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What would you do?/lost sanding bid

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Mick, Sep 28, 2001.

  1. Mick

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

    I bid on a mile+ long private road and got a call last night. He wants to know if I'd come down on my quote for sanding. Says the last guy charged $40/yd - spread. Actually, I believe him - I know the guy who did it last year. I have to buy my sand mixed and $40 wouldn't even cover cost of material and gas. They had their association meeting to consider bids last night and I haven't gotten called again, so it looks like I won't get the bid for plowing it, either. The thing is, I was asked to bid on it because they weren't happy with him last year. So I guess they're going to have to choose - "you get what you pay for". I'd rather lose the bid than sacrifice service to the customer. Oh well, like they say, there'll be a better one down the road. I guess I'm just looking for someone to confirm that I'm right. For a small operator like me, it would have been a major account.
  2. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I know it's easy to say, but don't sweat it. We've got the same thing around here, Bozos bid jobs for way under what the job should be worth, get the contract and then do as little as possible in the way of service. The owners would ahve a valid complaint if they wanted to make an issue of it but they got it cheap so they seem to be happy. If these jokers got held to the specs they'd be out of the pool another year. Hold your pricing to a level that lets you make money and you'll be ok. No point in taking the job if you're only going to trade money on it. Best you can hope for is the bozo will do such a poor job they might actually get sick of him another year.
  3. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    I don't have any experience in the field of salt/sand, but if it was going to pay around $40/yd and COST you around $40/yd to provide service, that's effectively working for nothing! :mad:

    I don't think any operator in ANY field - especially a small one - can afford to work for nothing! Particularly when fuel & material costs only seem to go one way - up.

    Hopefully, after another winter of being not happy with the service, the light bulb will click on and they'll realize that "cheap ain't always good".
  4. Mick

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

    Thanks, guys. Alan, I do have a question you might be able to help with. For pricing, I'm planning to charge cost(x2) for up to five miles, then $2 per mile from the supplier. Does that seem good to you. Geoff, what do you think? Anyone else feel free to chime in, I asked those two cause they're closest to me.
  5. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I'm in a little different situation as far as distance from the supplier. I warehouse a quantity of salt which id sonly acouple miles from home, but if I empty the spreader and I'm at the far end of the route(closer to the warehouse than my pile) I'll reload there and work my way back. I use very little sand, which I have to pick up as I need it. My service area is between where I operate from and the warehouse. I never really considered a varying rate depending on distance from the supply. I figure almost 3x cost for material applied though.

    JD PLOWER PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 751

    Mick, Alan and Rob are correct when they say not to worry about the one that got away. In fact if they call you back I would probably raise the rate a small amount, and when they ask why just tell them that was your "preseason price".

    The thing I try to remember is I'm in this buisness for the long haul and you will get some good contracts simply by just providing superior service for a fair price. Don't sell yourself short by competing with lowballers. As you just posted "you get what you pay for". Good luck.
  7. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Charge them say 200 bucks for "labor" + materials, ie Mix at 40 bucks a yard, salt at 70 bucks a yard. You should be able to make money even off the materials with the prices quoated.

    200 bucks is a number off the top of my head, I would have to see the job to give a fair number. Thats why on my seasonal bids, I have the "spreading" labor built into my bids, and then just add materials cost at the end of each month. This is one way to do, for me to give you a fair number, I would have to see the accotunt. I have a few accounts where there seasonal big, includes the cost of spreading for snow events, only they get materials added to the bill at the end of every month. Not the ideal way, however it works. I have 3 private roads like that, the end of every month for 6 months they get 1/6 of the seasonal cost plus materials used. Ice storms are billed out seperate, where they private roads pay $xxxxxx to spread xxxxx amount of materials.

    As far as charging out your travel time, forget it. I just don't see how you can get someone to pay for you to go back to your supplier. Cover those cost in your bid. If you need to make multiple trips to sand the place, don't expect the customer to pay for it because your truck can't hold enough material.

    Good Luck, hope ya get the job.

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2001
  8. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    I treat my bids as a pakage. I mark up the mix I spread only a little. Where I make the money is in the labor. I treat a sand run at a cost of 1/2 a push cost. (with a little leeway) Therefore I make money when I sen a driver through a lot with the sander running. I justify this by the fact that I am a professional, have the right equipment, insurance and knowledge to do the job.

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    This has got to be the toughest month for me in this business. Every bid I do I really want the work. I try to stick to my guns on my pricing, but I still get these bums who are lowballing me. I only bid jobs that I think fit my team perfectly, so when I don't get them I really do regret every one! Then I start wondering if I should lower my prices, or if I estimate too high on time or number of pushes.

    Bottom line, like the others said, you just need to move on and keep on bidding. It all seems to work out for me in the end, so I'm not going to lower my standards.

    I wonder though if I would have that same willpower if this was my only job and it had to put food on the table?
  10. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    I feel that you have to be really big in this business before you can depend on it for food on your table. Even with the contracts I have that provide steady payments over the winter months I still depend on other jobs. I look at a good winter as a bonus. I usually use it to pay for some new equipment or extras I want. Now maybe if I was John Allin this would be different.:)
  11. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Well..... the attitude actually is much more arrogant if it is your only source of revenue..... you learn that taking jobs "just to put food on the table" quickly leads to negative cash flow and a red colored figure at the bottom of the financial statement. Too many of those and you're out looking for a job.

    You learn to walk away much more readily than if you have another job because you can't take the "hit" if you miss quote the job.

    Run it by "numbers" and you'll do much better overall.
  12. Rob

    Rob PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 306

    I definitely think that you did the right thing. You've gone over your costs etc. and come up with what you believe to be a fair price for your service. You certainly should not lower your costs to meet some low-ball guy that by the customers own admission does a sub-standard job. If you go out there and work for a price less than you're comfortable with, Are they going to give you a 'bonus' to help you out when your truck / equipment needs work ? The answer obviously is NO and they tell you that they met your price, too bad. Keep your chin up, you'll get an even better account.
  13. Mick

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

    Thanks, everyone. As has been said before, it helps having not feeling like your out here alone and having others to confirm what you're doing.
  14. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    My earlier post was lost in the shuffle, so if you read it already bear with me...

    I am a small solo plow operator/landscaper, probably the same market as you, and I put food on the table, pay my mortgage, etc with snow. Even if it doesnt snow. I know for a fact you can do it, just change your mindset. There are more people out there looking for dependable plow service than providers so if you can find the right market for your abilities and ambitions you should be making a surplus pushing snow, and using the odd jobs for play money and time-fillers til the next storm.

    Contact me via e-mail if you wish to talk in depth.
  15. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    Been in the business almost 10 years and have seen a lot of people lose business and personal security because they were depending on mother nature. Bottom line is that you cannot depend on mother nature to produce snow. Yes you can have contracts and they can support you. For me snowplowing is a full time job in the winter. We always have work related to plowing. However I am not going to depend on the actual snowfall. Finally I am not going to invest heavily into something, with a chance of losing. I buy what I need for the job and I don't try to get bigger when it is not practical.
  16. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    Hey like the ads say, you cant win if you dont play :D
  17. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    There is a difference between playing and gambling. I am in the stick market but I am nottrying to use it to get rich overnight. Same with my business. I have steadily grown since I started. I have had a few offers to be bought out but I like the work and the steady income it provides. I am not going to risk what I have built on the chance that I may get a huge contract. I will stick with what I have and what I can take on will only be what I can handle as I grow.