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Do all resi accounts SUCK?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by ducaticorse, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. ducaticorse

    ducaticorse PlowSite.com Addict
    from we
    Messages: 1,426

    I do well now it's 100% residential investment properties. They are all handled by various PMs. This season I picked up 2 private HO's and they ended up being a total PITA. Calling me off if they feel like shoveling on any rando storm, or complaining when I'm not there an hour after the snow is over.

    I was thinking about expanding service to private customers, but at this rate I am starting to shy away... My route is so damn tight, I cannot afford to be making last minute adjustments to the schedule because of the cheapness some people display. I lose business, and have turned others away because I was thinking that my route is as packed as it could be while still delivering great service.

    Ive been thinking of having a NO BS contract written up that states " we will charge a plowing push every 3 inches regardless of whether the HO chooses to do the work themselves unless we fail to deliver within a specified allotted time. "

    I know this sounds harsh, and that it will turn some people off, but I feel as though those are the very people I wouldn't want as customers anyway. I'm not afraid to be told to buzz off either.

    What do you guys think?
  2. snopushin ford

    snopushin ford Senior Member
    from mass
    Messages: 194

    I know what your saying. I have a customer that has a plow on a tacoma and they try to do the driveway to save money. I had to talk to them and explain that their truck can not push the snow far enough back so on future storms it makes it hard on me and it limits room to put snow. They understood but I think if people think they can save money by doing somthing then they will try it. I think having it in the contract is a good idea. Matt
  3. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    what is " residential investment properties"
    despite your title, does not sound like you do resis. doing HO is not resis that is commercial (according to my ins Co.)

    but just as in life there are good people (customers)and bad people (customers) enjoy the good ones and forget the bad ones.
  4. ducaticorse

    ducaticorse PlowSite.com Addict
    from we
    Messages: 1,426

    Residential investment properties = buildings with non occupant owners who rent the buildings out to tenants for profit.

    "resis" is a slang. Any account that you do for the sake of income would be considered commercial regardless of who lives in there or building type.

    I'm not asking you for a definition of what I do, I'm asking about writing a contract for private owner occupied residences..

    Yes I realize about the good and the bad, but I'm specifically asking about wording in a contract in order to keep my sanity in tact....
  5. allagashpm

    allagashpm Senior Member
    Messages: 797

    You just have to filter them out, some suck, so don't waste your time. My residentials are also lawn customers so I know them all well and also which ones to avoid. I have one guy that bought a new snowblower this year. He thinks he can just call after the storm and say if its too much for his blower. If we agreed on plowing I'm plowing, I don't have time for that. You might need to reword your contract and that will weed some out you're right.
  6. linckeil

    linckeil PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,272

    i understand the headaches/lost time/lost money if your route is spaced out over a great distance. example - you travel 10 miles to plow a driveway just to arrive to see the homeowner already took care of it. in that case then you should have a clause that you will charge as agreed upon regardless if it has already been done.

    but you say you have a tight route, so what is the problem if you show up and see it has already been done? i guess it depends on your defintion of tight. all 55 of my accounts are within a 5 mile radius of each other. i do every other house on some streets. so if i see a driveway has already been done, then i move to the next - no skin off my back, i was there anyway. if i plow, i charge, if its already done, i don't. in some instances i even hope that i show up and its already been done.

    and to answer your question - no, all residentials do not suck. the ones that do you get rid of quick. its all i do and i have more buddies complaining about commercial work (property managers) after 1 storm than i do all season about my residentials.
  7. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,779

    It's a great game....I had one who wanted to blow it out on the weekends and have me service during the week.
    I got blasted because apparently...Friday afternoon is the weekend (according to him) so I made Monday morning the weekend using the same standard .....just before I told him " I wish you the best with you're new contractor, this isn't a good fit for me."

    I don't mind adjusting the schedule to accomodate people, but when I get spoken down to and unappreciated for doing it we're done.

    SHAWZER PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,287

    I had a few the same way, but then call me on sunday morning because they did not want to deal with the foot of snow from saterday. Got rid of them real quick. :D :drinkup:
  9. procut

    procut Senior Member
    Messages: 903

    To answer your original question; most of the time, yes. If you can find some that are actually easy to do and have a, " You'll get there when you get there" attitude then they are okay, but they can be few and far between.

    I don't have that many residential, but I think for next year I'm going to weed out even more of them, I have another guy in mind I can refer them to who only does residential.

    I try to be upfront with them and tell them we typically plow driveways between 9 a.m. and noon on an overnight snowfall, which I think is VERY reasonable. I don't do the whole, "I leave for work at 6:30 so I have to be able to get out so it needs to be done by then" BS. (My thoughts if the snow is so deep you can't make it out of you're driveway, the roads are probably about impassible, so stay home)

    Anyways, I think the 9 a.m, to noon time frame is perfectly acceptable for a residential drive; but there are a lot of people who just won't go for it. They'll start calling ASAP wanting to know why no one has shown up yet, others will call saying you were there to early. Some will get so impatient they go shovel the whole driveway while they are "waiting" for you. Then, and this one is always my favorite, the neighbor across the street goes ahead and does it at 5 in the morning with his new snow blower or quad with a plow that he has been itching to use and thinks he's a hero for "helping out" the widowed neighbor.

    FWIW I have heard of the whole "If I get there and it's already done I still get paid" clause before, and don't think it's necessarily a bad idea.

    That was a lot of typing, but in conclusion, I think there is good money to be made clearing driveways, but you have to make them your priority. Trying to do them with a commercial route get to be too much.
  10. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 622

    When you write something with a "word" that only you know the meaning and people will not know what you are writing. People can not answer when they do not speak "your" language.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  11. ducaticorse

    ducaticorse PlowSite.com Addict
    from we
    Messages: 1,426

    Thank you for pointing that out. Did you know what I meant? Because everyone else here but one didn't... Now what do you think of the question I asked?
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  12. scottydosnntkno

    scottydosnntkno Member
    Messages: 87

    I knew what he meant along with everyone else here.

    This is the commercial plowing forum, all plowing discussed here is "commercial"

    As in the original context, or when talking about account types, one would infer:
    Resis = houses/driveways
    Commercial = parking lots/everything else

    I thought it was perfectly clear
  13. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 722

    I gave up all my resi's last year. They weren't PITA's I just didn't make enough to justify doing them, all of the other customers I had were PITA's wanting something for nothing, wanted me to drop everything and plow/sand them at the last minute. Find elderly people who have no where to go during the storm, they will be fussy when you cleanup but you won't get 50 calls during the storm asking where you are.
  14. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    While I'm a fan of the blower/tractor combo, my preference is running them in condo's. I do have about 70 resi's and they are as everyone else here describes. The commercial and condos are easy, but the home owners are a new breed lately.
    2" snows from 3-7am and they want to know why you didn't plow before 6am. "I shoveled my own sidewalk this time" wanting to know why they were charged the $5 sidewalk fee. I understand we didn't do it, but they are contracted for a plow and shovel, so they are billed for such.
    The stories go on and on.
    Looking at dropping shoveling, switching to prepay seasonal for all and a few other things.
  15. ducaticorse

    ducaticorse PlowSite.com Addict
    from we
    Messages: 1,426

    Well, I am glad I am not imagining things here... Seasonal would definitely solve the problem of cheap customers, BUT I imagine around my parts pulling a seasonal contract on these people would be difficult at best unless it was dirt cheap.

    I gave an apt complex a 15K seasonal this year, and they turned it down to roll the dice. They are now up around the $20K mark with me and wishing they had taken my offer. I know the rationale behind their decision was due solely on the lack of snow we got last year in these parts, maybe the amount we got this year will have a positive effect on the decision to go seasonal.

    Someone stated earlier asking "what's the big deal if your route is tight and you have to skip a house because it's already done when you get there?". The big deal is that I don't get to put another customer in that account's place last minute because when I am full for the season, I turn everyone else away. It isn't fair to my business when I take the time to make sure that I don't overload my route in order to provide the best service I am able too. It is disrespectful to me, it costs me money, and it also limits my ability to take on new customers.

    I think hard wording in the contract is the way to go here. Being blown off / called off last minute by customers infuriates me, and I'm not going to put up with that type of behavior.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  16. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    Elderly ones I like no rush
    I had one call last storm asking me how soon I was going get to there driveway
    I told them it was done 2 hrs ago. They look out side and was sorry for calling This wasn't a elderly person it was a young eye/hearing Doctor
    At one time I made good money with drives. Then my overhead was a lot smaller.
    I still do them but my list gets smaller every year from people moving or kicking the bucket
  17. siteworkplus

    siteworkplus Senior Member
    from mass
    Messages: 514

    This is the problem I (me personally) have with seasonals

    This has not been an overly heavy winter (I'm close to you) and you are already 5k heavy on your seasonal bid

    I know in the long term its supposed to even out, but what if it doesnt?

    I hate the thought of working for free even for 1 year

    This is just my opinion and understand the philosophy of a good mix of seasonals/per inch/ per hour ratios

    Had a new client offer me a seasonal option based on his past years but I chose to go with an hourly rate the first year to get a feel for the property (retail & resturant)

    So far we are still shy of his offer

    Im being fairly compensated and hes getting a bargain - win / win

    I know I have this acct long term if I want it

    I guess I'm not well enough versed in seasonals yet
    Thats why I like this site - good info & insight
  18. scottydosnntkno

    scottydosnntkno Member
    Messages: 87

    That is the entire point of seasonals, is that they use the law of averages which is called that for a reason.

    Take this year and last year. Last year you would have made money sitting at home doing nothing, which would have more than made up for the extra work you did this year. By me we went from 4 plowables last year to 14+ this year. Average is 12, so we're still ahead of the game if we did seasonal.

    Now, should the events keep going up and up, or just stay above your seasonal price based on say 12 events, but next year you get 15 again, then increase your seasonal price by 1-2 events to compensate. Base your average for your seasonals off the last two years events.
  19. linckeil

    linckeil PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,272

    are you new to plowing? or just new to the residential side? this is part of the game. you simply weed those people out. put all the language in the contract that you want. people are still going to do this and when they do, are you going to take them to court over one push on a $50 driveway?

    expect it, deal with it, move on. this doesn't mean you have to be happy with it and it doesn't make it right, but dont let it go so deep under your skin.
  20. ducaticorse

    ducaticorse PlowSite.com Addict
    from we
    Messages: 1,426

    New to residential. Ive been strictly commercial apps. And I'm thinking I'm going to stay that way after the only two residential customers I tried out this year LOL... J/K, sort of.. I'll give it a solid shot again next year with strong wording in my contracts and see how it goes...

    As far as the seasonal for that property is concerned, I based it on certain triggers, and extra (not included) salt apps being at the sole discretion of the PM. He ended up handing the decision making over to me entirely, so the numbers I put up earlier are slightly skewed to be fair. I did base the seasonal number I gave him of an average 45 inch winter in our area though.