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To back-drag or not back-drag?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Buswell Forest, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    Several drives I plow require a backdrag. No biggie, right?

    Well..recently, we got 14" of snow that got 4 hours of sleet and rain in the middle...and it was wet snow to begin with. So, I did not backdrag these spots. All it would have done is pack the snow, and it would have turned into an ice lump that remains until spring...

    Naturally, I had a customer call and whine. I left maybe a 2' strip in front of his garage doors. He had to shovel for 30 minutes. FYI, this was all done via text. I replied with the reason I didn't backdrag...he never replied back.

    So, should I just backdrag from now on and leave them a nice packed 6" lump in front of their doors?

    I have no shoveling duty. These people are waaaaaaay to money conscious.

    STIHL GUY Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 663

    I get as close as I csn plowing and I will snowblow or shovel the rest
  3. gtmustang00

    gtmustang00 Senior Member
    from Berlin
    Messages: 752

    I always back drag and do a 100% complete job every pass. I plow with the storm every 4-6 inches though.
  4. Chineau

    Chineau Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    What did you commit to doing at the start of the season? Back drag is like back blading right? Pulling the snow back with the back of the blade or bucket. I stop to ask my self because there are poopy pants people out there is the customers issue valid could I have given better service, how often and what do they complain about or call for it is all part of the service we provide. I don't know how much longer your season is but I figure about six to eight more weeks and it has been a winters winter lot of snow and cold but soon new season new work then get ready for next winter new customer list if they are poopy pants bye,bye.
  5. CashinH&P

    CashinH&P Senior Member
    Messages: 448

    I have found this to be the most effecent way to plow. Easy on the trucks and keeps the customer happy. Makes for a long night (or week for us in nh the past few days)
  6. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    There is absolutely no way I can visit all my accounts every 4". First and foremost, they would never pay for it, because I charge per push. And I can not afford to visit 4 times to get paid the one time.
    Second, I have too many accounts to be able to do it. I have the perfect number to be able to handle with one truck if I plow 1x or 2x a storm.
    (I do have a clause that doubles the price after 12")
    But it's also the perfect number to make putting another truck in service unprofitable.

    And, again, this snow was too wet...I do not have the backdrag blade option on the xv. It would have packed rather than come with the plow..
  7. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    on my short driveways I back drag then I push forward what the back drag missed and move it with a shovel or snow blower. seems to work pretty good.

    I always battle with should I back drag, should I get a back drag blade. but I'm not convinced a back drag blade is gonna do that much better.

    but I NEVER just back drag leaving the rest there. that will definitly turn to a sheet of ice.
  8. slplow

    slplow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 594

    What I do in storms like that is to back blade first, then I will scrape going forward where i all ready back draged from, Then lift plow over pile and back drag again. Works like a charm. But I would say my extrem v back blades better than any brand of plow that I have had. Thats the old school way to do before back blades were invented. I will also say if you do mostly drives , the old school straight blades with back drag blades are much faster plowing driveway's than a V or even my blizzard 810 (unless you have a pull plow)
  9. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    You customer hired you to clean there drive each time that means clean it all even if you have to get out and use a shovel
    Best thing you need is a pull plow If your plow wont back drag it Spend the money on something will increase your profit and cut your time down.
    In the end your customers will be happy
  10. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,362

    Pull plow… hands down the best way to clear drives if you have more than a handful of places that would need to be back dragged… IDK how I used to do some of my drives without it!
  11. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    7 drives I have My tractor does them or my skid does them I wouldn't even have drives but the 7 I have they own a Lots I do so I'll do there drive to keep them happy

    Back in 80s 90s I had a smaller tractors we ran to do driveways The tractors had rear and front plows So if I had do drives with a truck I would own a rear plow.
  12. mwalsh9152

    mwalsh9152 Senior Member
    Messages: 434

    this is what I do. Seems to work the best
  13. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    A pull plow is out of the question, I have all I can do to access these particular driveways as it is. Also, the first thing I would do is back it into the buildings.
    Then there is the part where I am not about to shovel at the rates I plow for at the moment. I took over a route at the prices they paid last year...and the poor old buck that did them for 28 years charged 1990 prices. He told me that this year he had planned to raise the prices on everyone...by 50 cents.
    Seriously, not a joke. 50 cents. I held his prices as a gesture of good will, and told them to expect an increase next season. They could judge for themselves the level of service I provide this season. They want me to shovel, I will....for a fee. But they are tight to a buck like bark to a tree.

    I tried to drag, push, drag....but in wet snow, the best you can do, it just leaves a patch of packed snow with a pile of stiff snow on top. I figured it was easier shoveling for them to leave it be.
  14. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 862

    If the shoveling is required to clear the driveway completely, then I can't see charging them extra for it. If they want a walkway done...then its extra. If the whole season you've been clearing that area by back dragging and charging them $XX.00, then you come this storm and leave that area of snow...and STILL charge $XX.00, or because it was over 12" so you charged twice that, and left the snow, they have a legitimate complaint. I understand these cheapskates, I have a few myself. The less money they pay, the more they expect. But for $XX.00 all season you've done a great job and cleared all the snow, its your job to do it even if it means you have to do it some other way. That's how I would handle it.
  15. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    I agree about providing the same service each storm by whatever means possible. It's obviously nearing the end of our season, so my thought would be to reevaluate your fee schedule for next year to make the larger storms (more than 6 or maybe more than 8") worthwhile to you. Because given your current route, it definitely takes longer to clean up 10" than it does 3" in the single pass, and you should be rewarded as such. Likewise, the 10" storm will mean you shovel what the plow won't get, but remember that you're building that into your price. You've said before the old codgers b!tch about costs, but this is YOUR business, the food in YOUR table, so you need to make the work benefit you.
  16. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    The complaint came from the owner of a million dollar lakefront second home. He gets a 50 dollar drive done for 30. This is not the first unrealistic complaint from him. The previous plow guy never shoveled, and there was no mention of it when we agreed to do business. I tried doing him a favor.
    No way I am shoveling unless I make full money. If I tell him that, he will go into hebrew cardiac arrest. I feel the way I handled it was fair to him, and preserved my account. He didn't question my reasoning. This was the only time I didn't backdrag this winter. Plowed him 11 times so far, and never charge when I return to clean the end of the drive after the town pushes the banks back. Done that 4 times.
  17. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 862

    It's just conditioning though. Do it once and he'll question you the first time you don't. When I was a kid, if my mom took me to McDonalds once after grocery shopping, the next time we went grocery shopping and didn't go to McDonalds I claimed we should because we did last time. Definitely re-evaluate your route in the off season, and cut the slow payers and the headaches.
  18. jbsplow

    jbsplow Senior Member
    from -
    Messages: 125

    Dude u sound just like me lol... I took on this old mans driveway he was maybe 75 or so and i told him 30$. He said well the last guy did it for 22$. I said what kind of price is 22$ and why isnt he doing it anymore. Well to make the story short he was a cheap ******* he never wanted salt on some big ice storms so his driveway turned into a ice rink and so on. Then i told him the driveway would be a extra 10$ on anything over 6"inches cause of back dragging. He couldnt understand that but he paid me and whined about it. So a week ago we had a 3" storm and i go to plow it. The cheap ****** shoveled it and never called me.. Man was i pissed, so the next day we have a 7-8" storm coming and he calls and he says he wants it plowed but not untill the next morning because he thinks we might get a 1/8 inch after the big storm. I told him im going out when the storms done to do my route and am not gunna make one specail trip to plow his 30$ driveway tommrow way out of town. He couldnt understand that. So i said have a nice year and find someone else. I hope he fell over trying to shovel that 7 inch storm... The thing is im a good guy im always helping people out and cutting them deals. But some of these people have so much $$ and are so cheap its sad. I mean come on he lives in a 450,000$ house on 20 some acres and is retired and he thinks 30$ is steep for a driveway.. Ok well what ever happend to the guy that did it for 22$. Not my headace anymore im in this biz to make money not to work for beer money
  19. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 622

    First problem is you are low balling. Cheap customers are always picky. Filling up a route by low balling is never going to get good customers.

    People expect a drive way to be cleaned. You agreed to clean it.

    You set up service arraignments that do not spell out what is it you are going to do. When you place limits as no shoveling by the garage doors, or that you do not spell out that in large wet snow falls you will not be able to clean their driveway if they are only willing to pay for one visit.

    Just because a LCO agrees to low ball mowing a lawn the customer will not accept missing spots, rutting, and scalping. They paid for the lawn to get mowed right.

    As with snow removal they expect the snow to get removed. Not well you are not paying me enough to do the job right. Or I do not want to touch a shovel. Or too afraid to spell out that some jobs will need more then one push to get the whole drive way clean.

    You did not do the customer a favor. You did your self a favor by low balling. Figuring that you can get away with risk of not providing good service.

    You go on to say that the time to do your route takes to long to hit people twice during a storm. You say you can not run a second truck because there is not enough profit.

    Yet it appears to you that doing $50 drives for $30 has no impact why your profit is not there.

    Would it not be better to sell excellent service at $50 and do half the driveways. Greatly reducing drive time as well and thus being able to have the time to do a second pass. And when selling the job you include that there will be the times when more then one pass will be needed and charged for.

    Then if you sold the jobs for enough money you could afford a shovel man to ride with you.

    Did you pay the "the old buck" for his route?

    Well even if he gave them to you for free. You knew they were priced to low when you took them over.

    You have to be living in denial to think that these cheapass customers will stick around next year when their prices went from $30 to $50.

    You committed to doing the job the right way for the wrong pay. Do not be mad at the cheapass customers or blame the "old buck" for his prices being to low.

    Blame the guy that agreed to take them on this year.

  20. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    How am I to know who will be problem until the season is going?
    They asked for plowing. Not one asked for shoveling. This one has done his own so far.
    I kept the prices the same as a gesture of my willingness to serve them well.
    I am very profitable. I would not be if I used two trucks to do what one can do, or deliberately spent double the time by going 2x each. Same goes for shoveling when it isn't part of the deal. Time is money.
    I am not lowballing, I am putting forth a great track record at the rate they were accustomed to.
    When I tell them I need to raise the price, they will know I am worth the money. I was told by one of these customers yesterday that she was hearing great things about me- in Utah.
    This one person is a pain. He either takes my increased fee offer next year, or he doesn't.
    I am confident the other 30 will have no issue.