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Why contracts are important!

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by MLI, Jan 16, 2003.

  1. MLI

    MLI Member
    from Boston
    Messages: 53

    Heres the senario......its long!

    I plow/sand/icemelt a church in Boston area. They have a mass every morn at 9am 1 mass on Sat....1 mass on Sunday so everyday of the week this place has to be clean It has a drive that is 3 cars wide and 2 cars deep. It also has about 100 ft of sidewalk in front of it. The entrance of the church itself has 2 tiers of stairs a total of about 50 ft across, it also has numerous paths and doors to be cleared. The charge for this is $160 per 1-6 inches 6-12 =charge and a half(its my church so I reduced price)which includes plowing the drive, shoveling the sidewalks, entrance, and paths then sanding/salting. The price has not changed much from the prior years Lately we've been getting hit with Alberta Clippers..infact last week we has 3 seperate clippers hit our area all in a row. The priest at this church likes the walks, and the entrance TO THE PAVEMENT becuase of elderly. I treat each strom/day as a plow/shovel event.
    Now here's where it gets funny.....things have been going just fine until the storm we had on Christmas day.....it started out as rain, then went to snow, and kept changing back and fouth throughout the night. End result was 6 inches of slush/snow mix with ice underneath. I sent the guys down there to clear property for morning mass, and the foreman on the job, had a hard time getting the layer of ice up underneath the snow(our fault) we put salt down, but it was toooo cold and had no effect by the time mass started. I got a call from the priest the next day, he wasnt happy with servic()I dont blame him), and after looking at it I agreed. The next day I personally took care of this job, broke the ice, and used sand for traction. I told the priest I was sorry about that and credited the bill(free)and said I personally will oversee this job from now on. Since that storm, and that conversation with the priest, we've had 6 events all sucesses, due to me being there, and the addition of sand for traction on these stairs.
    I get home today and there's a messege on my machine from the janitor telling me to stop sanding(says theres to much sand here, looks like a beach)and to just shovel. Also that theres questions on the bill . NO PROBLEM!! I have the logs, the dates, the amounts, the temps etc. Long story short..I'm told to sand/salt etc and make sure everything is safe for people going to mass. Then after the bill gets sent out, im told NOT to sand, the bill's to high, and questions on when I was there or not. This account has been serviced by me annually...landscape/plowing...for many,many years all without ever an incident. I grew up at this church, got married in it, baptised my baby there, and hope to remain in the loop.
    The importance of the contract spells out whos going to do what, what the fees are, what time you need to be there, who the contact person is(make sure theres one) Im either going to back out of this job(I dont want to, its part of my community) or im going to ask them to sign a contract and release me from any and all slip and fall claims.
    What do you guys think about this? the price? the plow events? the confusion? Seems people never consider the cost to do business....ie....fuel*travel time*Ins on truck*Liability Ins.*cost of laborers*cost of sand/salt*profit margins*let alone that we as business owners are on call 24/7 even holidays. then have to take resonsibility for what happens on that property the days following the storms.:realmad:
  2. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Sounds like you've been doing a pretty good job so far.You can't get every storm perfect,geez,i'd love to only have one screw up so far this year.Sometimes the elements are beyond your control.

    Was all the additional sanding approved by them first ? If not,i could see them questioning it.But you really had no choice,if the conditions were that bad.Might want to look into some better de-icers,that will work better for that application,like Magic,mag or calcium chloride.

    The price sounds a little low,especially with all those steps and entrances,they are a real pain.As far as the contract goes,it really should have been in place a long time ago,so the sooner the better.It will make it much more straightforward when problems arise,as it's spelled out for both parties involved.

    Lastly,the janitor may have an opinion on the work you are doing,but he shouldn't be the one calling the shots.I would talk to the person in charge to see what THEY want done for sand\salt.Is the janitor going to be the one responsible if someone slips ?
  3. Mick

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

    I agree. You need ONE person to contact. Priest wants one thing, janitor wants another. Which one gets referred to the other?

    Pretreating the steps and walks with Magic would go a long way with a residual effect and avoid the "beach look".
  4. MLI

    MLI Member
    from Boston
    Messages: 53

    How much is magic ?

    Curious how much this stuff is, and if it is cost effective for them. Im going to talk to priest and secretary Friday I hope. I like the sand for traction(low cost)but I can see where the magic would help. How would you apply magic to areas mentioned?backpack sprayer the day before?or coat salt with it and spread by hopper?
  5. Mick

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

    Depending on the area you want to treat and how. You could use a backpack sprayer to apply liquid Magic -0 or a fertilizer speader to apply Magic Salt. Contact John Parker (Taconic) for a dealer in your area. If you've got the storage area, you could also get Magic Salt in bulk to spread with a truck mounted Vbox or tailgate unit.

    There's a supplier in Manchester, NH if there is nothing closer for you.
  6. captfudd

    captfudd Member
    Messages: 88

    in my opinion i would have them sign a contract, it assures you for billing purposes and gives you a leg to stand on when somebody falls and wants to sue, i stopped all those buddy type deals a couple years ago and since then my aggravation level has gone down .... either sign here or find somebody else !
  7. SnowMatt13

    SnowMatt13 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,559

    You're right.. no one usually considers the factors (gas, insurance, travel, etc..) it's just push the snow. If they realized what was involved, they might be more understanding. so, now that everything is going smooth, if your contract says sand then the janitor should go out and buy a more powerful vacuum. not fufiling a contract can be a much bigger headache than a janitor. otherwise talk with the priest, you've been doing the account long enough, there should be a way to work out the differnces. Remember though what that contract says!!
  8. Doctordo

    Doctordo Member
    Messages: 50

    Seems like you and I have a lot in common . The small storms you can handle just fine but when the large or unusual storms hit and you work your tail off no one is happy and none want to pay there fair share. It's not like where trying to wrip them off.
  9. wyldman is right

    As far as the contract goes,it really should have been in place a long time ago,

    I now ask all my per-push or per-plow and one time caller customers to sign a contract. This way everyone knows what is to be done and allows for NO confussion on behalf of both parties.

    Some customers are not too happy to have to sign it. Sign it or call someone else. It's called CYA in some parts.

    Bob V