Unable to continue service

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Deere John, Mar 15, 2001.

  1. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    I have a problem I have not had to deal with before. I plow two long residential roads. After 29 storms this year, both are to the point that my 8'2" on vee mode will barely bust through. I cannot see making it through the next storm, because I will get trapped in there if I spin out.

    Anyway, I made the owners aware of my concerns three weeks ago when I was flogging the backhoe service on banks, with no response. Now, not only can I not service the job, but emergency vehicles (fire and ambulance in particular) cannot get in either. These people drive small AWD cars, so 7 feet wide is still suitable. Yestesday, they still thought widening was not needed, and refused to pay for the roading and ramping service.

    What next?? I have about 3 more weeks of winter left. I will not be liable at this point for lack of access, but how can I "make this horse drink" when I've lead it to the water? Is their homeowners insurance voided by lack of access?
    All comments welcome.
  2. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Their insurance woes aren't your responsibility at this point IMO. I would notify them in writing that when they widen the road, you'll be glad to return - and you'll be glad to do it (widen it) if they so deisire.

    What can you do ?? You can do it for free (if you're that well off). Or you can wait for them to do it. You can't plow the road the way it is, right??

    You does what you can with what you got.....
  3. OP
    Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    Thanks John - I have crafted a letter to make them aware of the potential risk they are taking, as a followup to our verbals. I did think of doing it for 'free' with the B/H (for about 10 seconds), but after a winter with 29 storms, I have better causes to donate my time to.

    Ability to pay is not the issue(the AWD cars are the latest and greatest from Honda and Audi, the homes are $300,000 plus structures (my target audience)). I'll treat it as an awareness issue and see if they want to be helped.
  4. Dusty

    Dusty Member
    Messages: 82

    The more expensive the home, the cheaper the owner. I just had a power transformer fail at my home and the electric company (CL&P) said that they would not repair it because it was not accessable by truck. The transformer is on a pole in the side woods of my home. I said that the drive was wide enough for their trucks to get to the house and that getting it to the pole was their problem. The state DPUC agreed and said that I was only responsible for getting the trucks to the site where motorized vehicles normally travel. They boomed and hand winched it to the pole and I am now back on line. If I hadn't been widening the drive after every storm, there is no way that a truck would have been able to get to the house. It makes common sense to tell them that you are not responsible for their lack of concern. One never knows when that big truck will have to get to the house and not be able to make it because they were not willing to pay the piper.
  5. nsmilligan

    nsmilligan PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 704

    I have no idea what kind of agreement you have with these people, but I saw a lot of contractors in trouble this year because they took on jobs and contracts with out the proper equipment. The last few mild winters had a lot of guys booking contracts with 1/2 tons etc that just couldn't do the job this year. I had a private road into a lake I did when I had a UNIMOG with a blower and a 10' blade, but when it was no longer serviceable and I couldn't replace it economically I told my clients that I could only keep the road open to a certain point, and if we had a heavy winter THEY were clearly responsible for any extra costs of opening the road up. ( their road committee bought a DOT grader with wing and V plow for $10,000 at an auction and have used it them selves for the last few years instead of paying a contractor) Anyway, my point is, it looks like you need a heavy piece of gear with a wing, so next year buy it, charge for it, subcontract it, charge for it, or pass up on the job. I think you should have had a clear contract or agreement in place that would cover additional costs because of a severe winter, or plan for it in November by making sure those frist blanks are pushed back as far as possible.

  6. Runner

    Runner Senior Member
    Messages: 957

    Is it possible that you can rent a grader, and charge them for it? How bad do they want it opened up?
  7. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    If you read his post, you would know that he owns a back hoe or two, and has spoken with the owners about pushing back, but they dont want to spend the money. He has the equipment , and knows how to do his job, its just that the home owners are dragging feet.
  8. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Homeowners are hoping it melts,itll melt into a solid block of ice,then itll be tough to move
  9. nsmilligan

    nsmilligan PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 704

    Dino, if your comments are directed at me, I know it's hard to judge from a 1000 miles away, and without all the facts, but it's easier to cover all your bases up front, then try to add to or change a deal part way or almost all the way through the season. Anyway a backhoe is NOT the most economical way to widen a road, but the when and how much, and what if, should have been written down in October. Anyway that's tended to keep me out of trouble the last 20 years.

  10. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    On all our contracts we have the clause.

    Because of our area's climate, and the possiblities of large snowfalls. We have the option to bring in a loader at anytime we feel just to bring the area back to it's orginial size. This is to insure conontinued service, and allow emergency services, and delivery trucks to access the property.

    This is just a summary. We allows have a set price to charge for this service.

  11. OP
    Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    Thanks for the replys. In 20 years of this sport (Bill), I have worked on a contracted, mutual-consent basis with the customers. Geoff's contract language designed to preserve and force access in light of cheap people is something I will write into my next year's revised contract.

    Regarding the notion that I'm ill-equipped for the niche markets we serve in order to fully serve my customer, most long-term members here know we have two 2000 model Chev HD 3/4tons, with 2000 and 2001 model year Boss's, each truck is radio and cell equipped to our base, each truck carries enough spare parts to repair one complete half of the Boss hydraulic system, each carries v-bar tire chains (two sets on my truck) and recovery equipment. I keep a John Deere 4x4 backhoe for ramping, backup and utility work, and the whole system is backed up with a heated shop equipped with most required tools and repair/portable welding equipment. The only service we don't flog is sand/salting, and that's a market demand issue. I have said all of these equipment-related things here previously, and as a general rule, I don't have problems sneek up on me. I don't like to discuss the financial end here.

    Anyway, thanks again all for the helpful advice.
  12. nsmilligan

    nsmilligan PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 704

    Didn't mean to pick on ya!

    Deere John like I said it's really hard to judge from Cyberspace, and from reading lots of your other posts, and as you can see I read more than post;I get the impression you know your business. But maybe it's one of those jobs that better for someone else to do. The one thing I have after all these years in the business are clients who really appreciate a job well done, never question my judgement (well hardly ever) and pay on time, the others are being done by someone else, and we all know of a couple of locations in our markets that seem to have a new contractor every year or so.
    Good luck straighting your clients out! ( A few days of cabin fever may do wonders!)