am.....
     
  15. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    it may be just a matter of organization of your accounts too, have you made a priority list yet?, accounts that need to be done at a certain time? vs ones that don't mind you plowing while their buisnesses are open, we have some mattress stores that don't open their doors until 10am, so even if i am there working when they come to work at 9:30am they don't mind (really it is a mattress store, how busy are they going to get) but if you have all these accounts and if you need to start at 12pm, to get them done by 9am, you need to get some more equipment OR sub a couple out on mornings like this, you need to have a plan for when you get snowfalls like this, because if you don't, you are going to find yourself with less customers (and annoyed/angry customers can destroy the rep of a buisness faster then anything) Why not have a extra truck with a plow on it? and bring it out when you get this earlly snow? you don't need to use it all the time, but i tell you what, for myself, when stuff like this happens, and we find ourselves in that much of a time crunch, we bring out the spare skidsteer, the the old ford tractor(usually stays at our shop), and i phone two of my residential guys, and we go to work, they work a 12-14hr day instead of a 8-10 hr day (and are happy about the extra hours) and we get'r'done.
     
  16. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    Good point... and if the issue is truly lack of equipment/manpower, can some accounts tolerate a partial service such as drivelane open-up, or frontmost stalls only, etc... so they see you've been there and then you can run through later for the final clean-up? Stretch out your duration where you can, and then prioritize as buckwheat stated so that everyone sees enough lovin to be happy. This would be to address the immediate problem, then think about addressing the manpower.equipment issue which might take awhile.
     
  17. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    you and i are on the same page about this, even a phone call to your customers stating when is snowed, what happened, and what would they like for you to do?, well help, WAY better then your customers phoning you going WTF?!?!
     
  18. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    Welcome to the wonderful world of snow removal.
    It doesn't snow overnight.
    It tends to snow pretty much whenever it wants.

    It's all a guess.
    Your best guess.
    when will it start, when will it end, how much and where etc.

    If it doesn't start til 5:30am, you can't be plowing at 3am. Nor can you really be plowing at 5:30am, it takes time to get people up and rolling. And then of course, you're boned in traffic so the route is slower.

    Couple points.

    1. Your route is too long. It shouldn't take starting at midnight to finish by 8am/9am.

    2. You have to decide. It's a 2" trigger, there's 1.5 on the ground and it's snowing hard, do I do it now (at 5am) or wait 3 hours til i get back here. No good solution to this, you have to know your customers and sometimes, you just have to guess. When the trigger gets met, it gets done t (except resi's, see below)

    3. Some customers need opened earlier than others. I have one place (actually 2), that employees start coming in at 5:30am. They get done first. A. so they have a done lot and B. so there aren't cars in my way. I then have a realty place that doesn't open til 9am. I can blow that off til 8:50am.

    4. I like to get resi's out in the morning and then home at night. Meaning I like to have them cleared before 6:30/7am on weekdays so they can go to work, then get them cleared by 3/4pm so they can come home from work/school. They don't need to be done at 7pm or night, nor at noon. It's not helpful to me (as a resi) to have my driveway done after I already left for work.

    5. Sometimes you just have to let them know, it didn't start snowing til 6am, I can't have you open by 8. Most people are ok with this. I always put down when the storm started and when the storm ended and how much accumulation (both total and each removal) on the bills.
     
  19. asps4u

    asps4u Senior Member
    Messages: 543

    I'm with everyone else. Snow falls, 2" accumulates, plow hits ground. I thought it was a pretty simple concept. I don't get your method, but I prefer happy customers, and payup so maybe I'm crazy! :dizzy::dizzy:
     
  20. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,868

    Idiot! :laughing: