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What to include in a seasonal bid?

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by dieselboy01, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. dieselboy01

    dieselboy01 Senior Member
    Messages: 795

    Right now I bid all my stuff per push. I'm looking for more info on how to write up and figure out seasonal bids if I run across a customer that would prefer that.

    I figure add up how much to do the lot once and times that buy average events (adding a few in case of a very snowy winter like this) Does this sound right?

    What else is good to have written in a seasonal bid/contract?

    Do you have X amount of money for up to X amount of inches of snow, then X more money if you go over that due to a very snowy year?

    Or a blizzard clause?

    Our ave. snow fall is around 45" a year. This year is around 54". The past few years have been very sad, last year was around 25".

    Is it as simple as $100/plow, $75/salt=$175/event.

    20 "events" a year 20x $175=$3500

    $3500 for a seasonal bid.

    I don't want to get burned if I do bid seasonal.

    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    That simple.
  3. hatchmastr

    hatchmastr Senior Member
    from 516
    Messages: 243

    what I have learned when It comes to seasonal is that most costumers looking for a seasonal price (at least around me) are looking for a cheap deal .. I have about 15 seasonal resi_ that I do last everystorm hours after the fact!!! but a year like this year they won!! big time . I based it on a avg 7 events since the last couple of year were slow and we are almost double that this year . thank god I have a good per push base to sit on because I would have lost my pants.

    my advice : only after having a good per push base, so you know every storm no matter what you make good money then you should go for seasonals . and they must all pay by dec 1
  4. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    7 events,I'd be arrested for theft!
  5. hatchmastr

    hatchmastr Senior Member
    from 516
    Messages: 243

    how many you avg. ?
  6. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    This year around 30 most yrs 20=25
  7. andersman02

    andersman02 Senior Member
    Messages: 756

    Take your perpush rate, multiply by average number of events over your trigger, add a couple for heavier snowfalls requiring more then one trip.for salt, depends on how your contact reads. Ours are salting after plowing, also icy events. We plow at 1 inch, salt under 1" if slippery conditions exist. I believe we bid about 6 more saltins then plow

    One thing, make it with your while for a seasonal.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  8. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    It also depends on site size, but there are many more factors that goes into a seasonal bid.

    First of all when completing a per push, per event, or hourly contract you are being paid every time you step foot on the property and the customer knows this. Once they pay for an all inclusive service, the customer's mentality changes entirely and becomes one of entitlement. For this reason you will find that seasonal customers are much quicker to complain, ask for more than agreed upon, and get you to do details that you didn't even consider before. The mentality changes from them paying for you to plow, salt, or shovel to being a mentality of you being "their snow guy" who they will call for anything snow related.

    The reason I bring this up is that in a seasonal bid everything must be accounted for. Call backs will cost you big in a seasonal account. What about refreeze on the parking lot the day after an event? Runoff from melting and then refreeze at night? Refreeze from water coming out of a gutter drain? Who pays for all those services, is it factored into the seasonal price or will you bill the customer extra? When the snow drifts or drifts off the roof and it is not snowing outside, will you be cleaning that up on your dollar? What about pile locations, if the snow is coming down really hard and you are forced to make more smaller piles instead of one large centralized one (in the interest of time and keeping up with the storm), will you relocate all those smaller piles on your dime, or will you be allowed to leave them as is? These are just all quick questions to provoke thought that come off the top of my head..

    Fire hydrants, gutters, slopes, inadequate drainage, pile location, refreeze, sun positions in relation to the building/lots, prevailing wind directions in relation to pile and building placement (drifts off roof and piles can have you plowing for hours on end in bright sunlight a week after a storm), 24 hour store vs. 8-5 opening/closing times, etc. These are just a few of the many factors that can make or break the profitability of a seasonal account.

    You should consider these factors, and more, when calculating your pricing. There will never be a way to turn something as dynamic as a snow season into a perfect science, but the point is that with a seasonal customer's new found sense of entitlement and the hundreds of factors that can cost you money on a snow site, you need to have a good enough buffer worked into your price to cover stuff like this - because most of it can and will happen.
  9. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    Another thing that just came into my head that will often cost a lot of money on a seasonal site is a lot of awnings.

    Your crew shovels the walkway, and then the snow slides off the awnings the next sunny day leaving you with another complete shoveling job. Is this included in your pricing? Just another thought is all...
  10. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    No seasonals for this guy. For all the reasons listed by merrimacmill.
  11. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,174

    Say u have 10k seasonal and you a light year, who's made the easy money?

    Its a roll of the dice, a good mix of push and seasonal is the best of both words.
  12. M & MD Lawn

    M & MD Lawn Senior Member
    Messages: 361

    I was asked to do a seasonal bid, for me I will probably never bid a large facility on seasonal, always hourly for whatever services they ask and ones that Merrimac has said. A smaller property I would though. Thats just me, plus im not big enough to do a large property seasonal in my opinion.
  13. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    I completely understand your angle, however I've found my mentality is opposite. I've turned down every large facility bid oppertunity that was per push, hourly, or per service. The intense amount of capital it takes to prepare for an account like that is just too much of a dice roll if no snow ends up flying. Large accounts can easily exceed $10k - $20k a month in expenses considering my equipment is used for snow only and sits in the off season (meaning 12 months of payments are paid in only 5-6 months).

    I'd deal with this by understanding what my variable operating expenses (fuel, labor, salt, repairs, etc) are for the large seasonal account and off setting that with the gross profit from my per push, hourly, and per event contracts.

    I've preached this on here for awhile now, but consider making a spreadsheet that uses those figures against a hypothetical snow season ranging from 0" up to 250" of snow (increments of 10") and 0 salt events up to 100 salt events. At the bottom of each column you will be able to see your expected profitability across almost any weather average scenario for the season.

    Again, it will never be an exact science as things can and always will come up/change, but its about as good of a planning method or starting point as I can come up with (and better than most others I've seen). Its the same deal in my other occupation, real estate management. I can do all the planning and budgeting I want to, but I'll never be able to anticipate every time the HVAC guy walks into my office with another $10,000 bill for a broken AC unit. This is when the law of averages generally takes over...
  14. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    Again, I am not a gambling man. The bank wants their money no matter if I win or lose that dice roll.
  15. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 722

    If you price you're seasonals right you have x coming in every month to budget from.

    You say you have bills no matter what, what happens if you have a light winter?

    I also agree 100% with everything merrimacmill said.
  16. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    Better a light winter than plowing a bad one for nothing. One makes me little, the other costs me.
  17. thelettuceman

    thelettuceman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,218

    Times 2. Been this way with me for 35 years.
  18. dieselboy01

    dieselboy01 Senior Member
    Messages: 795

    Thank you everyone for all the great advice!! I'm going to keep pushing for per push accounts. I now see all the different variables with seasonals.

    Thanks merrimacmill, I have learned a lot and you brought up a lot of important factors!

    Do any of you guys put a maximum total for snow fall or some sort of blizzard clause?
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  19. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    You may have made easy money in that year but when you go to renew the contract, the customer will want a lower cost because they overpaid. Then you renew for 8k and have a heavy snow year that you would have billed at 13k. Then you lose big. I guess I've never seen the overall benefit of seasonal, all I ever hear is..."if it doesn't snow, I still get paid"...but there are consequences that come along with that. The main one being that customers hate paying for nothing. At least on per push the work is actually performed.
  20. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    I don't know about you The years we had little snow I was doing summer work during winter time. Always something to do around here
    I even did few hardscape jobs in feb March one year wasn't to cold to lay pavers.