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Verbal Agreement Dilema, you be the judge

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by RonWin, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. RonWin

    RonWin Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    So this is my first, real?, season of plowing. I got into the doing several resi accounts last year and plowed for the first time. My customers that i take care of are mostly from the neighborhood i lived in and friends/acquitances(sp) of my parents. I called them up before the season started and they all told me that i did a good job last year with plowing and that they would want me to continue to plow for them this year. Now heres the dilema, it is all verbal agreement (which i have no problems with) except for when there is an allday snow storm type of deal like there is now. Heavy snow accumulating late tonight (FRI) til sat afternoon. Now, some of them want me to wait and plow them out after it ALL comes down. Should i be willing to do this if there is going to be 8"-10" to plow at once? Will that not be real rough on my truck ? Also how do i go about charging them ? We have a set price per time i come to plow but if they are wanting me to come after all is done with than i should charge accordingly. My trigger is 2" wet heavy, 3" powder but i guess all my trigger is good for is if i go out to plow or not, NOT about how many times i come for storms. I have no problem with this people at all, i just want to make sure that i am charging correctly so that i do not get into a situation where i am being walked on. I understand that the snow plowing industry, like any industry, should have standards and present quality work with professional outlooks. Please help!
  2. alldayrj

    alldayrj PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,108

    you plow it at every 2" and bill accordingly 12" is 6 plows. now since this isnt in writing I would OK it with them first. most people will not go for it, so I would say ok, I can come every 4", but I cannot push 12" in one shot unless you can work out a price where it would be worth it for you
  3. RonWin

    RonWin Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    for every time i come its $50 (on avg)at 2" wet 3" powder, are guys able to really get x6 that if they have it in writing? Didnt know that people were willing to pay that much, damn.
  4. Wilnip

    Wilnip Senior Member
    Messages: 592

    If it were commercial properties, then yes plow per your trigger. Since its residentials, I would probably do it twice, just to keep the driveways passable. You do not want to get stuck, but you don't want to take advantage of them either. I would be pissed if I saw you plowing my driveway every 2 hours.
  5. RonWin

    RonWin Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    so plow twice and charge em as such? 10" should be charged as twice atleast i agree.
  6. jb1390

    jb1390 Senior Member
    Messages: 710

    Agreed, I will go twice if it is more than 12", possibly 3 times if it's more than 24". No reason to beat on the truck, I've never had an issue receiving payment for multiple plows in one storm when I explain the abuse on my truck pushing more than 12".
  7. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,943

    I would suggest: 2"-6" $50 over 6" $75 ,Find out what they want & show up when they want you to(ie: 1 time/day, every 4", ect.) & charge accordingly, but stand firm that you must plow when it gets to 10", 12" or whatever you think is your limit.
  8. geer hed

    geer hed Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    In most cases the average person really has no clue what it takes to plow snow. What you need to do is first call them and explain that if you wait untill the storm is over with that much snow you may not be able to move it, and that you would then need to get a piece of equipment to come in to and clear thier driveway. Explain to them that you would have to charge them for added costs for the rental of the equipment. Rather than do that you would prefer to plow thier drive way every 6" or so. You tell them that the first plows will be at a discount, because you will just buzz in, open it up, and go again then when the storm is over you will come in and do a complete plow job for the normal amount. Usually when you explain it to them so they can understand it and you make it sound like you are trying to work with them and save them money they are more willing to accept it, and usually say oh yes thats fine.
  9. SnowFlakeChaser

    SnowFlakeChaser Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    I read your post and then the responses. I really see it as a non issue to push 8-10 inches at one time. If you push to the right side of driveway make your first pass down the right side and then plow as normal. This moves 8 ft of snow out of the way so you wont be pushing all of the (let say 15 ft wide) snow to push on the last cleanup pass. If I had a forecast of 8-10 inches I'd be in bed until the storm was about to end, grab a coffee and a hot pocket while the truck warms up then go out as the storm ends for residential driveways. I'm in the 18-24 inch range in central mass and I'm only plowing driveways twice. I am like you thought, I dont have a price increase written into my agreements. Two years ago when we got "Snowtober" 24 inches I was only able to plow driveways one time. I charged 1 1/2 times the price and nobody complained. That storm was fun. Down wires, whole trees in the road or hung up in the wires, few trees on houses. No power for 5 days, some went 10 days with no power. Anyways, 8-10 inches in nothing, maybe you can rewrite your contracts to cover yourself for the next storm, but for this one you're going to have to bit the bullet and plow twice for the same price or once at a little slower speed. Good luck.
  10. geer hed

    geer hed Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    Your right to a point Chaser.
    You COULD push 2 feet of snow at once with no problem, Hell I've pushed 12 " with my garden tractor allready. IF IT"S ALL POWDER. But i've also seen where guys had trouble pushing 6 ". It all depends on what type snow you get.
  11. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    I do verbal agreements with all my clients as well. but I wouldn't stand for clients wanting me to wait till that many inches are down.

    mine all know if we are getting 6"+ it's a 2 or more visit charge depending on how many inches we are really suppose to get. I won't push more than 4 inches of snow at a time.

    if they wanted me to wait till it was all down unfortunately I'd have to let them go.
  12. gpservices

    gpservices Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 29

    This is a tough one, sometimes verbal is better sometimes not, for instance one year i had contracts saying i will charge every time i come for big storms, sounds good right? Well problem was storm was so bad getting more then 4inches an hour i ended up with 20 or more drives and lots never touched with 2 feet of snow, then what only charge for 1 plow in almost impossible plowing conditions? Thats when the verbal would be better cause nothing is written you could explain your reason for higher price without customer saying but your contrat says $60 a push and you only came once. So now i have that every trip will be charged and heavy amounts of snow could be more per push in exstreme conditions now im covered both ways
  13. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 622

    Simpler and better to charge by the snow fall total.

    Say you know the snow storm will be 4" and that 1 trip and you are done.

    Say 12" and you know you will want to do 3 trips.

    So at the start of the season you give your customers a price by the snow storm inch total.

    Customer does not get into how many times you will be showing up. You control how many passes is best for you and your equipment.

    Same way never tell a customer you charge $60 an hour to mow his lawn. For the customer will go bananas with the idea of paying someone to sit on a mower and make $60 an hour. See, the customer hear's $60, he does not factor in costs to operate a business.

    This is the same with plowing. What pay a guy all that money to sit on his butt in a truck with the heat on for 10 minutes work. Damn, he never has to even shift and work the clutch pedal because his truck has an automatic transmission. What a crook, robber, thief, rip off artist, he uses a plow instead of a gun.

    We must be proactive with customer relations or we get responses and thoughts from our customers as the examples above.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  14. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    personally I prefer to charge residentials by the visit and commercials by the hour.

    it's spelled out. I will make one visit for up to 4 inches of snow. after that 2 visits or more are required depending on how many inches are coming.

    with commercials the lots are cleared every 2 inches.
  15. linckeil

    linckeil PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,272

    simple - charge by total snowfall, NOT by number of visits.

    my brackets are 2-6, 6-12, 12-18, 18-24, 24-30, 30-36, over 36 God help us all!!! some guys have even tighter brackets than this. base pricing is a 2-6 storm, and it goes up by a factor for each 6" bracket thereafter.

    i'd like to plow a 30 inch snowfall 2-3 times, but with 50 accounts and snowfall rates at 4 inches per hour, it's just no feasible all the time. obvoiusly plowing 30 inches at once is harder on me and my equipment than doing it 2-3 times.

    this way you get paid the same if you are able to make it there 3 times or only once. its up to you, and there is no confusion on the part of your customers either.

    i only do residentials - commercials would be a different story as i doubt they would allow 30" in their lot at any point.

    and if anyone needs to plow a 10" storm more than once, then they need better equipment.
  16. gpservices

    gpservices Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 29

    I like that idea of the brackets like 2-6 etc.. only problem that i have found with that is some people gripe at you about how much snow we actually got, like say we got enough for you to send them 2 charges they may say theres no way we got 8 inches here. But then again no system is fool proof.
  17. linckeil

    linckeil PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,272

    i forgot that part...

    i state that it is as per the official storm ending measurement taken at the town hall. (all my accounts are in the same town). now some driveways have more/less snow than others, but the town hall measurement is a good average.
  18. gpservices

    gpservices Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 29

    Now thats a good idea, cant argue with the town hall, if they gripe tell them to look up the records and then they cant say anything, i may try that
  19. darryl g

    darryl g Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 461

    That all sounds great until you get a storm where it's snowing at a rate of 4 inches per hour and travel speed between accounts is 5 to 10 mph.
  20. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    my clients seem to like the way I charge and I like the way I charge so why change it.

    you make more money charging per visit. take your 6-12 inch bracket at x amount. when I charge 6" is a 2 visit at x per visit. 12" would be at least 3 visits at x per visit. your charging x amount whether its 6,7,10 or 12 inches.

    as for plowing 10 inches once. not me. better equipment or not. I baby my equipment as much as possible. it's no more than 4 inches per visit. once 5 or more is called for then I'm coming at the half way point or every 4 inches and back after the rest is done.

    well we don't get snow like that. but I just work my route until I'm threw it and start all over again. or until 12 hours is up then I go home, sleep 6-8 hours and do it all again.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013