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Taking accounts from friends (unknowingly)

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Camden, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. Camden

    Camden PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,604

    I got 2 contracts today for a couple of properties that are going to be very profitable (if it ever snows!). Sadly, as I was telling my brother about it he said that one of our friends had been plowing those accounts for several years...something I was totally unaware of.

    I went right over to the guy's shop and I talked to him about it. He was pissed. What's the right thing to do here? The property owner told me he wasn't happy with the service he was receiving and that's why he contacted me so I don't think giving the accounts back is an option.

    Business is business, right? I didn't seek out these accounts and I didn't lowball either.

    Anyone else dealt with something like this before?
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I usually don't go after accounts if I know the person,but if they call me FAIR GAME!
  3. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Couldn't have been too close a friend if you didn't know his route. Business is business, if you didn't go lowball contract sniping then concentrate on providing superior service and making a profit.payup

    If he's still talking to you might be nice to see if he'd tell you what he was charging :D
  4. Camden

    Camden PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,604

    My brother and I plow in the same town and whenever I get a call to give someone a bid I have to call him and ask if it's one of his. I don't really pay attention to what others are doing.
  5. RLM

    RLM PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,270

    You did the right thing, you told him, it's business he'd probably do the same & not tell you. I know from experience.
    I had a friend the mowed a property next to one of our (we down the lawn work & snow) He only did lawn next door, he didn't want the snow, so I solicted it (just snow). They asked about the lawn, I told them he & I were friends, there response was there (his guy) are doing a bad job (they were, nothing was trimmed, looked bad). I let him know imeditaly so he could try to save his lawn work, & I bid the lawn work high (he wouldn't tell me his numbers. Another time I let him take a truck to Binghamton (about 4 hrs away each way).
    About a month after he borrowed the truck, he called me up saying myself & wife were spreading rumors about him or something, etc., quesstioning my friendship (I just let him take a $ 25,000 truck, 5 hrs away). At the time, my father-in -law was on his death bed with cancer that had gotten into his brain, I had tons going on between work & family, too many more important things than this to deal with. Long story, quick conclusion, he underbid me on any property he could (where I had mentioned my numbers or roundabout times, etc), to the point property managers were saying I don't know how they are going to do it so cheap.
    Learn from my lesson don't try to be nice in business. There are business associates & very good friend, some mix, but there few & far between.
  6. repo_man62

    repo_man62 Senior Member
    Messages: 502

    Could see if your buddy wants to "SUB" them since he already knows the layout.
  7. OneBadDodge06

    OneBadDodge06 Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 771

    I agree. They called you...you told him face to face what was up. He should only be pissed at himself for shotty work.
  8. karol

    karol Senior Member
    Messages: 128

    I totally agree with you're conclusion. I may add to what you said without taking it too far off the topic. DON'T DO BUSINESS WITH GOOD FRIENDS OR FAMILY. DON'T TREAT YOU'RE EMPLOYEES AS BEST FRIENDS. KNOW HOW AND WHEN TO SAY NO.
  9. Peterbilt

    Peterbilt Senior Member
    from IA.
    Messages: 745

    Business is a hard thing. Its hard not to take an account from someone that you know, even if they are clearly doing a poor job. I don't have to many friends in the business so I wouldn't know how to deal with taking over somones account. But Its my 2nd year for plowing on my own and getting started last season I had to take on a few accounts where other contractors weren't getting it done. Friends or not

    But oh well. I came out ahead and by doing a superior job has helped me double and more that likely tripple in size from last season.

    I have found that most business want to deal with ONE contractor for all there outdoor services instead of many. If they can find a company to do it all with no problems then thats who they are going to go with. Its business from the other side.

    My $.0002
  10. jhook

    jhook Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    This can be tricky for sure. You did the right thing by letting him know. In my city, there are a few other contractors that I do business with (wouldn't call them friends). One guy has been good about sharing his winter sand with me, another rents me his dump truck for removal and that kind of thing. I don't want to take work from some of these guys. I need them on my side more than I need the extra work. I have gotten in the habit of asking new callers (commercial) who serviced them before and what they didn't like or why are they changing contractors. You would be surprised what you find out. I certainly never spread dirt about other contractors but this tells me a couple of things:

    1. They will often let me know who they had before. So then I know whether I want to pursue the job.

    2. Once they tell me why they are changing contractors, I know how to proceed. For example, I got called to a job last year that I knew belonged to one of my guys. I asked what the problem was. Client said the service was great but the price kept going up. No prob. I bid the job high. Didn't get it, same guy ended up doing it, Lowballing it would certainly have got me the job but the other contractor would have been pissed and I would not have helped my own self very much. Also, customers need to understand that good service doesn't come cheap.

    If, however they are unhappy with the service they are getting and they have decided to change contractors anyhow, then it is fair game. I have been known to call other contractors and let them know that their clients are looking to leave. Quite frankly I will ask for their permission to bid. Guess what, sometimes I get "ya, go ahead, I don't want them anymore anyhow". Sometimes they will even tell me what they were charging and then we carry on. I have also got "Well, MisterSnow, we would really appreciate keeping that client." No problem, then they tell me what they are charging and I overbid the job. If the client still chooses me, it isn't because I underbid, it is because they wanted to change contractors and then there are no hard feelings because I didn't "steal" the client. Has proven to be a good system.

    In any case, as you grow your business, you will definitely end up taking jobs from others and so on. Hold your head high and play a fair and honest game. We all know that at this time of year it is open season on bidding. Once the bids are done and the jobs are sealed, do NOT try to steal a customer, that is just asking for trouble.
  11. lawnMaster5000

    lawnMaster5000 Senior Member
    Messages: 105

    If you bid over the previous guy it is no one's fault but his own.

    Ask what he was charging, tell what you are charging, maybe you did underbid (doubtful from your comments)

    but... no matter - it is part of business, just remember that when he does it to one of your clients.
  12. bluerider

    bluerider Junior Member
    from vermont
    Messages: 19

    I agree on this one. I ended up picking up one account last winter mid-winter that used to be done by my former boss. It was a few days after the big Valentine day storm. He just had way too many driveways that he was trying to do with only one truck and couldnt keep up. She said that it took like two days before her driveway was finaly plowed. She was not very happy that she had to take two days off from work just because she couldnt get out.

    She told me who did it and I wasnt real surprised cause I knew he had too much to handle. I told to make sure to call him and tell him not to do it anymore.

    I figuered that I might as well have it because from talking with her it was obvious that my old boss was getting fired from that one regardless. If she didnt get me then she would get someone else to do it.

    I think he also lost a couple other accounts because of that storm and we are still talk pretty frequently and in fact I may be working for he a little bit this week. Dont know for sure.

    So as long as you are out there trying to get your friends account and they are contacting you then I think its ok. Its just business as they say. Just make sure that if you do take on the account that you have that person contact you friend directly and have them explain that they dont want him to do it anymore.