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You guys are getting here too early...

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by digger242j, Jan 21, 2003.

  1. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    I had a talk with a customer today--actually I talked to the guy who oversees the building and parking lot.

    He was unhappy because at 7 a.m. yesterday they had snow in their lot. We'd plowed the 2" that was there at around 3:30 a.m. and salted. At around 6 a.m. a squall blew through that left 1/2" in ten minutes. (I know this to be a fact. I was about 2 miles away at the time. ) They called about 10:00 and asked why we hadn't been there. I told the lady we had, but I'd come back if needed, and she said their guys had used a blower to clean up.

    This morning I was there at 4:45 a.m. I touched up the lot with the plow and salted again. There were flurries after that, but nothing major. It's cold--less than 20 right now.

    Anyway, I went back to check and there was a dusting on the asphalt except where there are tire tracks. The maintanence guy tells me, "You guys are getting here too early." He thinks we should get there *just before* 7 a.m. because that's when the people start arriving. I couldn't convince him that time, traffic, and/or sunshine are what makes the salt work.

    I guess I'm just venting, but if anybody thinks that guy has a valid arguement, I'd be glad to hear it.

    ( We need a smilie for "I've got a headache".)
  2. chtucker

    chtucker Senior Member
    Messages: 618

    I have alot that wants to be clean at 6am. It is my most profitable lot. 1" trigger. Its a doctors office. I plan my route to be there at 520am and I am gone by 6am. I just keep coming back to keep the lot clean. They are on a per push. Never have questioned a bill. The office clears out at 12 for lunch and I just come back through then.

  3. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Not much you can do about it.We also have a few accts like that and we TRY to do them last,but it doesn't always happen.If the flurries that accumulated since you plowed didn't meet your trigger then you shouldn't have to do it anyways.Unless your required to salt to get bare pavement.Even then it may take a while in these temps to get it burnt off.

    I'd tell them if they want you will come by and "inspect" and touch up if neccesary just before 7 AM,then you'll be sending them the bill for the additional visit.They will likely say forget it.

    Must have been funny watching guys with a snowblower cleaning up a 1/2 inch.Not even worth it.

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    It seems that its the temps that are hurting you more than anything. Normally, the salt wouldv'e handled both of those events, but the extreme cold lately has kept that from happening very quickly.

    Tell them they have the option of the very high end deicers that will keep it melted, but at a cost. Let them make the decision....
  5. lbyl53

    lbyl53 Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Too bad your not useing magic salt. We have found it to work great to keep the small amounts of snow melting. Call John at Taconic Maintenance and he can probably help you find someone near you.
  6. chris k

    chris k Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    Is the lot profitable? If so you might want to try and move the schedule around a little to get it done a little closer to when they open.
    Personally I think that 3:30 is a little early for a lot that opens a 7. How long does it take to get the lot done? Do you need that much time?
  7. Andy N.

    Andy N. Senior Member
    Messages: 236

    This is a common problem with me. My customers don't complain but damn do I get mad when I clear at lot and salt it and then the flurries cover it before the place opens. You CANNOT tell these people that you will adjust your route to accomodate them. Next thing you know you will be doing for everyone and you have approximately 25 minutes to plow and salt your entire route. Are you feelin me? I get mad about it my lots getting recovered but there is NOTHING you can do about it. What are they going to do, get another contractor with two lots who can open their place up ten minutes before they arrive. I have to be loaded and gone by 2am to have my places done by 6am. All places open no later than 7am and many of them are open 24 hours and three of them are private communities. They are essentially 24 hours as well. The best you can do is plow / salt and then return later on and redo everything. More money for you anyway. It is not stealing from the customer because, how in the hell are you going to control the weather. It's not like you are cutting their lawn on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The grass doesn't need cut after Monday until say next week. If it grew that quickly then you would cut it on Tuesday, it just doesn't work that way, but with snow, well damn, it does. Are you pickin up what I'm puttin down. If that argument doesn't help them, then tell them to buy a truck and a plow and drag their asses out of bed at 2am for three days straight and work on two hours of sleep. I'm out!
  8. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    Happened to me Monday morning. We had to go out while the flurries were still coming - had 4" on the ground already. If you waited until it stopped snowing you might have 12"! You have to plow with the storm no matter what time of the day - or at least it's your descretion. Certainly if a store closes at 6 pm - it might be best to wait until the next morning to plow rather than 8 pm. That is of course unless you know for sure that there will be no more snow.

    I think you have to bill 'em for each plowing no matter what. But it is frustrating since you want the lot to look good when the business opens. I hate the way lots look after daytime plows with all the slush and junk. Oh well - it's makin' me money. I'm just happy for the snow no matter when it comes.
  9. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    It's a good account from the standpoint of never having a charge questioned, and fast pay.

    It's a pain from the point of view that they want my universe to revolve around them. We got them at the beginning of last year because they were unhappy with their other guy, and they told us at renewal time they weren't completely happy with us. "A couple of times you didn't get here until..." Those were the times that it didn't start snowing until 5 a.m. , and we pointed that out. I don't know if they shopped and couldn't find anyone else, but they ended up renewing.

    They also require us to leave a card with the time, date, and service performed whenever we visit there. That's to prove we were there. Anybody else have to do anything like that?

    I showed the guy a bag of Magic and told him we could give it a try, but that it costs us 3 times as much. He declined that.

    I did tell him that we'd try to rearrange the routes so that we'd get there more like 6 a.m., but frankly that was just to keep him happy. I don't think he'll be any happier with what he sees if we do do it that way.

    In his book JAA recommends pre-treating, plowing, and then if needed a light post plowing treatment. Further he recommends that drivers be routed so that they can check their results and hour later and *learn* that, YOU DON'T NEED TO PUT DOWN THAT MUCH *&^$#% SALT, IT JUST TAKES A LITTLE PATIENCE TO SEE THE RESULTS!! (Apologies to John, I think I paraphased a little loosely there...)

    Andy N's post shows the same kind of frustration I'm feeling. We're in the same general area. This winter it takes three days of snow to reach a 2" trigger. So do you plow at less than the trigger, or salt and salt and salt? Sometime soon the customers are going to start balking at the cost of that strategy too.
  10. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    I don't think any sane customers can balk at salting these "Martha Stewart" snows, vs. a charge for plowing PLUS salting. What you are describing is what I call a high maintenance account, & one that I treat different then the majority. In my contracts it states that if the snow stops falling by a certain time the night before, we'll have them completely cleared by opening time. But if it starts, or is still snowing after that point, we will have the lots safe for use (plowed laneways, salted etc.) by opening & throughout the day, and we will then completely clear them that night. Customers that I have that seem like the one you are describing will get more attention & if they are that picky, I will schedule to service them right before their opening (as long as they are willing to pay for that service). If its a heavy day time storm, we'll keep trucks in those lots all day. Even if we aren't keeping up in a tough storm, that type of customer will be happy to see the equipment there tryiong to keep up (talking about the "big" storms LOL). If they are willing to pay, adjust the schedule; if not, maybe they are not the right client for you & you can suggest that they look for an alternate service provider.
  11. Ohiosnow

    Ohiosnow Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 415

    Too early

    This is 1 problem that's always been hard to please all of your accounts, as you can't be everywhere at the same time.

    I have 1 large account (6-1/2 acres) that wants it clean & clear at 6:30 AM, I told them no problem if that's what they want. But it will cost them more but I can & will do it :waving: & I have been doing it for the last 10 yrs.

    I have all my accounts with different clean & clear times so 90% of the time it works great ;) as long as Mother Nature doesn't dump 4" of snow at 6:00 AM :D

    But to be truthfull I'll take the SNOW whenever it comes :D
  12. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    It's not that big a lot. 50 spaces maybe. Once you go all the way in in the middle of the day there's nowhere to turn a truck around.

    If they want to find somebody else they'll take the initiative and do it. I don't think our service has been at all bad, I just think they have unrealistic expectations. If I'm going to choose an account to be the center of my universe it's not going to be this one.

    The building is outlined in blue, the lot in yellow...


    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    wehad the same situation on monday as lawn lad... all you can do is plow with the storm and adjust accordingly....many customers realize that it is a late snow and will be patient.....and watch the weather like a hawk radar and radio

    some times depending on the situation and account we will bump the salt amount a bit to keep it melted off a bit and buy some time although it is a fine line when to do this and have it work or to have over applied!...when the sun comes out 5 minutes later!!!!!
  14. Ohiosnow

    Ohiosnow Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 415


    "If I'm going to choose an account to be the center of my universe it's not going to be this one."

    I would have to agree with you :waving: unless it's the most profitable but from the sounds of it, it isn't.

    My 6 1/2 acre lot is my most profitable account so that's why they get their preferred time slot :D & money talks.

    "I showed the guy a bag of Magic and told him we could give it a try, but that it costs us 3 times as much. He declined that."
    "I just think they have unrealistic expectations"

    Most accounts think that they are the only account you service.
    Besides you did give him another choice & he declined, so just do the best job possible & hope it's OK :waving:
  15. The Mowerdude

    The Mowerdude Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    In the anticipation of having folks not want to pay after the snow's gone, I went to Wal-Mart and bought a camera that puts the date and time on the film. I take a photo of us doing the lot each time we're there. Now, if someone wants to make a fuss, not only can I tell them exactly when I was there, I can prove it.
  16. greenquestlawn

    greenquestlawn Senior Member
    Messages: 157

    Everyone wants to be plowed 10 minutes before they open. Problem is you have a first and a last and not everyone can be plowed just before they open.
  17. snow_man_48045

    snow_man_48045 Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    Well put Andy N. Couln't have said it better my self. I agree 110%.
  18. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    So, we plowed Monday at 4 a.m. but waited to salt until 6 a.m. like I'd told the fellow I'd try to do. I checked it 7 a.m. today and the lot was clear and dry, corner to corner.

    At 8:30 a.m. or so a little flurry blew through. I got there at 10 a.m. and there was just a dusting, melting where the cars had left tracks, high forcast to 28 degrees. But the forcast for overnight is snow starting late this afternoon, right about now actually. 1-2, 1-3, 2-4 inches, depending on which weather guesser you listen to.

    The guy comes out and we chat about the condition of the lot and the forecast and he tells me, "you might as well go ahead and salt it real good right now, that way there'll be a good base down when it starts to snow this afternoon."

    There must be some nuance of this whole salting thing I just don't get...
  19. Leethehandyman

    Leethehandyman Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    :D I chuckled at this thread.I have been plowinging in New Hampshire since 1985 and Digger all I can say is welcome to the world of snowplowing!! Some customers will never understand the plow business, and good for us!! Your situation is one that has and will be repeated till the end of time. We have all been there, hang with it. It is part of the job! good luck..Lee
  20. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Welcome to PS Lee!

    I think you 2 got it backwards. This is actually a cutting edge customer who knows about pre-treating lots already :D . That's always been a tough concept to get through customer's heads that are used to the idea of plow it then salt it. He sounds like he already gets it LOL. Make sure you get that request in writing so there are no questions when the bills go out.