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I simply cannot sell salt services......

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by LwnmwrMan22, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    I've tried.

    It doesn't work.

    Go back to my "Okay, smart guys...." thread and you'll read about a storm over Christmas where it snowed 4", rained 1/2" and then snowed another 3", followed up with -20 for lows for 2 weeks.

    Everything was hard pack of about 1" for then next 6-7 weeks.

    We had just about every customer screaming for salt, so the renewals went out this spring with salt built into the pricing.

    Most of my properties are on 12 month contracts, the lawn and snow services are divided out over 12 equal payments.

    I have a couple of smaller strip malls, the parking lots are about 40 cars long, 2 cars wide. Essentially a drive with diagonal parking stalls on one side, the building on the other.

    I threw out an increase of $75 / month extra, for the year, a total of $900 and I would salt the parking lots each time we plowed, I'm basing this on 18 plowings, even though we only get about 15, I like to pad my numbers.

    I can't even get them to commit to a $60 salt application.

    I will not be looking and getting a sander anytime soon.

    For those that are going nuts, reading all of the threads on here of guys that won't take on a lot that won't let them salt, just remember, do as your customer wants, not as you insist.
  2. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    I plowed for many years before I got in the sand/salt end of things.
    Businesses became worried about liability was the main reasont to offer the service
  3. procut

    procut Senior Member
    Messages: 903

    I think it's kind of a regional thing. Our area is pretty big on the salting, even for just a dusting of snow, NOBODY around here uses sand, it's straight salt or nothing. Other areas, just don't get into the salt thing, or just spread sand.

    MIDTOWNPC PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,556

    Many places around me do not salt here, some sand but very little salt.
    The plazas that I do have noticed that the lots look better and when there is small snow flurries, the lots are wet vs being slushy. Thats just from left over residual. We have 1 resturant that actually wants the salt spread everytime... he says he gets more older people in for breakfast because his lot is clean. Show them one time by spreading half the lot. If its snowing during the day the salt will keep the lots clean in most cases.
  5. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,584

    Not even. I have no problem selling salt here in the metro. I have 1 customer that wont take it, because they're too cheap. Of course that same customer is on a cash basis because of multiple bounced checks. :dizzy:

    Problem I think is that you're dealing with customers with strict budgets, and they want to have control over salt expense. Problem is they don't realize they're only costing themselves more in the long run for many reasons.
  6. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    I'm about 35 miles north of you wizard.

    The accounts that I have closer to the cities, yes, I can get them to salt when needed, but not on a continual basis.

    Where we have most of our accounts, they freaked when we put down $50 worth of salt on that Christmas storm.

    NICHOLS LANDSCA PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,362

    That sucks, I burned through 24ton on the Christmas storm. I normally use around 9 for a normal storm. Heck we put more than $50 worth on the sidewalks(Powerthaw bags)
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2010
  8. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    May be many reasons why you can't do it.

    Regardless, make sure they have signed off on your contract that they do not want a deicing material applied after plowing and or other weather conditions that would warrant an application of material. Just in case of a slip and fall they don't say " I thought you were gonna".

    Something to remember that applies to everything - - "whether you think you can or you can't you are right!"
  9. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    It says in my service agreement "Any other on call services, such as snowplowing under 1", drift cleanup, snowpile removal, salt and/or sand spreading, anything not previously outlined in this bid will be charged at a rate of $xx.xx per equipment hour plus the cost of materials.

    I should say I can sell the on call stuff, VERY periodically, but to get contracts to just sign off on an as needed basis without first checking with management, it just doesn't happen.

    The one example I used in my first post, they had 2 slip and falls, with one customer breaking their leg.

    The property owner said "that's what I have insurance for".

    Personally, I think that what's happening with these smaller strip malls and the such, property taxes, utilities, property insurance, etc., are getting so high, that they are at their ceiling of what they can charge the tenant and just flat out don't have the money to pay the extra $1200-3000 / year, in MY area anyways.

    I see one sign of 2000 sq ft for $3,000 / month. I couldn't imagine the amount of jeans you'd have to sell, just to make rent, let alone actually pay all the other bills and actually make some money.

    And yes, the "on call" is bold face red in my service agreement as well.

    Nichols - That's what I use as well, PowerThaw from JDL. I was charging $25 for 50 lbs, putting down 2-3 bags on the sidewalks and they'd complain.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
  10. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    I'd say it must be the "quality" of the accounts also... thats by no means a slam.... keep on looking for accounts that understand your a professional (I assume you are) and you'll use your best descretion on when to apply salt/ice melt... its taken me awhile but my accounts don't even bat a eye when they see my sand/salt bills... they know i'm protecting there butts as well as my own for a slip and fall liability claim.... usualy co's with prior slip and fall claims understand the value of salting services ... they find out the hard way.....keep looking, they are out there, its just a matter of finding the right ones!
  11. BGompers

    BGompers Junior Member
    Messages: 27

    Salt sells itself around here, customers are not happy untill they see asphalt or concrete. We salt if there is so much as a skif. No one use sand around here, the dot uses cinders, and salt. Does sand do much?
  12. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    Traction.... alot of places in Maine still use sand/ salt mix... I try to sell the salt package but alot of co's settle for the sand/salt application... because of the price difference... they don't take into account the clean up costs in the spring when using sand but thats ok... i'll make my margins one way or another
  13. BGompers

    BGompers Junior Member
    Messages: 27

    What kind of sand? What year is your stang? Supercharged?
  14. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    Screened sand no larger the 3/8 grit....

    2003, dyno'd at 603 ponies to be exact :nod:
  15. BGompers

    BGompers Junior Member
    Messages: 27

    Thats pretty sweet, I am a mustang man myself. Summer is comming soon. TTYL:mechanic:
  16. Westhardt Corp.

    Westhardt Corp. Senior Member
    Messages: 845

    A good approach, but I would suggest revising that just slightly to make the definitions more absolute, and less subject to possible interpretation. I have found that in writing various contracts over the years that it is best to define very sharply everything that is mentioned within the contract--no matter how insignificantly. Reason is simple enough--if either party is going back to the contract, it's because there is now a problem, and they are looking to that contract to define a method of solution. The more detailed the better, and it is precisely why contracts are so freaking long and ridiculously redundant.

    More on the OP, IMHO I will not quote a job without salt as part of the package--at our discretion only, none of this "call in" garbage. Snow plowing itself can be little more than "ice exposing", and again IMHO is only doing half the job (unless you are in an area where salting is impractical--different story).

    A little bold, but I would much prefer to be known as "the company with 20 properties who does things one way--correctly" than "the company with 100 properties who got sued out of existence"

    I'll put it like this--"Salt is cheaper than an attorney."

  17. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    I've tried all the approaches as mentioned.

    3 years ago I had a slip and fall where a gal blew out her knee at a Subway at a strip mall.

    The properties' insurance tried to sue my insurance company.

    The property had a hair shop that was supposed to call me when it was icy.

    They called and I was there in 4 minutes, it was 9:56 am and I was walking in their door to check in at 10 am.

    As I walked back out, the gal passed me on the sidewalk, stepped on some black ice from melt overnight, fell, and blew out her knee. Ambulance and all showed. She had a handicap placard in her car to begin with.

    This parking lot is STEEP, falling away from the building, on the north side, with roof drains right there, which is always ice.

    I've been doing this property since it opened in 2001, doing the original properties for 5 years before that.

    The hair shop said they called me 4 times that morning to salt. I showed the insurance company my cell phone bill with the call at 9:56 am.

    The hair shop then said they saw my truck in the parking lot at 7 am and said I should have salted then. There were two problems with this statement. 1, after doing this property for as many years as I had, I know that the employees NEVER get there before 8 am, as they open at 9 am.

    The second, I asked their insurance company what color my truck was. They said white. I said no, that was the color of the trucks that I traded, I now had all dark gray trucks. Strike 2.

    They were then trying to say that I had salted before without phone calls. This is where I showed the insurance company both all of my old invoices where is said "per request so-and-so" as well as hourly reports of the previous days' weather from WeatherUnderground.com. There's a reporting station about a mile from there.

    It took about 6 months, but in August I received a letter from my insurance company that they denied all claims and there were no more brought forth.

    It's an area of the country that most don't feel it's necessary.
  18. big acres

    big acres Senior Member
    Messages: 653

    Sounds like that hair place was hellbent on pinning it on you. Are they possibly owned by the malls owner, or is their insurance on the line too since they were responsible for monitoring and formally part of the "inspection" process?

    I know what you mean about that being kind of a steep lot. It never ceases to amaze me how close that is to our accounts who demand constant salt... you are probably only 10-15 miles into low salt territory. Usually those tiny mini-malls are the biggest money makers when it comes to salt, since many charge a minimum salt fee and often don't use as much material.
  19. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,584

    Gotcha. Most of my accounts are Golden Valley to Plymouth, with a separate 1-truck route in New Brighton. I live in Elk River, shop in Ramsey, and we don't even bother with things up here, too many cheap customers and low priced competitors.
  20. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    Yes, the owners of the Hair Shop are also part owners of the building. It's the Hair Shop that I was doing for a period of years before the strip mall was built and the store moved into that building.

    I have a good friend that bid the strip mall in a town just north of hear. $300 / month for plowing, shoveling the sidewalks, salt on the sidewalks.

    The property owners said that's too much. Whoever is taking care of the property is plowing them and only shoveling 1/2 of the sidewalks 1/2 of the time. It's another poster on here, I'm sure he'll chime in eventually.

    Big - I'm going to PM you, see if you guys do any properties for Dominium Management Services.