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early am snow.

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by John Mac, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Thought I would post this just to see what you guys think. I have a contract with a warehouse complex that has 4 tenets in it and I plow for the owner of the complex that bills it back to the tenants. My contract says that I will plow " seven days a week, by 7am, when there is 2" or more of snow accumulation". Dec 30 we get .80" (not even 2” but a lot of blowing snow) of snow during the day so I go that night and plow lot between 1am and 4:30 am. The first 2 hours I move banks back and the rest I plow complete parking area. The forecast for the night was "trace to 3" by 6am". At 4:30am as I am pulling out of the parking lot to go to my next lot it starts to snow 2" per hour. I plow one of my other lots and go back to this one in questions at 7am and plow driving lanes the best I could and leave to go to a second lot I did at 4:30am to plow the driving lanes there, mind you still have not made it to my third lot yet. It is snowing 2" per hour so we have at least 6" on the ground. The owner of the property drives to the second lot that I am doing and pulls in behind me just as I was backing up so I stop, didn't know it was him so I am like WTF until he rolls his window down and asked me why I am not at his parking lot. I get out of my truck and walk up to his passenger side window and say " I was there but obviously we are having a blizzard and I can go back" He says " my tenets are complaining, they could cancel their lease blah, blah, blah. I say "I don't what that, I will be right back. I do the best can at the drug store that I was at, which by the way requires zero tolerance and pays by the hour for it and by the ton for salt. I go back to the first parking lot at around 9am for the third time and plow the complete parking lot, not just the driving lanes, for the second time in 5 hours. Just to make this even more difficult this parking lot has 5 loading docks and all the snow has to be pulled out from the docks ( with skid steer) and building and pushed into one pile at the end of property very hard to do with trucks and cars in the lot, and 10“ of snow. That day I receive a letter by fax saying that I wasn’t following our agreement by not having lot cleared by 7am. I sent a letter back but before I get into what I wrote in it what do you guys think? We received 10” by 11am that day and forecasted trace to 3
  2. 6feetdeep

    6feetdeep Senior Member
    Messages: 141

    Sounds like you two need to amend some wording in your contract. There is no way in h3!! you can GUARANTEE things will be cleared by 7am, unless you are the good lord Jesus Christ. Especially w/ the weather we have been having this year, most of our storms have come in fast and furious starting at 6am. I would have to seriously re-consider things if that were one of my customers.
  3. plownoob

    plownoob Senior Member
    from ny
    Messages: 128

    tough contract. Guy really is holding you to it. Blizzard clause?
  4. I agree with 6feetdeep

    Having a "time guarantee" is the most impossible thing to live up to. All of my clients ask for 7am and I tell them all no way in hell will I commit to that. We never know when its going to snow, how much its going to snow or when its going to stop. Amend that contract before you start seeing invoices not getting paid...
  5. 6feetdeep

    6feetdeep Senior Member
    Messages: 141

    I just re-read you post, this guy probably has one of the tenants refusing to pay him. They probably have some agreement between them, that you dont know the details. And b/c you didn't get the snow removed, his tenant is going to hold him to THEIR agreement, and he will be out the money. He is probably just trying to save some dough on his end.
  6. snowman55

    snowman55 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,071

    whats the problem you plowed it at 700a what does your contract say after that? most of ours call for an open up every 4" of accumulation during stroms. open ups take about 1/4 the time so an 8 hr route should get opened every 4" even at 2" hr.

    If you sign a contract for every 2" you better dedicate a truck to that lot

    Never tell anyone about forcast or make excuses. state the facts it sounds like you followed the contract. offer to change the specs along with the price.

    Get another truck. you have to be prepared for the blizzard even if its only every couple years. you are selling assurance to the property owner that winter conditions will not enhibit his business. I love big storms I always pick up accounts because others fall down.
  7. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    I agree with you guys. This is the second year I have done this property. I don't think he is trying to beat me out of money but if he does I have a clause in my contract that he has to pay me a pro-rated rate if we part ways. I will be looking for a contract for next year to replace this one. My letter back to him basically said that his tenant's were expecting service in a time frame that was above and beyond what was achievable.
  8. snowman55

    snowman55 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,071

    This is America anything is achievable. It may have been above contract specs. Upsell!
  9. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Snowman, he wasn't looking for a "open up". I love how some of you guys have all the answers though.
    I signed a contract that says 2" before 7am.

    Get another truck, hire another guy, buy a loader, hire the national guard, I mean come on I have been doing this long enough that I have never lost an account to anyone because I fell down. I will go out tomorrow and buy a truck just for this lot just in case we get 2' on Monday. I will have to set up a little tent so I can have a guy sleep at the property 24/7 just in case. Snowman wonder what kind of up-sale that would be?
  10. I agree with you John Mac. Buying another truck just for this contract would probably put you in the negative for income. That wouldn't be a wise business decision.

    I do want to say something a little of topic. You mention setting up a tent... lol

    There is a contract here I know the guy that does it. The contract is huge, pays $600,000 per season flat rate and has a zero snow accumulation tolerance. They also require a guy on the property 24/7 just in case... lol
  11. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Drivewaydoc, for $600,000 I would sleep in the tent! Casino's do this I think and they have the money. This contract was for a little less than that. I plan on doing the best job possible for this guy and if I can find another for next year than drop this one. I can guarantee that he would had the same result if not worse, from any one of my fellow plow competitors on this one. I just wanted to vent so thanks for your response.
  12. Yeah its a hospital actually...

    And you gave the guy better service than I would have. You did two lots twice before doing one of your lots once... He would have taken a number and got in line if it was me...
  13. snowman55

    snowman55 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,071

    My point was what does your contract say about plowing during a storm? You offer zero tolerance with 1 truck? zero tolerance to me means no snow. my zero accounts have a truck dedicated to them . and yes we are monitering them 24 hrs a day seven days a week. Its an upsell "zero tolerance" continual service from start to end of snowfall.

    you 1 truck guys take on commercail accounts and zero tolerance accounts promise the world and when the shat hits the fan you say its "not acheivable", then come on a forum looking for sympathy.

    I was a 1 truck outfit also but I didn't add commercail accts until I had the capital to service them even in a blizzard. If you can't afford the capital investment to ensure you meet your contract obligations then you are not charging enough.
  14. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    Well, I have never had that exact problem. I have had problems where my contract says "we make our best attempt to clear the lot of snow by 7:00 AM" and a couple places I do verbally insisted that it is cleared no matter what by 7. Ok, so its in the beginning of the snow storm around 5 30 to 6 am, there is an inch or so of snow on the ground, so I plow it before 7 to make sure the lot is prefectly clear for everyone comming in at 7 and they complain about how now I'll have to bill them for that extra push when the snow wasn't at our trigger amount of 2 inches... So the next time this senario happened with the same account, I left it untill after 7 when we met our trigger amount of 2 inches, but before that even happened I got a complaint call...:dizzy: Now I just do it before 7 whether the trigger is met or not, it costs them more, but its the only way their tenants won't complain.

    Knock on wood, most the people I deal with are very reasonable people and understand how it is and are very happy with everything. But we'll all run into those people who should just get a heated parking lot or something lol..

    Good luck

    and snowman, what do you do in your off season?
  15. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Snowman, I didn't promise "zero Tolerence" on this account. You mention that you have a dedicated truck for each account, just out of curiosity how much would service like that cost the customer per season? One truck one operator one customer. Any sympathy you can offer I would appreciate it.
  16. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    I hate putting times in contracts, but our competitors do. I am looking at adding a best effort clause to cover untimely heavy snowfalls.

    Sounds like this guy may just be breakin balls to be a sqeauky wheel... his tenants are doing it to him for sure. People are unreasonable, and if the snow is above their wing-tips the get worked up.

    Wait a few days and call him up to review your detailed service logs which will show you serviced as promised. he more than likely just wanted to vent and it is not an issue anymore.

    I am guilty of getting worked up and defensive when customers complain... better to listen, digest, and ask for time to review your service records. Then, call them back and calmy lead the horse to water and they will probably drink.
  17. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Big Acres thanks for your post, that is very good advise and agree 100%. This did blow over but at the time I was worked up. Thank you for not writing, like a post before you that I was looking for sympathy, I didn't make a big enough investment, didn't know how to quote work or do a sufficient job and basically no one knows more about snowplowing than you. ( snowman55).
  18. snowman55

    snowman55 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,071

    johnny mac. you asked for advice. you don't have to like it or take it. It is how I see it. every one on here complains about the low baller. not calling you one but the fact is you need the capital to provide the service you contract for., and you need to charge enough to have that capital available. Answer to your question $30000 gets you a dedicated truck for zero tolerance.you did not include a copy of your contract so I could only guess as to what it entails. If you followed the contract state so. If you didn't figure out why and come up with solutions. maybe find a guy who can help you out in a big snow if you don't want to add equipment.

    see it all the time even from my own guys : "didn't know", "wasn't forcast", "it's alot of snow", "I broke down" etc. fact is we are paid to cover it no matter what. that is what makes us professionals, and why you see pricing from $45/hr to $200/ hr.
  19. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Snowman, thanks for the post. This contract is a little less than $30,000 ( about a third) and if it was I would put a truck at the site. I bet even you couldn't sell it $30,000 either, even with a truck 24/7. As for my request for advise, wasn't really looking for that, I know what I can and can't do. I was venting more than anything, and just seeing if others have ran into the same situation, customers that demand more than they deserve. You mention capital, I am well aware of the capital it takes for snow plowing, it is far smaller than what I have invested in my summer work. Excavating is my summer work so the dollars involved in that are quite a bit larger, even if I had 10 brand new trucks. Were I live we can get 150" a year so snow plowing is little different than locations that get 40" or 50" a year.
  20. REAPER

    REAPER 2000 Club Member
    from 60050
    Messages: 2,230

    Skipping past the BS. Your 1st sentence was asking us what we think. Here is my reply to that.

    Apologize to the guy. Tell him you will do a better job in the future and ask if there is any suggestion he has to more fine tune his plowing needs.

    Listen to what he says then thank him for taking the time to talk to you.
    Next storm look at it as more money. Explanations to the customer do nothing when in their mind they are right and paying you for a job.

    Smile and say"Thank You can I have another" and send him his bill. payup