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help with customers

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Dent82, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. Dent82

    Dent82 Member
    Messages: 43

    The other night we got a little over 3" in about an hour and a half at around 8 p.m.

    The snow was very light and dry.

    I went out and plowed most of my accounts and had two customers call and complain saying they are not going to pay.

    Their reasoning: All the snow was blown away and melted before they got up for work the next day. And they don't believe that we got three inches.

    Any way to prove it to them? Local weather station is across the river and received only a light dusting. (which is why I didn't plow all of my accounts)

    Any experience and/or suggestions in defusing these situations?
  2. carl b

    carl b PlowSite.com Addict
    from Ohio
    Messages: 1,330

    Drop those customers, they can't afford you obviously, Gotta leave some work for those low ballers.
  3. Dent82

    Dent82 Member
    Messages: 43

    Well this is my first full season. Hate to drop people when we only get about 4 snowfalls a year.
  4. kkls2006

    kkls2006 Member
    Messages: 33

    With only 4 plows a year if they don't want to pay the bill you should tell them to take a hike!!!!!

    What do you think they will tell you if they get 10+ and you don't show up????
  5. StratfordPusher

    StratfordPusher Senior Member
    Messages: 960

    When in doubt

    Been there, done that...... let them off the 1 st time.... next time if there
    is a next time, bill them for them both since they are now scamming you..

  6. payton

    payton Senior Member
    Messages: 470

    small digital camera- and a tape messure.. start taking pics b4 plowing..

    most cell phones have cameras now. its saved my ass a few times.. espically when its the difference between 2-4 and 4-6

    we had close to 5 inchs. the customer said he only had 3 at his house. and there was no way there was 5 at the bussiness addy. i simply emailed him a pic of the tape messure in the snow in front of his bussiness. he shut up and paid'd up.
  7. DJ Contracting

    DJ Contracting PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,392

    Tape & camera

    But seeing how they started complaing already then I would drop them, give them plenty of notice hopefully after they pay and wish them good luck the next time you get a big storm.
    I just dealt with that with one customer that complained about the $35.00 I was charging for the past three years and wanted to know if I could lower my prices, I told him nicely that I would not change my prices and told him he was more than welcome to shovel his own drive. By the way I still have the account.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  8. GrandScapes

    GrandScapes Senior Member
    Messages: 189

    accuweather.com will show how much snow actually fell. We use it all the time when our 2" accounts try to claim there was not 2" that fell. sometimes were wrong and we take the hit but most of the time were good.
  9. Dailylc

    Dailylc Senior Member
    Messages: 226

    Had a customer question how much was on the ground when we plowed. Finally agreed on a price together but also told him he would have to be present before we plowed from now on if he would not take our word for it. If that meant he had to be there at 3 am so be it.Well he decided to take our word for it and has referred us to several new customers. Just work it out.:dizzy:
  10. Mick

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

    In the time I've been plowing, I've only had one customer act like that. It was lady who moved here from Georgia and had never seen snow before. The first time, I was patient with her. The second time, I helped her find someone else. My customers trust me because I go around before most of them are even awake. If they're not going to trust me, they won't be a customer.
  11. Young Pup

    Young Pup PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,522

    I am curious, when you were done with the driveway, did you have any piles or rows of snow? I mean did you have fresh layered snow in spots where they should have been able to tell that it had snowed. If so did you point that out to them?
  12. lawnMaster5000

    lawnMaster5000 Senior Member
    Messages: 105

  13. Jakkle5

    Jakkle5 Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 39

    Unless it was like 60 the next morning theres no way 3" of snow no matter how fluffy it was completely disappeared. Theres something missing from either side of this story.
  14. Dent82

    Dent82 Member
    Messages: 43

    Thanks for the help everyone. The sites everyone posted would be very helpful, however they all reside on the other side of the Illinois river. The weather (especially precipitation) can be dramatically different. Yes you could tell I plowed. When I said that the snow had dissipated or blown away I meant to the extent that it looked like we only got 2" max

    I am definitely going to carry my camera for situations like this again.

    Do you take a picture at every location before you plow?
  15. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Only take pictures at the places you think will give you problems.
  16. payton

    payton Senior Member
    Messages: 470

    cheap digital camera and a rule only takes about a min to snap a pic. take pics at each location. once billing is done if theres no issues and everything is paid. delete pics.. no big deal its a quick and cheap insurance on snow amount.

    hell most cell phones have cameras in them.. snap a pic and email it to them if need be.
  17. Mick

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

    If you have to go through all that, I'd question that they're worth having. I'd expect them to accuse you of having broken off so many inches of the ruler. No "insurance" to it. They either trust you or they don't.
  18. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    I feel that customers are worth keeping, you can fight over this one bill for this one storm and maybe you'll win so you'll get your $30 from the customer, but lose him as a continued customer. The way I have always done it is that if the customer is unhappy with my work for what ever reason I will not charge him for that storm! I have found if I come right out and say that to start with, the customer is much more likely to say "well okay I'll split it with you this time" now he goes away very happy, we didn't have to fight, he doesn't have a bad taste in his mouth. And I know if it's gonna be a marginal storm I may skip him. Eventually I learned what each of my customers expects, and they learned that I'm not out to screw them, and that I wanna keep them for the long term.
    If this is your first year plowing then you need to learn how to make each of your customers happy, by fulfilling their expectations, and you need to train them! First off if the snow did melt overnight then I would not expect them to pay, why did you plow them if it was going to melt. I understand that we can't always know what's going to happen. Keeping a customer is a lot easier than getting new ones. If I could get a customer for $30 I think it's a good deal. After you argue with this guy and make him pay you think he's going to keep you? Do you think he will recommend you to his neighbors? How many future storms of 3 inches where the snow did not melt are you going to lose.

    You are providing service to the customer, they're not there for your benefit.
    Just my two cents worth
  19. KINNCO

    KINNCO Senior Member
    Messages: 256

    Man I had the same happen to me at a "senior center"of all places
    Now wouldn't you think a "senior center" would want the drive and lot cleared for the older folks with walkers and such?? DUH no brainer. I pusher all the snow to the other end of the lot the next time. I am still going to charge them for that visit...whether or not I get paid....time will tell. It's a good paying job and I'm gonna get 'too pissed"...just a little:realmad:
  20. Dent82

    Dent82 Member
    Messages: 43

    Settled for half price. The worst thing about it is they are family friends. They should know I'm not trying to screw them. Also, when we got dumped with 13 inches of snow they made a comment about me being 15 minutes later then I said I would be. If they keep acting like this the next big snow I am going to push it all in front of their garage door.