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Are you a push over?

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by tiedeman, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. tiedeman

    tiedeman Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    Lets say that you send out an invoice to a customer. And it's a big one, but on two of the days he did not feel that it really needed snow removal, would you be willing to remove those two snow removal services performed from the bill, just to please and hopefully keep the customer?

    The only reason that I ask this is because lately i have been kind of a push over when it comes to dealing with customers and billing. I mean if, and I mean "IF" a customer calls up to complain about something I using try to make them happy right then and there, even if it is removing a service from the invoice.

    For example, I had one residential customer call me up today. He had an extremely high bill, and one of the reasons was for the amount of snow present. He has a house here in the city and a winter cottage up north (go figure). He has me take care of his sidewalks for $17 per time (only takes me 3 mins) when there is an 1" of snow or more, and also if we get 3" or more of snow I take care of both his driveway and sidewalks for a total of $30 (only takes about 8 mins total for both).

    Well, what he questioned was that on two days in particular there was a charge for $17 and $30 on both days. Well, sometimes if there is snow cover in the morning I do the sidewalks, and then if it snows later in the day and stops I do the driveway and sidewalks again (if 3" of snow was received during the day). This justifies the two seperate charges. Well, he wasn't happy with it, so I just dropped the $17 from each day to make him happy.

    Now would you guys do the same thing though? Would you guys drop $34 off from an approx $325 bill just to please the customer and not lose him?
  2. 2_Djinn

    2_Djinn Senior Member
    Messages: 157


    If you billed as your contract stated then whats the big deal? Cutomers are always going to chew you down and once they win they will always try to bargin with your prices.

    You did your work now charge them for it. You will go out of business if you continue like this.
  3. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    Why not wait until the storm is over before you do snow removal?
  4. norrod

    norrod Senior Member
    Messages: 113

    You might want to review the service agreement you have.

    If your contract states a 1" trigger, you should be out each time 1" in accumulated.

    Now you could wait for the event to end, and do it once, but I would change my contract to charge by the inch, and not the occurance.

    I'd rather shovel 2" for $17 then 12" for $17

    But in response to your overall question, I have bent a little bit. But only if I allowed some ambiguity in my contract, and it started to look like I was being an azz.

    Bottom line, a heavy winter should cost the client, not the contractor.
  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    Because, the contract states that if 1" or greater occurs. For example, if we received 3" overnight the customer is still just changed based on the 1" price. The reason behind this you say, is because I am going to be at the property a lot more for a 1" service agreement, compared to a 3" service agreement.

    I know that some people charge per inch or when it gets above a certain height by the hour, but I have a set inch package deal. 1, 3, and 6 inches. For example, if a customer wanted me to maintain his driveway everytime for snow for those packages it would be; $25 for 1" or greater, $28 for 3" or greater, and $32" for 6 or greater. So the custome decides, ok I want you to come for 1" or greater at that $25 price. So that means, even if we get 6" or 9" of snow, the price is still $25, but it is lower because I am going to be at his property a lot more, making a lot more money, compared to if he signed up for 6" or greater. Now, if he signed up for 6" or greater, I will not show up at his property until 6" or greater of snow is there. The reason for the higher price, is because I am going to be there less often than 1" or greater.

    I don't think that he would have caused a big of a deal if it wasn't for such a huge bill. BECAUSE, the last two years that I have maintained his property I have done the exact same thing of sometimes servicing the area twice during the day. It really comes down to a judgement and ethical call on my point. Do I do it when there is already 1" there even though it is still snowing, or just wait until the snow has stopped. He largest bill last year was around $210 and that was January, while this is only December. I think his bill in December last year was only around $80 maybe.

    I guess what I am saying is, does it pay to stand by the EXACT words of the agreement and do it every time there is an inch, so if we received 4" inches of snow throughout the entire day, I could actually be there 4 times. Or is it better to wait until all of the snow has fell and then charge the customer one time during the day, instead of two.

    Should I stick to my guns and charge and have the extra money, or take a chance of losing the customer, and possibley starting a bad reputation. I know that you could argue that if I did that for everyone that $34 would add up a lot over time. Is it worth it?

    Should I just say, no this is the price, too bad? Honestly, what would you guys do?
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2005
  6. Jpocket

    Jpocket Senior Member
    Messages: 302

    NO WAY, I would start looking for a replacement customer, they don't negotiate there other bills, so why let them negotiate with you. How are you supposd to make a living? All he's trying to do is keep his money.:nono:
  7. NEAL

    NEAL Member
    Messages: 98

    Sounds like you and the customer are on different pages when it comes to the level and frequency of service being provided. Sounds like you are trying to keep him clean more frequently than he wants or expected. Ultimately you need to provide the level and frequency of service that the customer wants. This naturally should have been discussed and agreed upon when you signed him up. If he agreed upon the exact situation you provided service for and billed for you should stand firm and get your full amount. If there is some gray area about when and how you service and bill for events then you should talk to him to iron out the service he is really expecting. If there was a misunderstanding then it would be appropriate and good business to reduce the amount this one time.
  8. tiedeman

    tiedeman Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    that is kind of what I was thinking Neal. I mean, if I get right down to it, it is kind of my fault because it wasn't necessarily spelled out directly in the contract
  9. NEAL

    NEAL Member
    Messages: 98


    I have been there and done that myself early on.:blush2: This site is full of great info and I have learned a lot here and from my own mistakes. I now realize the importance of communication with customers. There is nothing wrong with trying to sell a customer on a certain level of service but at the same time we have to listen to what the customers wants. Never too late to talk to the customer and come up with a new plan. Better to do that instead of guessing all year when to plow or not. Again, been there and done that too!
  10. frostservices

    frostservices Member
    Messages: 63

    I can see what the costumer was thinking there. Tell him your sorry about the misunderstanding and ask him what terms he would like, sounds like he wants to be cleaned up after the storm not during. So if theres 1-2 inches after the storm clean up the walk only and charge him your rate for walk if you get 3 or over clean up everything simple as that, but warn him that there may be a need for salt on the sidewalks if you wait till after the storm if theres many people walking on it. Try to sell him salt at $10 for 50# applied .Tell him you will take one of the $17 charges off because of the misunderstanding.
  11. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    I think you did right in my book, After the corrected invoice I would then ask what part of the service he would like to drop to reflect the drop in price. You would be supprised at the # of responces saying "OH just keep doing the way you have been, Sorry for the trouble" and they pay the full bill.

    You did good.
  12. Ken1zk

    Ken1zk Senior Member
    Messages: 192

    I strongly agree with Dwan. First make the customer happy, keep in mind the "Total Value" of the customer when you run across this kind of problem. It is better to give back $34.00 then to totally loose out on making 7 or 8 Hundred over the course of the season. Only after you have satisfied the customers immediate concern can you address how things will be done and billed in the future.

    I look at this kind of situation as a lesson for me, I would go back to the drawing board with my contract and improve next years vision to avoid this kind of problem in the future. Ken
  13. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Once you lower the bill , the customer knows that you are a " push over"
    he will complain again and ask that the bill be reduced . Its just like reaching into your wallet and taking out a 20 dollar bill.
  14. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    Not if you ask him what he wants to give up up for the lower price.

    If the customer wants a lower price then he should decide what part of the service he is willing to give up. at that time a new price can be nogosiated. (sp)

    It is like offering a menu based perposal. each item on the menu costs and the costomer decides how much he wants to spend.

    Do you want to turn down a $1000 job plowing because you are stubern and want the costomer to spend an extra $150 for shoveling his sidwalk? I think not!
    I am not saying to cut your price. you should set your pricing and stick with it. If the customer wants to pay less then by all means do less work.
  15. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    I got an email from one of my customers in response to her invoice.

    To sum things up, she felt like she only needed to pay for the dates she thought it snowed ENOUGH. I plow 3 properties for her, so multiply that by 4 clearings and she owed me for 12 clearings! ($500ish) She wanted to pay for 6!

    I emailed her back with exact times and dates we were at each property, and quoting my service agreement stating that it is our responsibility, not the customers to document services performed.
  16. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Then it becomes an $ 850.00 plow job. Myself , I give the customer a price and thats it , there is no negotiation after the work has been completed . My contract states , price , terms and conditions , late fees , trigger. The main statement " work will proceede at the discression of the contractor "
  17. SCSIndust

    SCSIndust Senior Member
    Messages: 280

    I would put my money on Matt. Someone that has been doing it as long as he has knows what he is talking about. My contract, too, states that it is up to the contractor's discretion. I can't image any other way. Although, I, too, can understand renegotiating a different price for more or less services. But, after a reduction in services to a certain point, I would rather drop the contract, rather than stamp my name on crummy work. Just my thoughts