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Feel like I'm gouging

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Mick, Jan 19, 2003.

  1. Mick

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

    We got 1" (or less) of light and fluffy last night. I've posted before about a private road I have that the owners want "anything" plowed/sanded and have told me to use my own judgement. Well, they weren't here today. I suppose in MA or CT. Usually, he would use his garden tractor and plow on something like that.

    The road has a couple of little hills that they were especially concerned about. There are a couple of other people who have camps on this road and were here today. This snow is the type that can get packed down and real slick. Anyway, I plowed ONE INCH of new snow that hadn't been driven on. Then get the Vbox and sand (sand/salt mix) the road (7/10s of a mile). I thought about sanding without plowing, but they'd still have snow packing down on top of the sand. This way the sand is packed into the snowpack. Also, besides telling me to use my own judgement, he's said that "you really need to stay on top of it" - to keep it from getting closed in. Salt/Magic are not options.

    Anyway, nobody else plowed at all today. Town and State trucks didn't even go out.

    Still feel like I was gouging. What I did was only charge 1/2 rate for a plow and full rate for sanding. Sent them an email about what I'd done and why. Like I told them when I started plowing for them and in the email - them getting in and out safely is the top concern.

    Kind of an unusual situation for me and wanted to get any opinions - whether you think I was right or wrong.
  2. jpl

    jpl Member
    from ct.
    Messages: 39


    My opinion you did the right thing. Better to be safe than sorry. I have a customer (very large warehouse property) that I use my discression on when to plow or not to plow. He really does'nt like it plowed under an inch but if i do plow it I normally only bill him 1/2 price. He never complained about it and in the long run he is appriciative because we never had a slip & fall on his property.
  3. Highpoint

    Highpoint Senior Member
    Messages: 241

    Did they tell you they would not be there? Ignorance is bliss. You did your job. Send them the bill! Rock and Roll snow!!!
  4. Mick

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

    No, they never tell me when they come and go, going to be there or gone, for how long etc. Although I've suggested that they do so I can be sure and have it open when they get here. The one directive he gave me when I started was that he wanted his wife to be able to get in or out, anytime day or night, with her 2wd van. The only thing I can figure is to make sure it stays plowed and bill them. So far all comments have been positive (Earlier this month, they decided to drive up in the middle of a snowstorm. She told her husband "I'm sure glad we've got Mick plowing for us".) No kidding, they got here just after I'd plowed 8" and then another 6" fell after they got here. Got a note with thier check this month - "Good Job".

    I guess it's just plowing one inch and being the only plow guy to do anything today.

    Thanks for the reassurance.:waving: :drinkup:
  5. lamarbur

    lamarbur Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    To answer your question, Ma/CT do they?
    We aren't called out until 3 inches minimum. We've had a lot of 1 inchers. We lay sand down and let the vehicles "meal" it up. Most times it works, sometimes not. I suppose if they tell you, stay on top, then you did the right thing. Personally, I wouldn't go out with a plow, most likely sand it though.
  6. Arc Burn

    Arc Burn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,141

    I do a homeowners assoc. with 11 homes and 2 miles of road,this gets plowed when ever there is accumulation,i am often the only guy in town with the plow on sometimes but this is what they want so this is what they get,i have reduced the price sometimes on minimal snowfalls but i go no matter what.
  7. fordman

    fordman Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Mick sounds like under the circumstances you made the right call.
  8. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Defintely the right call,better safe than sorry,You need to keep access for emergency vehicles too,especially with the hill being steep.
  9. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    You were right.
    Others were wrong.
    Take the money.

    DYNA PLOW Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    Mick, i plow 1" snowfalls all the time, as you said if you didn't plow and the temps don't warm up then it gets driven on you get ice. Good call Mick, as John said take the money!
  11. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    The fact that you're second guessing yourself proves you still have a conscience about the business though. This is a good thing.
  12. mowahman

    mowahman Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    These people are paying for your judgement and your services. Do not feel guilty if you are following the scope of services that they request. Know how you feel, I've had similar battles with my conscience also. But, in the long run, my gut instinct is what I rely on and comfortable with. Send the bill, you earned it.
  13. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279


    The last three so-called events we've had (1.5" or less) I have went out and plowed 7 of my 22 res. customers. Yes I felt kind of silly plowing that little amount but these people have made it clear that they want "0" tolerance so I plow, do walks, salt and charge them for a full service in the 0-5 price range. I don't feel silly anymore. Invoices have been paid no questions asked and no complaints. I use to call first but I swear it sounded as if I was bothering them so no more phone calls. It's up to me to make the call. I would love to do my whole route but the other 15 are a 2" trigger and will deal with a covering on their drive & walks.

    Plow it and charge them.

  14. OffRoadPlow

    OffRoadPlow Senior Member
    Messages: 247

    Lesson learned.

    You did the right thing, even if they did not want it. Bill it full. If they have a problem with what you did have them set a trigger, at least you will know. If I am told it's at my judgement, they will see the same amount of road when I am done if it's 1", 4", or more. Full price each push, you did about the same amount of work if there was 2",,, Don't sweat it, you were in the right.

    Messages: 63

    It's funny you posted this thread.It's almost 4am and I just got back from plowing my big account (a medical building) which has a 1" trigger. We got exactly 1" tonight, but it was really windy. Many parts of the lot were under the 1". I struggled for 5 to 10 minutes trying to decide what was best to do (should I plow, should I just do an ice control application and save them a little money? ) I too didn't want to feel like I was taking advantage of them.The only other plows I saw out were at the hospital and a few city plows. Well I went ahead and plowed and salted and I was very happy I did and I think they will be also when they come in tomorrow morning. It's an hourly account, so it didn't take nearly as long as usual, and for what they will get billed I consider it to be "cheap insurance" when you consider the price of a law suit. I definitely think you made the right call-sounds like your customer has high expectations and you took care of them. :)
  16. NoStockBikes!!

    NoStockBikes!! Senior Member
    Messages: 213

    Interesting conundrum. On the one hand you wanna do the right thing, on the other hand you don't want to set a bad precedent that will have them looking for discounts every time it snows but "not that much" I think it if went significantly faster than normal, and it was below normal trigger, you're perfectly justified in discounting. From a business plowing perspective, doing that sub trigger job for a discount leaves you money and conscience ahead of staying home on the couch watching I Love Lucy reruns waiting for some real snow to come along.

    Many years back I was talking to a retired cop, and he had a little quote that I think I will always remember. It was his little rule of thumb for everything. "Is it fair, and is it reasonable?" If you can answer yes to both of those questions, then you should be able to feel good about doing whatever it is.
  17. Mick

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


    I thought maybe some might be interested in how this turned out. I plowed again Monday and they still here. I'd sent them an email last week explaining what I'd done and why. Got this email response tonight:

    That's OK, when I'm away I leave the decisions up to you! We are back now, and the proud Grandparents of a Baby Girl, 7.9oz, 21", blue eyes, brownish hair, healthy, and the Apple of our eyes. Thank you, Roger.
  18. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    The funny thing is you spent some of your time & consciousness working on this issue, and even got us involved thinking about it. But it wasn't even an issue in their minds LOL, they had more important things to worry about. (And this is how it should be for our customers, that's why they hire a pro to handle these services) BTW IMO you did the right thing based on what you wrote that the customers gave you as triggers & their expectations. Though I'm not sure that the discount was warranted, mainly because you never know if you may suddenly get a weather pattern that brings you several 1" Martha Stewart snows. (we are going to have our 7th such event of the past 3 weeks tonight LOL) You would then have a customer expecting a discount for those, when maybe the particular situations don't warrant the discount. But I can also look at it from the aspect that, hey, this particular customer's overly cautious triggers resulted in me having a little plow work on a day when there was none. So the discount is really a nice thank you for that, in my eyes.
  19. Doctordo

    Doctordo Member
    Messages: 50

    Mick all of my contracts are for 2 " but if that is what the customer wants then you are the best to judge.
  20. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Ive done the same thing Mick,then when its over you feel like (I was worred over nothing).Wel glad it turned out good.They trust your judgement, you must have earned their trust somewhere along the line.