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Terms of contract negotiable after 7 events...

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by DeereGuy, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. DeereGuy

    DeereGuy Senior Member
    Messages: 346

    We've had 7 Plow-able events so far(2" trigger on 12 of my contract residentials) with 3 of them in the last 9 days. My customers are getting invoice shy. Had 3+" yesterday ending at 1:30am this morn.. So I plowed this one person at 12:30am and cleaned up at 10am this morn. She walks up to my truck and says with a puzzled look, "You're to late I already shoveled". I related that I had plowed most of it after midnight. So she tells me she waited,but at 5pm yesterday she shoveled the drive herself. Well, It snowed slowly for 17 hrs.

    I didn't know what to say because I contracted with her husband and I'm sure she has not read the contract. She is an out of work MD. and I'm sure she is smarter than me if only because she thinks it.

    So I start to get into it nicely but can see by her mannerisms that she is sure that I have no right to bill her. So I concede and verbally agree not to bill her for this storm. So I ask her to call me next time if she doesn't need the service ignoring the 3 ft. X 10ft. pile of new snow that I plowed last night despite her being "shoveled out". Also ignoring the fact that I am bound by contract to plow after 2" and will default on the contract by not meeting those terms. I'm no lawyer so where do I go from here. She pleads poverty which is probably true at the moment.

    My Question. Should I ignore the terms of our contract by letting her yank me around so I don't have a clue what to do with her lot every time it snows? The main purpose of my contract is to allow me to do the work efficiently within the scope of each storm. Whatever that brings.

    Should I send an informational letter to her w/ contract copy to inform her of the agreement. Pointing out why I have a 2" trigger.

    Should I speak to her husband who read and signed the contract(a bad option) She wears the pants.

    Should I just let her out of her contract and how is that done so that I am clear of wrong doing in case we get hammered and I don't have time to plow her out when she calls.

    I have already told her I am flexible with all payment and would allow her to put it off til summer. This couple was my first contract last year when I started. And I trust they will pay.

    I hate the thought of being "on demand", especially when I have a perfectly good contract. These people are driving me crazy. :dizzy: (Res. customers)
  2. Lazer Man

    Lazer Man Senior Member
    from SW Pa.
    Messages: 140

    This is exactly why we don't do but 1 or 2 residentials any more to much of a PITA. They never want done when you are there, then as soon as we get back to the shop the tele rings and guess who wants plowed. Then try to explain that we have to charge extra for the return trip and the complaining starts just not worth all the effort. Just do commercial accounts alot less to put up with.

    Bob :D :D :D
  3. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368


    You have guide lines in the contract. Length of contract, snow depth to begin snow plowing and cost per yr or plow. This is the agreement you became signatory to and both have tasks to do. You are under contract to perform snow plowing with in the guidelines of this agreement. The customer is under contract to pay accordingly as stated in this contract.
    I do not understand how these people think they can just change there mind any time day or night as they see fit. This is what a contract is for.
    I feel you can be nice to them but tell them you have an agreement please follow it as you have been doing.

  4. Peopleeater

    Peopleeater Senior Member
    Messages: 249

    Depending what..

    If that were me, they would be shoveling the next storm too. I would definitely talk to the husband (he signed the contract) he signed and as far as the contract is concerned, HE wears the pants. Maybe not in reality, but in terms of the contract he is.

    If you don't want them as customers, then they broke contract with you. (as long as contract is spelled out and not too vague. If you want them as customers, talk to husband and then you will see if she or he wears the pants by what is decided.

    She broke your contract by telling you not to plow when the conditions match your contract. PITA or not. You are both legally bound, that is until one party breaks the contract.

    Legal stuff. The most logical thing that I could think of.

  5. plowman777

    plowman777 Senior Member
    Messages: 227

    make a settlement for what you did....ie. get what you can out of the cheapskate and never go there again.
  6. DeereGuy

    DeereGuy Senior Member
    Messages: 346

    Thanks for the support guys. I know that I am in the right but that, as you know, doesn't equate to a solution. My contracts are very clear in all aspects of what my job is and when it is to be done. All I wanted was a phone call.

    Three other customers called to cancel service for the storm as they have stone drives and a little snow and better yet, ice, improves them. I had scraped them clean after the Blizzard we just had. My contract allows me to use best judgement w/ those senarios.

    The personal point is, I had spent 30 min on her drive between the 2 pushes( a very difficult drive) and she still insisted it was not nessesary. Therefore she did not want to be billed.

    I confess, I take it a little personally when the customer doesn't realize that this is one way I put bread on the table. Like I'm driving a $34K piece of steel around for kicks. With a yearly seasonal overhead of around $2K. She's an OBGYN. She was telling me she pays $94K in insurance costs/ yr., $14K a yr in property tax. All I'm asking is $45. for 30 min. work. which is half what I need on an hourly basis.

    OK, I'm done venting. You guys got me all worked up. Time to bill the rest of my customers. I'll let ya know what comes of it. I'll probably bypass her, deal with her husband and let him deal with her.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2005
  7. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    If you want to be a nice guy you could give her the option to do her own drive. BUT she will be charged in full unless they call you directly to inform you that it has been done. But they need to know that your time has been booked to do their drive and its not far to you to expect to do the drive and its already done.
  8. SteveVB

    SteveVB Member
    Messages: 66

    Stick with your contract, stick with your contract, stick with your contract.

    I would send them a copy of the contract and the informational letter- thats a great idea. Remind them that the contract protects both you and them, and that if the terms arent what they want thaty should think about what they want in their contract next year.

    Remind the husband about the contract, and the terms there of, ask him why the wife shoveled? Tell him you are sending the bill, but forgiving the charges since you told the wife you would.

    Send them an invoice for the work you did, with a note about forgiving the charges for this time due to a miscommunication or some other non confrontational statements- but make sure that you send the bill with the notation about the charges so they understand they were responsible for the charges, but YOUR goodwill has removed the charge.
  9. DeereGuy

    DeereGuy Senior Member
    Messages: 346


    Yea, I had a whole letter typed up ending with that option but I hate to introduce a new billing scheme etc just to appease her. Right now, I have my route. And I'm getting efficient at dealing with each customers schedule. I don't want to let her run the show as it were. If I give an inch she'll take a mile and I don't have time for that crap. I would like to honor my contract as in the last 11 events, counting last year. We'll see.

    SteveVB, Going for those ideas, I have to rewrite my letter though as it sounds very preachy as I read it and maybe misinterpreted. I also defend my contract terms which I don't have to do. She obviously doesn't care a wit about me so we'll keep it business.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2005
  10. leeddog65

    leeddog65 Member
    Messages: 85

    Hey Deere,

    Im currently experiencing the same situation with a commercial customer here in Chciago.
    We had 13" of snow over the weekend and my customer has a difficult lot at best(which of course they dont want snow next to the building) we had drifting and blowing all weekend, so we were there 4 times.
    I sent abill and the guy tells me the owners "kid" was there for 4 hours on Sat afternoon.
    I generally let this go and discount the bill, Im a softy that way, good customer, had most of mine a long time because of this tactic I would think.
    but after plowing for 60 hours nearly 3 days straight, I went off. I said how did he even get into the lot, as we, had to plow our way in. we talked for a few minutes and it sounds like he was there in between a few of our plows, Im waiting for a return call to see what happens.
    In this case, Id stick to the contract. If not, you see the crap I have to put up with. But the key is, keep it business.
    It however is a personal attack on your character, that they dont trust you, but its them not trusting your business not YOU personally.
    Wow that was long winded!!!!!!
  11. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368

    she was an OBGYN

    Dr's are very hard to work for. They think because they have a DR degree in Medicine they know it all. The point is DR, lawyer or Indian chief they signed an agreement. Now they are to live up to it.

    We use to have a DR that we plowed snow for. He did not hire us back the next season because he felt we "over plowed him". The new contractor did as this OBGYN ask. There was snow and ice in parking lot and a patient fell and was injured. The lady took the DR to court and unloaded the insurances company's wallet. Now the DR has his lot clean. But it took a big judgment against him to have him change his mind. Again the know it all attitude cost this Dr a bunch of money. And now he wonders why his insurance is so high.

    Yup dad was right, you will always pay for your education.

  12. DeereGuy

    DeereGuy Senior Member
    Messages: 346

    An update

    So I did send these customers a very clear letter on what we had both agreed to, also with an explaination of what they can expect from a non- contract situation. I was respectful but let them know that I would be following the terms of the contract for the season and that next year changes could be made if need be. I also let them know they could pay me later than specified on the contract if they arranged it with me.

    I haven't heard boo from them but rec'd only my second mailed envelope from them unsealed with my invoice but without a check enclosed this week. They owe me more than $450. now. I have to assume that they sent me a payment but it fell out. Or they are playing games with me. I sent them back their unsealed envelope with a copy of the entire season's transactions. I hope they come through.
  13. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    Invoice this customer for what they owe you again send it certified mail. Do not go back! Find another customer. This one is done. Next year only plow Doctors, lawyers, financial people by the season. Half down at time of signing and second half January 15th. If you do not receive second check in January do not plow the next snow. That way they have to be paid in full early in the season. Go back and see what your average plows per season are and multiply it out by price per plow. That is your seasonal rate.
  14. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368

    John the only problem with that is our average for 28 yrs has been 10 events per yr. For the last 2 yrs we have had 15 events per yr. The weather is changing here. Lake effect is so hard to predict. The weather bureau cant get it right 6 hours in advance. I would not want to bet money on 4 months in advance of how many snow events we would get. I tried to bid at the new 15 events per season average and got beat out by the people who are still bidding 10 events per season. Other than that... I like your idea.

  15. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    If you are not going to enforce your contract , why have one? If the customer is a doctor , I am sure they can read , whether or not they are working is irrevellant . I had a commercial lot, the owner signed my contract , the partner signed a contract with someone else , they wanted to cancel mine . I told the owner to read the agreement , there is a minimum seasonal charge , and if the property owner wants to terminate the contract without cause , the seasonal minimum is due as liquidated damages .

    Try and cancel your cell phone early , your gym membership , your auto lease , your apartment lease , YOU PAY DEARLY . A contract is to protect your interests as a businessman .
  16. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    The fact that you are receiving more than 10 plows a year is good for plows by the time and that should not effect the contracts that you have with that type of arrangement. You can have both by the time and seasonal. I do. The question here is this customer. This customer and one's like it need to be seasonal. Like I said this customer is dead anyways but customers that start out from the beginning beating you up on price from the beginning get seasonal with a down payment. Do not get the driveway, then move on to the next. Someone else's problem. This seam hard but will be easier in the end. The post after your's says "make them stick to contract" how? Are you going to sue them for $450.00. Small claims maybe but attorneys in my town cost $175 per hour! Not worth the aggravation. Also try to advertise for parking lots. Parking lots by the hour and driveways by the season. To damn had to collect money from homeowners. The only driveways I do are long term customers that pay the January payment on time.