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Too Plow, or Not to Plow, that is the question.

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by EliteSnow&Ice, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. EliteSnow&Ice

    EliteSnow&Ice Senior Member
    Messages: 129

    Too Plow, or Not to Plow, that is the question.

    The metro grand rapids( MI ) received a 1/2" to 3/4" of an inch last night. I got up to salt the hand full of church accounts I have and the few banks also. I saw maybe 10 to 15 plow trucks out plowing, and a couple large commercial complexes, that had been plowed with loaders.

    So the question is......Too Plow, or Not to Plow.

    I understand that some of these accounts maybe on a 1' contract and would need to be serviced but some of the places I saw plowed weren't even open today.A car wash, body shop and few other places that are low traffic not up for Sunday's business.

    So i guess what I am getting to is that if your on a per push do you try to sneak one in, or if you got seasonal accounts are you trying to be a good service provider.
  2. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    I guess it Boils down to what the Contract States and What Customer Expectations are....
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  3. cda817

    cda817 Senior Member
    Messages: 284

    If it is light fluffy snow we would just salt them down and call it a day. If it was heavy/slushy we would scrape them down.
  4. Burkartsplow

    Burkartsplow PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,246

    ^^^ Whatever the contract says so I am guessing we cant judge if someone is plowing or salting a lot. Sometimes I will plow a lot if my hopper is low on salt and I dont want to get off route in order to get more. By doing this I may spend a little more time on the lot, but it is saving me time and product by not having to go get loaded back up. Next time around I may just burn it off.
  5. downtoearthnh

    downtoearthnh Senior Member
    Messages: 121

    It is always a judgement call, some clients want every storm plowed, and others want a certain trigger, while still others want a call made on whether it is going to present a problem in the days after the event because of freezing and dangerous ice. Usually, with a few years relationship, the call to plow is driven by knowledge.
  6. birddseedd

    birddseedd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,516

    i kinda sorta snuck one in last night. we had about 2 in of snowfall. but it was that drizzle that packs down in a couple hours. or at least that seemed to be it. i did a couple churches. one is a no tolerance on certain days. did 2 drives i ended up not charging and skipped the rest of the drives. by morning it seemed to be 1/4 in.

    measured 2 in on my cap at 230 am
  7. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    If we could only see the future, that'd be nice.

    In Holland, we had maybe a big 1.5, seemed thick and just a bit too much to salt away - we plowed everything and we shouldn't have. I think it was melting from below faster than we could plow it.

    The business' that were open, the apartments and roads we do - they all benifited - the main roads down here that were untouched at 5am were sheets of ice. Scrapping it off just left a thin film that maybe iced over rather than the ice that we seen on the roads - the lots we salted just needed less salt.

    The stuff that wasn't open on Sunday, I don't think we did them much good and we will not be charging for that work.

    Hindsight, we shouldn't have done it but I still stand by the decision - If it would have stayed cloudy and cold enough, it might not have all melted and with the forcast of temps in the teens for Sunday night, we would have had icey lots on Monday morning. What we did Sunday am was to prevent a mess on Monday am, probably would have been the right call any time in January but in March with the kind of year we're having, definetly didn't work out.

    Live and learn - this business will never be black and white.
  8. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Why my post was deleted I don't know. So I'll say it again,They must be per push if they're out.
  9. birddseedd

    birddseedd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,516

    ever have agrements or plans thatbsay on that second day when it all turns to slush and will freeze you can go out during the day and plow so there isnt a sheet of ice?
  10. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    Our agreements say every 2", no mention of not plowing when not open type of thing. We don't abuse the "openness" of the agreement and very rarely have we been called out on plowing on a day they are not open.

    The few times we've been questioned, I explain my reasoning of why we did it, if they were to disagree, no big deal, mental note it and not do it again.

    If we get 2-3 on a Saturday and forcast is for another 2-3 on Sunday, odds are you'll just be plowed on Sunday unless the Saturday snow is wet sloppy stuff that might freeze.

    If we get 2 on a Saturday and the forcast is clear and cold Sunday thru Monday am, then we're plowing it Saturday night to give you a better lot condition for Monday am - if it snows again Sunday and it wasn't forcast and the customer saw no real benifit, then we don't bill for it. This is west MI here also, we don't have the zero tolerance black and wet of other areas, there is waayyy less salt here than even in Grand Rapids.

    Basically for me - if we feel that there is a customer benifit in doing the work, we do it and bill for it - we make a mistake, we don't bill. I don't like the idea of a contract or agreement allowing us to freely dip into the customers check book. Work with not against seems to work for us.
  11. hiranger

    hiranger Member
    Messages: 72

    No matter what you chose to do in your situation there will be one client who complains... There always is!!
  12. dfd9

    dfd9 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,475

    I agree with GV.

    And a lot of guys have minimum pushes then charging over that and make sure they hit the minimum so they can start billing extra. They do this by plowing every half or 3/4". Most of the time, they are ripping off the customer and they know it.
  13. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    Isn't sort of like Robin Hood Stealing from the "Rich" and giving to the Poor....:whistling:
  14. birddseedd

    birddseedd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,516

    lol. funny. but remember robin hood was an outlaw, and if these guys breaking their contract and plowing when they are not supposed to, when they get caught thell have to give back all that money they un-contractually charged.
  15. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    We scraped up the churches we do and salted them on the 4th. There was maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 inch (we have a 2 inch trigger) in them but I knew that they would have called for service if i didn't go out. To me, its important to know my clients. I have been plowing many of mine since 2000 and have a good feel of who will want service prior to the contract trigger. I will only deduct a charge if a client calls and complains. I can tell you in the past 14 years, I've only had to eat just a couple pushes. Again, its all about knowing your clients.
  16. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    You know, I'm all about HAPPY customers, but I like to make money too. It takes longer to push 4-6" than it does 2. Is that not how you figure your price per push? Granted, it may not take twice as long but it will take longer. I had one commercial client write on the invoice they sent back with the check "don't plow twice on Sunday's". Well, we got 10" of snow in 5 hours (between 7a.m. and noon) Jan. 29 and we should have plowed 5 times but we only made it there twice while we were plowing with the storm. If I were to wait until the storm was over, it would have cost me money, as I pay my subs hourly and I get paid per push based on 2". Why does it matter if its a weekend or not?
  17. birddseedd

    birddseedd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,516

    what i do for days peoople arnt open is the contract says 2" on certain days, and every 3 " on non open days. make sure its in writing whatever is the max you will wait. then just explain that its harder on equipment and doing that much more takes so much time you woudl be spending money doing the work. if they still press for you to wait till 10 inches then they are just trying to screw you over and its not likely a client worth having. never let the client set the price or conditions.
  18. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Go seasonal and don't worry about it.
  19. jhall22guitar

    jhall22guitar PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,056

    I was going to say it dosnt matter if they are open, unless stated in the contract.
  20. Flipper

    Flipper PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,180

    Contracts should be written to account for many variables. However, and I don't care if its seasonal, per push, inches etc. there are always gray areas and as someone said you might get that one customer who complains.

    I consider the contract. Is it worth it to maybe sacrifice a little material or time to make sure the lot is perfect? For me with mostly year round contracts, most of the time the answer is yes. To put down a hundred pounds of salt or scrape an entrance because of windrow from road plowing just makes good business sense.

    Had a similiar exprience a few weekends ago when we got a dusting. Facilities manager for per push property texted me Sunday as he had come down just to make sure loading docks and walks were set (his crew shovels) and was happy to find we had scraped entrances and salted whole lot. Never even questioned whether he would be billed or not.

    IMO seasonals are not the answer to eveything as I think people will find out next year following this light winter (at least in Northeast) and I call BS on anyone who says they have no complaints or issues renewing contracts next year.