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Quantity vs Quality

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by glenspot, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. glenspot

    glenspot Senior Member
    Messages: 255

    Quantity vs Quality

    I've been having some headaches recently with customers who think that my price is too high, that I come too often....the usual sort of stuff.

    Have you ever tried quantity over quality? Let me explain.

    When I plow residential (most of mine are residential). I work very hard to clean up run-off, make sure I have back bladed as CLOSE to the garage as I can. I'll get in front of their mailbox. If I see that they shovel a walkway at a certain place, I turn the plow so it runs off the other way....even if it takes a couple more pushes to get it cleared fully. I might even back-blade up to the walk...so they don't ever have to shovel what I left behind. Plus, I check back at their house later if I think the plow might have gone by.. I try to take the extra time, so when the customer, or their neighbor, looks at my work....they say "wow, i wish my plow guy did that for me"...(then promptly call and hire me).

    I priced my jobs based on 15 minutes per house, if needed. So, I tried to come up with a figure that would make me money, and pay the bills. MOST of my residentials are in the 20 - $25 dollar range. That means that AT MOST i predicted about $100 an hour in gross income.

    HOWEVER.... the level of service that I perform doesn't seem to be the NORM of what plow companies do around here. MOST of them come by...give it a couple of swipes. I've see snow piled in locations that is convenient for the PLOW guy...but not very convenient for the customer. They don't clean up the run off very well...and move on. Maybe 4 or 5 total swipes with the plow per house.

    So, have they figured out something I haven't yet. They can take 5 minutes (or less) per house. Do a crappy job....but get $15. Then...oooh...i don't know.. Do 10 or 12 per hour.... So, they're making between $150 - $200 an hour.

    Their customer is happy, because the monthly bill is low, and their driveway got plowed "good enough"... While the little things I do to make them happy...cost twice as much. And take twice as much time.

    Quantity vs Quality.

    We talk a lot on here about how you should "do a good job, and word will get around, etc".... What if thats not the case?

    What if we live in a wal-mart world where people just want the service at a cheap price. Yeah, you can buy Levi's or Carhartt jeans down the street at a higher priced retailer....but why spend $35 on jeans when Walmart has them for $14.99. Forget quality. Forget customer service.

    Why spend $25 on a plow guy that makes sure you are taken care of...when you can spend $10 on a plow guy that BARELY does the job. But, he does "plow your driveway".

    Its called "what the market will bear", I guess. I just keep on learning every day.

  2. Mick

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

    I think every business has to define themselves from the beginning. Are "you" going for quality merchandise/service or quantity? Yes, Walmart is crowded with shoppers whereas another store (ie: Tiffany's - both sell jewelry) is not. So the WalMart shopper goes into Tiffany's and complains that thier prices are too high. They can get something similar at WalMart. Yes, it may not have the same quality and I may not get the same service or the same after-sale care, but it's good enough. And, unless you know jewelry, it may even look the same. So what if it falls out of the setting and tarnishes my finger - it's good enough.

    So, lesson here is that each store sells jewelry, but each has defined their market base. WalMart is not trying to attract the "Tiffany customer" and Tiffany's is not going after the WalMart customer.

    Which are you?
  3. scuba875

    scuba875 Senior Member
    Messages: 250

    When I plowed for a guy I was alway the last one back to the shop. We all got 25 houses on our route it would take me around 8 hours to do mine while most the other guys would be done in 4-6. After 3 years I still was at the same time, I got frustrated and decided to quit plowing. I really thought I was doing something wrong. Now years later I have found that my biggest problem is that I am a perfectionist. Looking back I realize that I took my time and did a job that I thought I would be happy with if I were paying for it.

    To be honest most guys that I work with on other jobs just don't care. They are there for the money and could care a less about how they represent the company that they work for and they take no pride in their own work.

    I turn down a lot of work because the customer want's to jerry rig something to save money. I can't do something if it's not done 100%. Now along with that comes a big problem there is often times that I struggle financially because I turn stuff like that down.

    I look at it like this, I may have some hard times but I can be proud of the work I have done and I never have to walk away feeling bad that I didn't do my best.

    On the up side my regular customers never question the bill and they always pay on time. Those are the type of people I want to work for anyways. They know I always do my best and trust me. The few times I have done work for a penny pincher, the pay is either late or they hover over your shoulder to make sure your not screwing them. Then they want to negotiate the bill after the work is done, who needs that aggravation.

    Unfortunately people will settle for less if they can save a few dollars. Usually it ends up costing them far more in the long run.
  4. The Coach

    The Coach Junior Member
    Messages: 25

    Keep doing what your doing at the price you need to make a profit. In many instances its the little things that make the difference between being a pro or being a hack.

    The "Meyers" analogy is a good one. I sometimes use a restaurant one. Ask them what they want........ a nice meal or McDonald's. I them politely tell the "I don't do McPlowing" or in the case of my bodyshop, we don't do McPaintjobs.

    By the way...........Where the heck is Ramsay??

  5. MN_BR

    MN_BR Member
    Messages: 57

    Very well stated glenspot. I know where you are coming from. My dad is a ram and slam type guy and wonders why it takes me longer to get things done or why i do it so neat.

    Most of my residentals are older retired ppl so i try and make it as easy as possible for them. (backdragging from very close to the garage, walk etc.) You see it so often where the runoff ends up in front of the garage or across the sidewalk, those runoffs get very hard and difficult to shovel even for me.

    Another sloppy shortcut is pushing across a road or street. I do know in SOME applications that is the only way to do it, but that makes me crazy for some reason.

    The hard thing about this is: "piss off 1 person they tell 20 others, impress 1 person and they only tell 5 others"

    I can recoginze a good plow job when i see it, nice straight lines, good piles and thats what i strive for, even if it takes a little longer.
  6. snow_man_48045

    snow_man_48045 Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    A lot of people see the snow plow guy as a evil necessity. Most people don't know the difference between a good plower or bad when it comes to the little things. Only the educated/experienced client will notice. Most a dumb and just want someone to show up at a cheep price. In my area I would not touch a drive for less than 25.00 Most drives hear are double car width wide.
    For the past 10 years I'Ve had clients that pay from 25 and up to 50 for their res. drive to be plowed. Never lost one client yet, everyone still happy..
    Like you said, I am picky too! I can't stand those people that push snow in the road :angry: and leave a mess! Moat city's hear will fine you, but they seem to be lacking the ticket books this season!
  7. glenspot

    glenspot Senior Member
    Messages: 255

    Ramsay is in the UP .... far west. In Gogebic County (the only county in Michigan in the CENTRAL time zone). About 15 from the Wisconsin border

    Also, in the HEART of BiG SNOW COUNTRY. http://www.bigsnow.com/

  8. northernsweeper

    northernsweeper Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    Sounds to me Glen like you are the type of plower I would want doing my driveway.I feel exactly the same way you do.When I am done with a driveway or lot, I want to look at it and be happy with the finished job. I want to see no trails anywhere,clean corners,and a good job of backdragging.I wouldn't change a thing,quality does count.Keep up the good work!!
  9. stumper1620

    stumper1620 Senior Member
    Messages: 222

    i have a few pi**&moaners, when they do that its usually when we are talking price, i tell them up front about the little extras i throw in that are not on the contract.
    i don't have to clear your mail box but i always do, i don't have to shovel the snow out to where the blade can get it, but i usually do unless i'm trying to stay with the storm, i don't have to push the snow over in that corner of the yard i could pile it at the end, but then you can't see to leave. now, we can either agree to my price or i can come down to yours but my quality will follow and be far less.
    i prefer the best job possible. all of them have accepted the quality over speed every time, i have even received cards with season ending bonuses because i kept them so happy with my work :waving:
  10. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    I say do what makes you happy, I always try to give others what I would expect if I was paying someone.

    Most people will frequent a shop or use a person they feel comfortable with because they make a connection with them, they might like the person and dont really care about the service- the driveway is clear enough, they take out their shovel and clean up a bit and when it comes time to pay they sit and chat with Joe Blow Snow Service for 20 minutes joking and what not.

    Some people hire the guy and not necessarily the service.
    Some people want perfection and are willing to pay extra for it- these are the good customers!
  11. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    When I was younger, an old guy told me. He said to get the customer you have to sell your self, not the service. To keep the customer you have to give the service not your self. Now, I have told you, because now I am the old guy. Works for me.
  12. stumper1620

    stumper1620 Senior Member
    Messages: 222

    i like that,
    goes right along with "you will never have a lot of money as long as someone else is signing your check". :drinkup:
  13. xlr8

    xlr8 Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    I get $40 per drive and the people love me to the point where I've received tips, thank you letters asking to put them on my list , and even Christmas cards,WHY, cause I get out of the truck and shovel everything in front of garage to where the plow can swipe it ,also shovel front walk plow out mail box and just do a good job....The good buy is always better than the get buy.