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Would you charge for this??

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by LwnmwrMan22, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,364

    I'm just wondering what you all would do in this situation.

    A commercial property that you maintain about 3 miles from your house, calls, "slick spots in the parking lot".

    It's a strip mall, L-shaped, 20 parking spots down the west side, 15 spots on the north side.

    The north side is slick, because the building blocks the sun from hitting the parking lot, and there was high humidity / fog the night before, so there's a icy sheen on the parking lot. Cars can drive, but it's a slight incline for drainage of the parking lot, so it's a little slick, especially for women wearing flats, dress shoes, etc.

    This account, you get paid a flat monthly fee, $300, to do the lawn maintenance and snowplowing. This figure includes 18 snowfalls / year, at $100 / hour (1 hour to plow, shovel the sidewalks)

    You've been paid for 2 months on the account without doing anything, no cleanup to do in the fall since there's no trees, and no snow for November. The forecast for the next week + of December is calling for mid 30's, no precip, not even 20%, which then basically gets you through December without doing any work.

    Do you charge for spreading 50 lbs of bagged ice melt with a push spreader?
  2. bigjoe871

    bigjoe871 Senior Member
    Messages: 166

    So you get the flat monthly fee .. but that doesn't include salting?
  3. DJ Contracting

    DJ Contracting PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,392

    A year round account I would not. Trust me you can make up that bag of salt on the next storm, and they'll keep calling for years of service, imo that would nickle and dime a good customer
  4. deere-cat

    deere-cat Junior Member
    Messages: 19

    What does your contract say about ice control? If it's not mentioned (and it should be), then I would go out and take care of my customer without any additional charges. Heck, spread 100 pounds. Make your customer happy. You get $300 per month, and you've gone several months now without doing a thing. I think you can swing the cost of a bag of ice melt. :nod:

    I would love to have a small seasonal contract like that, year-round. I just can't get them around here, at any price. People are watching their pennies too much, I guess. Count your blessings, and don't take your good paying customers for granted.
  5. bigjoe871

    bigjoe871 Senior Member
    Messages: 166

    I would do it too...I dont salt at all, contract says so...but the good customers get some "residual" ice melt on the walks ... musta fell off the blower or something

    Gotta Make 'Em Happy and Safe ... then they come back
  6. LLM Ann Arbor

    LLM Ann Arbor Senior Member
    Messages: 876

    You do something for free??????

    Shame on you.


    Right on....I'm the same way Joe.
  7. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,364

    It's in the agreement that salting services are charged extra, at a rate of $100 / hour, plus the cost of supplies.

    This is above and beyond the flat monthly fee.
  8. Mick

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

    Did you pretreat this area to prevent this condition? If not, why not? It seems that this would have been addressed in a year-round seasonal contract. I may be off on this, but if I was contracting for services like this place, I'd expect this to have been taken care of. I realize you said salting service was an additional charge, but I'd still expect the monitoring and treatment to have be done without any further action on my part.
  9. bigjoe871

    bigjoe871 Senior Member
    Messages: 166

    I just don't think I would charge them...

    50 Lbs of ice melt = $10
    10 mins to load/unload/spread=$16.75
    Grand Total is $26.75

    So for the last two months you have spent approx. 30 minutes time and $15 in material and fuel. You COULD bill and make and additional $30-$50 on top of your $300 for this month or you could eat the $15 and keep a paying customer happy...

    Would you have paid $15 to get this contract in the first place?

    It's a matter of opinion I guess
  10. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    IMO it's not so much the cost of the product as much as the labor.
  11. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,364

    Mick -

    I did not pretreat. Those are all services that I sell in my contract up front.

    I have contracts that the pretreat / salting is included, however, most don't like to, nor do I, since it's VERY hard to determine when you're going to have icy conditions. (Runoff - refreeze, freezing fog, etc.) Snow, it's a little easier because I take the average for the last 20 years, and add on another 3-4 events and call it a day.

    Anyways, all of my salting is done on call (except the people that it's already in the contract) and I guarantee service within 1/2 hour, or it's free.

    If they want me to monitor the site, I'm more than happy, but that's an extra $$$ / month, as well as pretreating.

    Honestly, I'm far enough in the sticks where property owners still think winter is winter, and that customers / clients of theirs should realize it.

    I have 2 banks that I salt regularly, and including those 2 banks, where I use about 5 bags of ice melt between the 2, the most salt I've ever gone through in a winter is 2 pallets.

    Also, I get all of my salt from Lesco, mid spring, so I can get it down to about $4 / 50 lb bag, then store it over the summer in my building.
  12. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,364

    There are actually two buildings tied together on this account, I get $600 / month for the two, along with a bank across the street where I get $400 / month and a gas station across the other street where I get $300.

    I only do plowing on contract, and only if I can get a seasonal contract.

    Most commercial people can be talked into it, because they (and I as well) can set your budget for the year, know what money is coming in, going out.

    This way I don't care if it snows or not, my house / truck / equipment is being paid for.
  13. bigjoe871

    bigjoe871 Senior Member
    Messages: 166

    I am sure that if I were in your shoes I would be having the same dilemma, charge or dont charge

    Hard to think clearly right now in 60 degrees
  14. Mick

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

    Ok. In that case, I'd say charge them since they want to control when salt is applied. Then use that as a selling point to let you monitor the lot. You could do a better job of determining when treatment is needed and take care of it before they even knew it was an issue. When you re-negotiate the contract, you could decide if you want to include salting in the seasonal price (I would as I could easily determine "average" salting needs). Then you could be making regular, scheduled trips instead of reacting to their calls.
  15. Eyesell

    Eyesell 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,107

    I agree with you Joe, I would'nt charge for this as this is too good of a customer to let go, figure it this way, is it worth keeping and getting paid when you do no work the majority of the time ???

    I'm sure you'll make the right decision either way, but do let us know what you decide.
  16. Duracutter

    Duracutter Senior Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 200

    That means that every visit to my dentist, doctor, lawyer, accountant is followed by a nickel and dime to death from them>>> lol :D
    Why is it that us lco/snow removers are afraid to charge more. I have monthly accounts that bring in around 5 k/mth. I charge for every single bag of icemelt, charge them for travel time to bobcat parking lots, and charge them more.... I give great service and I'm not cheap cause I need money too!!!

    Charge more...damn it... nothings for free, including when you need to buy things, retire, etc.... hello :dizzy:
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2006
  17. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,364

    I didn't charge.

    I've done it in the past without charging.

    I know, I know, people shouldn't do stuff for free.

    I guess I look at it that I've gotten paid $300 ($600 if you count the building next door that's tied up with the same owner) so far this year under the snowplowing agreement, and we're going to be VERY close to not plowing for December, as far as the next 10 day forcast is looking now, not even the mention of precip.

    Last year, I charged November, December and January, didn't have a plowable event, even at 1" until Feb. 2nd, with a total of 7 times plowing last year.

    I just felt like I've been lucky enough to get this money and not really have to do anything for it, other than hang around my house and not get another job.

    I wanted to see what the rest of you all thought.
  18. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,931

    $300 per month, you cut the lawn 4 times for that too? what happens if it snows enough to have to clear the place 18 times? thats not that much money then.. i guess i didnt absorb every detail of this place though.
  19. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,364

    I use an average of 18 snowevents / year.

    At $100 / hour, which is a little more than it takes to clear the lot with a 2-4" snowfall, that's $1800 / year.

    I mow about 3-4 times / month, it's irrigated, but the city has such a strict watering ban, that when it's dry out, the grass barely stays green for the little amount we're allowed to water.

    There's no trees, so no cleanup either in the fall or spring.

    I get paid extra to trim the bushes, or put new mulch down, both of which done on a time + supplies deal, so it's not hard, if I were to get absolutely swamped with snow, to make some of that back.

    Where I'm at, 15 is about average as far as plowable events, and as in my earlier post, I add an extra 3-4 events beyond that in my contracts.
  20. Joe D

    Joe D Senior Member
    Messages: 605

    Salt it and charge them, if you do it now for free you will always need to do it for free. If your deal says no salting then no salting and they will expect a bill if they call you to do it.