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1/2" sidewalk removal? 2" trigger?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by wintergreen82, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. wintergreen82

    wintergreen82 Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 128

    Hi everyone
    I read this site a lot but never post. I have plenty of experience as I have been doing this over 10 years. I do have a question. We have a higher end business park that in there annual meeting with me requested 2" trigger for snow removal(seasonal) with the walks to be cleared the same. They handle the walks below that. One concern I had was what about drifting on these walks. Was told they dont really receive much in the way of drifting. I stressed this point but was reassured that they don't receive much drifting. If they did our call back rate would be charged with our trip charge.

    Well last Thursday we received about .8 inches of snow I receive a call all there walks are drifted in and there upset that we werent there to clear them. I calmly explain that they need to place a call in that situation and that we will send out some shovelers. We end up with 1.2 I clear the whole lot and walks again at night because I don't want my properties looking like that. Yesterday we get .3 inches of snow ending at 8am get a phone call at 2:40pm with one of the board member saying he is livid that his walks were not clear and they drifted in again. I explain to him that we do not do a courtesy check for anything under a half inch. (our courtesy check is a simple drive thru at 3am). Well he reads our contract to me and I explain to him again exactly what I did in our initial meeting along with the concerns I had before they signed so we were all on the same page. Now he wants sidewalk removal anytime it snows.

    My question is to you how do you charge. I charge it out by the hour but they do not want to do that. Our on call for our employees is 24hours on $4per hour. Regular rate if called in. So by my math it would cost a little over $6000 for the rest of the year just in call not to mention the rate for removal. Nobody would pay that. Walks take about an 1 hour for 2 ppl in 2". Not sure what to do here. Not all board members are on board with shoveling below 2". If we change it to zero tolerance than as a company we are need someone on call 24/7. If we don't do it when renewal time comes we don't receive the next years contract. Just throw some ideas out for me please. I just knew this was going to happen and stressed it at there board meeting with me.
  2. juan91

    juan91 Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    power broom with one guy?
  3. wintergreen82

    wintergreen82 Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 128

    Doesn't work with the pillars. I'm trying to figure out how to charge this out. I know how to clear it.
  4. juan91

    juan91 Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    well if you know how to clear it, then u should know how to charge it!
  5. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    You say you have 2 man hours per time (1 hour per 2 people).

    I'm assuming you already have it built in on your contract rate to clear the sidewalks when you plow the lot, so now you're just looking for an additional price to clear the sidewalks when it's under 2".

    I have a townhome north of St. Paul that is about 1.5 miles of sidewalk with a blower (meaning by the time I go down and back 3 times, it would be 1 straight mile, not 1.5 miles down and back and down again). With a 36" pusher it's 1/2 of that time because you can make 2 trips to clear the walk rather than 3.

    We do the whole property at 1", the sidewalks are done at a 1/2" or when drifted. I can do the whole property in an hour with myself under 1" with the pusher, so I charge it out at $50 / hour, and then for the season I multiplied it out 20 times, for $1,000. We have a 5 month contract for the snow, November through March, so I divided the $1,000 by 5 and ended up with an additional $200 per month to clear sidewalks under 1". Remember, this is for one guy, for one hour. Your price would be around double, assuming you're charging out at $50 / hour to shovel.

    Now we also do salting there, so I salt heavily so there is always residual, which will melt any additional 1/4" that falls afterwards to save me an extra trip.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  6. wintergreen82

    wintergreen82 Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 128

    We salt all walks and drives. My biggest issue is I want to be compensated for having to be on call or placing someone on call. I came up with 1500 will get you sidewalk service for the rest of the season but I do pay my employees for being put on call so they get compensated for having to be around. Just looking for some other ppls ideas. Juan91 thanks for your knowledgeable insight and wisdom. With your two previous replies I feel like I have gained so much. When I am out plowing with rusted out 1978 ih lawn tractor with a trash can lid gor a plow ill think of you!
  7. cdsnow

    cdsnow Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    you said that it was a seasonal contract that will be a problem if you have a few events under 1"or 2" with in 24to48hrs. Maybe sell it as a zero tal contract so every body is happy.Charge them T&M now and see if thay will be ok with that.
  8. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    You wouldn't have to have someone on call if you just took care of it yourself. I can't believe some of the situations guys get into just to secure work. You shouldn't of agreed to do the walks at only 2" or more, it should be you do everything anytime you come out. That way you control the site. Otherwise you run into this cluster F...! I'm not saying this is all your fault, but it sounds like you knew this would be an issue. As far as what to charge, figure out what you need to make after paying for 2 guys to drive there and do the work. If it was me, I would charge whatever you charge at 2".
  9. leigh

    leigh 2000 Club Member
    from CT
    Messages: 2,342

    Isn't everyone " on call" during the winter in the snow business?
    I'm not clear on your on call arrangement.
    When and why do you have employees that get paid on call ?
    6000$ extra for 2 hrs work from time to time?
    You can clear those walks 80 times for that. When it snows I call in the crews and we go out. If we need to do additional work I either do it myself or call for help.In this economy its not hard to find help when needed.Maybe i'm missing something though.
  10. wintergreen82

    wintergreen82 Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 128

    WIPensFan your not understanding this at all. This was what they wanted, I brought this concern up. Its midseason and now they want it changed. As far as the walks go they said they maintain them themselves under 2". A lot of commercials here do this and the ones that dont have different bid specs and we bid accordingly. I do do most of the call back work but I am considered an employee of my company and pay myself as such. I dont get how everyone on here makes this so difficult. If you want on call service you should pay for it. I use an actual business structure for my business. The whole reason I never post on these threads is all you want to be big boys try to bash ppl, read what you want and then form opinions based on what you read. 50% of the people use it this site for its actual purpose. So your another one of those wisdom givers on here. Atleast a few ppl gave me some ideas. Some of you are down right boneheads when it comes to responding. I already know what I am/want to do with this client I was merely looking for ideas of what you may do in this situation and how you'd charge it. Why? Simple I am just checking my business practices and rates along with the way I think against yours. To all of you who actually gave an answer to the problem thanks to the rest have fun being "big shots"
  11. wintergreen82

    wintergreen82 Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 128

    Leigh everyone is on call but sometimes we get an unexpected clipper that weather forecasters add at the last second. Generally .1 or less. I was just saying our business pays one person to be on call for the day so we can do other business as usual. I am generally the one who is on call. If I paid out to be on call for the rest of the year itd be 6k. I just yrying to find some sort of compensation for always having to be around. Thats all I was doing
  12. Eronningen

    Eronningen Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    Wintergreen guy, what property are you doing. I can look at it when in town today. Maybe you better pm it to me. Also pm me your company name
  13. leigh

    leigh 2000 Club Member
    from CT
    Messages: 2,342

    Thanks, just curious.I'm sure you'll work it out ok
  14. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    Wintergreen82, I do understand. I've had customers propose these types of ideas and i say no way. If I'm going to take care of this property, then it has to be the right way. Like I said, you were correct to ask questions about drifting because you knew it would be a problem. Walkways can never be 2" trigger, they get to trampled on. What I'm not clear on is, aren't they supposed to do the walks at under 2"? Or do the walks just go unattended at less than 2"? I think it's crappy they are changing what they want done mid-season, but now you know for future dealings with other customers. Don't get mad, I was just trying to give you some insight on how to avoid these hassles next time.
  15. snowguys

    snowguys Senior Member
    Messages: 708

    i don't get why your paying your self to be "on call" your the owner of the company right? i would never pay my self or a employee to be "on call" there is no need to. if you need your guys to go out call them out. but what i do pay is stand by time but these guys are in one of my trucks,eating or at the shop waiting. i know i would never pay a company if i was a customer a extra 6,000 or even 1500 to be on call I'm sorry its part just part of being in the snow plowing world i'm sorry I'm not trying to bash you at all i just don't understand you doing that.
  16. Greenery

    Greenery 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,438

    I just don't get this on call thing your going on about.

    Is this your only site? Why do they have to foot the entire bill for you being "on call".
    What about your other accounts aren't you "on call" for those sites. Or do you just wake up each morning and look out to see if there's snow?

    You do snow removal, your "on call" all winter long regardless of this particular account. When they dump you for charging $6000 extra to be "on call" guess what your still going to be "on call" for your other accounts.

    Now if your scope of work changed then yes I agree it's time to charge a little extra for those services.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  17. nh785

    nh785 Member
    Messages: 71

    I think your looking for compensation for monitoring. I do not charge for monitoring but if I provide it then I must be given free reign to service as I see fit. All our staff is on call for 5 months, but that doesn't mean they are all out checking sites. I run 3 shifts in my shop all winter. shift supervisor is charged with monitoring weather, and all sites which have zero tolerance specs. Every plow guys says "we have someone on call 24/7", but noone can be monitoring the weather and sites 24/7. In my eyes for zero tolerance specs on call is bogus, at work and on shift is truly the only way to ensure prompt service 24/7. Plus they are dispatched immediatley if a nonzero tolerance cust calls for service, cust does not have to wait for a guy to: wake up, go tho the bathroom, get dressed, start car, get coffee, drive to shop, punch in, and get whatever equipment ready to go
  18. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,584

    $6k on top of other costs to be on call is ridiculous IMO. But if that's the way you roll, more power to you. Go ahead and charge the customer that, you will pretty well guarantee you won't have the account next year.

    We do several properties' sidewalks under trigger, we're on call from Nov-Mar, I don't get why being at the ready to service sidewalks is any different than being "on-call" waiting for a "plowable" snowfall. Are your employees not already "on call"? What happens when you get a 2" snowfall?

    Our under 1" sidewalks take 4 man-hours with the 4 wheeler and 36" snowplow pusher shovel, typically done by an employee, occasionally I do them. 4 hours is from the time the employee arrives and loads up, to the time he returns and clocks out. Our weather 1.5 hours away from you is obviously very similar, and it doesn't cost me any where near $6k a season to service them. :dizzy: Most of our under-trigger sidewalk work is seasonal, only 1 smaller property is billed per-time.
  19. wintergreen82

    wintergreen82 Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 128

    Wow seriously this is why I do not post. Read what I wrote "Our on call for our employees is 24hours on $4per hour. Regular rate if called in. So by my math it would cost a little over $6000 for the rest of the year just in call not to mention the rate for removal. Nobody would pay that." No customer in there right mind would pay that. This is what I mean ppl on here read it the way they want to read it.

    So each and everyone of you sit at home by the phone every day 24/7 and do not leave? None of you go out to eat with your families? All you do is sit by that phone? Heres my point about being "on call" (probably need a new phrase because it is apparent that we arent on the same page). If customer x calls 2 days after the storm myself or a crew member schedules a service call at no charge and takes care of the property. Each customer is different as each has different triggers and scopes of work. If I have other arrangements I will ask my lead if he wants to be on call. At that point lets say he says yes. He has the company vehicle and is ready to go incase a call back happens. He is now tied to getting there in a timely manner. We pay him to be on call for 24 hours and its at $4 per hour. Regular rate 1 hour minimum if he is called in. We service 57 properties not all commercial. Generally we have maybe 1 call back but usually we are pretty good. Now he can't go anywhere because our companies number 1 goal is customer service. So the call comes in and we send him out immediately. Wouldnt you want a little money since say its Saturday night and your stuck at home being on call. (I take most the weekends because I'm a homebody).

    Now this is what brings me to the intial question that I asked what would you charge for having to be around 24/7? Sounds like some of you feel its part of the business. I don't. Obviously you are not going to charge the customer 6k. AGAIN YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CHARGE THE CUSTOMER 6k! But generally you know when its going to snow so its not a problem. However lets say you are meeting with your web person, it hasnt snowed for 6 days its beautiful out, and your phone hasnt rang for the last four days. You feel your in the clear. So your at your web design(mine is 45 min away) and now the phone call comes in that some snow has fallen off the roof and they want it cleaned up immediately. Your employees are lets just say ice fishing and you cant get a hold of them. So now you have to leave your meeting that you set up, drive to the shop, grab the truck and head up. You don't want any compensation at all. Remember they do not want to pay hourly. They are looking at one set price. That doesn't bother you. It bothers me. I take pride in taking care of my customers but you just want to do it for free?
    "Well its seasonal, it shoulda been handled at the time of the contract" Well yes it was. It wasnt a 5 minute meeting with the board written on scratch paper. I was there for around an hour. Our contract signing took about two weeks. They wanted 2". They were going to handle the walks themselves. I asked several times and this is the way they have always done it. So yesterday is when we get .3 inches of snow with a little drifting which was only in certain spots and now they want it clear. They dont want to deal with it. So I told them that we can do this but I am going to need to go home look over some numbers and at there board meeting I will present what I think is a good plan. So I have a number in my head which is 1500 for the rest of the year and we will go 0 tolerance on walks. The thing is I want to make sure I get paid for having to be close by. AGAIN NOBODY IS GOING TO PAY 6K! I get that. I know what my bid is and was and where my overhead is but you dont want any extra money for having to be tied to your job 24/7? I DO and my number one priority is make money. If you cant make a decent living why do it?

    "Well why have the account?' Pay is great, a ton of networking, and we get our checks in a very timely fashion. As far as paying myself. Dont you pay yourself? We own three different businesses and each one I pay myself a paycheck and the rest of the money is reinvested into the company. Why wouldnt you do this? You know how much money you have for equipment etc... and as your paycheck you know how much you can afford on a house or fun money etc...

  20. gonemowin

    gonemowin Junior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4

    If I understand this correctly, your agreement, based on their specs is:
    2" trigger for walks AND drives. Any accumulation under 2" is handled by them.
    This is how the property is priced by you and agreed to by them to be done. Anything else is done on call, at your callback rate with a trip charge and billed as an add on to your contract.
    Now a "board member" (but not necessarily the entire board) wants to change the original specs to basically zero tolerance on walks and 2" on drives.

    Here is my question:
    Is this Boardmemeber that you have spoken with authorised to make changes to your contract on his own? Or is this just one that is trying to make his own interpretation of your agreement.

    Your current contract already covers this situation :
    1. On call (meaning they notify you)
    2. Billed separate from your monthly agreement.

    First I think you need to qualify this boardmember as actually able to make changes.( I have had more than one boardmember think something should be done their way as opposed to the way the entire board has decided.) If this is the case stand firm on your contract. If in fact they want to change your contract specs AND the way you charge for it give them two options:

    1. The way it is billed in your original agreement or
    2. Make your assumption of how many additional visits will be required to cover yourself
    (ie: 2 manhours + trip charge x 2 visits per week x the number of weeks remaining in your agreement period.) And add that to your current price.

    The way you pay your people to be on call or how you monitor is irrelevent to this. That should be factored into your rates.