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Per Occurance

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Idahoplow, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. Idahoplow

    Idahoplow Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    I am new to the snow plowing business this season and have just received a request for bid on three parking lots.

    They are asking for the removal of 1" of snow or the projected accumulation of 1" or more of snow with the bid priced per occurrence.

    Does this mean that I should only bid once per snow fall or for the full snow fall. Per occurance means? When I drop the plow or every snow fall?

    Just wondering, thanks for any info.
  2. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    Generally per occurence means that each time you plow, you charge. If that's 1" or 3", you charge 'em once for that plow. If you go back later in the day or begin plowing again, that would be a second charge... "per occurrence".

    The 1" is the trigger depth, when you begin plowing. So you'll be ready to go at 1/2 or 3/4", when it hits 1" you begin plowing.

    If you use the search feature and read about different contract types, you'll see all the different variations that people put into their contracts. For instance, tiering the per occurence so that you charge from 1 - 4", 4 - 8", etc. Or, some may opt to charge for a second plowing if the snow is 6" or greater on that push. At a 1" trigger though, you should be hitting that several times during the day that you wouldn't have a 6" snow fall all that often. Maybe one overnight where you get 8 or 10 hours of accumulation it might be more likely.
  3. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Welcome to Plowsite. :waving:

    i think Lawn Lad has pretty much summed it up well.Either way,you will need to tier the pricing or bill for multiple pushes to accommodate different snowfall amounts.
  4. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    Lawn lad, I beg to differ...

    What you describe is what I'd call "per push".

    My definition of "per occurence" would be, in plainer and totally untechnical terms, "per snowstorm". In other words, if it snows 6" today, that's the "occurance" of one snowfall, regardless of how many times you visit the property to plow the snow. I agree with Wyldman about structuring the pricing the cover multiple visits, if the contract language is "per occurance".

    In some other threads recently this has been discussed and it's been mentioned that contrat language should also state that each 24 hour period is a different "occurance", (for those times that it just seems to snow constantly for three days).

    I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. It's certainly an important enough point to have clear between the customer and the contractor.
  5. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    In another thread I said how it's interesting that different areas of the country use different terminology. It's confusing. This is one of the reasons that I believe SIMA should work at collecting and then publishing a list of standard terms for the industry.

    Digger... I would think your "Per occurrence" is more along the lines of "Per storm" or "Per event". Per occurrence means each time I do the work. I expand the per occurrence term to include salting. If I say per push, then how do I say "per salting"? I could say per push and per salting, but I shorten it to say per occurence, no matter what the type of service.

    The only problem that I see with a standard set of terms is trying to reconcile the different uses of terms in various parts of the country. However, if the industry can represent the same terms across the board, it will not only make it easier for all of us to commincate, but it will also be easier to educate the customer and help them to be more informed. Who knows... we'll see what happens with a dictionary of terms down the road.

    For now... I'll stick with calling stuff per occurence. I do however, have customer who will say, "what?" not understanding. Then I tell explain that we invoice for each time we do the work. They then say, well, no contract? Yes, there is a contract no matter they type of pricing structure, but the price strucutres will be 1) per occurence 2) limited seasonal or 3) no limit seasonal contract.

    Some people seem to equate "per push" or "per occurence" pricing with meaning no contract... and they have to call each time they want the work completed. There is a lot of education that is needed, both at the contractor and at the customer level. And since everyone does it differently, the customer is easily confused - or worse yet they think they know what they want and then write it down as spec, often making no sense.
  6. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    I can see how someone could easily misunderstand with all the different terms used.I would agree that "per occurance" would be interpreted as "per snowfall".Clear and specific contractual definitions are very important.The 24 hr period per occurance is important too,or you could be stuck plowing for days.

    The only way to go with true per occurance is the tiered pricing structure.So if you get 3" from the storm,or occurance in taotal,you bill for your 2-4" price.Other wise it would have to be defined as per push,with a set price per push.So a if your pushing every 2",then a 3" snowstorm would be billed as two pushes.

    Again,the contact or bid wording is key here.Make sure you discuss all the different billing options with them,so they are as well informed as you are.Might also be a good time to discuss seasonal pricing as well,so you,and them don't have to worry about all this stuff. :D
  7. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Welcome to Plowsite!

    We've been discussing a lot of this in depth in another current thread here (though it's in the Snowplowing Forum & now I think we should have moved it here maybe). Digger242, I also can see where people can interpret that wording both ways. However, in this case, the terms that IdahoPlow posted are specifically defining the per occorence as what we call "per push".

    "the removal of 1" of snow", "with the bid priced per occurrence"
    That is specifically saying they want a price for each time the act of removing the snow happens. Looking in my Webster's, the other definition of occurence is "event, incident" so we could certainly interchange "per occurence" with "per event" when using that definition. And for fun I looked up "event" 1. an occurence 2. an outcome. So now I see we can interchange "per event" with both "per push" & "per storm" based on it's definition. So we went from making Plow Babe :confused: to now making IdahoPlow :confused: along with the rest of us I'm sure. Or we'll end up :sleeping: or :cry: from reading through these great threads.

    Anyway, Lawn Lad and these last few threads brings up the great point of the need for a standard of terms for our business. When we are posting here we use "per push" a lot along with many other terms. I will say that I don't use that phrase with my customers,who may have never plowed snow & have no idea what I'm talking about. Like LL mentioned he has clients ask him "What?" when reading the specifics of the contract. For my communications with the clients I use the terms "per snow storm" for "per event"and "per clearing or removal of snow from the lots\walks" for "per push" to put things in layman's terms for them. When talking to my fellow snow plowers here "we pushed the lots 6 times in that big dump last month" but when claryifying for my client, "we completely removed the snow from your lots & walks 6 separate times during the blizzard last month". Isn't the English language such fun?
  8. seville009

    seville009 Senior Member
    from CNY
    Messages: 877

    One basic rule that I try to always follow when involved in drafting contracts (not just snow removal) is to keep things simple and make sure that any individual that reads the contract interprets the terms as they were intended.

    I view it from the standpoint that a contract is there solely to resolve conflicts should they arise. I approach it by thinking - if I'm standing in a court trying to explain my position to a judge, will the contract that I am showing the judge show clearly that I am in the right?

    The best way that I know of to accomplish this is to put examples right in the contract that illustrate terms that may be open to different interpretation by different people.

    The different meaning of "per occurence" cited in this thread is a very good example. If you use "per occurence" in your contract, put in an example that clearly shows what you mean by "per occurence". Make it crystal clear within your contract that it means per snowstorm or per push, whatever your intention is.

    I can guaranty you that doing so will always pay back in the end due to less hassles and arguing with the other contract party or judge as to "what that contract term means".
  9. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    Having a section of "Definitions" isn't a bad idea. Before long you could have a 10 page contract. I agree, defining the vocabulary you use is important.
  10. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    The English language does have *so* many shades of meaning for any given word!

    My issue with "per occurance" is that, to me anyway, "occurance" carries the meaning of a thing that happens but is not within your control. Volcanic eruptions, full moons, tornadoes, and snowstorms are vents that "occur". Snowplowing and salting (at least from our perspective), is an event that is *made* to happen, hence I'm not comfortable referring to it as an "occurance".

    I agree that some standard definitions are required.
  11. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    There's nothing in Webster's talking about who controls the occurence. The Raiders - Broncos Monday Night Football game occured. The PTO meeting I went to last night occured. It was made to happen by being scheduled, the parents & teachers went & had their disucssions, and then it adjourned. The tornadoes that touched down today in NJ occured. So in these cases we had occurences of events and some were within our control, & some weren't. IMO, there are enough occurences of double meanings of English words that actually occur naturally, without us actually changing a definition to create even more definitions LOL ;) :confused:
  12. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    I understand that the dictionary doesn't make the distinction, but to me it has just a little bit different shade of meaning.

    What would you think if one of your drivers called you and said, "While I was plowing the lot at the QuickieMart, an accident occurred" ? You'd probably want more details, and when you were told, "I didn't check my mirrors and backed into somebody's Mercedes", you'd probably feel that referring to it as something that just "occurred" was a little misleading.

    Last night's PTO meeting occurred, but if you asked the school Principal or teachers what had gone on last night they'd probably answer, "We held a PTO meeting". That's because they *made* it happen.

    Snowstorms occur, and a casual observer might watch the snowplowing as it occurs, but from the perspective of the snowplower I don't think any of us would feel it's an "occurrence". Heck, after a few hours it begins to feel an awful lot like work.

    (BTW, I recognize that this might well be the most trivial discussion that's ever occurred here on PlowSite. Maybe there should be an award for that...) :)
  13. Idahoplow

    Idahoplow Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    Thanks for all the help everyone.

    I have decided to include a definition of per occurance in my bid so that the meaning is clear to all involved, I thought that would be the best way to cover my tail.

    I didn't think it was that trivial. When you deal with a customer that may have one idea of what per occurance means and you have another meaning, things can get expensive for both sides if there is not a mutual understanding of what work is going to be completed.

    Thanks again, Jerry
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2003
  14. Plow Babe

    Plow Babe Senior Member
    Messages: 218

    We just submitted a bid that was requested on a "per-push" basis, but with some of the other wording in their specifications, it was not clear what they meant by it. So I typed up four different scenarios and detailed what we would charge for each one according to the pricing we were submitting. I then made a note that this page was made part of our bid package.

    I don't know yet if we will get the account, but the contact person said it was very helpful to have that information.
  15. CPSS

    CPSS Senior Member
    Messages: 334

    In my contracts I call it "per plowing". That way there can be no confusion. If we plow 3 times during one day, one night, one week.....It doesn't matter, It's still 3 plowings, and we bill for each.
  16. JustUsDe

    JustUsDe Senior Member
    Messages: 181

    My subdivision accounts are priced as to increments of Snow fall per snow event. Its up to me on how many times I plow it.
    I price them as follows
    2 to 4
    4 to 8
    8 to 12
    12 to 16
    over 16 is considered blizzard conditions and will be priced at 12 to 16 plus $250.00 per hour for heavy equipment with operator.

    I have a few subdivisions that are real close so if we get an event that will produce more than 4 I figure I will keep one truck running through all of them not to let the snow to accumulate to much.
  17. NoStockBikes!!

    NoStockBikes!! Senior Member
    Messages: 213

    I agree with the guys who would assume occurrence refers to the now event. I think you'd be inviting disputes to use that language. A storm occurs, you push the resulting snow out of the way. All it would take is a judge to agree that the storm is the occurrence, not the work performed, and you could end up plowing 36" of snow times 6" at a time over a 3 day blizzard for $20. I'd ditch the "cute" technical terms and be MUCH more obvious with the intent of the contract. "Each time I come to plow, it will cost $XXX. If it's snowing really hard, I will have to come back every 6 inches for additional pushes @ $XXX."
  18. seville009

    seville009 Senior Member
    from CNY
    Messages: 877

    A good example is the WTC - a judge ruled last week that the two separate plane crashes into each tower were one terrorist event, so the owner can only collect once from the insurance companies. He had argued that these were two separate attacks, so two separate claims. He lost.

    Two sides, two different interpretations, so end up in court.

    Make it clear and simple in your contract exactly what you mean.
  19. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    Wow! Forget all the other long term forecasts. This winter is bound to be a whopper. A legal opinion has been handed down that actually makes sense--It must be a cold day in H*ll !! :eek:
  20. IA snoman

    IA snoman Senior Member
    from Ia
    Messages: 153

    Just wanted to thank Wyldman and others responding to my questions on the site. However I have another one with the pricing of contracts. Here most of all jobs are bid hourly. I would like to bid per plow or seasonally. I have seen how some break down their prices into snowfall amounts, 2-4", 4-8" etc. Can somebody help me by telling what a going rate is for this type of method. I know it is only an estimate, but I don't want to be out of line high or low. Plus some people freak out when you tell them you charge 50-150/Hr. I just want to give the customer some options so they feel comfortable and in control of the situation while I too feel I am in control and make things as easy for the both of us.:confused: :)