Seasonal price - gives either a limited or unlimited number of pushes
Per occureence or per push - charge each time you drop the blade
By the hour - charge for each hour equipment is operating
By the inch - charge either in increments (e.g. 1 to <3", 3" to <6", etc.) or by the inch all together (e.g. $500.00 per 1" of snow fall)
By the storm - charge for any snow plowing that occurs during a storm front.
The method of pricing largely depends on the area and what the expectations of the area are - or the tradition. I recently found out about the storm pricing from someone on the east coast. By the inch is typically for larger contracts - however, we're beginning to charge our sidewalks in inch increments, such as 1" to <3" and 3" to 6", etc.
Our per push is every time we drop the blade we charge. If the snow is over 6" it may mean charging twice since we have to plow the lot twice.
Seasonal contracts include 25 plowings after which time it reverts to per push.
Pricing doesn't matter for 1" or 2" trigger depths - same either way since all of our accounts are under 3 acres in size.
My method is to charge for the amount of snow that falls in any given 24 hour period. 24 hours after the start of a snow starts another billing cycle. So it looks like:
3" to 6" - $x
over 6" to 9" - $x(times 1 1/2)
over 9" to 12" - $x(times 2)
over 12" $x(times 2) + $y per inch over 12"
This would be within any 24 hour period, then it would start all over.
Had one customer from last year claim that was too complicated so he dropped me (which was fine with me). Another I picked up this year said he liked it and thought it was very fair. Everybody else just didn't comment at all about it when I sent letters this year.
I do residentials and give the customer a per trip or unlimited option. However, it states in the per trip contract during larger storms several trips may be needed. My trgger is 3" . I start at 3", if the snow continues so do I. The homeowners seem to like this per trip or unlimited choice. I also like it cause they decide. That way they cant get mad at me if they pay a lot for unlimited and we have a light winter. I find that my customers are split 50/50 per trip V. unlimited.
We are in the Westchester/Putnam area also and we charge our residential and small commercial accounts by a per push price with a trigger of 3". Than we tell them that if the storm is over 6" we'll have to return for a second visit and so forth depending on the storm. Than we charge extra for the people that want de-icing and this is an added cost to a cost for the visit. As you know, last year we had hardly anything here but the year before we had several fairly small storms so we did real well with this method. For our larger commercial accounts we offer them a per inch price or a seasonal contract price with a set number of visits. If those visits are all used up and additional visits are made than we revert back to a per visit price and we put a clause in for snow moving if we have to bring a loader to a site because of several large storms. This seems to work pretty good for us but we're always looking for better ways to do things so any suggestions are appreciated.
I use a tape measure at my place. Since all my accounts are within a few miles of me, everybody has agreed to accept my word when I bill them. However, I also cut some slack if it's within an inch or so of the "breaking point". Larger outfits would obviously need other methods such as weather reporting service. Most such contracts will state that measurement will be by an "independent weather reporting source".
And, yes, I put a clause in my letters this year that the structure was a result of the snowfall that Buffalo, NY got - 7 feet over a period of several days.
Paul and Brother, I thought you Westchester guys worked by contract, not per push. It sounds like this isn't the case. Up here, it seems that only large commercial work is by contract, small commercial and residential is by push.
I've been trying to start converting to contract due to last season's dismal results, but no one else around here is doing it that way and it's a hard sell.
I might try Lawn Lad's method of offering an option next season and see how many takers I get.
From my limited experience a combination is good. I tried selling everyone on seasonal. About 50% took seasonal. With 8 month contracts I asked for 1/3 upon signing 1/3 Jan 15, 1/3 March 1. I got some money to maintain/purchase equipment. I took a beating on my seasonals this weekend, but surely made up for it with my per push accounts.
I don't think their is a perfect ratio. I just know that I am glad I did both. I had the money to get a second plow and I had the income from a big storm.
thanks guys for all the advice,
im not new to plowing, i price per snowfall, in increments and have had good experiances so far. i just like to see how everyone else does it. i tried to charge per push, but my clients wouldnt go for it. so i think your right in saying you have to have a mix of them all. thanks again
While a blizzard clause is nice, the strict definition of a blizzard would make most large snowfalls non blizzard type events. So we have the following clause instead.
"extreme winter weather, excessive snowfall( any snowfall in which snow accumlation is sustained at 1" per hour or greater for more than 3 hrs), and blizzard conditions will be charged at out discretion."
That way we have more leeway in determining when we can charge for extras.
As a side note, in the 5 years we have had this clause we have never used it.
I’m from Westchester as well! All my residential drives are done by the push every 6". So in a snow fall with about 8" of snow we will plow twice and charge twice! This way I don’t receive any complaints about them not being able to get in and out of their house!
Also will cover my A$$ in very large snow storms!
When it comes to my Commercial lots. All of them are of good size and with mixed pricing. One is on a per visit . One is on a 6" increments (1 to 6, 6.1 to 12, 12+) and another is on 3" increments ( 1 to 3, 3.1 to 6, 6.1 to 9, 9.1 to12, 12.1 to 15" and 15+ per inch!) I have one fix price contract out that I am still waiting for an answer on the contract. This one would be a fixed rate no matter how much it snows, remove would be additional and needed after a 6" snow storm! I think they are waiting for snow to start falling before the get back to me
Hey Clean Cut - sounds like we're in the same ballpark. I'm sure a lot of us would like that Pepsi contract. And Pelican - I'd like to get some of our residential accounts on contract so I have a better grip on the budget for the winter but after last year no one wants to pay for any contract that has more than like 3 plow visits. We did great on our commercial contracts last year but even those want to reduce their visits and overall contract price now because of last year. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this year is like 2 yrs ago and some of the residential customers might see the advantage to a contract price.
I think timing would be key to switching to contract plowing, it would sell better after a heavy year. On another thread someone mentioned they get a retainer fee per month, and per push fees are deducted from that until the balance exceeds the retainer, then regular per push fees apply. That sounds like the best of both worlds.
I hope you are were not thinking I plowed for Pepsi.... I made SODA!!
No kidding, I was there doing product research. Then I went to culinary school up in Hyde Park (CIA) and then I ended up in Colorado. Pretty much know used to know that part of the woods very well. Grew up in Wilton, worked at Pepsi, lived in Chappaqua for a 1 year (in a DUMP). Wife worked at USTA in White Plains