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I hate cheap customers!! (long)

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Plow Meister, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    I have been plowing this small strip mall for two years now. I let the guy originally talk me down from $125.00 to $90.00 because it was right down the street from another account and I knew I could bang it out real quick. Anyway, I get a call from the owners MOM asking me why the plowing was so expensive and why I was charging her for salt! I tried to explain to her that she had 1/2" of ice on the entire lot and it was in her best interest that I salt. That is what she pays me for. Plus, I gave her a break on the salt. I normally charge $7.00 per 50# bag spread but I set her up with 10 bags for $50.00. It then snowed later that night and I had to plow her out for the next morning with an additional fee of $90.00 which was my usual fee. She was pissed that I salted the day before and plowed later that night then charged her for both.

    To make matters worse she also complained about my new bill which was for the plowing over the last big storm when we had over 36" of snow. In my contract it states that anything over 8" I charge and additional fee and anything over 12" constitutes a "Blizzard" and therefore gets charged a flat fee per hour per truck. I was again a nice guy and still charged her the 8" to 12" price even thought I could have charged her way more. I had to plow 2 times... Once on the 22nd and again on the 23rd so the lot would be open for business the following days. She complained that we plowed snow up against the front of the building where the entrance doors are located. COME ON! HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK I AM?!?!?!? There WAS a ton of drifting snow on the walk where the doors are but it isn't in my contract to do the walkway(s). That was an agreement me and the property owner made in order to lower the price on the contract. It even states so in the contract that I will not touch the sidewalk. The sb that did the job even took his blade about a foot into the sidewalk to help remove some of the snow on the walkway. I know this because I went to check on the lot later. When I saw it the customers had already burrowed paths to their respective storefronts. It was clearly drifting snow which we were NOT responsible for. She says the tennants took photos to prove we pushed snow on the walk. I told her "Good! When you look at the pictures you will see that the snow in question is drifting snow." I then told her how long I was in business and only a complete MORON would do as she claims.

    Basically, she is trying to get out of paying her bill because she has 2 empty spaces and the income isn't as it should be. There are 8 or so businesses there. Take the cost of the snow plowing and divide that into the number of tennants and it's only about $40.00 per tennant; not too bad if you ask me! For a normal plow event it would equate to about $12.00 per tennant. Come on! If she gives me any more problems I will just tell her to pay me and find another plow contractor. I have had it with this guy and his "mom"! No more favors. I charge XXX much. If you don't like it than find another contractor.

    Off soapbox.
  2. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Gotta love it when you do favours for people and it bites you in the a$$.... I have given up on doing things like that for people, I have more than enough buiness that I don't need to lower the price to get more.

    I feel your pain.
  3. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,257

    We have had the same problem with drifting snow. You try to do them a favour and you move the snow on top of the pile and it looks like you pushed it there. We will never try to move a drift that is not on the parking lot. Once bitten twice shy. They can move ALL the snow now. For the good customers that understand we do the little extra but there are not many of them.
  4. gt_racer50

    gt_racer50 Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 484

    Was that a typo on the $7 per 50# bag of salt spread? If so, isn't that a little on the low side? What is the competition charging? I think that you could get more than that. I hate to see you losing money on salt. I mean salt is $3 plus some per bag. I'd say you gave her a hell of a deal. For 10 bags of salt the price around here would be at least $230. Let them go out and spread 500# of salt with a Scotts spreader, and see how soon they want to do it again.. I know it's probably too late this year, but maybe you could rethink the price for next year. I just hate to see someone lose money.
  5. pbeering

    pbeering Senior Member
    Messages: 266

    I feel your pain. Happened here in Indy 12-23.

    2 suggestions:

    1. Digital camera. Besides the rave reviews from your colleagues here, you'll have evidence to show him/her/them.

    2. Send one or two of the photos with a note,(E-mail??) "hey Mr./Mrs./Ms Knucklehead, this is what we found at your place. Under the contract we would be legally entitled to charge x, but because we value/love/whatever you, we have discounted the service to y. We have also discounted our salt application to $x dollars, even though the market rate for this service is $18-30/50# bag spread."

    Yours Very Truly,

    Ace Snow Removal

    A wise baker once told me to never do a favor without the recipient knowing you did it.

    Now I realize I will get flamed for suggesting such a discount, but times are hard all around our fair state, and I'd rather keep a customer than wish I had.
  6. gt_racer50

    gt_racer50 Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 484

    We all do favors, or at least I do. I pulled into a driveway the other day just up the road, to deliver a bill, I had just plowed it the day beforem however it had some drifts. I was pulling in anyway, so I dropped the plow. No big deal, I mow her lawn, landscape, do her leaves, and whatever else. She is a neighbor, just lost her husband last year. You have to do a little extra once in a while, it's just good business. It shows that you care, ownership, and you are not just out for the money. Warm fuzzies I call it. It usually gets paid back in bunches. If it doesn't, just remember it for the future. It's a two way street as I see it, if it ends up being a one way street, then I remember it and don't go out of my way in the future. Yes digital cameras are the t**s aren't they, they sure can cya.
  7. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    Ya know, normally I take pics of every event. I stopped doing it this year for whatever reason.

    As far as $7.00 per bag spread goes... I would certainly not pay $200.00+ for some goof to spread some salt on my property when the salt alone only cost $3.50 per bag. That's $35.00 for salt and, with your numbers, almost $200.00 inlabor. Even if you were to do it with a small lawn fertilizer it woul dhave only taken about 20 minutes or so. Way too much money for labor. My $7.00 per bag is basically double the cost. Since I am at the property anyway it's no big deal for me. It moreso helps insure the safety of the patrons as well as helps reduce the chances of a slip-n-fall.
  8. fernalddude

    fernalddude PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,106

    pm you got to remember your in the removal business but its your time and labor to store and apply the product i charge 8 bucks a bag but 65 a hour to apply. You have to add in all the cost of storage lifting and truck cost plus if you have to store it for the summer and any cost down the road like bad back and injury you or help my receive. Hey don't do favors they are the worst customers they think they got you from the first.They ***** the most if it were me i would charge then what the contract says and place a late fee on any bill not in at the due time and if they don't plow them in during the next snow to prove a point ...... :waving:
  9. DJ Contracting

    DJ Contracting PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,392

    I had two customers this year do that to me, I dropped them both, only to pick up one customer that i plow for twice the amount of both them. I got tired of wasting time arguing, oh by the way this new customer paid within three days of receiving the invoice.
  10. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    While I appreciate your comments, I think you should know a little more about me before you attempt to tell me what my time and materials are worth. I have been in the business full time (winters) for 7 years and operating plow equipment for over 10 years. I own 3 trucks and sub out up to 10 trucks to help me with my accounts. The accounts I personally do are the ones I prefer to call "difficult" be it from picky customers or pain in the rear lots. I keep a tailgate spreader on my truck because it is easier for me to deal with. I have a V-box and two of the subs that work for me also carry V-boxes. I go through about 15 tons of salt on any one event.
    I am fully aware what business I am in. I know what bagged salt costs me and I know what my labor costs me as well. Out here there is no way in hell that someone is going to pay me $200.00 to I mostly use the tailgate spreader as a back up or when I don't want to pull another truck off of a route just to come and do a lot that's out of his way. I don't advertise so all my accounts I have earned through word of mouth. I have earned a solid reputation and I achieved that by occasionally helping out the people that need it the most. Sure, I get paid for what I do but I also pay my subs very well as member clncut can attest. I can afford to pay so well because my customers pay me top dollar for the impecable service I (we) provide. I don't cut corners. I don't over bill. I am one of the few honest businessmen left in the world.

    With that said, it simply boils down to the fact that I kept this customer on for too long. He has become an issue that has to be dealt with. Whatever the case may be, this is where it's at.

    Cheers all :drinkup:
  11. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,257

    Plow Meister

    I know what you are saying. You may be a little cheaper then I would have thought but $230. is not even close in this area. I pay $15. for 500lbs of salt. I buy bulk and have the equipment to spread as you do to. I have often thought about putting a tailgate spreader on my truck to do the out of the way places or something that just needs some fine tuning. Is it the customers fault that you have decided to take the more expensive way to do something this time. I may not make top dollar for everything I do but at the end of the year I do very well. You sometimes have to give a little to get something back. This guy seems like his days are numbered but you never know. I usually sleep on something and look at it again in the morning. Is it really that bad and if so deal with it. There is lots of work for those of us that do it right.
  12. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    Cheers, CET :drinkup:
  13. xlr8

    xlr8 Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    Here is what I say,
    Then let your fingers do the walking!
  14. b2driver

    b2driver Member
    from MD
    Messages: 89

    Simple....during the next storm, go to her house and push the snow all the way to her front door so she won't be able to mistake drifted snow with pushed snow.
  15. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    While I, myself, have suggested that to many other members in the past, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It just isn't right. The way I see it is 2 wrongs don't make a right. Good thought though.

    What I might do is taks all the snow that is on their frontage road and make a HUGE windrow in the entrance of their biz lot. Make it look like the town did it. Just cover the apron in about 3 feet of snow :D
  16. gt_racer50

    gt_racer50 Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 484

    Plow Meister

    Too bad that you think that I am "some goof", or maybe that was a general term for anyone in this business. I know what my costs are, and I know what is being charged in the area. You wouldn't want me to be a lowballer now would you? If I was, you would be bashing me about that. I wasn't trying to bash anyone, just trying to help. If help or comments aren't wanted, don't solicit it. Excuse me for trying to help or offer advice.
  17. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    No GT. I totally dig your posts and appreciate your knowledge a ton! I was just speaking metaphorically. No offence was intended I swear. :drinkup:
  18. gt_racer50

    gt_racer50 Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 484

    If you are "one of the few honest businessmen left in the world" then I assume that you think that most of us on the site are dishonest? I beg to differ with you pal.
  19. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    Listen GT, I think you need to calm down a bit. That comment was not directed at you nor at the members of PS. I was, again, speaking in general. I don't know how you run your business so I can't say you are dishonest. I do know, however, that there are a ton of people who make their living by ripping people off and don't feel bad about it. All I was saying is that I am not one of those people. Wether you are or not (or any other member of PS for that metter) is entirely up to you. I don't pass judgement on people I don't get to know. I have read many of your posts in the past and I determined that you are a pretty stand-up guy. I have no beef with you or the way you do business. Please don't forget that things may be done a bit different here in Chicago than where you live. That doesn't make my way any more correct than yours. It's just different. I applaud you if you can get $200.00 for spreading 10 bags of salt. There is just no way anyone out here will pay that kind of dough. No biggie.

    Seriously, calm down and relax. I got a little tweaked when fernaldude tried to tell me what I need to realize. I wish you could understand that I consider you to be a great guy and would never say anything negative about you or what you do for a living or how you do it. Chill :drinkup:
  20. thundercat99

    thundercat99 Senior Member
    Messages: 157


    once again everbody is getting mad if 7.00 a bag makes him money good for him if your customers are happy with 12.00 a bag good for you .. we all now how long it takes to go through 5 bags a salt seems fare to me

    this buisness is based on quality service in a prompt fashion while maintaing a solid relationship with the customer salting after plowing is comin practice, customers sometimes have a hard time understanding the concept but its for there own safty.. just my 2cents