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I'm officialy out of the business.

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by 89Comanche, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. 89Comanche

    89Comanche Member
    Messages: 42

    Thought I would share with you guys
    After 7 years in this business I'm out, although this winter has given us a ton of work, ranging from small lots, streets and driveways the income is not enough to keep us above water. With this semi-failing economy nobody is willing to pay what they used to which has led to every lowballer in town snatching up our contracts, and leaving us to fight it out over small jobs. After going through the budget I simply can not continue to pay my workers their wadges, nor can I continue the upkeep of our equipment. We will be trying to downsize and finish out the season, but I already know this will leave us spread to thin.

    The contributing factors to our demise...
    *Random spike in fuel mid winter
    *Every college kid in the area wanting work/then calling out when we went out to early. (My fault but everybody deserves a chance)



    PS, If any of the lowballers who stole my work are reading this thread, Thanks for taking food from my workers and my families mouths and running us out of business. Have fun out there cleaning up the lots for $120 a storm
  2. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 Senior Member
    Messages: 101

    Other companies are probably getting along and having to deal with the same things you are. How are they still in business?

    It's likely that the failure of your business is your fault, and no one else's.
  3. 89Comanche

    89Comanche Member
    Messages: 42

    Thanks, I needed that slap in the face. Obviously everything is my fault!
  4. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    Im sorry to hear that comanche
  5. forbidden

    forbidden Senior Member
    Messages: 392

    If you can't be there when it's bad, how can you be there when you are good? Why not drop some of the expenses and concentrate on the business that is profitable.
  6. ACA L&L

    ACA L&L Senior Member
    Messages: 362

    tough call, lowballers, dont pay taxes, have insurance, do shotty work, come in take the contracts make a few bucks.......they dont have the overhead of a business that is legit. taxes, insurance, workers comp. generally My definition of a scumbag bottom feeder, do it right, and be proud..........theres enuff work for everyone, everyone who takes the time to make themselves a legitamate company...tuff to swallow commanche, wish i could help ya out.
  7. rcr4w

    rcr4w Member
    Messages: 39

    Well I for one am thankfull of the lowballing bottom feeders which you speak of. Thanks to them and their shotty work I basicly backed into having a winter business right here in town. Usually we just do underground utility work and sit around doing nothing in the worst part of winter.
    So thanks lowballing scumbags for doing really crappy work and letting us take care of your disatisfied customers now not only do I have something to do but I also get to spend a crap load more money on my dirt late models.
    Now if I could only find a way to get rid of all the lowballing scumbag utility contractors around here life would be great!
    On a serious note that is a bum deal and a story being told all to often I hope you figure out a way to bounce back I think we all have to find a way through rough times at some point.
  8. buddy4781

    buddy4781 Senior Member
    Messages: 114

    Ok Matt, It's time to take a DEEP BREATH. Sometimes it's better off to be smaller, just doing the work that you can handle. Too often in our quest for more we take on too much and don't see that we are not ready for or capable of the additional responsiblity. Only do work that makes you money. Subs or emplyees are an expence that you don't make much money on or need to charge more to be profitable. Chances are that you will make more by being smaller and getting rid of your help. You seem to have a passion for others and that's good, but you have to do what is best for your family. Understand that it's just business, not personal. I lost a business because I grew too big too fast and found myself in your shoes. Now it's just me and a ride along to help with the heavy lifting. If it were'nt for the heart condition I would be doing this solo. I wish you the best and ask you to chin up and revisit you situation.

  9. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 Senior Member
    Messages: 101

    Wasn't meant as a slap in the face.

    Of course not everything is your fault and some things are just not in your control, but on the other side of the coin, lots of things are... in the end your business will only go where you steer it.
  10. Jacobsmovinsnow

    Jacobsmovinsnow Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    Rants are allways good. I quit in the before the winter of 05 06 , thought I was done with the biz for good. Ran tractor trailer through your fine country,ussmileyflagThumbs Up that winter, however some of my bigger former contracts wanted me back, here I am now with more work and equipment than then. Just keep mulling it over, conduct a accurate measurement of time spent on each job. Tell your guys to record travel time and actual time on the lots, dont round off. If its 23 minutes its 23 minutes not 25 or 30. Record amount of snowfall on that push. Then sit down and figure out what y ou are making hourly. You might of been there , done that but this is just my .02 cents worth.:nod:
  11. cjasonbr

    cjasonbr Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 635

    Sounds like every other winter to me.

    You should have a cancellation policy of 30 days notice or so. Everyone i talk to understands that i'm reserving time and equipment for them so i expect them to reserve snow for me.

    You need to sit down and redo your business model. If the problem is that people are bailing on you for a lower price, then include something in the contract to keep people from doing that.

    Follow up with the people that left you after a couple storms and see if their happy and ask a lot of questions and figure out what made them leave you.

    on a side-note, do you think it's possible that not everyone that left you signed on with a "lowballer"? Perhaps some signed on with legit companies that carry the same expenses as you....
  12. bhmjwp

    bhmjwp Senior Member
    from kcmo
    Messages: 309

    I am not sure how big you are -but hang in there and re group for next year. Several years ago, we made the decision that all accts would be signed by Oct 15-chemical and supplies bought-routes assigned. We run 4 trucks and a sidewalk crew. We adjust based upon accts-do not take on anything the rest of the season, and give top notch service. We get desperate calls, and if I have interest in the acct I will bail them out after the storm, talk with the customer about a contract for next season, give the pricing and performance information and let them know the deadline date and the reasons why. I have picked up some great accounts over the years.

    Don't allow someone else's pricing structure destroy were business plan. Be in it for the long haul. Do not hesitate to "Just Say NO ! "
  13. cjasonbr

    cjasonbr Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 635

    Yup! It doesnt take doing much extra to really stand out. If i have extra time i may clear in front of someone mailbox, or get out and shovel in front of their garage doors (some poeple do that anyways).

    The point is i'd always rather do a little more work and charge someone my normal rate than, do the normal amount of work and give them a deal.

    Sometimes around here some people on the route get over the trigger some people under. So we do the route and the people that were under we wont charge, but we'll plow it anyways. We're there anyways, it's not much trouble, trucks dont mind, and it's just something extra people appreciate.

    Sometimes if i'm driving the right truck, and have extra sand i'll leave free sand for people.

    I have one customer who has a 20 yrd double wide driveway. They park two cars ass to face on one side. I come and plow it, go do two other driveways, and on my way back, if they've moved their cars to the other side i stop and plow the other side. Or if i'm out and about and see the othr side is open i'll stop and plow it. They've come to know that if they stay off the snow sometimes it will get plowed up when they dont expect it.

    If someone needs to get out and gives me far enough notice usually it's no trouble to schedule around it.

    I tell people that if they want something from me they need to tell me, and with plenty of notice for me to get it done- if i can. I explain to them that i i'd rather know before they expected it to be done and not after when they're already disappointed. If i tell them i can't do it, then they have enough time to make other arrangements too,

    People that ask for extra stuff i do as little extra as i can get away with, then when they stop asking i'll start doing some extra stuff for them on my schedule when i don't mind. They usually get the clue that they fare better when they let me do my thing.

    Paying a reasonable rate to me probably isn't so bad because they still think they're coming out ahead, and after all that's really what it's all about when people go to the lowballers.

    every way you can differentiate yourself from lowballer, that isn't price, is a plus for you.
  14. mnlefty

    mnlefty Senior Member
    Messages: 980

    There are multiple angles to look at here... I can't deny that the lowballers certainly can significantly hurt total income for the season and it is darn frustrating, but there are a number of factors that can't be blamed on the lowballers as well.

    -If the remaining income is not enough to sustain current employees and equipment then those changes should have been made before the season started.

    -If your labor pool is unreliable, that's not a lowballer issue.

    -If a spike in fuel prices kills any profitability then your margins are too thin.

    The bottom line is each job has to be profitable on it's own merits, and you can't be reliant on what you had in the past to sustain what you want/need for the future. It sucks to lose work to the lowballers, but if you try to compete with them on their $$ terms and it doesn't work out you can't blame them for your own losses. Not trying to be a dik about it, because the lowballer thing is real, but you have to deal with the changes and adapt your own business in ways that can maintain a profit.
  15. ppandr

    ppandr Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    Every year I mull over selling my stuff and going back to one truck doing resi's and small commercials. In my area here in north/central NJ I have a dedicated group of customers who have been with me for 10 years now. There have been LOWBALLERS who have come in and under cut me taking away those customers that are solely focused on price, but are those your good customers? For every account I have lost I've gained another through referrals for good customers. Someday soon I will "retire" to 30-40 resi's and relax.....Good luck
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
  16. ScnicExcellence

    ScnicExcellence Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    go smaller and work your way back up. if you make it through the tuff times you will be golden in the good times, just remember that when the good times come back to start saving for the bad times.
  17. Eyesell

    Eyesell 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,107

    Sounds like you need some business help as we've all gone through the same thing. You can't point your finger at two things, gas and low-ballers, or at least if you chose you can and say this is why I have to close the front door.

    But the reality is you have to figure out how to remorf ( spelling ) yourself, if that point and time you decide to throw in the towel than go for it. But as the one guy said before, when businesses go out, they really need to look in the mirror and ask "what could I have done differently " ?

    Just my .02 cents...
  18. watatrp

    watatrp Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    I detect some frustrations. Some operations are just more efficient than others. It's awful hard of you to think that someone who operates within a set of guidelines that allow them to be profitable might be a lowballer. There are those that operate above the table, paying taxes, paying for insurance, etc. Those people deserve to eat and run their business too.
  19. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    good luck in whatever you do
  20. 89Comanche

    89Comanche Member
    Messages: 42

    So I will admit last night I was a bit pissy. I admit I am to blame for our downfall, and that I am over reacting to the lowballers who have taken a great deal of our work. This summer I am going to re-group, sell off what is not needed and make a large attempt to downsize to the point were we can be comfortable.