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Questions to ask to "one timers"

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by snowdreaming, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. snowdreaming

    snowdreaming Member
    from Boston
    Messages: 45

    My biggest challenge it seems is to qualify people who call during a storm or right before a storm and aren't regular clients. I only do driveways. My general rule is that the later in the year someone calls, the shadier they are. My thinking is that why would someone call so late in the year?

    A few reasons why someone would call a month after the first snow I believe
    1. They only want do get a plow for a large storm
    2. They don't trust snow plow people and don't want to get into any contract
    3. They don't want you to see their obstructions on the property so your more likely to go ahead with it with some snow cover down already
    4. Their prior plow service either dumped them or they dumped them for nonpayment or some other beef
    the list goes on, these are just my most popular ideas
  2. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    Or someone might just need the driveway Plowed.....
    I would take care of all my customers i already have signed and then go after the Call ins....

    I would Never turn down a Potential customer in my service area....Unless you could Not agree on a Price or service perimeter.....
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011
  3. tuney443

    tuney443 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    5.They are STUPID for waiting so long.I take no sympathy with these morons and the prices I charge them reflect this.:)
  4. mycirus

    mycirus Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 589

    I think you are overthinking it. You dont know everyones situation. Could be a broken snowblower, they might be sick of shoveling, they might be low on cash. If they want a one time, so be it. This is a service industry. Go serve....
  5. LB1234

    LB1234 Member
    Messages: 91

    do this all the time. get the call AFTER the storm or halfway into it for the drive to be done. I simply explain in a professional manner that I can get them done AFTER all my contractural customers. Once they are taken care of I move to my first come fist serve customers in that order (I really do it in closest to the next account order). I give them an estimated time and explain the costs and payments. If they accept I go on the list if they don't they at least have my number for next time.

    I think you are missing the boat for not wanting to perform these "one-time" services. I have a lot of "regular" one time customers. At the end of the season it adds up.
  6. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 128

    6. They plow, blow, or shovel it themselves, but they just got a FREE, all expenses paid three week vacation in Aruba. Or they have money enough to do that on their own.

    7. Had a heart attack shoveling.

    8. Adult kids don't want Dad to shovel anymore, see # 7.

    9. Crackhead that was doing it got locked up, OD'ed, moved away.

    10. Kid that was doing it moved out, went back to school, got deployed overseas.

    11. Daughter broke up with boyfriend that was doing it.
  7. pmorrissette

    pmorrissette Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    Pleanty of reasons for people to call at the last minute...2 years ago my neighbor across the way came & knocked on my door to ask for my help...same guy who has a nice 20hp lawn tractor with a 48 inch snowblower on it...turns out he got a hernia at work a few days earlier and was going to be operated on...
  8. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    Not sure about driveways because we don't do them any longer

    But as far as commercial work, we do not take call-ins. When we did service call-ins, the problems outweighed the benefits. By the time we have completed our regular clients and got to the call-ins they had been driven on, packed down and one large sheet of ice. This required more ice melter than normal, had to apply product and then go back to plow after giving ice melter time to work, plow and re-salt. Then they got sticker shock when they got the bill, thought we were taking advantage of them and had nothing good to say about us. That's our experience with call-ins and that's why we generally don't do them.

    Driveways may be a different story but that's how it works commercially. I would rather get our clients serviced and let everyone go home.
  9. clark lawn

    clark lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    from NE ohio
    Messages: 1,233

    ussually when i tell them that it ends the call right there. they want me to drop everything and come plow them right away. when we had our large storm last year i had some woman at an apartment complex, just a call up not a regular, call me every 15 minutes until i finaly told her to to find someone else. she was crying because the tenants were getting pi$$ed at her bcause they couldnt get out. i had to tell her that poor planning on her part does not constitute an emergancy on mine.
  10. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    I dont understand this.....You would turn away commercial work???...As far as the Sticker shock.....Being a Professional...When you arrive on site you can pretty much determine what type of service and how much....Communication with The Potential Customer is Key...You explain the Service That you think is needed and a Estimate is givin with the instructions that the site could require even more service due to their Neglect to contract with a Snow Provider earlier in the Season....
  11. tuney443

    tuney443 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    I concur exactly.This identical scenario just happened to me.About a month ago I was informed that a nice commercial lot I've taken care of for 17 years was going to some low-baller this season because ''Corporate America'' [headquarters up in Selkirk,NY,suits that don't know squat about snow removal] needed to save on operating expenses somewhere.So,needless to say,I've been quite upset at that,but then just days before the blizzard last week,I get a call from the owner of a larger lot right across the street,a lot that I gave a proposal for 2 years ago.He says he should have gone with me then,as his guy just layed an egg on him and told him he went out of business.I could have taken advantage with pricing the proposal, but didn't,kept it fair.He was completely floored when I met him 6:30 AM Monday when I was finished on the third round plowing and then salting in that the lot was just starting to have a nice wet black look after that 18'' blizzard.He was amazed that especially for the first time,I aced it.
  12. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    I have a one time clause in my contract.
    check a box and clause #x applies

    If this Contract is for a one time service then payment is due prior to the commencement of any Work. One Time Service Customers acknowledge and agree plower has not inspected the property and has no responsibility for any damages caused to the property.

    and it's expensive. If you want to sign a contract for the rest of the year, the price is a lot more reasonable, but I'm not jumping up to deal with your disaster while my good customers are waiting without a good payment to me.

    it's no loss, they almost never sign.

    and it's almost always a waste of time where they are just calling thru the phone book looking for people (it's done by the time you get there)
    no contract, no work.

    ESPECIALLY on snow.
  13. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    Let me explain a little

    You are right. You can go and give estimates while it's snowing if you are looking for the work. However, we spend our time looking for work prior to the snow falling and sell the number of hours we need during the summer months so we are not running estimates while it's snowing.

    If a contractor has not sold the number of hours needed to complete their schedule, than I guess their only option is to run estimates and give prices why it's snowing. Nothing wrong with that if that's what it takes to complete the schedule. I have found it much easier to sell the necessary hours during the year and not deal with it while it's snowing.
  14. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    Never said anything about Running Estimates while its Snowing...This Thread is about Call ins.......

    I just don't see turning down potential Work......What if a rather large retail site calls and their toothless snow service is doing a lousy job and they are looking for a change.....Most likely its because its such a low price.....But, Whats it gonna hurt to tell them you will be there in the next day or so to talk numbers and service perameters....If they Like my numbers Great....If Not...Oh well.....

    There is no such thing as being Sold out for the Winter as you state....If i land more jobs during the course of the winter....I add more Equipment i.e. Sub contractors....
  15. LB1234

    LB1234 Member
    Messages: 91

    thats when you run away. you have to feel out this callers. if it smells like BS, they act like BS, chances are its BS. Kindly say you are full.
  16. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    For us there is such a thing as "sold out"

    For us we do have a stopping point. We set snow goals in the spring and try to fulfill those goals by August.

    Keep up the good work and adding more subs. If that fits your company profile and your goals that is exactly the way to do it.

    For us however, we have what we want and are not interested in hiring more subs at this point in the season. It's not right or wrong, it's what works best for you. I hope you guys have a great year in Michigan.

    Happy New Year.
  17. snowdreaming

    snowdreaming Member
    from Boston
    Messages: 45

    My impression of this business is that you turn away a lot of work. A lot of it just doesn't make sense to do. I'm constantly trying to figure out how to ask a few limited questions when I'm busy to evaluate if a call in customer is going to be less of a risk. I sometimes flat out ask them if they ever had a plow service before and if so what were their concerns. Sometimes people literally talk themselves out of getting a plow to be there and I'm happy I vetted it.

    I do get many successful call ins but I am very wary as the season goes as to why they are calling. By Feb/March the phone barely rings and when it does it gets MORE SUSPICIOUS.

    By the way I just plowed a guy's home 5 days after the blizzard. He was gone for 2 weeks and had no idea what to do. Luckily the snow was soft with the warm weather.
  18. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    This may be the case in your neck of hte woods, but I have the same problem as they did, I am about 65 Miles west of him. The commercial lot calls, wants you to clear the lot, been drove on, packed down and not to say anything about there business being open and cars driving all over the place, pulling infront of you while your trying to clear, driving through your piles or even parking on your smaller piles before you get to move them. The only reason they even called is to many customers complain. You see, here it takes customer complaints to get most of the business (other then chain stores) to clear there lot, the just figger it will go away or people have to deal with it. Its when customers complain they take action.

    You do your best, with what you have to work with and then you have to thretten to sue them as they refuse to pay.

    No, I will not do the one timer unless I can hit them before there open, or at least block off half the drive so I can clean it, as well as get half up front.
    Now this is different if I talk to them about getting on the route and they are looking over the contract with the posibility to score them for hte year, but a one time only, nope its my way or you can call mr lowball, he is down the street..