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My new policy isnt making some happy.

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by shovelracer, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    OK so after watching where Im losing money I made a few changes to my policies this year. 75% have been good with it as it doesnt affect them. Felt like posting them just for review to see if Im being as unrealistic as a few think I am.

    Basic story is I run a business. Therefor I need to make money. I also need to ensure that I have the power to timely service my accounts without putting anyone on the back of the list. In the past I had a few that would shovel if there was less than a few inches. Contract in hand I would show up to a fresh cleaned driveway at 4 AM. Second I would agree to put someone on the list with a higher minimum. Problem was that I was then overbooked during heavy storms.

    This year change 1 is "If it snows I will charge you, shovel yourself if you like, but you will pay the same as if I plow it for you." No exceptions. It doesnt read this way, but thats the story.

    Change 2 is 1" minimum. In the past it was 2", but then I had to go out and plow half the accounts on 1" because they didnt even own a shovel or cant do it. So the change is price for 1". If they want a higher minimum they pay more. Lets say that its a $45 driveway.

    1" = 45
    2-3" = 54
    4-6" = 65
    6-8" = 78

    We average 12 storms 1" or greater. 10 storms 2-3" or greater. I feel this is more than fair cause if you want 2-3" minimum you better believe that you dont want to be last on the list when there is 15" on the ground. I feel this keeps it fair for the client, and fair for me. A few have expressed a dislike for this policy. I dont feel I should change it, but apparently am not capable of communicating the reason for it easily and clearly. Biggest problem is "the old guy did it at 3" for $40". and why would I pay you when I can shovel it.

  2. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Biggest problem is "the old guy did it at 3" for $40". and why would I pay you when I can shovel it.

    let the "other"guy do it or they can shovel their own if they prefer.
  3. Woodland

    Woodland Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    Not sure I'd agree with the 1" minimum, but definitely always charge, whether they shoveled or not.
  4. Superior L & L

    Superior L & L PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,041

    Sounds good on both items. Also if you dont plow them at 1" they have hard packed snow on them at the next snow fall making it harder to plow
  5. Sno4U

    Sno4U Senior Member
    Messages: 480

    Well WTF?! Do they need a plow service or not? People must think that your just a part time plower????? Sell them on the idea that U are a professional and that U deliver profesional service-nothing less!
  6. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    i had a friend that went to a 1 inch min ...he lost a few accounts as a result , but over all he said it was well worth it

    some things that can help you justify the new 1 inch policy: its a 1 inch snow, but with cityies not salting as much this year, more snow will be plowed towards the bottom of the drive...leaving more hardpack
  7. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    Thanks that makes me feel better now. 1" is simple. 2" was last year. I would get up every hour go outside, then check the radar, and only get 1.5" then go do the commercial accounts go back home and go to sleep. 20 minutes later the phone would ring and people where wondering if I am coming. 1" is simple cause it basically says if there is a measurable amount of snow then Im coming. No questions asked. It is amazing how many people only want the service when its too much for them. Thankfully most of my accounts dont want to be bothered with it at all 1" or 20".

    Heres another question. I have a commercial that Ive had for 5 years. Every year they get later on the contract. Last year they didnt deliver till they where buried under 10". Word is that they havent signed another, but the lady that Im supposed to sign with wont return my calls. For some reason though her payments have been faster than ever this year. They require 10 tons of salt for the winter and my price expired last friday. How do you deal with them when they call. Price increase? Last year it created a problem with scheduling, but this year I have more room, see above.
  8. erkoehler

    erkoehler PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,279

    I would pay them a visit, tell them your schedule is filling quickly and you want to secure their spot. If they can't sign today, the price will no longer be valid. Hand her a new contract w/ updated pricing including the increase.
  9. cjasonbr

    cjasonbr Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 635

    Yea one inch may sound acceptable usually, but you have to keep in mind that sometimes we get little stupid storms followed by warmer weather that's expected to melt the snow.

    It's not like we ever get sizable amounts of snow that are expected to quickly melt. Otherwise they wouldn't want you to come then either! :D
  10. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    i wouldnt worry about lossing a few accounts.... from what your telling me here, i bet you could loss 20% or more , and your overall income would still be greater

    i would walk into the ladies office, and ask what the deal is, tell here its first come first serve.... and there are only so many hours in your route and your full
  11. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    1" trigger is the best thing we ever did.

    There's alot of guys around here at that now as well.

    Basically, if someone drives in the lot, and it leaves a tire track, with small ridges on the sides, we're plowing.

    It takes all the guess work out of "do I plow, do I not"?

    We're 80% on contract, and I got tired of it being 1.5", then the people complaining because we weren't out plowing.

    I told them that to get plowed, that's 1" trigger time, and a slight increase in rate, and we'll plow it.


    You're not crazy, it's the customer, just keep reminding yourself that, and you'll do fine.

    About the account that's still outstanding, go to the office. So much more can be derived from talking to someone in person. You can't run a business on "word is they hired someone else".

    Get in there.
  12. sherwin

    sherwin Member
    Messages: 46

    1" has been our trigger for 15 years. We are already dependent on the weather, why throw more wrenches into the gears. In fact we basically go by if we can't see the cracks in the concrete, or the black asphalt we go. We rarely get complaints and they realize when it really dumps on us how hard we work, and occasionally we need an easy day at the office too.
  13. bribrius

    bribrius PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,609

    i dont even understand how you guys can be specific with one inch, especially with resi because it isnt one location. its snowing and a few inches hit the ground i go plowing because a customer wont be able to get out.. Its a route. not a location. one inch i dont plow because no one will pay me to plow one inch from a drive..

    even if i wanted to set up a one or two inch trigger. There can be one inch of snow in my drive, two inches of snow the next block over, and if i get seven miles away five inches of snow.
    either way your making your rounds and checking the drives and plowing. If its snowing hard the one inch can be two anyway before you have the drive plowed.
    1-2 2-3 3-6..
    Like im going to get out and measure each drive too..............
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  14. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    Well, 1" is where we start, hence "trigger". We'll wait until 2 things, either it has stopped snowing, or there's going to be more than 4" of snow during business hours.

    It's not like we're out there charging for each inch that actually falls and plowing 1 inch at a time.
  15. SteveJ

    SteveJ Senior Member
    Messages: 141

    I couldn't have said that better myself.
  16. bribrius

    bribrius PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,609


    a couple posts up you say you used to have a 1 1/2" trigger. Get out a ruler and look at a inch and a half. How exact are you about this????
    I can see zero tol. maybe a inch or two for a trigger on commercial .
    BUT THIS IS RESI. and your checking a inch and a half and think there is a big difference between that and two inches? Are you doing this while its still snowing?
    better you than me dude i have better things to do.
  17. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    No, we have a 1" trigger. 1, 1-1/2" it's all the same.

    If I pull into a lot or drive, and my tires leave a somewhat deep track, I'm plowing.

    I can drive to a driveway or lot and see that there's no snow without sticking my ruler in the snow. It's really not that hard.

    At an inch, you can still see the cracks in the cement / blacktop.

    At 2", it's all white.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  18. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    i have been playing with a new system that a friend of mine uses... its very relaiable, and in some caes can fit in well with a commercial route.

    I told my RES, that i will be starting the rounte at 4 am /4pm.... if i drive by and feel they are over the min trigger depth , they get plowed, regaurdless if its done snowing or not. ( i will wait 1 hr if the snow is due to stop)

    Im tellign them that they have until 4 AM/PM to call me and tell me yes or no - If They Fail to do so ... then it will be a judgement call based on the plow driver. and more offten than not, due to saftey , our choice will be plow it -

    if they dont call, we plow , even if its boarder line. Im sticking to my guns on this agreement since they will have the opertunaity to call and tell me No service (even if it is 4 am) No call, then you get plowed, and you pay -

    Lets be realistic, if we had to measure every drive that close, then thats proably not the type of customer you want long term anyway -
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  19. LawnProLandscapes

    LawnProLandscapes PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,129

    change it from 2-3" to 2-4" or else youll have a gray area between 3" and 4".... ;)
  20. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    1-2.9'' 3-5.9'' 6-7.9'' 8'' + thats the system that works the best for us on any property that requires and inch breakdown