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Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Kodiakguy, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. Kodiakguy

    Kodiakguy Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    Hello everyone. Ive been in the buss a few years, however ive never gone after any condo contracts. Anyone have any advise for pricing and or dealing with condo's? Any help would be appriciated. Thanks!
  2. Camden

    Camden PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,604

    I don't plow any condos but if you do a search about them you will find a lot of useful information. Good luck
  3. Kodiakguy

    Kodiakguy Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    Thanks. I appriciate it.
  4. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,935

    Why I dont go after condos.

    Reason 1: Condos are governed by a bunch of know it alls call the Board of Directors, which is comprised of a small group of once highschool nerds, who have either been oppressed of any authority in their life,and have found this a way to come out from under their shell-so to speak, or have way too much time on their hands, or appreciate the occaisonal brown envelope. Many have no idea as to the value of a job well done, and since they are also owners of the condo unit in the building, their decisons directly impact their maintenance fees, tend to make their decisions based on price.

    Reason 2: Occupants of the condo (and there are lots of them), who display more ignorance than the Board of Directors, all pay maintenance fees in one way or another. They think its their God given right to squak about the service being provided, and complain and whine constantly to the decision makers. They tend to be worse than babies, but think they have the authority of a President. Them too, have no idea as to what it takes to get the job done right, and exect no less than equipment waiting to plow every single snowflake as it falls. This is possible, but only for the money one should be getting for the job.

    Reason 3: Condos require numerous repeat visits, the reverse of most every other type of property. They have to be cleared by the early AM, a return trip is required during the day to clear areas where tennants cars were parked at night, and trips are required throughout the eveining to keep access open and clear areas where a tenant may be on the night shift. None are ever wide open plows, expect alot of backdragging, and handling snow twice. Liability is a big issue, as they tend to have lots of visitors and seniors.

    This rant could go on and on, but bottom line is charge accordingly, sometimes double of your commercial or industrial sites, expect headaches and callbacks, and at least 1 random letter from a lawyers office putting you on notice of a slip and fall.

    I personally prefer lots that are empty for at least 8-12 hours at a time, have very little public traffic, require a minimal effort throughout the day, are wide open with very little obstacles to overcome, and dont include sidewalks. It has taken me years to find my market, it may take you a few to find yours. Through trial and error, I have been able to find ways to do less, with less stress, less headaches, less equipment and manpower, and make more money. If you're still in this business 15 years from now, chances are you have done the same. Good luck. :drinkup:
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009
  5. Burkartsplow

    Burkartsplow PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,246

    What he said was PERFECT. The old saying about Condo Associations, "To Many Chiefs, Not enough Indians."
  6. Flake Chaser

    Flake Chaser Member
    from CT
    Messages: 66

    All very good points but we all can't be too picky on how we make our money. As you said it took you 15 years to get where you are.
  7. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    This may be true... but there are condo contracts that goes as much as $400k per year for lawn and grass. If you have a little "politician" in you -you can manage most boards... lead the horse to water, or your way of seeing an issue, and let them feel "in charge"
  8. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,935

    If you're happy with your current business climate, then continue doing what your doing. I have always wanted to streamline operations, and be more efficient in my operations.

    For example, I have realized the labour intensive work associated with sidewalks is something I didnt want a part of anymore. My winter operation was always bigger than my summer operation, and I could find alot of competent and reliable owner operators, and equipment operators to fill gaps, but never any reliable sidewalk help-no matter how easy I made it for them, or how much money I paid them.

    It took me 15 years through trial and error, but at least I'm still here to talk about it. I realized I cant be everything to everyone, and I am totally comfortable with that. Accepting every "opportunity" may hurt you more than it does good-but you'll never know unless you try. You will be respected more if you decline an opportunity vs taking it and screwing it up. The job has to fit-which closes some doors, but opens others. Afterall, I think we all got into business to do our own thing and not be dictated-right?

    Yes, some condos will pay 400k for landscaping and snow removal-but it doesnt mean jack. Reality is that job is probaly worth 500k or more. Its the net money you should be looking at, the rest is smoke and mirrors. IMO, i'd rather have 4-100K jobs, or 8-50K jobs, than one 400K job.

    Again, these are only MY opinions, and reflect MY current situation and experiences, everyone is free to do what they choose, and if you are attracted to a possible contract for any reason other than the net proceeds, you are in business for the wrong reason.
  9. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    I agree totally, especially about the sidewalk challenge... always hard to find and keep reliable laborers. We keep a balance of about 60% Condo & 40% commercial.

    The Condos keep alot of full-timers on year round, and truth be told, we are usually among the highest of bids. Surpisingly, many companies are "selling to the economy" and falling short on qaulity when trying to meet the labor hours. We have had tremendous growth in this area this year, but it does require alot of non-labor support staff and hand-holding. I am to the point where we have fired a couple of accounts when boards have changed and some jackass know-it-all is suddenly in charge... can now spot 'em going bad early and prepare to replace 'em with better accounts who spend money on extra landscaping, etc...

    Our commercial is mostly high-end, low-tolerance stuff... low trigger, salt when we see fit, plenty of hauling and stacking, and almost no griping about the bill. All billing "per-time", which means it is the gravy, since the condos cover most of the overhead.

    To us, this balance is the sweet-spot in making an unpredictable nature-reliant industry more stable, and keeping more solid guys on year-round. We also have no need for a bunch of expensive loaders, opting for a fleet of skids instead. We do not sub-out our stuff, so maybe our formula is specific to that, but whatever works for you -keep doing it.

    Good luck this winter.
  10. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,935

    Dont get me wrong, I am in no way suggesting that what i'm doing is better than what you're doing. I'm just making my experiences known, to how I have what works best for me. You know what works for you, and congratulations-its those that have no clue, and jump head first into commitments they dont quite understand that I feel sorry for. Condos just dont fit my mandate and objective, and I dont have the patience anymore to babysit employees that think their sh!t dont stink, expect top dollar, yet dont know the difference between a weed and a perennial.
  11. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    lol... we had a couple of perennials and even a shrub pulled by mistake this season. I hear ya man!
  12. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    oh, that's easy
    you just pull everything up and whatever comes back is a weed. :drinkup:
  13. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    OMG,OMG!!!!!!!!! Johnny, you hit the nail right on the freakin' head! We just lost one of our condo's. One reason was price (I think), the other reason was "lack of quality" when I asked what we were lacking in.....the H.S. nerd-now condo pres., power hungry, clueless president said, and I quote...."just some stuff" My mouth hit the floor. They were still pissed we had to actually remove snow there twice last year to the tune of a total of around 4k! I didnt make a friggin' dime! they thought we raped them. Oh well they'll learn with this brand new 1 man show this year. But everything Johnny said is 100% correct in 99% of the condo's. Our other one is much better but still share some of the same "quality's" our other one did. Just be careful and if you bid make sure everything is in black and white!
  14. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    I personally enjoy condo's. Learn how to please the customer and you'll make money in the end. We figured out what equipment was needed and now clear snow for hundreds of condo units. Now we actually have many other associations that would like us to clear there snow. Instead of looking at them like the pita's everyone else says they are, view them like you would any other business.
    Proper equipment, the right employees, and a well executed plan.
  15. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    I agree chris. I think you have a better chance of keeping condos around longer, as long as you make them happy. I also feel like theres less competition beating each other up over price for condos as a lot of retail and other businesses. Some things I'm hearing back on commercials this year are ridiculous. $60/hr for a truck. LOL.
  16. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,935

    Every market has their share of prostitutes.
  17. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    If every market has their share of prostitutes I think Tavares at Menards in Milwaukee is their pimp.
  18. Premier

    Premier Senior Member
    Messages: 274

    I agree with you on this one. not that i have ever disagreed with you. but we have been doing a condo ass. for the last 5 years. PITA untill last year.i made some equiptment changes. cost me about 1800 bucks. but it cut our time in 1/2 the guys are now stoked about going back there this year because its fun again.... after 4 1/2 years of complaints i never thought they would want to do the job, now they are requesting it on there lists.