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Clients with serveral sites?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,931

    We just signed up a client after the last big storm, their one contractor apparently didnt service the sites until a day or two after the whole storm. I believe that they had to call in some other companies to plow each location and paid a fortune the one time. I dont think the original contractor actually plowed them out at the end so they felt as though they didnt want to have that happen again, they signed us to do 7 sites.

    2 are on route for one truck, 2 are on route for another, one was easily out of the way and two others wernt close to any of our truck routes so they were subbed to another company ive worked for, know the owner and are reputable to handle the two locations south of us.

    We just went and switched one of our smaller push boxes at one site 35 miles north of the south location subbed to xyb contractor, in trade for putting the smaller one onto the site in south jersey. The xyb contractor has his skid steer on the trailer ready for the up coming snow, whenever that may be or in the next 5 days were taking his skid steer over to the property and the 8' pushbox for it from us.

    The client contacts us FINALLY today, although theyve had the contract signed since December 27th 2009, notifying us that the "property general manager' in some other state, doesnt want us handling all 7 sites, they want them split between companies "id assume as to not have a repeat possibility of the last contractor not showing up for all of them".

    I've explained our background, our equipment, our truck routes for all of them and were up front with them about our sub handling both southern nj accounts of the 7.

    So our company is supplying service for 5 of the 7 technically.

    We've looked at all locations, staked all of them, 6 of the 7, have equipment ready for the one southern site, have a signed contract through April 15th 2010, and NOW they want to do two things.

    December 31st 2009, 3 of the 7 locations turn our crew away for salt service, there was about 1.5", not enough to plow, but goddam, the lots were covered and they needed salt in a bad way. I had photos taken and each manager was required to sign off on the back of the site list sheet that they are denying services for that date at time.... a slip and fall under contract at these places would kill any company that left in these conditions :confused:

    So we billed them out December 09 invoice for the 4 places for salt, one place our crew plowed 7 parking spots free in the front, didnt even bill them for this and i started to contact the original contact for the company. She's delayed because the "out of state" guy didnt get back to her until now apparently. I had immediately sent over to her a revision in the contract if they were ONLY willing to allow us to plow not presalt or do anything under 2" mark, that they had to sign off on. They still have not 3 weeks later.

    We've had no snow events besides Jan 9th for salt so this hasnt been a nightmare contract until now. Theyre saying they ONLY want us to keep 2 of the 7 sites. The two already subbed out and equipment ready for, not on the list. One im willing to give up, the out of the way one. The other two are on our trucks route on the same road so we want them. The ONLY two are on the same trucks route north of there, which is fine.

    Would you allow them to go from 7 sites, to 2? Should they pay the $200 cancellation fee we require mid contract? And should it be $200 per location? I dont believe i've ever worded our contracts to indicate $200 per site so we might be up "sh1ts" creak with that option anyway. I've already contacted the lady and informed her that we have equipment mobilized for the one site and that its unfair at this point a month into it already, still not a re-signed contract to limit our liability and we now would lose 5 sites for no fault of our own?

    these arn't "small" places. If any of you read about the two large locations we lost this past major Dec 09 storm because we couldnt freking get salt onsite by 5:30am two mornings in a row.... these 5 locations we would be doing would make up for the loss of those two, and theyre in the same areas.
  2. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,756

    Man, sounds like you know why they were having problems with their last contractor. They don't sound easy to work with. Doesn't sound worth it to me.
  3. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,931

    yeah im now not thinking the contractor "forgot" or couldnt service them, sounds to me like they didnt mail their contract back or someone wanted to make a statement so just dropped them totally and let them worry about getting snowed in with 2 feet :p

    Im split between doing the professional thing here and taking two of the sites, hoping to gain confidence with them for next season to service all of the sites OR just tell them to find someone else... being that

    They decline salt services
    Have not sent back the revised contract yet for letting us out of liability under 2"
    and, dropping us from several sites after the contract is signed almost a month later
    Cant get a hold of them several times we call and leave messages with the secretary... apparently the woman is in the office but never calls us back.

    That and too many parties involved, guy calling the shots from some other state and our contact has no control... Im not sure if i want to deal with any of it 1 site or all 7 :gunsfiring:
  4. ProLawn Outdoor

    ProLawn Outdoor Senior Member
    Messages: 132

    Wow, I'm really sorry to hear about your bad luck. After reading the other post it sounds like you have had a lot of BS this season. Hope next year goes a bit smoother for you. I would just drop them and relieve a lot of stress, if you've already had this much trouble, why continue. Just my opinion, but I know nothing about commercial, just throwing that out there. I wish you better luck next season.
  5. deicepro

    deicepro PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,124

    I agree, this much BS and you have not even dropped a blade yet, does not sound worth the hassle to me, JMO
  6. clark lawn

    clark lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    from NE ohio
    Messages: 1,233

    how is the cancelation cluase worded? in mine it has to be in writing with 30 days notice, if its not in writting i keep serviceing them. it would be to easy for them to cancel on the phone then dont get someone in time, something happens and they decide to go after you since there is no proof they cancelled, it would look like you just didnt show up. They probably found someone much cheaper but he doesnt want to go to the sites they want you to keep.
  7. Brad3403

    Brad3403 Senior Member
    from Alberta
    Messages: 392

    I would try and talk directly with the "out of state" property manager. Get it straight from the horses mouth, as they say.
  8. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    Damn straight... I would tell them that this poor communication on their end is probably what lead to the fiasco with the other vendor. You have a signed contract and tell them you don't appreciate being used as a standby why they figure things out.
  9. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    i think this is exactly what happened, trying to push contractors around like USM, (and we see how well that is going)
  10. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    definately don't get pushed around, but if they want out, get out. That said, charge them the cancellation fee for each property even if it isn't worded that way, it may work out for you. we all run into these hassles the longer we are in business, lack of communication is a killer, but having a spine when you have done nothing wrong goes farther imo. good luck.
  11. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    This is why I no longer deal with "out of state" managers.

    I've carved out a little niche in this businees, I know my clientel, and I know them well.

    I don't even look at big properties anymore, unless it's all locally owned. When I mean locally owned, where I can walk into the office of the president any time I need to.
  12. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    Well, my head hurts, AGAIN, I can only imagine how yours feels. RamAir, this is like the season from H**L for you huh???

    That being said and not looking for trouble but in my expierience when this much goes wrong in one season the contractor has had at least something to do with it. Whether not getting to the right person, not asking the right questions, something. It's not just clients who should be inquisitive, we as contractors should ask even more questions than our clients, and interview them harder than they do us. Not pointing a finger, just saying it's alot for one guy to suffer in one season. Did you grow alot this year? are these growing pains??

    Anyway, if you have a signed contract they are obligated to it as are you, but be careful, if you push them too hard on the cancellation fee on the properties you're losing they might just drop you across the board. But I'd definitely deal direct with the out of state guy, explain to him the logistic expenses you've already incurred to set up service on these sites, the labor, ETC. Most( not all) people are resonable about these things and in reality, (if I understand what you said) it really isn't your fault he/they signed you for what they see as too many sites. Maybe you should send him a fleet list/pic including your subs to show him you can handle this work efficiently, but I warn you be honest there, it could bite you later if you're not. I worked at a place few years back where the fleet/equip list included every truck he'd ever owned, to the point where the list was twice as long as what was actually on the road. After a couple service issues a property manager demanded an equipment inspection (his right under the contract) we couldn't show things that he didn't own anymore, it didn't go well.
  13. CMerLand

    CMerLand Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    Yea I have to agree with Forest on his post. You go through alot of drama outside of the actually plowing not only this year but after last years breakup with Lipinski. Really need to mamage the shortfalls in your contracts, sales presentation and customer expectations. Not looking to flame you, just free advice worth exactly what you paid for it.

    From a legal contract standpoint, your in a bind there. You signed a contract with an unauthorized representative of the company and without coming to a "meeting of the minds" on the terms and conditions. You do have expenses associated with preparing these sites that I believe you should get reimbursed for but they can care less that you lost other accounts and this was the chance to fill in the hole. You can try to fight them on the scale back but if they dont want you, they dont want you and if you try to force the issue after the fact you may lose the two they want you to keep.

    One other suggestion, is make the cancellation clause alot more expensive then $ 200.00. I have it written literally in my contract "FINDING A CHEAPER SERVICE PROVIDER IS NOT GROUNDS FOR CANCELLATION." I require payment of 3X the 2-4 inch snowplowing service cost as a cancellation charge which can end up being the cost of the whole winter service depending on the year. Losing customers once the season starts makes it next to impossible to fill the holes created in your route. We've allocated time and with that consideration then turned away other work so it needs to be very costly for them to leave you just for cheaper service. They certainly can fire us if we fail to provide the services as outlined, but fortunately have never had to pursue this either way.
  14. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,931

    Yeah i can take the criticism. I think its just mainly the risk of looking for any and all work... If we were huge and could pick and choose more easily, id probably never have taken the work associated with lipinskis, brickmans or the little places that nickel and dime to death. A lot comes from short term experience too, some of you guys have read contracts for 10+ years or have dealt with these situations at a slower pace and many years ago so its old news when stuff like this occurs.

    I like the idea of the cancellation though. Since we've never dealt much with cancellations mid term, the $200 rarely applied. Now this year with situations and now the multi client contract, its come to bite us in the butt. One account they were thrilled to pay the $200 because another contractor offered them a rate half of what we've billed them so far.. or so they say, but again, like you said it shouldnt mean we lose the contract mid term.
  15. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    If you think there is some long term business to be gained here, and they pay ontime, I'd probably keep the two.

    Because the last time I checked, plowing two is more profitable than zero.

    You also need to ask yourself if you can handle more work. Remember the big storm?
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  16. Pristine PM ltd

    Pristine PM ltd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,891

    ... I don't get how one company can have the problems that you have had... I wish you luck, but this doesn't make alot of sense to me.