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Some Customers do nothing but complain!

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by ladder6, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. ladder6

    ladder6 Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    So here is my dilemma...I am getting sick and tired of customers complaining about how many visits I need to make and why thier bill is so much.
    Case and point: I do a fairly long 400-500 foot driveway and I charge $60 for 1st push. If I need to come back again, I charge 1/2 the price of first push. We had a 16" snowstorm recently and I charged them an extra $10 each time to cover my cost for a "helper." So, they got billed an extra $20!!!
    When I billed them, I put the extra $10 charge on there stating helper. I told them I priced their driveway low as it is and I am not going to absorb that cost. I think the 50% off on 2nd and so on return trips suck because the work hasn't changed.
    So, question is, am I wrong??? I am seriously considering changing the way I price my accounts next year. I know there are many different ways to price jobs out...which one will work best for me? I have about 15 reisential drives and 2 commercial accounts. I charge per push for all of them.
    These storms seem to be getting bigger and bigger. There has to be a better way to price these accounts to make my job hassle free--per say. Thanks for any input! On the flip side...great year for snow!!!
  2. bosman

    bosman Senior Member
    Messages: 165

    Welcome to owning your own business. This should be spelled out in their contract or explained to them multiple times before the season starts if you choose to go without one.

    According to your pricing, you should have charged them $120, $60 first stop and $30 each for the 2nd & 3rd visit. Why the discount? Charging 10$ doesn't cover your time, fuel, wear and tear on truck and equipment.

    Bottom line, some people suck, and to make it worse, it's a real kick in the balls when you get complaints even after a HUGE discount in price. I would explain again to them your pricing scale, tell them why you need to make multiple stops, and don't forget to tell them about the huge discount for the previous storm. Or charge them by the inch.
  3. alldayrj

    alldayrj PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,108

    Yes you're wrong. You never told them ahead of time that you would charge them a random $20 helper charge whenever you feel like it.
  4. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care Senior Member
    Messages: 552

    That is random that you would charge an extra $20 without them knowing! And why such a discount on the 2nd push? I can see why people complain.
  5. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    1,000 for the season and be done with it.
  6. BBC co

    BBC co PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,883

    I'm new to billing and could post my own wtf thread but rather post in yours.

    These are my opinions on yours as well as my own situation to a degree.
    Pre Fact - Every account is a written contract...

    1.) If it is not in writing you do not bill for it. "This is a potential customer loser."

    2) Think of the worst case scenarios and put the conditions on writing in the contract.

    3) Unless you know someone that works for free and has a truck to do so any % discount is you taking $ out of your pocket. If the customer does not understand reality it is there problem not mine/yours. I do not work for free and any discounts should be inclusive of a guaranteed contract renewal because that is the only way it works out to our benefit.

    4) This was told to me by another user on here nickle and dime accounts are not worth it, it is better to sit home naked with the wife and watch the snow fall then work for free or worse....

    End summary don;t charge the fee take the hit and live and learn from it. It is all about honesty and quality of service If you can't live by those you should sell the plow
  7. ladder6

    ladder6 Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    I will give the credit back to the customers. I think next season I will price per/inch contracts and spell EVERYTHING out. These storms are getting too crazy and I am getting shafted. They get excellent service and i should be compensated for such service provided.
    BBC, well said and thanks for the laughs! Thanks everyone for your input...much appreciated.
  8. BBC co

    BBC co PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,883

    Leaning toward the price per inch myself, but flexible payment methods will in the end get you and enable you to get more work. I think it really comes down to experience which you get from seasons like this. I posted a few things in the weather thread, some you may have to dig back a few pages for but the bigger storms like the few we had this past season as well as the hurricanes have brought up talk about these events continuing and increasing in the amount per year over the next 5 years due to a 50yr storm pattern trend. This off season would be a good time to really work out the details in my/your pricing for such events as ct and ma are in the increased average snow fall areas listed in studies.

    Hope things work out for you and you can always ask for info on how others in your area bill stuff in the weather thread, some of them may bark but they don;t bite. ;)
  9. ladder6

    ladder6 Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    Agreed. I guess, in the end, it all boils down to making it worth our while. It is difficult to find a happy median for the customer and the business. The key is finding it! Thanks for the input. Talk to you later!
  10. tuney443

    tuney443 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    I haven't had to tell any homeowners this for quite a few years now [maybe my ''pleasant'' disposition has taken notice],but what I used to say to potential problem mongers was ''When you go to work,does the boss pay you in full for every day you show up or only on some days?'' End of discussion.
  11. TKLAWN

    TKLAWN PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,637

    Stuff we do by the time is same fee regardless of man power or how many times we do it.
  12. allagashpm

    allagashpm Senior Member
    Messages: 797

    So you gave them a low price, got the job, and then wanted to charge them more? I can't say I am surprised that you have complaints, and if you want these customers, yes you will absorb those costs. Its part of doing business, if you underestimate the job, and get it, you can't just add costs without that being discussed previously and included in your contract. and why are you complaining about the 50% off on two trips? isnt that your contract? did they say we will only pay 50% on return trips or was that your idea? suck it up this year, re-word your contract next year. short answer...yes, you are wrong, in my opinion.
  13. andersman02

    andersman02 Senior Member
    Messages: 756

    Id say yes you were in the wrong. Nowhere in the contract does it state using a helper for an additional charge. The way our contract reads is 1"-6", 6"-12". 12"-18" and so forth. Sometimes if a 12" storm comes through well get some extra help to improve efficiency. No we would never charge more because of this.
  14. DFLS

    DFLS Senior Member
    Messages: 339

    So if the storm is 6" do you charge for 1-6 or 6-12?
  15. DFLS

    DFLS Senior Member
    Messages: 339

    Agree that you were wrong with the helper charge. Should have stuck with your original quote you would have more money in your pocket now.

    Feb 7-8 this year we got 30" plus in about16 hours. Most plows could not 'plow with the storm' because it was just too heavy to see. Town trucks called it quits at midnight. 4am I went out into 30" of fresh powder. I live on a dead end street. My street was not plowed. got stuck in my street (going uphill to a customer). so I left that one for later and went on my route. They all had 30+ inches and all took at least 3X longer than normal. Some I could not get to until next day because they were on steep roads not plowed yet. Bottom line is I charge by the inch and charged triple my base rates, same as I would have if I had plowed with the storm and done 2 or 3 pushes. I had a total 35 hours out and 30 man hours of helpers shoveling.

    If you don't want to charge per push then charge by the inch.

    So figure out a base price for each job. $25, $38, $120, whatever is fair to do up to 4" snow. Then charge more by the inch starting with 5".
    Use a spreadsheet to make a chart for up to 4 feet snow (48").(We WILL eventually get a storm with more than that so go higher if you want)
    At 12" you should be about double your base rate.
    At 30" you should be about triple.

    30" and up (some drives will be less) will involve tractors or loaders to move piles.
    So over 30" gets expensive but you should put something in the contract to cover that...

    BOSS LAWN Senior Member
    Messages: 497

    You might be better off charging for every 1-6 during storms.

    This is a part of the business, I get nothing but complaints when the biggest storms hit. Even though everything was explained to them pre-season.
  17. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Try a mix or residential seasonal and bill the rest of the residents and the commercials on a sliding scale based on snowfall amounts.

    research seasonal pricing before you try it. you could want to add a "blizzard clause," limit the number of pushes or any of a number of other variables. Search the site for "seasonal" there have been many discussions about it.
  18. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    Your contract should state 1-5.9", 6-11.9", 12-17.9", ect.......
  19. gwhalen3

    gwhalen3 Member
    Messages: 99

    Same price every visit, every 3-4 inches. If it's more when I show up no big deal. Just means it's dumping out and Im gettin behind.