Don't know if I'll make it!


Senior Member
Today has been a very bad day. I got a phone call from two accounts saying they got someone else to do there plowing. This makes me mad because I gave them the contract last week and they said they would sign it and give me the first cheque today. I don't know if I'm going to be able to surrive the winter without these accounts. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can get more customers. It's propably a little late in the season to pick up any new commercial accounts now. And does anyone know how I can pervent this from happening again? I have two other contracts out there waiting to be signed. What should I do to make sure I get these?

GeoffD Veteran
It is probably not to later. There will be people looking for someone to plow up to the first storm. Granted they are not number 1 accounts but better than no income.

In the mean time, advertise, talk to the other plow guys, some may have too much work, or are getting tons of calls.

How to prevent this, talk to the customers earlier, talk to them in august. If they don't have your contract by october 1st you have waited to long. I get my first set of payments on december 1st.

BTW most plow guys are easy to get along with, and are always willing to help a fellow plower.


SlimJim Z71 Addict
Cary, IL
I just had that happen too. It was one account at an apartment building that was $200 a month guaranteed income. They're going to stick with the guy that did it last year. Bummer. Well... there's always the people that will flag you down. You KNOW you can make a decent amount of money with those. Especially is rich neighborhoods.



Western CT
Wait till after a storm or two they will probably be unsatisfied and come back to you. I have had this happen multiple times. I take the customer back but the contract often changing because I no longer offer the preseason contract. Do what you have to in order to survive. Pick up some residential drives. They don't bring in hug amounts but a few can pay for some of your costs. Good Luck!!!
The Great Sales Charade!

The sooner I accept that 80% of the prospects I am talking to are being dishonest, the further ahead I will be.

What we as contractors represent to many new prospects is an opportunity to scare their current contractor into performing better service, cutting their price, etc. Many times, we are not being dealt with "in good faith."

The more the job is worth, the bigger the liar that awards it from my experience. I just have to hope that eventually they will be leading someone else down the rosy path and accepting my contract.

Once your business gets established, contracting is a game of musical chairs. When the music stops, you try to get a seat. Everyone has a little different view every season if they are able to snag a seat.

My solution is this. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. This is a numbers game. I have found rather than putting out 100 estimates taking four hours apiece to prepare, prepare 200 and spend half as much time with them. (Theoretical numbers, but the point is spend less time per estimate and distribute more estimates.)

It is unbelievable how many sales calls it can possibly take to a single prospective customer to get him/her to tell you, "I'm sorry Mr. Smith, but we are going to stay with our current contractor." All the while they know they aren't going with your company and don't have the intestinal fortitude to say, "thanks, but no."

I had a $10,000 per year account (snow and lawncare combined) that I had spent a lot of time trying to acquire. After repeatedly giving them numbers in the exact formats they requested, the guy tells me his partner said she wouldn't agree to any change in contractors, regardless of price, since they had been doing business with their current contractor for 10 years.

What the hell did the guy waste my time for if that was the case??? It happens all the time and you have to move on. Know what I did as soon as I found out??? I went and measured some new properties that I want to acquire. Redirect and full steam ahead!

Good luck, and don't let 'em get you down!

Also- It benefits to plan ahead. Now is not the time to be thinking about scheduling new work IMHO. Now is really the time to be doing or preparing for the work you sold this summer or earlier. I'm starting to think seasons ahead. This may not be necessary for you, but it may be something to look at.

I can't wait until it snows here so I can see what type of job the competition does. I will be trying to sell snow removal for 2001-2002 season to the ones getting shoddy service. Just a thought.




2000 Club Member
I have to agree that you may have started a little to late, we had all ouyr contracts out by mid sept, and 1/2 were in by mid october. The Johnny come latelies were all in last week when we had the threat of snow. But the point is my contract was at the top of their pilenot my competitions. Also follow up follow up follow up. Bug them to death, sometimes they sign just to not have to hear you on the phone.

i agree with dino NEVER let them forget witch one you are even if you do not get it find out why and go at it again next year it is relentless and dissapointing until you send out the bills then its all worth it

John Allin Addict
Erie, PA
Ok, ok, so he was late getting them out. That doesn't solve his immediate problem - and he's asked for our help as to what to do now.

Let's stop beating him up and help him.

Here in Erie, we look for a couple small guys to refer work to. We don't like doing residential, so we refer that off. The first big storm brings loads of calls to us from potential residentials. We have two guys that we refer these off to. One has given us a cell phone number that we hand out to these inquiries. This dude (last year) picked up 75 residentials just from our referrals.

Now... we know that residentials might not be the best type customer, but you're up against it.

Don't be afraid to call the largest 2 plowing contractors (or, better yet, go visit them) and ask for referrals from work they don't want, or cannot take on. Most large contractors don't want to look bad to potential customers by just hanging up on them, and if they can refer work off to another (smaller) contractor it just makes them look good in the eyes (ears) of the caller. If the contractor doesn't want to do this, try to explain the benefits of him referring work to you. He looks good, you'll take care of the customer, and you may refer work to the large contractor if you get an inquiry that you cannot possibly handle because of the current size of your company.

Once the referral comes in, you can charge a higher fee knowing that they are looking (usually during a storm) for a plower RIGHT NOW. Then, if they fit into your geographical market area, present them with a contract 'on the spot' for a seasonal rate - and tell them they should sign up RIGHT NOW and give you a deposit check (after they pay you for this one time plowing).

I'm sure others can make some suggestions too. If not, I've got a couple more.


Senior Member
I did the very same thing for a buddy of mine 11 years ago.

He bought a truck/plow in mid-December and called me for work. I was all set at the time, but pretty well connected to many local contractors.

Within 1 day I had so much plowing lined up for him, he actually had to turn some work down.

Maybe wasn't the "gravy" work, but got him off to a great start. (Now if I could get him to stop competing with me. ;))


Senior Member
I actually phoned a bigger contractor today. He said he needs help for clearing sidewalks for 5 of his townhouse complexes. He is picking up a ATV tommorrow with a small plow and said I could use this. He had someone lined up to do it. The guy also plows 3 of his accounts and does some other side walks. This would take him at least 9-10 hours with 2 other guy's helping. The guy said he had 2 other guys but everytime the contractor wanted to meet the 2 other guys he had an exuse where they were every time. Found out today there are no 2 other guys. He wanted everything for himself. I have to meet the contractor tommorrow morning. What should I do about charging him. Should I charge him by the hour?


Senior Member
Good Job!

I would go with an hourly rate. Think about how your accounts will have to fit in. At this time of year the person you'll be working for should be very happy to have a dependable person to count on.

what you explained earlier has happened, or will happen to all of us with landscaping or plowing. Try not to take it personal. I know it's very hard not to be mad and a little scared, especially if these were your big money makers this year. Remember, don't burn any bridges -- if you are not too mad send them a letter and thank them for the opportunity to bid -- then keep an eye out and see what kind of work they're getting. If they are "honestly" getting less than you could offer, stay in touch with them and let them know you are anxious to bid again next year. Whatever you do, don't be mad at the person who is going to do the work; you'll be on his end one day.

Anyway, we are all glad you got some work. And remember, when you the big guy, don't forget how your felt and remember to give the little guy some work! good luck.

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