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Seasonal contract questions

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by excav8ter, Apr 30, 2015.

  1. excav8ter

    excav8ter Senior Member
    Messages: 554

    So, i have kind of stayed away from seasonal contracts because most of the places we take care of didn't want to ho seasonal. Now, at least 2 out of 5 condo associations want to go seasonal. They are looking for a way to better plan for their budgets every year. Currently we are per push, and sometimes, depending on the wind, we are there up to 3 times a day. We can have days of no snow, but get driveways totally blown shut.
    I am ok going seasonal, but in my mind that means that we only service them once in a 24 hour period. Am i wrong in thinking that? Or do guys that go seasonal go back as many times per day as needed? What about during snow storms/blizzards? Currently, we do whatever is needed to keep them open. If that means we blow the roads non-stop during the blizzard, that's what we do. The roads are all hourly, and under a Master Association. Then, all the condos get done, as much as needed to keep them open and in good shape.

    Any thoughts or comments are appreciated.

    We are meeting next week, to look at this, and possibly extended our contract with all 5 associations, and the Master Association, until spring of 2020.
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Plow till it stops snowing.1 time or 10 times a day. As for drifting you need a clause that states a mimium charge if it's1 or all of them. And the call must come from the manager not homeowners
  3. excav8ter

    excav8ter Senior Member
    Messages: 554

    I was afraid you'd say that. I just can't see me charging enough for those "what if" days, and them being on board with the cost, even though it makes it easier for them to budget. It's a condo association, and we all know how needy they seem to be. But they are all cheap too, while demanding top notch service. I'm going to have to give this some pretty serious thought.
  4. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    No.gov work up a bid for the basics . Then you tell them the charge is .say 250.00 to clean up driving each time they call.yes they are cheap.
  5. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,174

    A seasonal is a seasonal.....one price.....unlimited.

    Go back 5 years and figure the avg, add a few ℅ and give them a price.

    Add x for year 2-3 and 4.
  6. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    Like old dog said the price is the price. We don't charge extra for drifting just they don't give us money back for a light winter. Seasonals help us budget also and I pay some of my guys a flat rate for the winter so some years they make more or less per hour but it helps me budget.
  7. oarwhat

    oarwhat Senior Member
    Messages: 166

    What Old Dog said X2
  8. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,919

    If you've had these accounts several years, you know (or at least should) what the service history is. Add up your number of trips and recalls since you started them, then divide by the number of years. Multiply by your per service pricing and tada.

    I don't add any fudge factor to our seasonals. My fudge factor is some seasons they win, some seasons I win.


    If I could go all seasonal for every single account I'd do it in a heartbeat. We're about 90% seasonal. Even winter 13-14 we made money. Was it less than normal, sure. But we still made money. Snowfall was 3 times our average. What saved us was a salt price clause....if salt goes up, the customer is billed the difference. If it weren't for that, we would have barely broken even.
  9. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    Problem you have in his area at least, you really need more than five years of data cause the last five years has been all over the board.

    We switched an association over to seasonal back a few years ago when we had that really light winter and had a few grumblings, two years ago and everyone was happy as pie.

    Them people know you, take your numbers, like your pushes and cleanups and chart them out - you switched from plowing to blowing so the money per probably changed so you might just have to chart events verses dollars. Sit down and show them what you've had into it for what they were getting - who knows, maybe they want less cause of the dollars involved, maybe they're happy with the amount, just want consistency. You're dealing with an association, they probably want both though.

    From what I looked at for our numbers, last year was just a tad over normal, the year before was dang near double - you can't realistically sell it at the double rate but you have to have a little comfort factor in there, this ain't a hobby, and they should be gently reminded of that.

    Besides, if you ever had issues, I think I could put that tractor and a few others to work.........
  10. Maclawnco

    Maclawnco Senior Member
    from OH
    Messages: 695

    Ideally you'll have a balanced portfolio. somewhere around 33% seasonal, 33% hourly, 33% per occurence. We lucked into a really balanced book of business last winter and boy did it ease the stress knowing start of winter (no events in December) our leases and salt were paid for thru our seasonal and when Feb & Mar wouldn't quit, the hourly and per occurence paid for our overages on the seasonal work.
  11. excav8ter

    excav8ter Senior Member
    Messages: 554

    I should also note that i have plowed this place for 5 years, and now have 2 years with the tractor/blower. So i only have 2 years of "data" to go back on. Fortunately for us, both years have been above average. With the winter of '13/'14 being borderline epic, and this past winter being just above average. ThE association is offering to average the past 2 winters and use that as our starting point.
    I guess what kinda scares me is how many times this winter i sat in the tractor for 20+ hours, sometimes 30 hours, just to keep everyone clear. I guess somedays will be that way, and some will be a snap to blow everything. Maybe i am overly worried about seasonal pricing. The president of this association is also pushing for the entire development to continue using us, because he has seen a d experienced what it was like before the tractor/blower. There's a LOT of new owners and neighbors who have no idea what it looked like when we plowed the development.
  12. Herm Witte

    Herm Witte Senior Member
    Messages: 595

    With a number of our clients we have established what would be considered an average number of full service trips. We then allow for a few additional visits to allow for discrepancies. After all this additional per trip charges kick in. Feel free to give me a shout sometime.
  13. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,256


    Was that loud enough?
  14. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    If you could base it off the last two years, I'd think you'd be fine. We all remember the multi day stints this last season, but do you remember doing nothing in December?
  15. hyfire39

    hyfire39 Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    We do per push, per event, per hour, per inch and seasonal. The first three explain them selves. Seasonal is for the season up to 40.8 inches. Our avg is about 33inches. After we hit the 40.8 cap it goes to per inch pricing. We figure seasonals on a per inch rate times that by 40.8 and break the total down by the month. An event for us is 24hours then it is a different event even if its one storm. All ice control is per app not part of the seasonal.
  16. Herm Witte

    Herm Witte Senior Member
    Messages: 595

    Sometimes I hear and other times ...
  17. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,919

    Averaging the last 2 years if both were above average seems to be a win for you, IMO. First off, you had to have learned more each event in those 2 years, therefor making you faster. Second, if one (and we all know it was) was an absolutely insane winter, and the second was still a little above average, you'd be more than covered for 95% of winters.

    Give it a shot for a season. Sit down and talk with the HOA board and be honest with your concerns. Make sure you both agree on the terms of a callback, or for that matter a base service. Make sure they understand that just because it doesn't cost them per event anymore that calling every time there's a skiff of snow isn't going to work.

    Good luck!