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Recorded Snow Fall Per Storm???

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by HandyHaver, Jan 30, 2001.

  1. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    The last storm we got out this way was kind of strange. I would say we got 6+ inches over 90% of my route. I billed 6-9" only had one guy (a doctor) complain about the price. The local news said we got around 6" along with the papers, but I know this guy got 6+ on his property. I only plowed it once because it came down so fast. I tried to explain to him that I would have prefered to do it twice. I also tried to explain that it takes about the same amount of time if I had plowed 3" twice or 6" once. Well the outcome was I gave it to the guy (telling him I would discount the 6-9" price instead of billing him for 2-6" and giving in to him) because of local news & papers. I know he had to have had 7 or 8" on his property.
    This guy really got my goat because he was the only one to complain (most of my other customers have already paid without question) and he sits up in his 3/4 mil estate measuring snow. I was wondering how others would have handled it. It's a gravy job and I also plow the lane up to his house that he splits with a neighbor on the lane.

  2. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

  3. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    No, not on the list but thanks anyway BRL

  4. TLS

    TLS PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,425


    Your pricing ladder seems a bit confusing? You say that you have one price for 2" - 6" and another for 6" - 9" ? What happens when you get exactly 6" ??? The 2" - 6" is too big of a jump. Try 2-4 and 5-7 and 8-10 and 11-13 etc. Have each price stated on the quote or contract and stick to it. Now, I realize that this was a heavier snow, but not our heaviest! The other biggie 8" we got was like plowing cotton balls, you bet though, I charged the 8-10 price.

    Just thought I'd share my thoughts neighbor!
  5. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279


    I did kinda screw that part up. What can I tell you, first year out, it's a learning curve. I will revise the contracts for next year if I should decide to do the res. work. Thanks for the advise.

  6. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    I think you have to go say 2-6 and then 6-9 and so on. If you skip say 2-5 and then 6-9 what happens when you get 5.5"
    You then have a grey area, a whole inch that the contract doesnt cover.
    I think its up to your discretion when it falls right at increment break, which pricing level you will use.
  7. TLS

    TLS PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,425

    Simple....Round UP!!! Remember the customer is not the BOSS, we are, at least when it snows.

    When is the last time a customer complained about 1/2 of an inch? None of my customers have ever complained about my pricing structure. They are just happy to have a clear lot/driveway for a predetermined price.
  8. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    In the case of this type of customer, he would complain about a 1/2". So having exact inch incements is vital in this case.
  9. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,256

    I don't quite understand how you bill by the inch for a storm, even if you use DTN or NWS for reporting. We get a fair amount of lake effect here (not nearly as much as JAA), but it can vary a mile down the road. Unless I'm not understanding it right, but I don't think that would work for us.
  10. TLS

    TLS PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,425


    Simple, say Lot 1 gets 4" and 5 miles away Lot 2 gets 7". Lot 1 gets billed $100 and Lot 2 gets billed $150. It usually doesn't vary that much here, but thats why I bill by the inch. The bills get sent out as soon as I finish plowing the storm. They are due Net 15 Days from invoice date.

    Hope this clears things up for you.
  11. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279


    All of my accounts on the main line had 6+ on the ground and were billed for it. I have 2 in Overbrook Farms that had at most 4", and they were billed for it. I gave in to this guy (this time) because he did get me two other large accounts and I'll make it up down the road. What really pissed me off was this guy accussing of trying to pad his bill. I explained to him he would get a discount this time but in the future he will be billed as per our contract even if I clear his drive with a blow dryer. And if I have to knock on his door at 4 am. to confirm a snow fall, at least I'm already up!!
  12. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    I have always hopped out of the truck with a tape measure, and measured the snow in 3 different parts of the driveway or parking lot. I then average it out. Usually, the measurement is the same at any given site. As others have said, it can vary, and some sites are subject to blowing and drifting snow, while other sites aren't.

    The only time it can get really tricky, is when the total is on the borderline between two price ranges. I then might take 4 or 6 measurements at a particular site.

    By that I mean if I have a price for snow from 1 - 4" and the next is from over4" - 8", and I measure 4" in one spot, and 5" in another, I will measure a few more spots. If overall the site seems to have 4" or more, they are billed for it. If the site has less than 4" in 3 spots, and 4" in one, they get billed for 1 - 4".

    I had several residential accounts on a steep hill, and often there would be little snow on the lawns, because the wind blew it all onto the driveways. So even on a 3" snowfall, the driveways could easily have 6" on them (more than 1/2 of the driveway). The customers were billed for 6" since that's what the contract states, and that's what I measured and plowed.

    I can't rely on what the NWS says they got in a major city 4 miles away, because experience has taught me that every site is different. I get paid for what I plow, it's as simple as that. It may be technical, but that's why I have ranges on my contracts.

    During the blizzard of 96 here, we got 30" of snow. Some driveways with 6 foot high retaining walls on both sides were filled in level on top! That's 6' of snow! Others had 4' and 5' drifts up to the garage doors extending 15 feet out into the driveway. Believe me, they were billed accordingly!

  13. HandyHaver

    HandyHaver Senior Member
    Messages: 279


    I haven't done that as yet and if the customer isn't around it's not really going to do any good. I've serviced my accounts to the point where close to all of them have complimented me on the job we have done. I try to maintain this quality of service but also would like a little trust.
    Me knocking $60.00 bucks of this guys bill isn't going to kill me. But in turn don't ask me to clear the snow in front of the mail box if it's not on the contract. If that's the way I gotta be with this guy, then so be it.

    JD PLOWER PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 751

    Pricing Per Inch.

    This has been a subject of a lot of controversy around these parts for a long time. The first thing I do to avoid problems with breaking down my billing system is to explain in my contract that 4 inches means 4.0". If we happen to receive 4.1 inches than they get pushed up to the next price bracket (4-8). I get these figures from the local paper, usually the next day and most large commercial customers insist on using the paper as the final say in snowfall totals. The problems start because the weather service in Boston is located about 50yds from the shore witch almost always receives 1-2 inches less than eveywhere else in Boston, so the breaks usually fall in their favor. The more savy commercial accounts are well aware of this fact and use it to their benefit. So these problems can happen anywhere.
  15. Frank

    Frank Member
    Messages: 35

    your a service company just like me and others. you have to take the good with the bad if its worth it you stick with that client and state the rules. many theads before me are on target there is to much room btween your inches for someone to complain. at one time i had the same void in my inches and made the change 2-4, 4.1-6 and so on.
  16. Henry

    Henry Member
    Messages: 55

    How much do you increase the price for each increment? Is it a percentage of the base price or just a set dollar amount?
  17. TLS

    TLS PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,425

    I guess I'm just lucky to have nice contracts, most I've had for over 12 yrs. No problems yet on billed price. Sometimes I tack on more if its heavy. If I have to go back and clear drifts, its extra. Nothings free.


    I guess you could say the increases are on a percentage scale, however, not a set percentage. If its a driveway, first of all, they dont get contracts. Most of my driveways are summer lawn customers that like I said, have been with me for 12-15 yrs. Driveways dont require much more work when its 4" or its 8". Its still a single push in and widen up at the garages. A normal example would be for a small side loading garage driveway. $25 for normal snows $30 if its 8" or so, and any deeper, I will just make up a fair price. Unless its like John said and had 5' drifts or whatever, then the skys the limit! I had many friends during our 30" blizzard with straight blades call me 2 days after the storm to open up driveways that they couldnt get through (3'-5' Drifts). I had over 2000lbs of salt for weight and chains on the rear. Its pretty cool what a V-Plow is capable of under those conditions.

    Anyway....As for parking lots, as the inches go up, so does the price. Here is an exapmle of one of my lots.

    11&UP...$ Priced According to Storm

    This leaves the top end (which we rarely get) open for double and triple visits, drifts, etc.

    This last time (we got an average of 8"), this lot got billed $325. There was a layer of Ice under the 8" and it took a lot longer than normal. If it would have been a light fulffy 8" snow, they would have gotten charged prob $250 or so.

    Hope this helps.

    It may not be the right way...but this works for me.

    [Edited by dixie1 on 01-31-2001 at 10:10 AM]
  18. Chip

    Chip Member
    Messages: 43

    I like your breakdown on storms. I may switch to it for next season. Here is what I currently use on 1 of my lots:
    0-4" $225.00
    4-8" $350.00
    over 8" $500.00
    with a Blizzard clause that states excessive snow fall or blizzard conditions will warrant price adjustments.
  19. TLS

    TLS PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,425


    Not to beat a dead horse, but what if we get 4". Do you charge $225, $287.50 (midway) or $350? This sounds like a pretty good lot!!! I'd watch with the Blizzard clause though. We could easily get 18" and it not technically be a blizzard!

    Just my thoughts....again! ;)
  20. Chip

    Chip Member
    Messages: 43

    Tom don't mean to bust on you but what if we get 4 1/2" what do you charge $200 or $240.I would charge $225.00. 18" would fall in the excessive snow fall range. As you know we don't get too many of those around here, maybe every 3-4 years if lucky.

    Off topic a little. I talked to Pa-Plow Rick about getting together for lunch sometime soon. It would be at the Reed's Blue Bell Hotel in Center Square. Anyone else in the Southeast Pa area interested in a business discussion lunch send me an email and I'll send you date, time and directions.