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Need advice on account.

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by elite1, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. elite1

    elite1 Senior Member
    Messages: 187

    Ok, well I plow a large apartment complex. 9 parking lots and 23 buildings, lots of sidewalk.

    I gave them a bill for Jan. of almost $9,500. I think that that is a cheap price. We have had a lot of snow and call backs for drifting.

    The manager told me that she was very happy with the work, but did not expect a bill of 9,500. I was able to plow the property so fast on the run thoughts that I took 50% -$200- off the run though price for every time we plowed which saved them 2-3 grand. I also have been plowing every 2 inches instead of every inch. sometimes they just plow and I do the clean up.

    They didn't budget any $ for side walk service, because they did it in house for previous years. 3 grand was sidewalks on that bill.

    One of their sales persons was at a friends house and while drinking told him that they were not happy with the bill and that stuff needed to be changed(service wise)or else I would not have the account next yr.

    I know for a fact that I am cheaper that every other company. I know that we are doing very good work. I don't know if that is just the beer in that sales lady or if it's the truth. If so I should stick to the contract and make all that I can this year, or try to save the account. Even with the discounts It makes me big $.
    I wrote the contract but they gave me the specs on it. so if I am doing it to there specs and even cheaper than what we agreed to, whats the problem?
  2. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    Sales lady's statement. Where there is smoke there is fire. Put water on this fire right away. Set up a meeting with the manager and/or owners to discuss. Start with the understanding that you had when they hired you and why they did not renew with the previous person. Take your work sheets and times etc. with you so you can give an accurate account of your bill. Point out the sidewalk in house difference. Ask what they paid in a previous similar year and go from there. When giving a discount always put full price on the bill and then note discount. Make sure they know you gave the discount. This will show you are a reasonable, fair, honest person. In short, nip this in the bud and talk, negotiate, talk, negotiate. Remember the manager has probably been given a budget ( too low ) to operate with and is under pressure to keep their job too. Maybe an owner should be there. Good luck.
  3. kipcom

    kipcom Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 455

    I agree with Bolt...... Set up a meeting rightaway. Present the factsa and open up to their concerns. Stand your ground and make sure you ahve the facts with you and all the > in writing and signed < documents.
  4. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Why would you lower your price after the work is done? You gave them a contract based on their specifications , and you fufilled your obligations under this agreement , correct? I wouldnt move an inch . Why , First you are not guarenteed the contract for next year , ( they probably did this to the previous contractor and thats why you got the job) Second " we didnt budget that much " thats not your problem it is the person who set up the budget, since the weather is unpredictable so is the snowplowing bill. Third , this is a common ploy with builders , management companies ets , get the work done and then cry poor after the work is completed , the minute you drop your price you have lost the battle and the war, you show sign of weakness and the balance of power shifts to them. Any other work will be negotiated down because they know you will.

    Ask the manager if they got no snow this year would they have felt sorry and given you money because YOU budgeted to make at least $ X000.00 this season.

    If this were a customer I already had a long term relationship with , and did more than snow removal for them I would move a little by offering them another service at a reduced rate.. But not a new account that has no history or loyalty.

    Did you budget to replace 3 transmissions this year? Did you budget to replace the snowplow that got stolen? Did you budget for an attorney to efend you in a slip and fall lawsuit?

    These things didnt happen .Or they havent happned yet? Its possible , the season is not over. And you dont have those things in your budget. Just like the weather unpredictable.

    I have been there , lowered the price to keep the account . Result lost money and lost the account to someone else they could pull the same crap on next year.
  5. EIB

    EIB Senior Member
    Messages: 258

    I agree with Mdirrigation.

    You cannot change your price after they signed the contract.

    I had the same problem with a retirement community I do. I wrote my contract to their spec. Then they fire the building manager, and want me to change the way I do things. I said you signed the contract and thats what I go by. If you want to change things, I can draw up an additional contract that will cost you more. They didn't want to do that. So they live with it.

    I might do things a little different if I had them for 2 or 3 years, but this is the first and I might not be there next year.
  6. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    If they open the price door, maybe you should bring up a 2-3 year contract. I also agree with the above points. Well made. Lot of If's.
  7. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Elite, you say you already took off money because you were fast. Why? If the price is $500.00 to clear a lot and you do it with a shovel in 10 hours or you send 5 trucks and you do it in 15 minutes , Its still a $500.00 lot. Getting done faster is to your benefit as far as money not the customers.

    Give the customer a corrected bill showing the whole bill ( add in the discount that you gave) at the bottom of the bill reduce the amount by the discount and state it was a discount on this snow only with your final total being $9500.00 this will show them you cut them a break by 2 to 3 thousand . Also on the bill state to recieve the 2 to 3 thousand discount the balance of 9500 must be recieved in 10 days , after 10 days the discount does not apply and the balance of 12000.00 will be due. Now you have shown them you are helping them out and you should be paid quicker .

    23 buildings with 12 apartments each equals 276 apartments
    276 apts at $ 700 per month rent equals $193,200 .00
    $9500.00 divided by 276 units is about $34.00 per unit
    You didnt say how many times you plowed lets say 3
    $34.00 divided by 3 pushes is $11.33 per unit per plowing

    Thats pretty inexpensive to the apartment complex
  8. elite1

    elite1 Senior Member
    Messages: 187

    thanks for the advice.

    I lowed the price because I felt like I was riping them off. We were able to plow the drive lanes with 2 trucks in 1 hr. The contact was for $400 for that. I lowered it to $200. We still get $600 for the clean up.

    I do show the price breaks on invoices. I would still like to get the account next yr. I had a meeting about 1 week ago, the manager told me(along with the maintenance supervisor ) told me that I was doing a great job. All the other maintenance guys told me that as well.(in their opinions off the record). It was not until the sales lady had a beer or 2 that she told my friend that they were unhappy with the service.

    I would normally just get rid or the customer but it is a large snow account and I am trying to get the lawn maintenance contract in 2005.
  9. rgrimes945

    rgrimes945 Senior Member
    Messages: 134

    The Inclement Weather Contractor

    I agree with most of these guys the work is done! when it's snowing price is no object, GET IT DONE! When the bill shows up and it's sunny outside, then you charged to much. you did a good job stay with the Bill. You both agreed on your contract prices? Signed it agreeing in the contract.Right? Then way do you feel like your ripping them off ? Have they had a new contractor every year? A few of businesses feel like snow removal contractors are a dime a dozen. Also do you wonder what her comission is on monies saved every year ? Getting folks to lower there bills.Think about it.

    R Grimes
  10. BobC

    BobC Senior Member
    Messages: 129

    I agree with all the advice given and also feel it needs to discussed so you understand each other and possibly can save the contract for next year but want to add that you took money off because you saved time, well the time you spend handholding needs to be compensated, your figure for plowing needs to cover all your time! I also would be curious if they beatup and changed contractors every year.(take low bidder and chisel the price after service is provided by complaints and threats of contract loss)
  11. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    Holy Dead thread Batman!
  12. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Anyone wonder what happened with this case? I'm curious about others with customer disputes

    I agree with the general consensus -- don't budge on the costs, but talk with people because where there's talk there is hope for resolution. Work on the people skills because we have to deal with people