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Talk me off the ledge

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by olesnowpatrol, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. olesnowpatrol

    olesnowpatrol Member
    Messages: 35

    So we had 2.3 inches of snow today here in Madison, WI as measured at the airport. I have a two inch trigger in my contracts. On my route tonight, half of them had cleared the driveway on their own. I let some choice words out as I drove by (especially since this is only my 2nd plow event of the year!), but am in a calmer place now. Help me figure out how to deal with this....

    Here is the relevant language in my contract:
    "A. XXX per snow event to clear the driveway of the residence only, unless other agreements are made between the parties. A “snow event” is defined as at least 2 inches of snowfall as measured by the contractor at the driveway within a 24 hour period. Contractor will plow the driveway again during a snow event upon request by the customer unless the total snowfall for the snow event exceeds 8 inches at which time Contractor will automatically provide a second billable push (so the contractor can keep up with the snow accumulations). Please note that any snow falls over 12 inches (e.g. blizzards or other extraordinary weather conditions) may require additional plowings.
    B. Additional plowings above 2 inches but less than 8 inches during a snow event may also be contracted at the request of the customer. Please call XXXXXXX or email XXXXX should you desire an additional plowing (email is preferred).
    C. Contractor will make a reasonable effort to have the snow plowing completed by 7 a.m.
    D. Oftentimes municipal snow plows fill driveway aprons with excess snow after the driveway has been cleared. If this causes a hazard or inconvenience, customer may kindly contact us and we will attempt to clear this within a reasonably agreed upon time frame. Additional trips to clear driveway aprons are upon request only and will be billed at $XXper visit. "

    Here are the 3 options I have considered so far:

    1. Do nothing;
    2. Send them an email and remind them of the trigger and tell them next time I will bill for the snow event if it meets the trigger amount? They can cancel the contract with 30 days notice.
    3. Same as #2 but bill them $10 (or some other token) for my time/fuel. I don't have a contract provision for this, but I want them to know that my time is worth something...

    Help me keep the accounts but enforce my contract
  2. RepoMan1968

    RepoMan1968 Senior Member
    Messages: 439

    #1 Do Nothing .
    It's 2012 and were in a depression . Folks are trying to stretch a buck .
  3. G.Landscape

    G.Landscape Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 851

    I don't do residential stuff but am posting mainly to hear people answers......

    If it were me I would do something along the lines of option 3 but maybe have a percentage of the cost per time, instead of a dollar amount
  4. UpstateServices

    UpstateServices Junior Member
    Messages: 25

    Shoveling gets old real quick, if it happens again send an Email letting them know you were out and will charge a $10.00 trip charge if not notified before your arrival. Mention you are waiving the charge the first time as a courtesy, but your time does have value.

    I'm all seasonal so I love those shoveled drives!!!!

  5. newhere

    newhere PlowSite.com Addict
    from Fenton
    Messages: 1,288

    the first time some one shovels a drive before i plow it i cut them off the list. No call just wait for the next storm and when they call asking why they didnt get plowed explain what happened before. I quit calling people after they shovel them because they just give you a thousand reasons why it should be ok. Its not ok, do you want it plowed or not because im not racing you to your drive every storm. If your a 6" plus drive im gona whack you HARD on the price.

    I have better things to do then mess around driving across town to check on your drive.

    NO YOU CANT CALL ME EVERY STORM AND TELL ME YOU ALL READY PLOWED THE DRIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! sorry thats my pet peeve of winter time.
  6. edgeair

    edgeair Senior Member
    Messages: 597

    I think if you do nothing, this will continue to happen as they "think" they are stretching a buck, and cutting you out of the equation. You are a per push contractor, so what about your rights to earn a dollar in a business that is the pits this year? What about the fact that you drove on your dime to their site and were prevented from earning what you were entitled to? They have to remember that they signed with you for the season, and they need to let you earn your living. Presumably you have paid for equipment etc. which in part has been earmarked for their site, which cost you money no matter whether it snows or not (also other overhead such as insurance).

    We check people off our list as done whether we did it or if they did it themselves - we were there regardless. It takes longer to get there most times than it does to do the clearing. Now, we are seasonal, but in the days when I did per push, it was the same and I rarely had a complaint against us for charging the visit fee.

    It was their choice to get out and shovel or sit back in their house and let the contract play out as they agreed to. They made the choice to unnecessarily shovel their driveway, not you. If you only had 2.3 inches, I doubt that any of them were plowed in and couldn't get out, thereby necessitating the need to shovel.

    Now, if you were later than the agreed upon time (significantly) or didn't show up, they would have every right to do that. However, under the description I don't think that was the case.

    The mid day snowfalls are always the worst for that sort of thing. People are getting home from work and see snow on their driveway and have nothing better to do than shovel it.

    I would suggest you contact the culprits and let them know that you noticed they had shovelled the driveway when you arrived at XX time, and that isn't necessary and you expected to do the driveway in the previously agreed manner per your contract. You won't charge them this time, but every other time it happens you will be charging as though you had cleared it (minimum 2 inch rate). Most people will understand that with a polite simple reminder. Keep it low key and business like, and most will respect you for taking your position.

    You will likely not see them do it again.
  7. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    Or it could be a helpful neighbor syndrome. Either way, they get billed. If we are in a depression and want to stretch a buck, then why hire a plow guy to begin with. You did the estimate. You got a contract signed. You (hopefully) marked out the driveway. You drove to do the job. Bill them as the contract states. What's to think about? These are the kind of people that go through a new plow guy or two every season. I let them know this up front. Why? Because it's happened too much in the past.
  8. pooleo8

    pooleo8 Senior Member
    Messages: 271

    Thing is, as a per push contract, part of that is getting the "easy" pushes if you will. You are going to have hard pushes also. So the idea here, is that you get more easy pushes over hard pushes and make money. I garuntee the home owner has no problem shoveling 2", but wait till that is 6 0r 10". Im sure if you dont show up then they'll be pissed. Then just say, welp, I know you were out shoveling, so I just crossed you off the list!
  9. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Get them to go seasonal.This way if they shovel it, keep on driving by and still get paid for it.
  10. Silverado10923

    Silverado10923 Member
    Messages: 82

    Let it ride. .3" of snow is not worth losing the customer. It is a service business and we want happy customers.
  11. JLsDmax

    JLsDmax Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    it may have been a situation where they did not think you would visit.Maybe 2.3" at the airport could have been 1.9" at the customers house. So they went out and shoveled
  12. the new boss 92

    the new boss 92 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,989

    agreed with jls, maybe send out an email and that will remind everyone that there is a charge of xxx amount of dallors if you show up and it's already been taken care of!
  13. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    really you drive across town for 1 driveway? how can you make any money that way, you would have to charge $60 or $100 per visit to cover driving time.
  14. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    The same way a store handles returns with a smile :)
  15. NorthernSvc's

    NorthernSvc's Senior Member
    Messages: 781

    I would still send them a bill.. they signed a contract with you.. you reserved a space on your route for them, if they want to do it themselves they should cancel their contract, and allow you to get new customers..don't do something that's not in your contract... you showed up at the agreed upon time during a storm that was over 2", you wasted your gas driving their and your time...
  16. NBI Lawn

    NBI Lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,797

    You cant bill them since you didn't tell them in the past there would be a charge for it. I would send a letter informing them there will be a charge in the future should it happen again. It is hard to say if they had the 2" though...the homeowner may have measured <2" before doing it. At such a small amount of snow its hard to be mad.
  17. plowguy43

    plowguy43 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,281

    I had a similar situation, one of my resi's son in laws snow blew half the driveway before I got there. Where I live, drive's are right next to each other and there are a lot of hills before I get there meaning I use a decent amount of fuel going from drive to drive. I dropped my blade, made one pass, and she came right out and paid me. I asked her why he bothered, and she said she wanted him out of the house. I let her know that I had to charge whether it was completed or not and she had no problem with it.

    I completely agree. You wasted time, Fuel, and money to go by there when you could've gone straight to your next account. Bill them full price.

    Agree again. I'd rather have them call at 1" and ask if I could swing by then assume I'm not coming by at 2" and shovel it themselves. I guess it depends on your relationships as well, I'm friendly with all of my accounts so they have no problem calling to see if I can "scrape up" some slush when I normally wouldn't go over.
  18. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617


    you quote a snow depth at the airport but your contract says you measure at there driveway.

    My rout is only 3 miles across and several times Ive had 3" on one side and 1 inch on the other
  19. plowman4life

    plowman4life Senior Member
    Messages: 557

    just let it go. personally i dont even have any residentials under a 3" trigger. so i wouldnt make a big deal over it. most customers assume b/c of a 2" trigger if it stops at 2" that the plow guy isnt showing up. its not worth loosing a customer. its not like they called another company to do it.
  20. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 622

    I would explain that snow fall on one side of town to the other side can and does vary. You can only go by your own home and the weather report. So when then weather report and or your judgment indicates that the trigger was reached they should expect you to show up with your plow being that they signed a contract.

    When you show up and the drive way has been plowed they will still be billed,. It takes time, fuel, mileage on your equipment to just drive to their home. These expenses have to be taken care of.