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I live in Maryland and am starting to do some snow plowing. How do you deal with really big snows when you write a contract. We get a 2-3' snow here every couple of years and it shuts down the whole state. What do you do when your equipment can't handle the snow?
you need to be able to handle even big storm..find a sub or take less contract. You may rent a skid steer or something else for that day too. You will loose your contract if you can deserve a good service.
If a big snow really shuts down everything then you will have plenty of time to complete your work.We rarely get more than 8 inches of snow,I have told my customers and they understand that a snow that we consider an event will take more time.They also understand that they pay less because I do not need to have equipment to handle the 12 inch snow setting during most of the year.I do have the equipment to handle a 12 inch snow but my accounts far exceed the capabilities to meet the time frame most of them are used to.
In this business there are no excuses. You can have 48" dumped on yuor area, and people will be calling to ask why arent they plowed yet. You do your best, and try and keep up.
During long storms we have trucks that never leave a site. During the 15" storm at the beginning of Feb, one truack stayed at a site for 15 hrs, plowing 1/4" at a time. When you look at it that way, very easy to keep up.
What I learned from that storm, get the trucks there early, cause they cant plow if stuck in traffic.
Even if you get your clients dug out before everyone else; my question is 'where are they going to go'? It just takes extra time. One thing is that if we ever get more than 18" of snow here, the entire city of Des Moines will shut down for at least a day or two (but people will still call and complain; it's their nature).
One thing is that if you do get a large snowfall and do handle parking lots, it's nice to own or have access to a skid loader or two, because there will be alot of snow to stack. If you have a large storm forecast for your area, go and rent a skid loader and have it delivered to your job if you need. Otherwise you can always hire someone w/ a loader to stack for you.
Doesnt matter if they cant go anywhere, or no employees can get to work. As long as the lot is clear when they do get to work. As long as they can get out of the driveway if that is your market. 18" of snow shouldnt shut any city in the snow belt down. One needs a good response plan. It needs to be in writing so that anyone in your company can handle the snow removal needs.
No excuses just results.
Ya it's sounds crazy but this is the rule numero uno of the game : Never let someone be prisoner of the storm.
If the city go under a "shutdown", too many service need to operate, and may be some of your client will need to go out to work for that. In 1997, one of our customer got a heart stroke during a storm hopefully he was at home and is wife call the 911, hoppefully we had plowed the driveway 2 times before so the rescue can reach easyly his house.( the old man is still alive and he is still customer). Sometimes if the driveway is clear is enought to get a speed and face the snowly street for the customer. (it's nice to plow during a major shutdown because you usually have a lot of collaboration from the customers beeing in "holydays", they will move the car, etc.)
and the worst if you wait until the end of storm to plow, this deep snow will be your worst nightmare, you will need to plow each lot or driveway 2-3 times, back to back, to do a clean job and each will time be longer than usual. It will be not too long to get a nice sunrise and still a lot of customer to do on your list. The next nightmare will be the phone and complaints. this is the morning they need the most from you, cou can fail on a small event and they will be able to open the shop or go to the shop in few inches and be mad about you only for the days and forget it the next week, but in a storm they pay you to handle the problem not to give your customer a headache because he can have a cab to go work or employed or wathever can use the lot because they are prisoner from the storm.
and beeing set to deal with the storm ( rental or sub added) will pay because you may be able to handle some extra work for a very good rates. So it will pay the storm expense and bring you new contract for the next season.
With all this hardwork you can have also to deal with equipment mechanical problem downtime.
Sorry for the long post but it's to easy to go out of control during an event like that to go out without a strategy.
Dino, you are right about not shutting down, but that is what happens. The media hypes it up (which is actually good, because the customers don't mind the bills then, and there isn't as much traffic to deal with.)
If you can get your lots cleared before the roads are opened up, you won't believe what that will say about your company. In the late 70's we had a true blizzard (not what they are calling them nowadays), the area was shut down from Thursday through Sunday. My dad (I was a little too young to plow yet) had 2 loaders going during the day each day, by Monday all our lots were plowed, stacked and fully open for business. Customers called him and thanked him because they didn't lose a single parking space. Everybody else was still plowing/stacking for the next week yet. We still have many of these same customers today. I know this is an extreme example, but you have to be ready for just about anything. BTW, he used the loaders for plowing residential driveways, also.
Actually Dino the city would shut down because of the morons in their SUV's that think that they are invincable or the others that just have to get to work because their jobs are sooooooo important until they get stuck in 12" of snow and abandon their vehicles in the middle of the street. Gee, I've never heard of this happening out East - especially in DC or NYC, but then again they are much more storm worthy out there.
The bottom line is stupid people in the general public hinder the clean up time. We get people at our apartment complexes that simply can't wait an extra 3 minutes for us to clean up a windrow and chose to drive over it. Because of this, they get stuck and simply leave their vehicles. My faul? I think not.
Denis: After reading the content of your post ("never let someone be prisoner of the storm") I say the same thing you did in reply to my post at the thread "Buying plow, need help": An educational post is never too long!
And rkg: If you're starting out in the snowplowing business, consider joining the Snow and Ice Management Association. (SIMA) Visit their site at http://www.sima.org and take a look.