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Low Ballers Are Slashing My Throat This Year

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by millsaps118, Oct 24, 2007.

  1. millsaps118

    millsaps118 Senior Member
    Messages: 702

    Just found out this week I lost 3 hotel accounts I've done for the last 3 seasons to 2 different low ballers. 2 hotels are on the same campus so they share the main parking lot and also have parking around each of the buildings. I got my neck slashed by some chump company by $500 less a month! The chief maintenance guy who I got along with very well, gave me the inside scoop. The other hotel I did, I got beat out by some jack ass who owns the local watering hole (sports bar) down the street from the hotel. He decided to put a plow on his truck and figured he could make some extra $ with it. Even if he takes it up the ass in plowing, whats he care, this guy already has deep pockets. I think the X-mass parties that the hotel had at this guys bar had everything to do with this deal! This was also a monthly contract account and now they are paying per plow.

    BEWARE !!!!! LOW BALLERS ARE OUT SLASHING THROATS!!!!!!!:gunsfiring: :gunsfiring: :realmad:
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
  2. tman3007

    tman3007 Senior Member
    Messages: 147

    I've been burned like that before and it'll sting for a while. They'll get theirs in the end...crappy service!!
  3. bribrius

    bribrius PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,609

    cant comment on the first one. they may have had ten bids and everyone was fairly in line and you were way high. i dunno. cant comment. the second makes perfect sense. lots of business is done in a bar over a drink among "friends". and in this case the bar is right down the road and already has a owner plowing his own so might i well do the business next door for cheap money and keep everything sociable..id say you were the outsider on the second one. ever thought about stopping by and having a drink with them? amazing what networking can do and "friends" will often preserve your seasonal contracts even if you run a little higher than some of their other bids. just because its you and your in the "social club" now..
    if your in the club and you make a mistake in your business its okay because its "you" too. instead of dropping you they would just ask you to please fix whatever it is and if its not perfect fine but make sure you stop in for a little drink and to visit.
    seriously. company i know sucks at this business. i was at a establishment they handled and i kid you not their was six inches of snow in the parking lot i was trudging through. i started talking to someone there and he said he knew the work was a little less than par BUT it was so and so and the guys been having the contract for fifteen years and (key here) everyone knew him and liked him. they acted like they were offended i mentioned it because the plow company is their friend.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
  4. NLS1

    NLS1 Senior Member
    Messages: 321


    Just found out that a private set of streets that is close to a mile long and 30+ feet wide that I bid on went to the same guy as last year. The problem is he did a crappy job last year and all of my mowing customers complained to me and asked me to put a bid in. This guy is only charging what four driveways would go for. Probably takes him 2-3 hours start to finish. Guess the association will get what it pays for and I will make the real money plowing many of the driveways(over 50 on that street).
  5. AbsoluteH&L

    AbsoluteH&L Senior Member
    Messages: 573

    Lowballers aren't really competition

    A lowballer is just that, a cut throat lowballer! They hurt business, but really shouldn't be true competition. You should hold your fair market price, if someone wants to go with a lowballer, they get what they pay for!
  6. Lawn Care Plus

    Lawn Care Plus Senior Member
    Messages: 135

    Here in WV you are suppose to have signage on your vehicle, with contractors license, and insurance.

    We are talking all aspects of business.

    We have been talking about turning in these guys to the contractors board, and DOT since everyone wants to hire these business killers.

    Also hae been talking about turning in guys coming over the state line without our state license.

  7. Snowpower

    Snowpower Senior Member
    Messages: 636

    Its one of the reasons I am glad to be weighed so heavily in Residential. Residential customers are loyal. Pay quickly and wont jump ship for the next guy with a song and dance. Obviously a nice 50/50 mix would be great.

    I can literally see something like this almost putting a man out of business if he relied too heavily on commercial accounts.
  8. QuadPlower

    QuadPlower PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,056

    Did you get a chance to bid both jobs or did you just find out that you won't be resigned? I'd keep an eye on them this year and if you want to bid them again next year.

    It sucks being this late in the bidding season. How many places did you not bid because you were full? That happened to me a couple of years ago. Found out that a place was going to re-bid. A week before I passed on bidding a large job, because I thought I had this one. I re-bid and got it, but it pissed me off that they could not have done it sooner.
  9. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,237

    OK, I'm scared, I actually agree with brib on something that another thread touched on recently.

    Who's to say they're lowballers? Maybe they're costs aren't as high and can still make a profit at the rate they are charging?

    Not to say it's right as I believe plowing\salting is an 'emergency' service and should be priced accordingly, but how do you know you're not pricing yourself out of the market?
  10. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    I'm with ya there. Something must be working! Brib, don't get in a huff over that -- just find the humor in it. :nod:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2007
  11. AbsoluteH&L

    AbsoluteH&L Senior Member
    Messages: 573

    True enough, most residential customers are more loyal than a commercial account, but some people are just cheap and will drop you for $5. Then again I would rather not have that kind of customer anyways!
    I have signs on my stuff to keep a professional look, and you can't beet the price for the advertising you get. It lets people know your not a here today gone tomorrow (with there check) type of plow guy, and that you will plow them when it snows, not when you get out of work.
  12. Lubold8431

    Lubold8431 Member
    Messages: 92

    Why do you call these guys lowballers? Just because they got the contract over you? Just because they were willing to do the job for less money than you? I call that free enterprise. I also think that if he does a ****** job, you could possibly get a call mid season and you could be back in the game. Just because someone outbids you doesnt make them a lowballer. Some of you guys who have been in this biz for a long time think that you are the best and no one can equal your expertise, skill and customer service. Then, you outprice yourself and when someone underbids you, DOH, LOWBALLER. Thats BS. Its just business and with prices rising for everything, people are looking for a deal. Yes, sometimes it doesnt work out and you get crappy service. But then, sometimes, you get an honest guy that does a good job who just happens to have priced the job lower than you. Is he a lowballer? I dont think so.... He is just trying to survive in a dog eat dog world.

    P.S. -- I lost a customer this year because he couldn't justify the expense of plowing his driveway. This was a residential drive, about 125 feet long, with another 25 foot section in the back of the house. Takes ten minutes to plow, but then he has to shovel for five minutes because there is always some snow left in front of his vehicles. He's going to buy a snowblower. Last year, I plowed him out twelve times. We'll see if he calls me.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
  13. AbsoluteH&L

    AbsoluteH&L Senior Member
    Messages: 573

    A lowballer doesn't just come in lower, they come in WAY lower. It is sometimes someone that is only doing a few drives before work in the morning (sound familiar), or it is the type that gets as much as they can as cheap as they can. Then can't handle it all and leaves the customer high and dry because they took on to much!
  14. TwistedMetal

    TwistedMetal Member
    Messages: 48

    True enough, most residential customers are more loyal than a commercial account, but some people are just cheap and will drop you for $5. Then again I would rather not have that kind of customer anyways!
    I have signs on my stuff to keep a professional look, and you can't beet the price for the advertising you get. It lets people know your not a here today gone tomorrow (with there check) type of plow guy, and that you will plow them when it snows, not when you get out of work.
    i totally agree with H&L,I only got into plowing because my high-end lawn costumer has a private road that needs to be plowed.as i have been picking up new lawn accounts i also have new plow costumers. i am at the point now where i have to turn down lawn accounts. and can add only a few new plowing accounts.last year we only had about 5 plow-able storms.but everyone seems to call when the snow is bad..i always take care of the costumer who agreed to the plowing before the season started.around here word spreads fast if you are doing quality work in a timely manner.
  15. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

  16. AbsoluteH&L

    AbsoluteH&L Senior Member
    Messages: 573

    well said

    VERY WELL SAID!!! Snofarmer:nod:
  17. Lubold8431

    Lubold8431 Member
    Messages: 92

    Well, if thats how you describe a low-baller, OK. I dont agree with that style of business operation. However, I don't think its fair to call every person who you lose a contract to a low-baller. Some may be, but not all. Thats what I was trying to say.
  18. KenP

    KenP Senior Member
    Messages: 197

    I can't agree more with Oomkes. A big part of doing business is knowing your costs, not just assuming or guessing what they are. Job costing can be rough, but in order to be successful as well as competitive it's necessary. My insurance costs alone are in excess of 60k a year. That being said there're a lot of jobs that I pass up on due to the fact that when figure out my job cost and add in overhead recovery it would be a loser and I'm not into plowing someone's snow for free. That's my $.02 payup

    PLOWTIME Junior Member
    from ct
    Messages: 20

    I have been plowing for 20+ years and l have no problem if i get out bid if its close. I have fair rates maybe lower than some, my equipment isn't brand new and i try to get the best prices on sand/salt so that my price is fair. This year i lost 6 contracts that i have had for a few years because somebody is going to for a whole lot less, one for example is two lots one 35 parking spots with 2 entrances the other one is a long entrance three lanes wide and also about 35 spots side walks that are on both sides of the property.This also requires a very high level of service all travel lanes and walks must be kept clear during a storm no more than 2 inches . there prices were 1-3 $75 4-6$100 7-10 $150 10-13 $ 200 with sand salt. This is a low baller!
  20. bribrius

    bribrius PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,609

    hey. if they are willing to do it for that then let em have it. next season mention to one of them that you are bidding even lower than that (in a casual off handed way) and see if they bid it even lower. eventually they will be paying to plow it. lol