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People decide to "just shovel it themselves"

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by mkwl, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,362

    Well, rolled up to a number of my drives today, to see that they were already shoveled :confused: I got there, fulfilled my agreement and plowed. Now, I'm getting a number of emails from people today saying that they "decided to do it themselves since the snow was only about 2-3" and way very light." Now, they all agreed that I would come to plow at 2"+ so I plowed them a little to "clean them up." These people are expecting me to charge them NOTHING for driving out to their house just to find that they decided to shovel it themselves :realmad: I don't know about you guys, but I'm no mind reader- I did NOT get ANY calls/emails from people until around noon today after I had already plowed them after they decided to shovel. If they had called or emailed BEFORE I plowed (like this AM early), I would have no problem, but NONE of them let me know until I was already there!:realmad: How would you guys handle this situation- about 1/4 of my drives did this on me.

    Also- I got to them all within 4 hours of the end of the snowfall (doing my route as fast as I can while doing a good job)- not more time than every other time is snows.
  2. Jay brown

    Jay brown PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,783

    O the joy of plowing!!!! i would say it would be right to bill them, but you'll make them angry and loose your jobs....this happens with our sidewalks many times and i'll usually just bill them 25% to clean up or nothing at all...
  3. linckeil

    linckeil PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,272

    that happens to me too. but all of my driveways are within a 5 mile radius and i do several driveways on any given street, so to see a few shoveled here and there does not throw off my route. but if i was traveling just to do the driveway and discover i made the trip for no reason, i'd be upset. call them and make them aware of your time/fuel/wear&tear to travel to their home for nothing. if they don't understand, send them the bill to date and part ways. and if your contract states you will plow anything over X amount, then i believe you have a legal right to charge them, but i don't think it would be good for future business or your reputation. if it's their first offense and you haven't had a talk with them yet, i'd let this one slide. but if they continue to do it after you make them aware of the inconvience to you and the language in the contract, then bill them for it.
  4. winged1dur

    winged1dur Senior Member
    Messages: 124

    Tell them that you have two customer lists. One is for regular customers the other is "will call". Will call customers must call and ask for your services and will be plowed only when all of your regulars are done. Same price, make them decide.
    From my experience these are the same people who you will be chasing down to get paid.
  5. AndyTblc

    AndyTblc Senior Member
    Messages: 681

    I'm glad you brought that up. About your "will call" people. Is there a certain time that you require them to call by when they need it. Because one of my customers sometimes don't call till 8:30 at night. And the snow had stopped at 6am. I told him I was out at 6:30 am and it's 8:30 at night. He just said, well I need my driveway plowed so i can get in. He's done this a few times, one time I had just got done doing my drives at night, packed everything in for the night, and no sooner I got settled in for the night he calls. And another time, he drove past my house in the morning, and then called me as soon as I was walking out the door to go on a date. I told him I was going on a date and I can get him in the morning. What do you tell them kinds of people.
  6. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott Senior Member
    Messages: 142

    Pretty much why we stopped doing residential drives 4 years ago. No matter what you say or do now, they won't be happy and it's just a matter of time and the relationship will get worse and they'll go elsewhere. Homeowners won't listen to reason, and in this day and age, they're always right and you're not. Residential is a joke.
  7. Blazin

    Blazin Senior Member
    Messages: 185

    I have had this happen to me on one of my accounts two years in a row about 4 years back. Except it was when I was out with the loader pushing back and piling up banks. This one driveway happens to be near the end of a mile long road about two miles up the town road of which I don't have any drives on. Its a rental. I have been plowing it for bout 12 years now. I drove the loader all the way out there only to find the neighbor had already done it with his little Kabota. The first time I put a note in with his regular invoice explaining and that if he was going to have some else do it I needed to know ahead of time. The second time I called, was polite but not impressed. Turns out the neighbor did it on his own accord. I also charged him full price for the loader. He squawked about it but it got paid. I told him to back bill his neighbor! I doubt he did but.
    As far as will call. Not an option for me. Only time I do is if they do their own and their truck or blower is broke. I mail out a letter every fall to all my customers explaining that I am the profesional, I decide when they get plowed, and or sanded period. if they call and complain that I did it and they didn't think it needed it I tell them they need to look for another contractor.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2009
  8. augerandblade

    augerandblade PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,054

  9. STAC99

    STAC99 Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    What does your agreement state? How many inches, what time will will have it done by, etc.? I know driving out and finding someone else has already done it sucks, unless they pay by the year(some what). You still what to do your job and know you are doing a good one. Maybe they pulled an all night quilt sewing class and felt like getting out this morning?(Sorry, just a little fun) I would talk to them(are they all in a development or on the same street) I would not feel bad on billing them, but I would definitely talk with them. Go over the agreement with them. If they would like to change how they get service does your agreement explain that? Be polite, try to get them to see your side, don't bring up things like "I have this new truck to pay for" or "my rent is due" instead "I am I doing a good job", "Is there something wrong"? They don't want to hear what your bills or problems are(directly). You may find that with it being the weekend and everyone being stuck inside(if you had the frigged negative temps) they just wanted to get out. If you have to jump ship, do it within your agreement(if stated) Don't just say screw them and go on your way. They talk and so do the people they talk to. You know how word can get off on a tangent fast. Even if it comes down to your mistake do the right thing. It may cost you a little now but bad word only cost you more. Give them options if you don't want to plow like they want give them a reference to someone you know or have done business with. They will remember you quit but when there are in a bind they will remember what good you did for them. Telling them that you can give them a reference to someone that will be able to do better on what they want also tells them you are serious, with out being rude. They may even decide to stay with you. Just remember "Without a customer/client you are nothing".
  10. winged1dur

    winged1dur Senior Member
    Messages: 124

    Remove them from the "will call" list, put them on the "ex-customer" list.
  11. AndyTblc

    AndyTblc Senior Member
    Messages: 681

    I think he is on that list today, because somebody did his drive with a truck today. Probably found somebody cheaper, but soon that new guy will find out why I charged an outrageous amount for that driveway. Thats just a shame:drinkup:
  12. lawnboy11

    lawnboy11 Senior Member
    Messages: 263

    That's BS.......but you should let them know the deal up front. That happened to a new customer of mine that I didn't tell "the deal", but I'm gonna can them anyway. they have a real steep drive that says "slip and fall" all over it

    When people sign up with me one of my rules is if I show up and it's done I will bill you $25 for taking up a valuable slot on my list -and you may no longer be on my list after that anyway. It'a all or nothing.

    When it stops snowing on a sunday or saturday morning the whole world is home. I start my route before the snow is half over. This way the people in the beginning get done-they know I'm around and will be back - so by the time it stops snowing I'm halfway through route once at least. I just keep going thru route until I'm done.
  13. Tango

    Tango Senior Member
    Messages: 205

    I had two of these today. I should have learned last storm when they were both done when I got there. I talked to both of them and told them they are now on the "call" list. I also explained that I will get to them after all my regular acounts are finished. I said it could be 24 to 36 hours after the snow stops before I could get there if they call. My thought was I didnt just quit on them, it would not take that long to get there but I want them to find someone else. This way I still said I would do it but on my time table. Not sure if I am going to bill them or not.
  14. Doc Holiday

    Doc Holiday Member
    Messages: 36

    Its all in a days work forget it. I had 4 myself today. They are real good payers and i get paid well for what i do .Last month was a good one and so was this. After 30+ years you have to know on a 3 day weekend it will happen. Dont let it get to you,we are a service that can be replaced. So bite your tongue and just go on. If 3 or 4 accounts are going to break you...might be in the wrong business
    I have one Doc that loves to play with the snow blower on sunday storms......his wife allways calls and says he did the drive but just charge me LOL .I dont. Hey if you have to drive 5 miles out of your way i would dump them but i think if its in line with my route a couple hundred dollars not worth the worry as i like to keep my customers for 10+ years.
    I also have a few customers that have neighbors with snowblowers that want to save them money on these light storms........not going to fault the customer. Heck sometimes a guy next door to my own home does my drive LOL
    It will all wash after you have done it for a while.
    I wont stand for that crap on my commercial accounts.
  15. flakesmeangreen

    flakesmeangreen Senior Member
    Messages: 217

    Lots of great posts here. To the OP, out of curiosity, what was your forecast last night (you're potentially kinda close to me)? They called for a trace to an inch here and I woke up to 5".

    Anyway, I have a clause in my contract that states they may be billed if it's done when I show up. I've never implemented that clause in almost 10 years but situations can be very different. I have less than a 50 mile route and plow over 50 drives. Like someone else said, I have another driveway less than 2 minutes away, sometimes next to it. It really doesn't bother me. However, if I had to drive several miles and minutes you better believe they'd be getting charged something! Just today I had 2 of them that were shoveled. I simply made a note not to charge them. I can totally see both sides to this situation.

    IMO, if communication and education doesn't work, drop them. Although, I only deal with my customers for plowing. I don't know if your plowing customers are also landscaping customers or something. It gets trickier then since you're depending on them for income throughout the year.

    I wish you the best of luck resolving the issue. Once you pick through all the crap and end up with good customers and a good route, residentials can be profitable and fun. I still question why the majority of people absolutely HATE residentials.
  16. flakesmeangreen

    flakesmeangreen Senior Member
    Messages: 217

    I got a good laugh out of that one! :drinkup:
  17. grapeford

    grapeford Junior Member
    Messages: 18

    This cuts right to the residential snowplow dilemma. Alot of us have customers that we provide lawn service,mow, fert, irrigation etc.. We'd like to keep them year round, we're in the service industry. If I've plowed my solid lawn/Fert. customer for many years, we've had 8-10 storms this year, and he decides he wants to get his lazy ass kids to go out and shovel or has a buddy with a plow to save a buck, what do you do ? It would would be great if they could pick up the phone and say don't bother. It's a tough one. Don't want to bite the hand that feeds you
  18. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    As with everyone else I had a few today. Most were long time clients and good payers. Some do it every sunday storm others it was the first time. My contract states to charge them, but I wont. On the other hand I had one who is always an invoice dragger, has the cars parked all over the place, and wants seasonal client treatment with on call service, problem is he doesnt want to call, he wants us to drive there and see if he has done it yet. He did this to me 2 of the last 3. I will bill all three, and continue to do so. If he wasnt next door to a good client I would have dropped him years ago.
  19. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,931

    i ran into that years ago, bill those fawkers full price if you sitll have to come out. Screw that, if you have any contract saying 2"+, print out a weather report showing 2" for their area or more and mail it with the bill. If they dont like it, theyll end up having to pay it in court. Your drive time there is what your billing for, not dropping the plow and pushing for 2 minutes :/
  20. deere615

    deere615 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,919

    I had this happen to me last year, I just left went and started another account ten minutes away and she called me to come finish! It also happened today, customer salted his hill, I cleaned up at the top and bottom. I will probably just bill for like 25%