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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When you first started out- did anyone here put in bids for places that were recieving sub-par work? I have noticed a few commercial accounts ( not by the same person) that are receiving terrible service during the last couple of storms, and last season also. One of them I did some work on their entrance just because there were people getting stuck and causing a traffic hazzard! Last year I also was only starting out, and didn't really have a customer base or real setup to go after the work. This season I am going into it full bore and looking to expand as far as I can with my resources. I still have room to fill in my route with either a few commercial accounts, or several residential. I am considering putting in a late season bid on some of the local commercial accounts that are clustered in an area where travel time will be 30-60 seconds. I was wondering if anyone else has put in bids like this, and what tips they might have if they won the bids. Any input would be appreciated!

Thanks!!!

Bill
 

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although there probaly under contract already i would still turn in a bit you never know when they might get fed up with their current contractor and fire him... also even if you dont get them this year i would make an effort to get them in the spring after the winters over and the bad service they recieved is still fresh on their minds...
 

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I only do commercial work and if I get a call this late for a bid there are a few question I ask myself and a few questions I ask the client.

I ask the client why are they looking for a snow contractor so late in the season? What happen to the last contractor and how was the contractor? Do you change contractors every year, how long did you have the last contractor? How many bids are they seeking and is low bid the main focus? Lastly, is are they willing to meet to discuss the bid are they just looking for a bid ro be faxed?

Than I ask myself. Is this a sign of poor managment, poor planing? If they bid late will they pay late? Upon visiting the property is it a dog?

I did hardly no ads and all my work to date is from walking into a places offering a bid, and referals. As you get to know the area and the snow business you will learn that some lots look the way they do for a reason, and it is not always that the other guy is bad. Sometimes the client is bad. The per push customer when only doing snow can be nothing but probelms. I will not pick up a customer for snow only work. I do year round work. If you want me to do snow, I do you grass too. With the way snow work is sometime people are only ever looking for the lowest bid.

I had work booked for my two trucks and one sub by last week in Sept, contracts signed by mid Oct. If you are looking for start dates of 1 Nov. you should really have been out selling in mid Sept. to mid Oct. Even if it was just droping a card "just in case thigns do not work out with your current contractor". Also remember that you will get calls for work during the season. Either current client will refer you if they know someone or are asked by someone that has a poor provider. Or as you are doing work in an area, mostly clean ups the mext morning, neighbors will come out and stop you if they are not happy with what they are getting. You never want to say no to those people if you are really looking to grow your business and build your rep as the go to guy for great service.

Doing what you are talking about might place you in a low baller situation. Not that you are using low balling as your business plan, but if you come in lower on a bid someone might cancel there current contract just to give the lowest bid a try. You have to ask yourself, what kind of client would do that, and do you want a client for this year or for the next five to ten years? Most guys would say they are looking to have a client for at least five years to see any real margins and for the client based to really support your business.

Hope it helps, of course none of this is hard and fast just what I have being using for a base line and what has allowed me to go from 4 to 30 accounts, and one truck, to two trucks and a sub in three seasons.
 

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I would always nakes notes of the places that I would like to pick up,and that were receiving poer service.I would then bid on those next summer,and make sure they knew why I dropped in.A lot of them don't care about the service received,it's all about price.You don't want those ones.

I'd be careful touching other people properties,even if your doing them,or someone else a favour.If anything ever happened,you could be held responsible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wyldman- good point, and thanks for the tips. Las tyear I was freelancing and had no contracts since I started in Feb. I was getting calls from people who had gone with a lowballers and at the end of the season they just disappeared, so that is what work I did last year. I had not thought about the liability since I was just being a good samaritan, this year things are totaly different now. I was talking wiht a few people last night in the chat room before my computers- yes both- had problems and I gave up. They brought up a good point about going in and bad mouthing the current contrator. This is something I never have doen, and never will do ( must be the Scoutmaster in me! LOL! ) but I can see it being done easily. My original plan was to go in and offer some suggestions on how to help manage the snow, and if they wanted a bid write one up for them, otherwise approach them next year and leave them my business card in case something happens. I have an ideal setup to be able to have all my accounts in an area less than a half mile radius, enough work to bring in a couple of subs, and not have to worry about the headaches of residential drives unless I wanted to have Subs dedicated to them. If I can get the contracts that is- and that's a big if. I plan on offering them a quality service, and I do not care if I am higher priced, I will not gouge, but I will charge a fair price and sell them on quality and customer care vs low price and the hassle that comes with it. I had a meeting with CNY Joe this am, and he also made some very good points about a seasonal vs a per push application, especially for my area. So I will be much more aggressive next year, and I actually plan on starting my pursuit of these accounts this season- just by making myself known to the powers that be in these locations. I appreciate all of the feedback that I have received so far, Thank You all.

Bill
 

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Bill,

I am doing a mix of about 75/25 seasonal/per push. It allows me to be aggressive in pricing with my year round customers using 12 month billing, and add in some per push accounts around or near my seasonal base. Has work out well for me. BUT, I think Chris and Ihave both touched on something you will also learn about doing commercial work. PRICE, PRICE, PRICE, in most cases commercail/industrial property is mananged by a third party that just passes the bill on know to most as Common Area Maintanence (CAM). And let me tell you, some of those third parties are making money on CAM by billing the tenant one price and paying the contractor at little as possible resulting in lowballing, resulting in what LOOKS like bad service.

WE all know that the only was to do something for alot less is to cut corners, no clean up, no extra time for detailing, not plowing entrances and exits after city plows pass, no pushing back curbs, and lastly salt less than what you should have. Lets not forget about the guys that tell you they are not paying for the follow up visit, or there was only 1 3/4" not 2 " so I am not paying, or we were closed for the weekend, and the snow would have just melted when the sun came out. (maybe I have heard some of this myself) If the client is a good client a contractor/business person is not JUST going to stop showing up. Ask around, see how many poeple have pulled off jobs because of these kind of issues. Even though you want to give quality service not all people want to have to pay for it.

Food for thought, seek out jobs where you are contracting with the actually person/entity that sees the property every day. Avoid the guy that works at the corporate office 60 miles away and never sees the property. In the long run you will be alot better off. Again this is just from what I have learned the HARD way, and from talking to others they say the same thing about doing business at the small to med level. Now for the large guys, that is a different story, but also is the billing, and pricing of that market as well.

Hope it helps.

Ron
 

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Late season bids

I've had an ad out for two weeks. No calls till yesterday when I got a call for a residential far off my route. Today I got a call from a public school. Amazingly, today is December 2nd and they have no snow plowing service. They got a new principal who changed procedures and the guy they had couldn't meet the requirements. I went up and got a copy of the specifications. Now, they want bids in by 11:30 Friday.
 

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Good luck, but beware of schools, after reading performa, and talking to a guy that plow two last year, it is like having a "I'll call you when I need you, and then you better be here within 15 mins. And even when you are stting in my lot, I only want to pay when I see you working."
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the info guys, I will put it to good use. I am lucky in the fact that all of the accounts I plan on going after all have a manger in charge of the snow removal who is right on premesis, or a regional manager who is in once or twice a week. Since we are in a highly volatile area when it comes to weather and snow that is the only way that they can safely/cost effectively manage it. This will help me in that aspect. I am looking at setting up a partnership of sorts wit another plower here, and we are starting some serious talks about the business proposal and next years bids for the season. I know it might be a little early, but we want to be very prepared and also professional in our approach to this. We have one of the most saturated markets wen it comes to lowballers- everyone and their brother owns a plow up here just to survive the winter. Joe was amazed when he saw how many trucks with plows were driving around my neighborhood, and when he saw the slatshakers pre-treating the raods 4 hours before the snow set in on Monday. I also pointed out that our county trucks also have scrapers in the middle of the trucks besides the front blade and wings. We gt some serious snow here!! I hope to make a serious living from this, and believe that with the help and knowledge I gain at this site I can.

So I would like to thank everyone for thier input on this thread- I greaty appreciate it!!!!

Bill
 
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