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trigger concern

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by trinitygrove, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. trinitygrove

    trinitygrove Member
    Messages: 35

    Our trigger is 5cm. It snowed about 3.5 -4.5 in Toronto/Mississauga on average on New years eve. A couple customers called today asking where the hell we were. So I told them in a very polite and professional manner that the minimum snowfall was not reached. So one of the customers starts giving me crap. I told him too bad (he hasn't been a very good customer). How would I handle this situation better? If it snows 4.5cm and ur trigger is 5 cm, do you go out anyways? how firm do you have to be with people? Im not gonna drive 20 kms to go clean this sackhead's driveway when no one else is complaining. Please advise on how to go about this better in the future.


  2. Ian

    Ian Member
    Messages: 96

    First of all you can apologize to him for the misunderstanding.

    I would reply that the snow fall amounts on average were just under the trigger amount. Then I would say that I would be right there to take care of his drive.

    I show up at job sites when the trigger is met OR the customer called and requested service.

    He is your customer!

    Go take care of him.

    (business is business, don't forget to bill him if you charge by the visit).
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2006
  3. Runner

    Runner Senior Member
    Messages: 957

    I explain to the customers that generally we don't plow at the smaller amounts, because if I went out and plowed 40 driveways, and 20 of the people called and said they don't want to pay for such a small amount, I wouldn't make anything. This is why we have an agreed amount at the beginning of the season that is understood. Now, if he wasn't that far away, I would go ahead and go out and plow him, - just to accomodate him this time. I sure wouldn't tell him "too bad", though. You won't stay in ANY kind of business too long with that attitude.
  4. maurader

    maurader Member
    Messages: 37

    In a situation like that I would tell the customer that I'll be out to plow their driveway. Assuming that he is on the high side of the 3.5-4.5cm snowfall then being 20kms away he could have 5cm in his driveway. Half of a cm is nothing anyways. The problem is that you have a customer that is 20kms away. Hopefully you have others that are close by to him so you could of plowed them also and made everybody happy.
    I had a customer call two weeks ago and tell me that she had the trigger amount in her driveway. I was suspicious because I was already in that area and plowed a few drives that had about half the trigger amount. Anyways, I drove over there with my tape measure ready to let her have it. Sure enough, she was right! I plowed the drive, apologized for not plowing it sooner, and thanked her for calling and letting me know.
    She was very appreciative and understanding. That is the proper way to deal with a customer. I hate snowfalls right near the trigger amount. Best bet is to suck it up and just go and plow.
    Sorry for the long post.
  5. killed300ex

    killed300ex Senior Member
    Messages: 293

    just ran into this today. We had 1.5 inchs my trigger is 2 inchs. Didnt plow then i had a couple of people call asking were i was. I just put the plow on and cleaned them out. I have decided that there are certain customers that i will plow with just about any amount of snowfall. Otherwise they will call and its easier to just go out and bill them(more money into my pocket to).
  6. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I try to take care of these situations before they come up. When I'm starting out with a new customer, I explain the trigger amount and how that works. I have people of all different setups (per plow, seasonal, etc). The snowfalls that are "right on the edge" cause problems. The per plow customers don't want it plowed and the seasonals do. So that's what I do and calculate a couple of those per year into bids for seasonal customers.

    Once we're done discussing pricing, etc and I'm ready to leave, I tell them that sometimes it'll happen that they'll want plowed but I may not realize how much snow has fallen there. They are encouraged to call me and I'll be right over. That trip for them alone has already been built into the price.
  7. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    Ill bet he is a flat rate for the season contract isnt he? Thats the prob you have with this kind of contract. I had two of these this year (father and son) and i got a call just like that a couple of weeks ago. Prompty told him if hes unhappy before we get any futher into the season then to find another plow guy. I was pressured to take a contract cause I owe this guy a favor or 2. All of my contracts are pay by push and those customers arent willing to pay me for a full push when theres only a trace of snow on the ground. Id rather sit at holme watching it snow while sitting by my fireplace then to put up with that crap......Rob
  8. kingriver

    kingriver Senior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 216

    I understand what your saying. I would of plowed. Thats to close to call.
  9. jglandscaping

    jglandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 271

    To close to call though, and just do it? People might call and complain because you did and won't pay. I agree, it was to close for the trigger, so I just did not do it, we had just about 2 inches, customers know I will go between 2-3 inches, some are at 4. It is suppost to snow tomorrow night, and I do not think people would be to found being charged $40-50 each time I went and there was 2 inches. If any customers had any problems, they can just call and it would be taken care of asap, no questions asked. No calls at all today. It was also New Years day and a sunday so no one was probabally going to go out or they might have just wanted to do it themselves because it was fluffy (hate showing up when its always been done:realmad: .
    Sorry about the length.
  10. rembrandt100

    rembrandt100 Member
    Messages: 43

    I was in Missasauga on New years eve afternoon and in some places there was certinly 2 + inches. I was at Southdown rd and Truscott area. I was in a hurry to get home, yorkdale area, because I thought that I was going to work. Up where I am we had about 1 " if that.

  11. trinitygrove

    trinitygrove Member
    Messages: 35

    I didn't really tell him too bad in those exact words, I said it nicer of course. But I got to say the reason that I hesitated to do this customer is because he has been a PIMA since the first day we met. Another customer called and he was very polite about it so I sent someone over. (Wasn't close to the first house) Alot of people act stupid when I tell remind them about our 5 cm trigger. "Oh, what's that?" they say. Then I tell them that everything is all in the contract agreement that was signed by you. Out of my 40 houses, there were only 2 calls. Thanks for all the help guys,
  12. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    I use a 2" trigger (a touch over 5cm).... metric still seems to confuse people for some reason.

    I found that by mid-morning the temps were warm enough that the snow was melting and my trigger depths weren't being met any more. Plowed about 3/4 of my residentials, left the rest. Did all the commercials last since they were all closed.

    I didn't get any calls one way or the other.

    Now, if I was in your situation, I would have apologized and told him I didn't think you met the minimum (and were just trying to give value for the money if it is a per-push charge) and would be right over. I think my farthest residential (a cash job) is about 15-20mins from the house in crappy weather. I do it more for customer relations. Possibly this is why I have such a high percentage of repeat biz? (only lost three contracts ever, one commercial to them buying a bobcat, one commercial to a tennant who did major damage to the property, go figure, and one residential bc they moved).

    I really think customer service is everything in this game.
  13. crazymike

    crazymike Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 639

    I'm in the East end, the company I sub for only salted (they are big in mississauga, etobicoe) and my personal accounts I mainly left.

    The only ones I did are the per push accounts that ice up. Anything residential I didn't touch.

    The storm was unfortunately a flop, aswell as the one we were supposed to get tonight.
  14. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    This situation happens to us too. I usually go, then try to sell them on my "any-amount" service, rather than the 2" trigger: a service that would obviously suit their needs better.

    Sometimes it works, sometimes they don't want to contract for more $$, but they become more aware of the 2" rule, and don't call then.
  15. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    Plow them but have a CYA plan in place

    If the customer calls and wants to be plowed, you thank them for the heads-up and head over as soon as you can. It is our job to make sure we have a plan in place to be compensated for these situations.

    Competition is so tight in my area that the $149-$179 unlimited contract is the tool used to get accounts. If one of these customers becomes the type that is always calling, that can really hurt the bottom line. My way of combating it is to offer seasonal (@ $225) but I cap it at 20 trips, anything more and I start charging again, I also don't take any residential farther away than 3 miles.

    Lastly the best thing to do is to get some landscaping out of them, I have one customer that I do work for at prices way below what I charge everyone else, but this customer keeps me busy with one project after the next.
  16. norrod

    norrod Senior Member
    Messages: 113

    Yeah, I would appologize for the misunderstanding too, and tell him I'll be there shortly. Also this is the time to renegotiate your service agreement for this customer to a lower trigger. (this will hurt if it's a seasonal contract.)

    Remember.. the customer is always right, even when they are clearly wrong :)
  17. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    That one used to burn me up when I was a retail manager, and some crazy customer would want me to give him a new replacement because his 10year old thing broke and then the customer would say you know I AM the customer and we are always right!, My reply was always, No sir I'm sorry but the customer is NOT always right, but you are our customer, so lets work this out.
  18. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    The customer is only right when the customer is right. I was a retail asst manager for a chain tool store. Some guys (contractors in perticularly) seem to think they can muscle, figurativly, whatever they want. Perfect Grn Mtn- seen that many times myself.

    I want your business, but I will not take a loss to retain it.
    When in doubt I plow and bill for it. Never had a customer complain I plowed and ahouldn't have- only heard "I need to get out, where are you."

    From one side of town here the amounts can vary by over 1 inch, so when in doubt I drive the route and check. The more expanded your route the more diffacult that is- something you need to factor in your business plan. I also refuse seasonal contracts because I will almost always take in more than the contract going rate in per push billing, plus it looks like less cash when you charge $60 here and $90 there versus a bill for $420.

    You can always up your contract price for this PIA cusomer next year- either you get more $$ or he finds someone else. Either way problem solved. You may want to consider per push plowing if everyone is doing contracts- might open some doors for you.
  19. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    We always had people who's kids would break expensive things in the store, then they would refuse to pay for them, as it was 'only an accident'.

    You're right, that makes things much better. Try taking responsibility for your (and your children's) actions. These were usually the same people who were 'just looking' anyways. Lost thousands of dollars per year on that crap.

    Get the hell outta my store.