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New commercial account is upset we plowed

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by LwnmwrMan22, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    We've finally gotten some snow. 1.5" Friday, 1.5" Sunday, another 1-3 before tonight is over, and some more towards the end of the week.

    I added about 10 accounts this year to fill out a 3rd plow route, and one of the accounts called and said they were upset over the plowing this weekend.

    It's an industrial place, and we plow 3 in a row, a small school, the account being talked about, and another larger industrial place, all on the same "bigger" block.

    We charge them $125 for a 1-3" snowfall, $175 for a 3.1-6" and $275 for 6.1+" in a 24 hour period.

    Anyways, they called this morning because they didn't understand why we plowed them Friday night when they weren't open all weekend, and then ended up plowing them again Sunday.

    I explained to them that the snow had met the trigger that was agreed upon, and there was no other conversation about leaving it on a weekend.

    I also explained that yes, we live 5 miles from there, but since the equipment is already on site doing the other 2 locations, that it would be a complete hassle to come back again either late Sunday or early Monday, had it not snowed.

    It's somewhat unfortunate that it did snow again Sunday, so we had this situation arise, but at the same time, I don't want to start having customers call me up and say "we're only working M-W-F now due to a work slow down, or M-T-W, so just leave it after that".

    I tried to explain to her that we cannot predict the weather, so if we would have left it from Friday night, and it didn't snow on Sunday, that we would then have to head back out to do the one account.

    I also said that if we would have gotten some rain, or the snow would not have been the light fluffy clipper snow, and it froze, then it would take $$$$$ to get the ice off the lot, at which point who would be responsible.

    I said I could see them being upset with me at that point, because had I plowed it the first time, then they wouldn't have the salt bill.

    I tried to show how there was no real way I could be right.

    I think later this week I'm going to head over with a new agreement, and state that we will leave the property on Friday night, but if we have to come back and do just that one, there will be a $25 trip charge. Also, we will not be responsible if the lot turns to ice, that the customer has to foot the bill.

    Is that reasonable?
  2. PTSolutions

    PTSolutions PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,537

    that sounds pretty reasonable. Ive had to explain to soo many cust. (resi's) that if it hits trigger after we plowed already, we have to come back to do it. they just dont get why i have to charge again. lol! and the one's that want to be "on call" (not on a route or a set trigger) dont get why i have to charge according to accumulation. sometimes i just want to pull my hair out with them, even though i thoroughly explained all this to them prior to the season beginning.
  3. BIGBEN2004

    BIGBEN2004 Member
    Messages: 86

    I would tell them that if you didn't plow and some one drove in the lot and wrecked that you didn't want them or you to get a law suit and that if they wanted to agree on a no plow after Friday that they could sign a agreement to keep you clear of any law suits. I think that no matter what we do we will always hear complaints and complements.
  4. Jay brown

    Jay brown PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,783

    sounds like you did the right thing.....even though the place isn't "open" on the weekend, someone is always there anyway right??? weathe it be security, or just management...
  5. Woodland

    Woodland Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    Absolutely reasonable! It cost money to save a buck.
  6. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    What we think doesn't matter, it's what the customer thinks and I think you did the right thing if that helps.
  7. 6feetdeep

    6feetdeep Senior Member
    Messages: 141

    We have some commercial dr. offices that are off the beaten path, we will leave them until monday am, but they are NOT getting traffic through the lots all weekend packing down the snow.
    If I have an acct. that gets high traffic, and will result in packed snow/ ice, then it will be plowed as soon as the event ends (in your case, sounds like Fri. night, or so you thought)
    Best to just communicate w/ the person in charge, and work something out. It is early season yet, we're all still getting our schedules, timelines, etc. worked out. Sounds like you were on the right track.
  8. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    Well it's a woodworking shop, newly built in the last 2 years to the tune of about $2M in SBA loans.

    They've laid everyone off because they don't have any work, and I'm sure money is extremely tight.

    I've decided that instead of charging them the $125 two seperate times, I'm going to charge them the 3.1-6" rate, and then make sure they sign off on the fact that we're not responsible for the other stuff in the previous post, as well as the extra charge.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2008
  9. PORTER 05

    PORTER 05 Senior Member
    Messages: 449

    oh boy i hate plowing , just giving me chest pains thinking about the first storm.
  10. sven1277

    sven1277 Senior Member
    Messages: 498

    You handled this situation exactly how I would have, and I don't overplow just for the income. Unfortunately, we have to deal with people who sometimes don't understand or appreciate the in the field decisions and judgement calls we need to make. Someone is bound to be upset. At least we aren't er surgeons.
  11. Turbodiesel

    Turbodiesel Senior Member
    Messages: 428

    Your a bad guy when the acumulation freezes to the surface and the lot becomes a tank trap. Then you'll get " You had all weekend to do it ".

    Good job!
  12. Kramer

    Kramer Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    So what are you gonna do when it snows 2" Friday night at midnight, then on sat it warms up, melts down a little then freezes sunday morning into a complete ice sheet? Then it snows 4" on Sunday night and you have 1 1/2" of ice/crst covered by 3-4" of snow to deal with? I know you're telling them that they will need to deal with it, but in short, when the time comes they will be complaining all over the place.

    They should realize that you set it up the way you did originally so you could service them correctly.... agreement or not, I see an argument down the road witht these people.
  13. jwkv

    jwkv Member
    Messages: 58

    I've been plowing for a couple of years now. I had this happend ONCE. Snow. Then wet then snow. Of course it was on a weekend so the no plow rule was in effect. When they saw how messy it was after plowing it and how much ice was left, I never had a complaint from then again. It was a horrible mess. Thank goodness it wasn't a large lot. It still took quite a bit of salt to eliminate the problem which they took care of themselves.
  14. smoore45

    smoore45 Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    You did what I would have done, but you should have had that conversation before the season started. A little bit of communication goes a long way. Oh, and unless you gave your customer a discount because they were close to your other accounts(and they are aware of this), I wouldn't expect them to care that you have to make a trip out to their location.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
  15. Scott's

    Scott's Senior Member
    Messages: 416

    I have a few that are closed on the weekend and I will not plow them intill Sunday night or monday morning . I forgot and plowed them on a sat and then on mon morning when we got more snow, I billed them and they caught it and called , I ate that plow and explained it was my fault . That happened 8 years ago and I still have that account and have made thousands and thousands of $$$$$$$ from them through the years.

    Here is the thing I wasnt happy having to eat $50 but it didnt piss off my account ,to many shady non insured plow guys out there wating to pick up your accounts as it is. I ate $50 to make thousands not a bad move in my book.
  16. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,780

    OMG I literally LOL for about 15 seconds when I read that one! Maybe you should consider doing something else in the winter if it is really that bad for you! Good God man you are gonna have a heart attack just thinking about it! I'm still laughing!
  17. yardsmith

    yardsmith Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    I always include a clause in my contracts that "if its a judgement call whether more snow will come or not, I reserve the right to err on the side of safety". Most understand, I tell them the forecast changes daily so you had to take care of the snow in case more came & would've mande it a big mess & more expensive to clean out.
    Sometimes I'll take a little off the bill for it to resolve things if they're really pissed about things, or if I feel its partially my fault. Otherwise stick to your guns POLITELY :)
  18. yardsmith

    yardsmith Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    I always include a clause in my contracts that "if its a judgement call whether more snow will come or not, I reserve the right to err on the side of safety". Most understand, I tell them the forecast changes daily so you had to take care of the snow in case more came & would've mande it a big mess & more expensive to clean out.
    Sometimes I'll take a little off the bill for it to resolve things if they're really pissed about things, or if I feel its partially my fault. Otherwise stick to your guns POLITELY :)
  19. QuadPlower

    QuadPlower PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,056

    I think you handled the situation as you described it fine. Charging the single deeper rate instead of the two smaller rates was a nice gesture.

    Here are my Devils Advocate thoughts.
    It is not their fault if you have to drive out there Sunday p.m. or Monday a.m. without doing the other lots on your route. They should not be charged additional for it.

    What days they didn't need it plowed should have been descused prior to contract signing.

    What to do now?
    I would have them sign a Change Order to state that they only require plowing M-F. Any accumulation during Friday after 5 through Monday before 6 will be removed Sunday p.m. or Monday a.m. which ever you chose.

    I assume you have salting in the contract. If it happens the way someone described above with snow, melt, rain, snow again, then plow it and charge them accordingly for salt.

    I would also explain to them that in the long run, it will probably be cheaper for them to just pay the per time plowing rather than pay for a deeper plowing and salt application.
  20. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,362

    I offered them a price of $350 per month for a contract rate, which would be a little less than 3 plowings per month. Right now they are going to be paying $300, since we just got another storm early Tuesday morning. The $300 is me adjusting the price.

    I'm going to have them sign a new agreement when I take this one over as well. I will still charge them the $25 trip charge if we have to go back at a different time.

    Quad Plower you are correct, that it's not their fault, yet at the same time, it IS their fault. They are changing the rules as they see fit. Also, I told them I would give them a price break since we're already doing properties on either side of them.

    I'm not going to charge the $25 each time we plow, only when we have to come back to plow when we were already at the other properties.

    Also, it will state in the new agreement that we are not responsible for any ice buildup over a weekend. We will not be responsible if it snows, then melts and refreezes, or if it snows, then rains and refreezes, or if kids (or adults) go into their parking lot and do a bunch of doughnuts and pack the snow down.

    I don't want to eat the cost of salting, if we could have plowed the original snow to begin with.