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I was just curious. For those contractors who work on fixed fee for season. Do you charge your clients if there is more snow than average? Or do you simply raise your rated every year?

Thank you
alcs
 

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I was just curious. For those contractors who work on fixed fee for season. Do you charge your clients if there is more snow than average? Or do you simply raise your rated every year?

Thank you
alcs
We aren't selling inches, we're selling time. So to me it makes no sense to charge more just because you've hit the inches\centimeters you've budgeted for.

We have a "blizzard" clause. If there's more than 6" we reserve the right to charge over and above our normal alloted time. If it's 7" of fluff, we won't charge. If it's 5.75" of cement, we likely will.

We also have a limit on the number of trips. We allow 2 extra before this charge starts. Looks like this year will probably be the first we have to enforce it.
 

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We aren't selling inches, we're buying time.
Isn't that what got Bob Kraft into all kinds of trouble?

We also have a limit on the number of trips. We allow 2 extra before this charge starts. Looks like this year will probably be the first we have to enforce it.
We have always been "gracious" with our clients as well, but there comes a time when it gets abused or taken advantage of. We also will be enforcing any caps on contracts - especially when it comes to salting events or quantities. I'm not in to re-applying salt 30 minutes after it was done the 1st time when they don't see the lot looking like it does after an April shower.

It takes time to melt 5" afterall...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We aren't selling inches, we're selling time. So to me it makes no sense to charge more just because you've hit the inches\centimeters you've budgeted for.

We have a "blizzard" clause. If there's more than 6" we reserve the right to charge over and above our normal alloted time. If it's 7" of fluff, we won't charge. If it's 5.75" of cement, we likely will.

We also have a limit on the number of trips. We allow 2 extra before this charge starts. Looks like this year will probably be the first we have to enforce it.
Thank you for your reply Mark.. I understand how you charge. i was looking for the contractors that have a flat fee for the season.. Out here very competitive and we have a flat fee for the entire season So i was wondering who has charged if there cap is surpassed for the season ?
Thank you
alcs
 

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Isn't that what got Bob Kraft into all kinds of trouble?

We have always been "gracious" with our clients as well, but there comes a time when it gets abused or taken advantage of. We also will be enforcing any caps on contracts - especially when it comes to salting events or quantities. I'm not in to re-applying salt 30 minutes after it was done the 1st time when they don't see the lot looking like it does after an April shower.

It takes time to melt 5" afterall...
Yes GMC i find that clients expect us to pass by too many times for the contract they are on.
alcs
 

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i was looking for the contractors that have a flat fee for the season.. Out here very competitive and we have a flat fee for the entire season
I do have a flat fee. If there's no storms over 6" and we don't go over the budgeted number of trips, no extra charges. That would have been last season. And possibly the season before.

There are a few contracts that I am not able to charge over max because we use their contract.

Very competitive around here as well.

So i was wondering who has charged if there cap is surpassed for the season ?
We do.
 

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Isn't that what got Bob Kraft into all kinds of trouble?

We have always been "gracious" with our clients as well, but there comes a time when it gets abused or taken advantage of. We also will be enforcing any caps on contracts - especially when it comes to salting events or quantities. I'm not in to re-applying salt 30 minutes after it was done the 1st time when they don't see the lot looking like it does after an April shower.

It takes time to melt 5" afterall...
Hollanders can be so very sarcastic...
 

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What if you plow two less trips (or three or four) during the season? Do you send them a refund? Seems like it would be fair to the customer since you are doing less work.
No, and that is one of the reasons for the 2 "grace" trips. But I still have costs that have to be paid for whether we plow or not.

Do you get a refund if you don't use all your data on your phone? If you don't make a claim on your insurance?
 

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Do you get a refund if you don't use all your data on your phone? If you don't make a claim on your insurance?
I have unlimited and think Progressive sends back checks for no claims...

If people can get away with seasonals having safety nets more power to them... But the whole purpose of a seasonal is for their budget number and no increases etc...
 

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Setting a seasonal or monthly price, for that matter, is similar to going to Vegas and playing blackjack. The house bets you don't win and you bet you do. No body gives refunds to each other if they don't win. Seasonal is a gamble and sometimes you win and sometimes the customer does. We are in that situation right now and I almost feel guilty billing some of my customers for this past month but I noticed not a one offered me more money for the previous month when we had to work our tails off. We never bill an extra charge over and above our pre-season agreed upon price. They gamble and so do we.
 

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Do you get a refund if you don't use all your data on your phone? If you don't make a claim on your insurance?
Do your suppliers force you to buy the same amount every month? Salt, fuel. Is your labor a fixed cost?

I never understood the "blizzard clause" with seasonals either. Why even call it that? We just had legitimate blizzard a week ago but it was just a 5-6" snowfall for the majority of our customers. Crazy drifting for some wind exposed areas.

Like AJlawn stated if a contractor can charge beyond stated amount and have repeat customers then that's good. Maybe it varies between markets, regions. There's no way I could sell a blizzard clause here. BUT that is because that those big snowfalls are already accounted in my seasonal cost. Big snows happen. Heavy drifting happens. IMO it should already be accounted in the cost of the contract and not an additional charge.

Again it may just be a regional thing. We get quite a bit more snow here than most other members so not a big deal with snowfalls over 6".
 

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I have unlimited and think Progressive sends back checks for no claims...

If people can get away with seasonals having safety nets more power to them... But the whole purpose of a seasonal is for their budget number and no increases etc...
I used to completely agree with you until the '13-'14 season. When I budgeted for 25 plows and some accounts had 55 plows. Others were upper 30's lower 40's. It takes an awful lot of below average seasons to make up for that.

I'm not trying to get rich off the extra charges, just cover my additional costs so I can continue to provide service without going out of business.

Do your suppliers force you to buy the same amount every month? Salt, fuel. Is your labor a fixed cost?
Answer my question first. lol

This year I was forced to buy salt. I had to put a 50% "booking fee" down at the end of August for 1000 tons. I didn't recover those costs until the middle of February.

Fuel is variable.

Labor...I have not laid anyone off in the winter to date. I want to keep my good employees around so I find work for them and know they will be there when it snows.

I never understood the "blizzard clause" with seasonals either. Why even call it that? We just had legitimate blizzard a week ago but it was just a 5-6" snowfall for the majority of our customers.
It's not a blizzard clause, that's why it was in quotes.

If the majority of our snowfalls are 2-6" and then we get a 16" snowfall that takes 2-3x as long as normal, isn't it fair for everyone to have some "skin in the game"? This isn't like mowing where it's fairly easy to estimate mowing times throughout the season. Longer in the spring, shorter when it warms up and dries out. And like I said, I have the option. I don't charge it immediately at 6".

Residentials have a 12" "blizzard clause". Never charged it yet.

I don't consider drifting to invoke the "blizzard clause", it's more of a significant snowfall clause.

Again it may just be a regional thing. We get quite a bit more snow here than most other members so not a big deal with snowfalls over 6".
I think you hit the nail on the head.

We've had customers for over 40 years. No one has found another contractor because we instituted these changes. When asked about the over maximum trips, I have explained just as I have above and everyone has understood that we are partners and need to work together.

So do you include hauling and stacking in your seasonal? By your reasoning, you should.
 

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I get the need to charge for extra services performed, but I’m on the same side as Landgreen and AJ. Seasonal is seasonal. If one can charge additionally for over service numbers on their seasonals more power to them but that would not fly around here.
 

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So how many of you have had a season with almost double your average snowfall?

On top of that, it was cold enough that salt wasn't very effective so you're plowing 3/4-1" of snow every time because you can't burn it off with salt effectively? Not to mention salt was in short supply.
 

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I get the need to charge for extra services performed, but I'm on the same side as Landgreen and AJ. Seasonal is seasonal. If one can charge additionally for over service numbers on their seasonals more power to them but that would not fly around here.
Like I said I've seen both ways and if you get a safety net with a cap on your end great! But I also have seen a hospital a guy did requiring money back if it didn't hit their cap...
 

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So how many of you have had a season with almost double your average snowfall?

On top of that, it was cold enough that salt wasn't very effective so you're plowing 3/4-1" of snow every time because you can't burn it off with salt effectively? Not to mention salt was in short supply.
I have. 2 years in a row. 13-14 and 14-15. I'd have to look at records to confirm, but first one we were about 75" and the second we were about 65" if I recall. Seasonal average is 36". Yes, it hurt. Trust me, I would love to have caps on the number of services. I'd even be content with unlimited plowing if we could cap the salt applications. But seasonals around here I can't see it happening.

Honestly last year and this year have hurt much more than the 2 winters I posted above, because the inches total those years all came in 4-10" increments. Last year and this year we're basically average snowfall, but it's been a lot more 1/2-1.5" at a time over a drawn out period than a 4-8" snowfall at once. This just drives home your point of the inches fallen do not matter, the number of services is what counts.

Maybe if we gave money back at the end of the year on light years caps might fly, but I don't know anyone that wants to do that.
 

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On our seasonals, we have a cap on salting, but not plowing.

“Well what’s to say you’re not you’re not going to just salt when you should be plowing”
Well it comes down to an ethics, could I in good conscious salt a bunch of times just to meet the cap, absolutely not.
There’s been enough bs freezing rain storms this year to get to the cap, heck I’ve even scraped freezing rain, way below the 1” snow fall trigger for plowing, but I sleep well at night knowing I’m not salting when it won’t do anything. we also don’t count towards the cap for spot salting/ puddle patrol.
I see different ways of doing it, and I’m trying to build the business, not earn the reputation of someone who gouges their customers, there’s plenty of guys around here that do that.
 

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I used to completely agree with you until the '13-'14 season. When I budgeted for 25 plows and some accounts had 55 plows.

Ouch.

Answer my question first. lol

I hate insurance...

This year I was forced to buy salt. I had to put a 50% "booking fee" down at the end of August for 1000 tons. I didn't recover those costs until the middle of February.

Fuel is variable.

Labor...I have not laid anyone off in the winter to date. I want to keep my good employees around so I find work for them and know they will be there when it snows.

Off topic but what do you have your employees doing in winter if not doing snow work?

It's not a blizzard clause, that's why it was in quotes.

If the majority of our snowfalls are 2-6" and then we get a 16" snowfall that takes 2-3x as long as normal, isn't it fair for everyone to have some "skin in the game"?

Like I said big snow happens. It's in the seasonal cost already

We've had customers for over 40 years. No one has found another contractor because we instituted these changes.

That's the feedback I am looking for. It comes down to what a contractor can sell in their market. It might work here. It's hard to believe a customer would agree to the extra charges but if it sells then hell yeah. No way I would sign a contact like that if I was a homeowner. It doesn't seem fair to a customer.

So do you include hauling and stacking in your seasonal? By your reasoning, you should.

Of course it's included. But most of my commercial is billed per push.
 

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So how many of you have had a season with almost double your average snowfall?

On top of that, it was cold enough that salt wasn't very effective so you're plowing 3/4-1" of snow every time because you can't burn it off with salt effectively? Not to mention salt was in short supply.
I think you're the only one with above average numbers this year. We are at 45" so 20" below average... Last year was over 100" and seasonal were still ok... Now a 100 1" storms might of been a different story, but there was some decent bigger ones to add to those totals...
 
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