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Do you stick to your trigger?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Big Todd, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. Big Todd

    Big Todd Senior Member
    Messages: 126

    Ok, here’s one for discussion:

    You’ve bought and installed some new equipment, you’ve done all of your maintenance on your old equipment, the first two times it snowed, it melted as it hit the ground. You are ready and rarin'’ to go. So when it finally snows and sticks to the pavement, it only accumulates an inch and a half and, with the exception of one account, your trigger is two inches. Do you:

    A. Go out anyway because you are anxious to get plowing and try out your new stuff. Besides, it’s hard to notice a half inch difference.

    B. Have a couple of beers and go to bed. Two inches means two inches, if the customers don’t like it, they should read their contracts more closely.

    C. Plow only the accounts that pay hourly or per push and leave the seasonal accounts.

    I’m just interested to know everyone’s opinion.

    For the record, here’s what I (we) did:

    It was kind of a strange event anyway, Sunday evening, it snowed for a while and everyone got a bit, but the accounts on the north side of town all had barely enough to plow (1.5” give or take), and everywhere else had just a dusting. Then about 4 am, it started up again and snowed 'til mid afternoon and everyone got at least an inch and a half to two inches.

    So, we went out and plowed everyone on the north side of town Sunday night and everyone else on monday night. We were anxious to get plowing and I like happy customers no matter if they pay seasonal or per push.
  2. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    My seasonals would have been done, and I would have called or waited for a request on the per push accounts.

    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    most business would have been done but we all know our customers and know who wants it plowed and salted and when

    we most likely would have not plowed residentials until the full 2"
  4. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    My contract states that salt and deicing operations commence with trace amounts of snow and ice and that "snowfalls in the 1.5"-2" range will be salted and/or plowed as we deem necessary." This may seem a little confusing for the customer, but they seem to understand that various conditions require a different approach.
  5. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Seasonals get done (to show good customer service).

    Residentials - you have to know the customer. Some won't want it done, some will. That happened to me the first good snow we got - it was just over 2" with a 3" trigger, but it was wet and slick. I contacted a couple of new customers to see if they wanted it plowed (they did). Then I knew what they wanted the next time.
  6. Big Todd

    I agree with OBRYANMAINT and Mick.

    You have to know your customers, if not call them.

    Bob V
  7. plowjockey

    plowjockey PlowSite.com Sponsor
    Messages: 622

    If you're going out just to try your new equipment out then it doesn't matter if it is a little under. The question is if it is under your trigger do you comp the trial plowing and in my view that answer would be yes.
    The statement about they wouldn't notice 1/2" would foster a great misstrust in your company if they did notice, a contract is just that your agreement as to conditions to work for payment.
    I had a customer (ended up firing him two or three plows into the season, told him I was not a mind reader ) who was a real jerk to deal with a couple of seasons ago. He always wanted to argue about the trigger and / or change the level of service he wanted storm by storm. I finally got to the point where I would measure several places in his lot and then scrape a big "X" at each place so he could see where I'd been there to check.
    If my customers call me out under their trigger then they are responsible to pay me. Or if I call them and they agree that they want their account serviced.

    Just my humble opinion.

    Bruce :drinkup: By the way here's to you who are getting real storms to work. We had a fake event last night. Darn weather guessers.
  8. Sno

    Sno Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    I leave it sit if it will melt in the next two days. I plow if it's going to stay below 32 all week and I have been known to call the customers on occasion. Most of them I know what they will say before I call.

    Yes, fooled again by the weather guessers! :mad:

    Our 1-3" turned out as fog and 40 Degrees at 9:00 AM this morning.... No snow at all :rolleyes:

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    Hey Todd-

    Thats the exact reason I will not do 2 inch triggers here. We get way too many 1-1.5 inch lake effect snows that need to be scraped, or before long its a mess. We will melt with Magic up to the point it becomes too much or too fast of a snow, then plow it all . Even at 0.5 inch I will either melt or scrape the commercial.

    We only did some of the residential on the storm you are referring to, since it was such a huge difference between one end of town and the other. I don't have many anyway, and the prediction was a warming trend, so we let some of them go. If there were unusual circumstances like a shaded place that would become a problem, I would just go ahead and scrape it, but most of the drives were left undone.

    If anyone questions my decision, I would gladly go and do their place, but usually I explain that the very early storms that will melt anyway are better left undone, since the potential to do damage is so much greater the first couple plows of the year, before things are really frozen hard. Most accept this and appreciate the thought we put into it.
  10. plowjockey

    plowjockey PlowSite.com Sponsor
    Messages: 622


    You make a good point in telling them how easy it is to cause damage early in the season. I'm sure they like how you're putting their total property care at the forefront of your decisions.

  11. flakesmeangreen

    flakesmeangreen Senior Member
    Messages: 217

    A good question indeed, I encountered this problem Thursday/Friday. My accounts are all residential with a 3" trigger and we received 2" including the ice/sleet or 1 1/2" of just snow. I drove around and some contractors were out plowing drives and other drives were not plowed. I also know that some have a 2" trigger so that may be why some drives were plowed. I choose to stick to my contract and not plow anyone. I only received 1 phone call out of 42 customers and the one that did call realized it was under 3" but didn't want her husband shoveling the wet & heavy snow. So I guess I made the right call.

    As a result of this storm, I realized that I need to change my contract for next season to include pre treating for a snow event that's followed by an ice event. Some of the drives I do are wicked without the ice. Anyone do something like this for residential accounts?

  12. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    We had some rounds of nasty freezing rain a couple of years ago. I had no experience at that point. I learned quickly. If pavement temps and air temps are at or below freezing and there is a mixed bag of precip predicted, pretreating is the only way to go. It seemed that year almost every event we had turned from freezing rain to snow.

    Treating BEFORE the freeze is key in my experience. I can see this is the one area where your exposure to liability can be reduced or increased depending solely upon your practices.

  13. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    I think it depends on part on the time of the season and what type of snow fall you've been having or will have. Our residentials are at 2", but we will plow them at 1.5". Most of them are seasonal contracts. Early in the season we had a 1" snow fall and I sent my guys through their routes for the first time. We did not charge the per occurence customers for our training run.

    On commercials many of my contracts are at 1". So we begin salting/plowing as we see fit. They expect a high level of service and leave it up to me to determine when we need to plow to achieve safe travel through their properties. Some are at 2". We'll plow them at 1.5" if that's all the snow for the day, but expected to get more the next day/night. I don't want the lots/drives being driven on and iced over when we go to plow, particularly those few we dont' salt.

    If it's been a long winter and it's been snowing it's easier to justify not going before the trigger depth. But when it's early in the season, or it hasn't snowed in a while or we haven't plowed much, we'll plow in advance of the trigger for customer service to justify to the customer the reason they carry a contrat/snow insurance with us. I hate the last two weeks of the season when we get the border line calls - if we don't plow thta's what the customer will remember next season, though they may not say anything, they just won't renew if they think you should have plowed.
  14. Ben

    Ben Member
    Messages: 62

    I have a few goverment accounts with a 4"trigger but if we get 3.5" they dont mind them being done. Anyone else have goverment contracts with 4" triggers?
  15. paul soccodato

    paul soccodato Senior Member
    Messages: 430

    i have no triggers on any of my accounts. my clients leave it up to me on how to handle the snow or ice. thats the way i set up all my contracts. it all depends on your customers. i dont think i could deal with mrs. x calling me up and yelling at me why i cleaned 2.90" of snow, when she has a 3" trigger. and vice versa
  16. Sno

    Sno Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    Dont know about anyone else but I found anything over a 3" trigger a waist of time and a pain in the rear and it's usually because they dont have the money to begin with.

    I usually just tell them I'd be happy to do it, just call me when they are ready.

    I just have a hard time measuring snow and plowing at the same time, then trying to remember someone who only gets plowed once or twice a year and wondering if they still own the place or if they are even still alive when I send the bill.

    When we get 4" I'm busy enough with scheduled customers and call ins that I dont want to have to worry about remembering someone on a 4" triger.

    To exagerate it a bit, why not schedule a 14" trigger.

    Might be 3 years before you plow it, just to find out someone else now owns it and didnt want it plowed.


    I guarantee, you would be the last to know....
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2002