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Client expectations?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by buckwheat_la, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    So, snow removal started in a big way this week in my region (20-30cm/8-12inches over the last 4 days) and so far everything has been running smoothly, with one small glitch. Our largest contract which is a manufacturing plant spans about 2 city blocks, and takes 1-2 skid steers, and our loader about 3-4 hours to do. Our contract says we get in there after 12pm, and need to be out before 7 unless requested otherwise, so usually we are there right at 12 or a little early, and go to town for 3 hours, then go around and do other contracts. Well Wednesday morning around 5-6am, we got a dump of about 2 inches of snow. At around 9am i get a phone call from my contact at this plant, his boss has just chewed him a new "one" because of how poor the snow is done, and he wants to talk with me about it, WTF!!! I go in and have my conversation with him, and he tells me all of this. I let him know that it was all scraped and nice at 3:45am (when we left) and all he says is that his boss is not happy, and we need to do something about it.

    So the question is what do I do? I told him i could leave a machine and operator there 24/7 while it is snowing, but they don't really want to pay for that, I could have have my loader swing by when we get snow after 4-5am, however that kind of messes up the rest of my contracts.

    Anyone have any suggestions? This is a big client for us, so I would really like to keep them, however every year they keep adding stuff they want us to do, and we keep them happy for the most part, however it seems like we are getting to a point that we can no longer do enough to keep this client happy. OR am I worrying about this too much? It isn't that often ,if ever, we are going to get 2-3 inches of snow in the hours of 4-7am.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  2. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    You can only plow between 12:00 PM and 7:00 AM? and mother nature agreed to this contract?

    Sounds like they expect the parking lot to be scraped clean at 7:00 AM for the workers to get in.

    You need to keep at least 1 skid there until 7:00 AM so its nice for the opening.

    Really? You "never" get snow between the hours of 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM
  3. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    Sounds like a tough event to handle but I can see why they had a complaint. I am not sure how you can handle that better without knowing how the rest of your contracts are timed.
  4. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    of course we do, but rarely do we get that much snow in that short of a period, in that time frame

    I guess what I am saying is that it feels like they are being unrealistic in there expecations, but maybe it is me
  5. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    We have a commercial just like this. Its a small lot, but the owner wants us there between 630-7am so the lot is perfectly clear by 8am every storm. The first time he said this I told him there is no way we can guarantee this, we can't control the weather. This all started a couple seasons ago when it seemed to snow late at night then start up again around 5am ish. I just told him, you are the last account we do. I cant just have a guy sit here and wait until 7 to plow....unless you want to pay for him to sit there. He's a good guy but I told him there's no way to guarantee this and the best I can do is put him last.
  6. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    " Work will be performed in a reasonable timeframe. Contractor shall determine in its sole discretion when Work will be performed"
  7. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    Tough spot. You do have enough equipment allocated to handle it, right?

    If this is true all you can really do is professionally communicate that you must have a window of opportunity (time) in order to clear the site. There's no way around this fact...

    Most difficult people know they are being unreasonable....they won't tell you this but choose to be this way on the outside. Some are just difficult to the core and don't care about your problems or challenges. They really need you to know they are in charge.

    All you can really do is agree it didn't go as well as it could have, and that you will do better on the next unfavorably timed snow event, and that you are making changes to over-staff the site.

    If there are real changes that you need to make ~ you better make them.

    Good luck with him.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  8. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    do you want a break down, lol sure why not?

    11-12 pm to 3-4 am Skidsteer and loader are in industrial plant, other (3rd) skidsteer starts banks at about 4am but can start earlly and help out at the industrial plant if needed

    loader goes to 4 stops each taking about 1-1.5 hours to do each place, after leaving industrial area

    2nd skidsteer goes to one bank 1.5 hours, strip mall 1-1.5hours, 2 buisness 1/2 hour each, then seniors center which we start at about 7-8 am

    3rd skidsteer, does 4 banks 1/2 hour-1 hour each, a parkade 1-2 hours, then moves on to the 3 condo associations we have (it only has to do road ways at these condo associations so it only takes him 1.5-2 hours)

    Now the more i think about it i am thinking that the last stop for the loader is a church, and i am going to talk to them today to see if they can accept us going in a hour later (even if i give them a discount) and allow our loader to head back to the industrial plant for a quick clean of the loading docks, the 2 employee parking lots, and the scale all of which are the primary concern there.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  9. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    I have enough equipment for this job, in my estimation, we have been doing it for 4 years now. im really trying to make a window of opportunity here to get back at 5-6am to redo the "key" areas that are a real concern
  10. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    I'm confident you are.

    Just trying to give you the advice you seek. Sounds as though you are dealing with a guy who will not accept any excuses. This type of person can be very difficult to deal with if you offer him an excuse.

    Admitting it didn't go well on the timing of this particular storm, and that you are making changes just may be all he needs to hear.

    Again, good luck with him.
  11. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    Thanks again for the encouraging words, this guy is kind of "difficult" to put it mildly, but a little @ss kissing never hurt, I have apologized to the guy i deal with, and told him i well come up with a plan on paper for his boss to review to handle this type of circumstance
  12. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    Sure it can hurt.

    I didn't include that in my advice.

    Personally for me, respect is lost on @ss kissers. But that's just me....

    Now if you mean to butter him up a bit, that's OK. :D
  13. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    maybe i was going more for "buttering him up" im not big on the bend over backwards, spinless approach, but it doesn't hurt to be polite, and smooth talk a bit"

    in my letter, the phrase well go something like this.... " we understand that we are not meeting the expectations for this company and are currently making changes to better serve you, please review the changes, and feel free to bring any suggestions you have to my attention. We well aspire to not have this situation arise again"

    I don't know, is this @ss kissing, or buttering up? lol, to be honest, I know that what we didn't really do anything wrong, and that the president of a bigger company like this, isn't really thinking of the "excuses" no matter how reasonable they are. He is just doing a knee jerk reaction to a situation as he saw it. Never the less, he is the guy that authorizes our checks, so I try to accomidate him the best I can.
  14. Pristine PM ltd

    Pristine PM ltd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,891

    I don't get it... snow came early, you cleaned it up, salted, left, and two more inches came down? Salt should have taken care of most of that. Was the 2 inches not called for? I just think it was a first snowfall issue and as long as you end the season well, things will be fine.
  15. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    Use "will".....

    Pardon my critique.
  16. nekos

    nekos Senior Member
    Messages: 586

    If the next 2 inches of snow came down before 7am he should have been back there clearing the lot.

    My suggestion is to plan on getting the lot done later. Don't go out there at 12am. Get there at 3am and leave yourself 4 hours to get the lot cleared. If he bitches you can at least say that i was there and finished by the time the contract stated. If you need me to come back that's fine but it will cost ya.
  17. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    First off, here is Alberta, they frown on salt, especially on roadways. So after we did the plant, and left to do our route, more snow fell down right before the main offices open, and the plant president was pissed, because all the roadways were covered, at 7am when they open, the problem is how to make them happy without completely screwing up our routes.
  18. REAPER

    REAPER 2000 Club Member
    from 60050
    Messages: 2,230

    We had a large account like this last year. Right when I met with him in the fall to go over what was wanted I knew he would be a pain in the rump.

    Couple of snowfalls start out and things were OK. He called for some snow to be cleared in a area never used and said more salt was needed on the walks. The very first large snowfall we got was a nightmare with him.

    We had plenty of equipment and had all cleared by 5AM when the employees started to come in. But it was still snowing hard so we kept 2 trucks there to stay on it. 1st he called and complained there was a half inch in the lot @ 8 am. It was snowing at a inch a hour if not more with wind.

    20 mins later he called and said we needed to have someone on the walks continually while it snowed. 10 mins later he called and said the docks needed to be salted more and we should have a guy there as well while it snowed.

    Trying to appease him we went along during the storm and did not want to get into a argument. The next day he called and said we needed "bigger salters" and he wanted to see "the kind they use on the roads".

    2 hours later We told him to find someone else. and were better off for it. The guys that took over after met up once or twice for coffee and bitched about taking the account every time.

    Part of the problem was they use to do it themselves and when the company hired a contractor to do it that took away overtime hours for the maintenance guys. Guess who was in charge and who we reported to and made all the complaints?

    In the end you have to decide if they are willing to pay for what they want or rid yourself of headaches and ulcers. ussmileyflag
  19. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    easier said then done, what is your turn around rate for your route? ours is 6-10 hours (depending on how much snow we get), also if we get a heavier snow fall, and we are there till 8am or later doing it, he well be pissed because they are having to work around us too, which is why we start at 12, to give us enough time to do everything, before they start accepting trucks through the gates. We have obligations at other times too, and part of the issue is that he is changing the scope of work a bit, when we started this job 4 years ago they only wanted us to scrape down the roadways, and make it easier for them to do their own snow during the day. Now i am not sure they do their own snow during the day at all, they just leave it packed down for us to handle the next night.
  20. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    This sounds a lot like what is happening, not quite as excessive, but still the same idea. The other thing is that we did have a really bad year 2 years ago, in one month they racked up $60 000, then i got a call, and my ass chewed out for that cost, i was told i am to let them know if it is getting over $20 000, i honestly don't think this guy really understands how much work is going into keeping him happy. Don't get me wrong they pay, and well, but if it gets to be too much, we well drop it. Lets see if they can find a company that well do heavy equipment snow removal AND hand shovel/snow blow around all those box cars AND still come in do concrete work, etc during the summer. I cant think of another local company that can do what we do for these guys, but hey, I am biased