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Web Help 4 Anyone but lowballers

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by snowplowing, Feb 26, 2005.

  1. snowplowing

    snowplowing Junior Member
    from boston
    Messages: 5

    Ex-web developer and amateur graphic designer willing to help out fellow plowers and landscapers in the off season. I have some time and would like to help you out!

    You must not be a low baller. I know everyone needs to make money. Some more than others, but lowballing will hurt us all. When I started plowing, most people I ran into had a $25 dollar minimum. I decided that $35 was more fair regardless of what people were getting quoted on. For that extra few dollars, I have the time to make sure the job is done right every time. The clients I get, I keep. Getting new clients cost money and time. If you are running a business, price slashing will only lead to your own demise. You need to leave room in case "**** happens". You work around the clock, do not get paid if it does not snow, and are still expected to be ready and handle anything. How many other jobs require that you be on call 24/7 without giving you a dime. If they can't afford the plow, they had better afford a shovel. If they can't afford a shovel, they shouldn't be looking to contract out work. Think about what their time is worth. If your $35 a plow saves them 2 hours of shoveling, it will save them money. Many people are just looking for the lowest price because that is all they understand about the business, which is fine, but does nothing to separate the professionals and hacks. You work hard for your money and shouldn't have to downgrade yourself because someone wants a deal. At the end of the month, would you want that extra $5,$10,$15 to goto them or you? Are you working to provide them a deal or make yourself a living? Who deserves it more? The guy that has to write the check a little bigger or the guy that has to be on-call 24/7 and work hard to get the job done? Desperation will only leave you desperate.
  2. Italiano67

    Italiano67 Senior Member
    Messages: 645

    Well said. I agree.
  3. Nascar Fan

    Nascar Fan Senior Member
    Messages: 167

    Desperation will only leave you desperate.

    Aint that the truth!!!!Well said.
  4. snowplowing

    snowplowing Junior Member
    from boston
    Messages: 5

  5. gpin

    gpin Senior Member
    Messages: 390

    Tired of hearing about lowballers.

    I tired of people complaining about "lowballers". If you are not making money, look within, don't blame a "lowballer". I have been plowing for 27 years and STILL have my 1st commercial account (25 years). When I started in 1978, I plowed anything I could for whatever I could get. I did not have a clue. I did a 1/10 mile driveway for a 6 pack of warm Rolling Rock once. Talk about low. 27 years later, I know something about plowing but still have room for improvement.

    Once in awhile, some will get an account from me based on $. 90% of the time I get it back immediately. I earn my money based on service and reliability. I schedule lightly, between 4 -6 hrs for each truck, and have back ups. There will always be someone cheaper than me and they have their place in a free market.

    It is known as a MARKET ECONOMY. Good luck and have a prosperous winter.
  6. sgthawkusmc

    sgthawkusmc Member
    Messages: 76

    It does get old doesn't it... Not a popular opinion around here, but I'm not out to win poplularity contests. I love the guy I saw a couple of weeks ago here shouting out threats like he was some mafioso boss. Maybe he is, who knows. Think about who the so called lowballers are usually. A guy that needs extra money for his bills who is trying to get it honestly or a kid starting out etc. Not always some crack head looking for money for his fix or a theiving management company that does it to drive you out of business so they can in turn jack the price back up. If you're in business, there is always going to be a knock off product or service offered at a lower price. Get over it and fight back with some integrity by providing a better service if you can.
  7. Peopleeater

    Peopleeater Senior Member
    Messages: 249

    Good Job

    Very Nicely said!

  8. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    How can someone be a "lowballer" unless they know your exact price . Everyone sees a job differently . There is no normal price . I could be considered a lowballer if I price a parking lot $ 50.00 cheaper than the guy who does it , It is not low balling , its business , I could be doing the lots next door and I am already there . If someone is cheaper than you ,they arent lowballing , they are working off of smaller margins . If someone is charging more than you , they are getting more money than you are .

    I have to agree with Gpin , I also started years ago , worked cheap and learned as I went , ( but I would never plow for rolling rock , it had to be Bud)and my prices rose accordingly . There are guys cheaper than me and guys more expensive .
  9. gpin

    gpin Senior Member
    Messages: 390

    Mdirrigation: I admire you for your integrity in regard to Bud.
  10. flykelley

    flykelley 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,127

    Well here is my take on it. If a guy want's to work for next to nothing let him. He will not be around long. I picked up a new customer this fall, and I took her from a low baller. The reason was I saw her out shoveling the approach to her parking lot while I was across the street at the ATM machine.
    I watched her for a minute fighting that heavy wet snow that was pushed up in driveway by the county plow's.
    I drove across the street blow my horn for her to move, dropped my blade and cleaned the approach for her. When I was done I gave her my business card and told her I would like to bid the job for the 2004 2005 winter.
    Well fall comes and I send her a bid and hear nothing till right after Thanksgiving, she say's I'm to high on price her guy last year only charged her $10.00 a push. I told here she had better call him and to buy a bigger shovel because I wouldn't even get in my truck for twice that money.
    Her Buisness is right around the corner from my home and also on my route.
    Well to make a long story short she signed a contract for a whole lot more money than she had been paying, but she hasn't had to shovel or wonder when her lot will get plowed, it's done before she is ready to open for the day.

    Regard's Mike
  11. snowplowing

    snowplowing Junior Member
    from boston
    Messages: 5

    I understand that people need to make money. Some more than others. It is about a bigger problem that stretches through not just our industry, but any and almost all labor industries. You say it is just business, but it is not. It is a class separation that is going on. I don't think that all classes are the same, but when you have a large imbalance guess who loses? It is the reason that there are labor unions. It is the reason that the lower and middle classes stay in the lower and middle classes. What is even more scary is that the middle class will tend to go down while the upper continues to go up on the backs of the rest. How many of you have been on a quote, seen a guy willing to spend $1000 on a suit, but is giving you a hard time about $5.00? People will say that is business, but it is so much of a deeper problem than that. It contributes to a greater poverty line, increases housing, etc. The last time I checked gas, insurance, repairs have not gone down. In fact they go up almost every year, but the bids are getting lower. How can you compare it with mass production corporations which actually does save money due to less work? It made me sick to think of some of the posts on here saying that people work for $10 a drive. It makes me feel sadness because you have to work for so little needing to provide so much. If you think business is just business, you are right if life is just business and all that matters is the bottom line. Not. It's about fairness on the playing field and not pitting classes of people against each other.
    To those that I've offended, I'm sorry. It is not to make you feel bad or anything like that. It is to bring light to a class war that is brewing.
    If you read anything about history and the battle that the working class has had, you will clearly see a larger, broader, and real problem that is unfolding. We will be the only losers. It's the way the system works. The only way to combat it, is through education and cooperation not pitting ourselves against ourselves.
  12. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    I'm getting a bit weary of this lowballer stuff myself, even though I basically support the idea that due to the operating costs of a legitimate plowing business you must charge accordingly.

    I don't think it's fair to say that charging less than $35 for a driveway means you're a lowballer. We all know there are too many other factors affecting price which were not mentioned. There is such a thing as a small flat driveway with no obstructions that's conveniently located within your route and takes you all of one pass and less than 5 minutes to do. I don't know about the rest of you (and I also don't really care - no offense) but I'll take $25 bucks for 5 minutes of my time any day.

    The time in business is also a big factor here. Even though I myself am in my first season, I think I charge accordingly to cover my operating costs, which is the REAL NAME OF THE GAME HERE FOLKS! Now, in 5 years if and when I'm sitting on top of a very successful business and well in the black I can see myself being able to weed out the people who don't want to pay and better surround myself with the people who both want and can afford a reliable and professional snow removal contractor. But, I'm NOT there yet!

    Here's an example. Back in early December a guy over on the next street from me called up saying he saw my signs on the truck and wanted a price to plow for him. He had two driveways at his house, both going up to 2-car garages. One was very short and went single wide at the curb to double in front of the garage. The other single wide but alot longer and took a sharp left turn to where it went double wide in front of the garage doors. I told him $55 for both per push. He told me he had an "old guy" who did it last year for $30. I told him to call the guy and good luck to you. My thinking: Here's a guy with a house with two 2-car garages and two driveways, what's $55 to a guy like that?

    But, now as I look back I see it a different way. I did not consider that him being right around the corner is very convenient for me, or that even though he had 2 driveways they were both right in the same place and one of them was really pretty short. I think I was also too dumb to realize that I may have picked up a few other of his neighbors by now if they saw me plowing for him all winter. So, in retrospect I think I should have offered to come down to $40 to get the job and maybe after a couple of years of good reliable service I'd have been able to increase to and actually get my price. Instead, now I have nothing.

    My point is I think when you're starting out, you need to get any job you can to establish yourself. Once you get a job, you have the option of keeping it and later increasing your price or giving it up if they don't want to pay. But if you don't get it, then you have nothing. With some people, you have to prove yourself before they're willing to pay you top wages. If you don't have an established business already, you can't really blame them.

    You have to learn to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. My advice is to not get so full of yourself that you run right by a nice easy account like I did.
  13. plowman777

    plowman777 Senior Member
    Messages: 227

    to all lowball haters. just be glad the chinese cant snow plow your neighborhood from where they are. but if someone is within drivng distance of your area, their costs should be about the same tho maybe without insurance, and with an older truck. its just competition in the rawest sense. yes it sucks, but find people who can pay what service you offer and stop crying about the rest. afterall its just driving back and forth, this isnt brain surgery. i lose customers over $5.00-$10.00 sometimes...if i want them i can lower my price. its all a business decision. maybe i can plow 10 more drives at a low price and gross more. just do the low priced people last, they get what they pay for.

    maybe you need to find other means of employment if it hurts you that much.
    this is part-time to me so it doesnt matter what happens. i would hate if it did.

  14. gpin

    gpin Senior Member
    Messages: 390

    While I have plowed for 23 years, I have been a general contractor for the past 15 years. I have 2 GMC 3500 dually dumps and a few 1 ton and 3/4 ton pick ups I use for my business. For me, snow plowing is a extension of my gc business. I need the vehicles for the gc end and I have difficulty working the gc business during a storm, so the trucks are used for plowing. The cost of the vehicles is spread over the 2 businesses. So my basis for operations is completely different than someone who has invested in a snow removal only business. So I have the opportunity to be a lowballer.

    I am able to maintain higher margins because I offer a higher level of service strengthened by the fact that I don't need the business. If a client squeezes my price, I will offer to walk away. If it happens that I have a contract in place, I don't try to enforce it, I want the client to be happy. I do have the client sign a document ending the existing contract which states that the contract can be put back into use at the clients discretion, however, his job goes to the end of my list provided that I have room on the route.

    As for service, I find it easy to be the best. Keep all lots as large as possible and be careful when providing ice management. Ice management means magic melt, not salt. Magic melt costs more than salt but has a higher residual effect, (stays embedded on blacktop effectively pretreating for the next event), than salt and you don't need as much of it. I also sell the fact that magic melt does not harm plants or sidewalks. All but the largest lots are treated with a walk behind broadcast spreader. Yes it takes more time but I know that the areas were treated effectively.

    Schedule lightly so all clients are done in a timely manner and sell this sevice to your clients. If you are overextended, someone will be unhappy.

    If we have to plow when vehicles are on the lot, we take the time to shovel out the front and drives side and brush off the snow accumulated on the windows. Yes a pita but who else is going to do it?

    When we shovel, blow or quad/plow the walks, we take the time to brush off all shrubs and planting which could be harmed by the weight of the snow.

    NEVER push snow up to a building. Back drag or shovel it away from foundations. Melting snow at the base of building can create a disaster.

    We check all down spouts and make sure the run off is properly routed. This means storing a 50' roll of 4" black pipe on site and a few lengths in one of the trucks. If we have to temporarily reroute water we alert the owner or manager.

    Email. We email every owner or building manager after each event, adding didgital pictures where necessary. Example, if we tear up turf, we attempt to put it back in place but report it anyway. No one has asked me to replace any reported damage in 20 + years.

    Typically, my client is someone or a company which owns multiple high end office complexes or parks. They value high end service and understand the long term cost savings for their property. My clients are bombarded with offers for snow removal. I supply the owner or manager with a list of our snow services which they can hand out to others who wish to bid out the same services.

    Differentiate yourself with your service by providing a level of quality which is difficult to match, both commercially and residentially. Sell your value, don't try to sell by pointing out the other services faults and you will have all the profitable business you can handle.
  15. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415


    Great post. Big or small, that's the way to run any service business I think. Your success is well deserved and I hope by applying the same ethics I can one day have a comparable clientele.

    This one's for you, and all of us who are trying to do things the right way. :drinkup:
  16. mmwb

    mmwb Senior Member
    from wyoming
    Messages: 114

    Excellant posts for those of us just getting into the bussiness. I look at what the guy that's plowed my drive has charged and can't see how he buys fuel. Now maybe he is doing us a favor because we know each other fairly well, but I'd charge twice what he does for the same area. Of course everyone and their brother has a plow in this area so I might not have much work as I get started.
  17. bingermann

    bingermann Member
    Messages: 31

    Lowballing the web-designer?

    Aren't you lowballing the webdesigner? There are plenty of resonably priced webdesigners who do websites for a living, and now they have to compete with YOU taking their business for less money. Hypocrite!

    Competition is what makes this world go around or do you believe in entitlement! You are a snowplower so you deserve to make X and anyone lower than you is a jerk for being in business. Give me a break! I own all my equipment and I compete against all of the larger landscape companies who are all charging very high prices. I can easily beat their pricing and win as many jobs as I want. Does that make me a lowballer? I don't carry high overhead, or drive brand new trucks. That is how I compete and win. Should I not be in business because I can operate at a lower pricing structure profitably? You should rethink your webdesigning offer if you won't work for lowballers!
  18. Mark F

    Mark F Senior Member
    Messages: 101

    I believe that most of the time lowballers are good for business. Wait now, hear me out! You see Joe Blow Lowballer usually is some person that is starting out, or is desperate, and needs money now, for one reason or the other, what ever. My experience with them is that, he ussaully has A older rig that is not in the greatest of shape. So when he gos out on patrol, he makes it most of the way around, then it breaks, blows oil all over his costumers lot or just does't show up that day or some thing like that. Now this is where we highballers come in with our new, shinny lookn rigs. We got our names in the phone book, on the side of our rig maybe, maybe not, or they see us a cross the street doing A real bang up job. A nother thing is their here one year and gone the next. Now on the other hand theres people out there that only want low bib period. They don't care a rats a$$ what you look like. Those guys we'll never get, thats the way it is. And far as I'm concerned Mr lowballer can have them. I hope explained my self good enough. I know this is a touchy subject. So please don't slash my tires, sugar my tank or burn down my house.
    This is America, home of the free and the brave.
  19. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Mark , i have to agree with you except for the older truck part . I know guys out there who are running late 70's ,and 1980's trucks , including myself. And they have been running for years . The guys that typically bid low around here have a new truck ,fresh off the dealer lot with dreams of paying for it the first snowstorm.
  20. Peopleeater

    Peopleeater Senior Member
    Messages: 249

    Lowballer websites

    I know how to do websites, too!