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Need advice/suggestions

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by DaveO, Jan 22, 2001.

  1. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299

    Ok guys. I could use some advice on how to handle this problem.

    I picked up a new account last season. It's a coffee shop/restaurant. Get paid by push, cash. This year the owner bought a plow truck, to do it himself. He(owner) goes away every weekend, and asked me to maintain the lot when he is gone. So far this season had to do it once.

    This last storm I stop by @ 5am to do 1st push. Shop open @ 6am-12 Sundays. I can see marks it was pushed the night before, figured the owner did it. Anyways there is 3-5" on the ground and I clean it. Come back @ 10am(snowin heavy) and make another pass. Decide to come back after closing and clean up.

    Take care of other customers. Storm ended around noon. Go back to clean it up around 2:30pm, and the lot is already done. Obviously now I am not happy...

    Stop in this am and ask for the owner. He's not back yet from N.H. I leave a message with his employee. She tells me she just had a customer in. Claims he was by yesterday with time to kill, and plowed the lot as a favor to the owner.

    How would you guys handle this. I have my own thoughts, but would appreciate idea's from you guys.

  2. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    The owner wants to have time off, so he binds your time. That time should come with a price, so make him a contract for weekend service stipulating the hours of service, covering the whole winter.

    My first thought was to tell him to have fun and enjoy his weekends, and to just relax because his property will be taken care of ...., just as soon as you do your other 100 regular customers. But then I though of a way to salvage the $$$ out of it, and remove the per-push/good samaritan problem.

    My thoughts, John
  3. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    Charge for the time you went and it was done,or at least charge for your time to go there and come back.
  4. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Learn lesson about doing favors without written contract.
  5. CMerLand

    CMerLand Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    If I read your post right you said you do it per push. If this is the case you "pushed" the propery twice and thats what you should ask to be paid for. Someone else does the last push be it the owner, a friend or santa claus it doesnt really matter to you.

    The big problem will show up when theres a slip and fall accident and then everyones pointing the finger on whos going to be sued. And guess what??? You all will be till someone is found with the deep pockets. "Oh not me I was never there, no paper trail cause I got paid cash!!!" Like that would be hard to prove in court since im sure nobody noticed your truck pushing snow.

    Like John said about favors, get it in writing and know your just asking for liabilty every time you drop that blade.

    C Mer Land
  6. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 700

    I don't care if you pushed it or not if you went there you should get paid for your time,just bill him by the hour for that snow.
  7. Frank

    Frank Member
    Messages: 35

    my thought on this, if you went out of your way to plow his place, charge full or time loss. you really don't know what the other guys reason for plowing is, he mite be looking for more work so he throws in a free one to pick up the account. just remember the owner TOLD YOU to do the lot. the next time you see the owner talk to him nicely and see where you stand. also next time try and get him to sign a contract.
  8. Skookum

    Skookum Member
    Messages: 59

    I agree with Deere John,

    The owner buys a plow, but only wants to plow when it is convienient for him through the week. I would charge a higher rate to do it just on weekends. Maybe 25% more per push.

    As for time lost issue by owners friend pushing lot, I think I would skip this one, this time. But, I would talk to owner and let him know that next time you will charge a minimum charge for time lost. You know this will end up happening again, only next time it will be the owner when he does not go away for the weekend and decides to save a few dollars, hence why own a plow. Are you sure it was not him anyway and the employee was just telling you what the owner told them to tell you if you inquired.

    Something to think about.
  9. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    If it was me I would want the Job 24/7 365. I am sure you could find another lot that would want your service all the time.

    Look at it this way, if you have all the plowing you have 100 % of all snow events, if you only plow on the weekend you only have 2/7 of the plowing. Some years you might not plow there at all. One winter it never snowed on the weekend, the next winter it snowed like every weekend. Either way your time could be better spent on another account.

    Drop him now, or in the spring.

  10. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299

    Thanx Guys

    I am going to charge him for the two "pushes" that I made. I took the lot because it is 1/8 mile away from another commercial, trying to keep customers localized.

    Tried to get a signed contract, but the owner has the "pay cash" mentality to everyone. I did a little background on him before deciding to take the lot. Pays ALL his vendors(food industry) CASH. Makes me wonder....

    Don't think he plowed it since his plowtruck is still snowed in. Doesn't mean he didn't ask his "friend" to take care of it though.

    I agree with the time binding concept. We are bound to provide a service anytime, not at our convenience, and will convey this to the owner.

    Meanwhile I have learned another lesson in the classroom of life. This lesson will prompt me to look for a replacement for this account.

    This was the 1st "real" storm we have had in 5 years and I learned a couple of lesson's from this one.

  11. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299

    The verdict

    Caught up with the owner. He left keys to his truck with a friend to plow the lot, to save some $$$. The friend didn't show up to plow.

    Another "friend"(Serg), the one with the "time to kill", decided to plow the lot. He claims it was unplowed when he came by @ 11am. I had already made 2 passes by this time. So the "good samaritan" clears the lot @ 11:30am.

    I tell the owner that I made 2 passes. He says "What, When?". I tell him 5 am, and 10 am. Also told him I came back @ 2pm to clean it, and it was done. He gets mad and said "Serg" plowed it @ 11am, said it was untouched. So he paid "Serg" for the whole job.

    I inform him that @ 5am there was 4" on the ground. And that he had told me to do it in his absence, so I did. Told him he owes me for 2 pushes. He pays me cash, muttering about payin twice now. I politely state if he had signed a contract this would not have happened.

    I ask him what he wants to do in the future(contract). He states he will still plow the lot, and call me when necessary. I again, POLITELY, state that I would not be interested in performing the service anymore.

    Like you said John, another lesson learned...

  12. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    It's tough to have to learn one like this with a 'friend'.

    I feel for you.
  13. Skookum

    Skookum Member
    Messages: 59

    Sounds like you played that just right. He will regret it some day down the road that he did not have you on a contract. He'll get tired of doing it himself, and the friends will let him down too many times in the future. He likely will not call you unless he cannot get anyone else. He won't want you to think you were right and that he had to give in to you, just basic stubburness, and it sounds like this guy fits that bill.

    But, I would say you are better off in the long run without this guys account. The accounts that cause worry problems are not worth it in the long run. Besides, you got paid! Good deal!
  14. Majestic

    Majestic Junior Member
    Messages: 19

    Good for you.Theres plenty of work out there.I always get signed contracts can be simple but at least you know where your at.In the future you may find out his truck wont start or this or that or he will first call you.Tell him youd love to but you are scheduled up for the rest of the day.Too many good people out there to work for.
  15. Dusty

    Dusty Member
    Messages: 82

    think of it this way: If you plow only on certain days and someone else does it on other days, who take responsibility when someone gets hurt on the inbetween days when it is sunny and slippery????? I believe that I am fully responsible for all the work & I don't want to share responsibilty with someone else that I don't have a contractual agreement with. To do so is a loosing proposition.