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new costomers

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by 99zr2, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. 99zr2

    99zr2 Senior Member
    Messages: 271

    Sorry everyone but I had to put out a question about new costomers. Are they all cheepscates? Do they think that the service that we provide is for penuts?

    Here is the situation. I just came home from collecting on a drive that I had taken as a favor of a friend of a friend. These people were on vacation and needed a plow at there house up the street form mine. No problem but they said they would pay for it when they came home this week. Still no problem until I called them up to tell them that I would be stopping up to collect and I tolled them what the price was. Needless to say the guy was a little over the top about the price. His biggest stink was that I had only came up to plow atotal of four times.
    Being my first year plowing for money I had a hard time figureing out what to charge. I came up with a price of 35$ a push for a drive way that is about 900 to 1000 feet long in the shape of a 9. Also a small parking area in front of a three bay garage that is about 30x60. This drive is not flat either. steep grade staring up from the road and the only flat was in front of the house for about 50 feet. ON top of that the first time up there we had a big storm with a total of 20"to 24" of snow that was also drifted and packed by other cars trying to get to the top.

    So the first time to the drive to clear it took me a totla of about four hours to clear. After that I went up two more time in a different storm to clear about 15" of snow.

    I guess that I just wanted someone else that does this for a living to say " no I think that 35$ a push is a fair price." The total I charged was 210$ for the plowing.

    May be I am being folish to charge this mutch but I thought that it was fair for him and cheep for me.

    Please let me know guys and girls.:)

    Josh 99zr2
  2. rewoodworking

    rewoodworking Senior Member
    Messages: 223

    i am new to plowing also i am getting accounts set up now and i sat down before i got accounts and made my own rules to follow
    i am making a work sheet on the computer with my name and the rules that i want to work by and everyone that i plow will get one
    this way i will have everything on the table

    don't surprise them keep them in the loop of how you do things
  3. 99zr2

    99zr2 Senior Member
    Messages: 271

    That sound like a good idea but they wernt around at the time.

    I think that was the problem the got surprised on the price.

    I think that I was in good standing by charging that mutch. Maybe I am wrong I dont know that is why I put this discussion out there. I have read on this site for hours about how mutch to charge and that is what I came up with.

    You all have been a great help so far on many aspects of everything to do with plowing. plese give me and others like me some support on the subject of charge what you feel and if they dont like it oh well. Move on to the next rite.

    Josh 99zr2
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    Sounds more than fair to me. I wouldn't plow for 4 hours for $ 35. I have 9 seasons under my belt, so I think I have some experience.
  5. gt_racer50

    gt_racer50 Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 484

    I wouldn't charge any less than $50 for 2" on that driveway and as the depth goes up, so does the price. Some people charge by 2" increments, some larger increments. Just somthing to think about. Plus if at all possible, I wouldn't wait until there was 20" for the 1st plow if I was you, it's too hard on the equipment. Hope this is of some help. Now you are going to hear from guys on here that wouldn't do that driveway with 2" for less than $100 or $200, but you can only get what you can get or what the market will allow. If you are in a lowball market, you can talk until you are blue in the face, but you will never get $100 to $200 for that driveway for 2". But if you spent 4 hrs there, you should have been able to get whatever the going price per hour in your area is, x 4. That is assuming that you quoted a per hour price prior to plowing the driveway.
  6. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    What I'm understanding is that the driveway is 1000' long and curved with a 30'x60' area in front of a garage.

    I would agree that it's worth $35 if it was in this area. Pushing 20" would be worth 2 1/2 timess that, then $35 for up to around 6".

    What I don't understand is how this possibly took four hours.??

    Your mistake was in not establishing a price with the homeowner prior to starting work. Technically, he wasn't obligated to pay you anything. But you're in good company. I did that myself the first year. Plowed a total of about a mile of driveway; stopped to settle up and the guy said "I only pay $40":gunsfiring: He called me the following year for a one-time plow and wanted to argue when I told him it would be at least $100. I don't argue or discuss... just walk away.
  7. MickiRig1

    MickiRig1 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,617

    Please look below the posting box there is a spall chak butten it's difficalt to read with misspalled wodes. I have trerble spalling skills to, sew I aint cutting on ya. If we only had gramer check.
    You didn't mention what type of paving the drive had. Gravel's more wear and tear on the equipment and operator!
    First, a drive that long and difficult with parking area. I would of said at least $50 for a 2"snow and go from there. Add $25 for each 2" because it adds time and wear and tear. People call me and it has not been plowed in a few snows I go out and look at it. This customer lives in MI he knows it snows, got a long drive ? get the equipment or pay to have it done!My plow is not a magic wand that makes compacted / iced over snow disappear. Once again the more snow the more pay. Add aggravation fee. And be sure to thank "Your Buddy" for the job too.
  8. Lbilawncare

    Lbilawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 144

    Sounds to me like the guy you are dealing with is cheap. Most likely he thought you'd do it for peanuts because you are a friend of a friend. He was gone, so he didn't see the effort you put in and wasn't there to appreciate it. Stick to your guns and try to get at least $100 an hour (more if you had a bigger truck and plow) DO NOT charge the same amount no matter how much snow- that is economic suicide. I hate those people who go out of town and don't want the driveway plowed until the day before they get home, and expect for you to do it for $35.00. We had a customer a while back that did that, we got 18+ inches and the driveway got extremely drifted & iced over. He expected me to do it for the 2-4 inch price of $25.00. I was there for an hour + and charged him $150, he paid it and dropped us.
  9. kl0an

    kl0an Senior Member
    Messages: 215

    Two things.

    1st, I plow for someone else, using thier trucks, thier insurance, thier gas, and I make twice what you made for 4 hours work. Not counting what my employer makes for his truck, insurance, gas, etc..

    2nd, if it took me that long to plow that bit, I think I'd be looking for work somewhere else because my employer wouldn't be making any money because, based on what you told us, that shouldn't have been that much work. I can see at least an hour because it was your first run and you had to get the feel of it, and there was a lot of snow but still.. 4 hours??

    What would be nice is to see how the pros work out an estimate. Is it all broken down into things like length of drive, depth of snow, distance to travel?? It would be neat to see an equation that you could program into an Excel spreadsheet and whip out an estimate with.. Does anyone have such a beast??

  10. kipcom

    kipcom Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 455

    Kloan....thats an easy one to figure ( experience speaking ) :D For residential driveways you charge by the foot / length & then tier the charges at 2" intervals. So it would be like this >> X feet x $$ per foot @ 2" - 4" - 6" - 8" etc. and then switch to a per hour rate after 8 or 10 inches at $$$ per hour or just keep going in 2" intervals. You could also add a section for stacking / removal with a bobcat etc.
  11. JMR

    JMR Senior Member
    Messages: 567

    My drivers make $25.00 per hour. Add to that insurance, maintenance, fuel, equipment cost, work comp, payroll taxes, etc. If were making what you got per hour, I'd find it cheaper just to leave the trucks parked and not plow at all. You need to know your real cost of doing business. Operating at a loss can be very detrimental to your health and the health of your business.
  12. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 128

    It doesn't sound like your price was out of line at all.

    Here are some questions to ask yourself that may help out the next time you are faced with something like this:

    Do I ever want to do this driveway again?
    Will this guy badmouth me to other existing or potential customers?
    The answers to these two questions will give you some idea about how hard you try to collect or how much you complain to people who might tell him.

    Did I screw up somehow?
    It sounds like you didn't have any agreement on price. You say the owner wasn't around, but it this day and age, it is pretty hard for somebody to be totally out of contact unless he really wants to be. Did you try to reach him or just assume that he would pay what you asked? Did your buddy really have authority to hire you? In cases like this I try to get cash out of the actual occupants on the spot, especially if it isn’t one of my regular accounts. Let them fight it out with the owner.

    Why did it take so long the first time?
    If you already knew that you had the job, and you knew or suspected that there would be traffic on the drive, you should have been there twice or maybe more times to keep it open, and charged every time.
    If you got the call after it was trashed, you should have tried to find somebody with some heavy iron to open it, rather than beating your truck to death on it. "Lost" driveways are a common source of argument and customer dissatisfaction. I have wound up eating part of the cost on a few of them, either by discounting the price or spending time and money repairing equipment afterwards.

    Did it really take four hours?
    The clock stops when you're stuck, broken, or drinking coffee in the living room. Also, I personally charge travel only one way and go home for free. I do charge while I’m sitting watching people play “musical parking spots”. It’s amazing how long it can take some people to get in a car, start it up, and move it to another place that isn’t quite out of my way. I don’t even think about trying to do anything while this is going on, that’s a sure recipe for plow marks on the fender.

    The most important thing about this is to learn from it, and not get caught the same way again.
  13. 99zr2

    99zr2 Senior Member
    Messages: 271

    Well thanx to everybody so far. I got just what I wanted when I started this thread, a good amount of feed back.

    Ok to reply to everyone as short as possible.

    1St. This drive was given to me by a respected older friend of a family member. The part about a price before plow. He told me and I trusted him that they would pay when they returned form vacation. He was asked by them fora reliable good plow guy. He produced so I did get paid. But as I mentioned earlier with some grief.

    2Nd. I based my total on $35.00 a push. I figured that for 20" of snow I would have to plow at least 6 times but I only charged them for four plows. This amounted to $140.00 for the first storm. Then a second storm came and because it was during the day and my job is more important to me than having fun and getting paid for it I only plowed it two times. That is $70.00 and adding that to the first storm is $210.00. So that is what I charged.

    3rd. It took me four hours to do this drive because the surface is only nice and paved half way up the bottom and after that it is mostly broken up blacktop and dirt but mostly dirt. Let me remind everyone that for equipment I have a homesteader on a zr2. Plowing 20" of drifted packed snow is kida a challenge on top of the way the drive is banked and sloped. I could of done it faster if I chose to beat the living crap out of my truck. Also I haven't even seen this drive before.

    4Th. I do plowing for fun mostly and to get some spare cash on the side for me so I have not got the over head like most contractors have. If a drive takes me four hours to plow well to me it just adds to the more time I get to have fun in my truck plowing snow. I can see were you guys are coming from on the time issue but with what I got thats the best I could do.

    Josh 99zr2
  14. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Not really saying you're wrong, because how you run your business is your business. But I just figured it from my perspective and this is what I came up with assuming the first snowstorm was 20" and the second was 6" (you didn't really say so I'm just using an average).

    20" push is 2 1/2 times base rate of $35 - $87.50
    6" would be single base rate - $35.00

    Total - $122.50

    Pushing a 20 storm 6 times means you pushed every 3-4". If the second was 6", then again you pushed every 3". I really don't know what a zr2 is, I think it's a 1/2 ton Chevy. I know the Homesteader is a light duty homeowner Fisher plow.

    I would also balk at paying someone a full plow for every 3". I generally charge a rate of about 1 1/2 and make it a flat rate to 12". The big difference is that I use a 1 ton with a 9' Heavy Duty plow. But the concept is the same. Basically, your customer is being penalized because you do not have the right equipment for the job.

    Sorry - but the more I'm reading, the more I'm agreeing that they were overcharged.

    edit - I just went to your profile and now I know that a zr2 is an S10.:eek:
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2003
  15. gt_racer50

    gt_racer50 Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 484

    Hey Josh, don't worry about it, you are just starting and it sounds like you had a plan. You weren't that far off on your price on 2' increrments. Plus, everybody has to start somewhere, and not everybody starts with 2 plow trucks, bobcats and sanders when they 1st start out. I think some people forget how it is was when they started. As long as you are not doing all freebies, and not intentionaly lowballing everybody in the market, is all most of the guys on here really care about. I think if the truth were known, a lot of guys started just as you, because it was fun, and for a little extra money. Unless you live where is snows 10 months a year, that's all most snowplowers do this for, is extra money, and some of us have landscaping customers, and we almost have to plow snow to keep our customer base for the rest of the year. Then you have money tied up in equipement, so you have to keep it busy to justify the cost, so you take on more work, and so on and so on.

    Have fun, be careful and think snow!
  16. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I just read through this thread again and realized he did say the second snow was 15". So that would justify two plowings of the second, so add $35 to my total and I come up with $157.50.

    But, in the bottom line, I agree with gt_racer50 - don't worry about it, everybody starts somewhere.

    I had a customer ask me how I figure my pricing - by the length of the drive or the depth of the snow. I couldn't come up with anything that satisfied her because it "really depends" (on so many factors). So, based on the PITA factor, she's no longer my customer.
  17. ronald d hipp

    ronald d hipp Junior Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2

    I am sorry to say this to you fellow snow removal friends but I sure hope none of your customers are reading your letters that you send in but I have never in my life have seen so many mispelled words!!!!!!! it is almost to the point that you can not even make sense of what you are trying to read. I realize that we are not rocket scientist I do not have a college degree in english but for gods sakes at least we should look professional and not like we are having our 2 year old children writie for us!!
    EXAMPLE: TOLD IS NOT SPELLED TOLLED! FIGURING IS NOT SPELLED FIGUREING! GRADE STARTING IS NOT WORDED GRADE STARING! TOTAL IS NOT SPELLED TOTLA! FOOLISH IS NOT SPELLED FOLISH! AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST MUCH IS NOT SPELLED MUTCH!!!!!!!!!! . I think we all really need to check our spelling this would make this a lot better as well as easier place to read on. than you.
  18. GripTruk

    GripTruk Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Agreed! but, since we are on the topic...hehe :)
    god's sake not gods sakes
    write, not write
    thank you, not than you
    and last, but certainly not least...
    misspelled, not mispelled!
    OUCH! hehe... practice what you preach. :)

    (God help me, if I made any mistakes!)
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2003
  19. GripTruk

    GripTruk Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    hehe, figures I'd double post that after so much silly formating... D'oh!

    Last edited: Dec 31, 2003

    SNOWPIMP Member
    Messages: 89

    OK here is my 2 cents worth! In a way you did kinda stick it to em and in another you stuck it to yourself! 4 hrs on an initial push for a residence is downright insane! I can with a 3/4 ton burban and a 7 1/2 2 spring Meyers can do a 15 acre lot at a trucking company after a 18" snowfall and salt it! That's just me though I understand you are just starting and kinda doing it as a hobby which is way better than some people that would have done it free cause they were bored!
    I would have waited till it was done snowing for the day since as you stated they were away on vacation and had no need to have it clear at all times! you kinda made a lota work for yourself there! But in all $210.00 for 3 pushable storms is a fair price for you to charge! But I would have only have pushed it 3 times!
    Hell around here I am fighting the low-ballers that are doing drives for $10 with salt and getting out and shoveling the walk ways! As a general rule I try to find when my customers will be coming and going and try to keep their drives clear at those times! If I am in the area I'll hit a customers a second time if there was a dusting as a freebie or add-on just so it looks as though I made the extra effort to make me worth $50 a push for a 8X60 foot drive!
    If I feel it needs a second or third push I try to get some kind of agreement from the customer before I go for a second or third push in a day. Either by calling on the phone or knocking on the door! People are real frugal when it comes to paying for work they weren't there to see you do it!
    Businesses on the other hand are a whole other story! If they wanna be cheap and pay you by the push put a 1" trigger in your contract and repeatedly hit it all day long! After a hard month of that they will kick themselves for not signing a monthly or seasonal contract! After they decide to go seasonal or monthly you do it really nice but not as frequently with a 3" trigger!