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View Full Version : Making money off the misfortune of others


olderthandirt
08-29-2005, 11:13 AM
Katrinas came ashore and theres a lot of damage. Lot of work availabe for clean up crews, trees and debri gotta go. Anyone planning on going to the area and working [provided that lisc. and insurence is good for the area]
How do you feel about taking advantage of others misfortune, you give a price break to help those in need or you jack the price because you can, The work need to get done?

imograss
08-29-2005, 11:23 AM
Seems like a profitable situation to those that can afford to go spend some time there.

br549oicu8
08-29-2005, 12:16 PM
If I was able to go I certainly would not charge crazy high prices. Be fair, make good money, but don't screw the people. After all, you have to live with yourself and you could be in that situation someday.

MarcSmith
08-29-2005, 12:19 PM
When I lived in Florida I did some storm cleanup My current(paid in full) customers came first at normal rates, all prices quoted in advance. Anybody else I did on over time rates on a time and materials basis. Everything was charged out (ie if I used a chain saw, I charged a rental rate) I did not haul anything away the days after a storm, it was bacially Cut and move to gain access. If any body wanted stuff hauled I waited about a week.

I basically carried around a bunch of blank letterhead sheets and hand wrote work tickets and made notes in my 3 ring binder. Not the best, but it worked.

I requested cash or check, and with checks I took a DL number. I brought by a computer generated copy of the invoice the following morning for their insurance purposes.

I don't feel I was taking advantage of anybody. In most cased I was working well beyond 8 hours per day so by charging time and a half for non full time customers I felt justified.

In most cases I was only spending a couple hours at any particular place so the bills were not astronomical.....

Just make sure you buy extra chains and bar oil...Always easier to swap a chain out rather than try to sharpen on the job...

Most important of all. DO NOT DO WORK THAT IS OVER YOUR HEAD (meaning that if you dont feel comfortable doing something or if your somehow screw it up and your insurance won't cover it, don't do it....)

6'7 330
08-29-2005, 12:20 PM
I would not jack it up on them ,and screw them over, but I wouldnít give them a break either .The contractor has a service to provide and it might be unfortunate, but the situation gives the contractor a chance to make many extra bucks. The contractor has the service; the customer has to have it provided for them.

olderthandirt
08-29-2005, 01:31 PM
Heres a great chance to make twice maybe 3 times normal rate. Is it over charging when you charge 3 times normal rate but have travel time and what about stopping additinal damage IE removing trees off of roof so that roof can be tarped to prevent further water from coming in. Supply and demand economics should apply I would think.

6'7 330
08-29-2005, 01:44 PM
Heres a great chance to make twice maybe 3 times normal rate. Is it over charging when you charge 3 times normal rate but have travel time and what about stopping additinal damage IE removing trees off of roof so that roof can be tarped to prevent further water from coming in. Supply and demand economics should apply I would think.

Those hurricane prone areas, the state ,can get a little sticky when you stick it to em to much lol.

MarcSmith
08-29-2005, 02:36 PM
If you are willing drive many many miles to do this type of work, then by all means charge reasonably for your time, travel, ect. But in florida they do have anti-gouge laws, But I would think if you are living in that area and you don't jack the prices you are more apt to get new business out of the emergency work.

Sorry, you wont see me on a compromised roof trying to cut a tree up....I know with insurance companies you are supposed to attempt to mitigate your losses, just don't put yourself at risk for someone elses belongings

DLS1
08-29-2005, 08:20 PM
I am not sure you are taking advantage of anyone if you are charging a reasonable rate and maybe a little markup to cover your expenses to travel their and living expenses. i would assume the insurance companies will eventually pay for the cleanup tab for the homeowner when the homeowner submits the bill to the insurance company.

stumper1620
08-29-2005, 10:40 PM
I think normal to slightly increased rates along with the travel expense, food, lodging, ect. As long as it can be proven not to be gouging would be ok, to go there and charge 5 times normal rate plus expense would be too much and would be considered gouging as far as I'm concerned.
By the way Mac, I've been thinking maybe I should go, thing is after a very bad summer now is when things are getting good around here. grass growing like spring time, aeration time, fall cleanups coming, plus winter prep on my own stuff. just don't see it this year.

olderthandirt
08-29-2005, 11:03 PM
I think normal to slightly increased rates along with the travel expense, food, lodging, ect. As long as it can be proven not to be gouging would be ok, to go there and charge 5 times normal rate plus expense would be too much and would be considered gouging as far as I'm concerned.
By the way Mac, I've been thinking maybe I should go, thing is after a very bad summer now is when things are getting good around here. grass growing like spring time, aeration time, fall cleanups coming, plus winter prep on my own stuff. just don't see it this year.
Nope don't have the time to go but if I did I would charge 100 times what the job is worth if it was allowed by law. Here's my reasoning behind this thinking, Job of taking down 1 tree that needs to be cut and hauled laying on the corner of house or car, normal charge $500
Drive down there with 10, 000 other contractors with the same idea to make $$$ I approach the person with the tree that needs removed and tell them cost will be $10,000. Now they have a choice, They can say your crazy I'll get someone else and thats would be the end of it for me or they could get someone else in few weeks because of all the work that needs done. I say its not price gouging when the customer has a choice. No one would be forcing them to pay 10k but it could make there life easier if they did.

Green-Pro
08-29-2005, 11:13 PM
Is there a sign up sheet for the bus trip?

payup

Up North
08-30-2005, 12:18 AM
I'd obviously charge more then my normal rates as I'd have bigger expenses to cover, and would want to be able to pocket some decent cash. But I don't see where I could live with charging rates 100 times higher or even 20 times higher. These folks have already lost practically everything they own, last thing they need is someone to come in and gouge them on clean up. Mac I understand they have a choice to either pay you $10,000 now or wait for someone cheaper, but personally I'd have a hard time doing that to someone in their position. Insurance would probably be paying the bulk of it, but I don't know, I'd still have a tough time.

Probably be best if I stayed home anyway, with my luck I'd get down there and try to be the nice guy helping out and get bitten in a$$ by a drowning water moccasin and be laid up for the rest of the season. :rolleyes:

Buck

StealthDT
08-30-2005, 12:28 AM
Friends of mine left on Sunday morning with full tree crew, food, water, fuel and a 15 ton truck crane. I sold 'em my old Echo pruning pole and a used chainsaw. The insurance companies want help mitigating further damage and loss of life. It's a disaster, and people are desparate to get things fixed as fast as possible. I went ten days without power after Isabel in 95 degree heat. I thought it was wonderful that crews and insurance adjusters came from florida and all over the US to help. I didn't think for a minute their pay was too expensive. I was thinking how horrible it was they had to leave their homes, families and sleep in hot truck cabs at night.

6'7 330
08-30-2005, 12:57 AM
I'd obviously charge more then my normal rates as I'd have bigger expenses to cover, and would want to be able to pocket some decent cash. But I don't see where I could live with charging rates 100 times higher or even 20 times higher. These folks have already lost practically everything they own, last thing they need is someone to come in and gouge them on clean up. Mac I understand they have a choice to either pay you $10,000 now or wait for someone cheaper, but personally I'd have a hard time doing that to someone in their position. Insurance would probably be paying the bulk of it, but I don't know, I'd still have a tough time.

Probably be best if I stayed home anyway, with my luck I'd get down there and try to be the nice guy helping out and get bitten in a$$ by a drowning water moccasin and be laid up for the rest of the season. :rolleyes:

Buck

I got enough on the plate getting all our projects completed up here; i donít need to treap off to a hurricane zone.I agree there buck, obviously you would have to charge a higher rate for the added overhead and expenses. In some of these states, they have some tough anti gouging laws; 100 times stuff might not fly with some of the state authorities

AintNoFun
08-30-2005, 02:34 PM
if the homeowners insurance company was going to pay for it, i'd charge a million times higher if i could get away with it.. but if the homeowner had to pay out of pocket for it for some reason, i'd give them a very reasonable rate...

MarcSmith
08-30-2005, 02:52 PM
something tells me there might be some insurance companies folding in the near future...thats alot of damage to pay for...
I can understand the frustration with having to deal with INS companies and charging more(dr's do it) for the hassle....But I'd rather sleep well at night knowing I did good work at a fair price...

You have to remember if insurance companies pick up the tab, they will only pay out to max allowed on that policy per event, one storm, one event. So if you charge 5k for a job that only should have been 1k you may inadvertently cost the homeowner more in the grand scheme of things and he may end up out of pocket as a result of your gouging....Just something to chew on.....

Lux Lawn
08-30-2005, 03:33 PM
I can see charging more to cover the extra expenses like lodging, food, and everything else while down there.But I don't think I could gouge the people too much most of them just lost almost everything they own.

olderthandirt
08-30-2005, 03:35 PM
Marc,
Read my last post, I'm not going! So this comment inadvertently cost the homeowner more in the grand scheme of things and he may end up out of pocket as a result of your gouging....Just something to chew on..... has nothing to do with me. :angry: But even if I was going to go and as you say Gouge people where is it written that its my responsibility to educate policy holders what there ins. would cover ? Ignorance is bliss until you have to pay. And anyone who lives in that area, the one thats been hit numerous times by cains should know what kind of ins. policy and what the cap limits are. If they don't why would that make me feel guilty if they did not and over paid for a job that they had a CHOICE of having done or getting a lower price for? I would go if I had the time and needed the money and as I said I would charge as much as I possibly could. Its the potential customer that has to choose whether to pay or not, and his ignorance is not my concern.
Cold hearted ? Maybe, but i would have no trouble sleeping. I'm not in the position to educate the world only to get my share while I can.

MarcSmith
08-30-2005, 03:50 PM
Mac,

My post was not directed at you or any one else personally....I know it's the responsiblity of the homeowner to know his or her limits/policy. But I think we all have dealt with enough insurance companies on both sides to realize how easy it is to get screwed.

I have never been in a position where I have lost everything, came very close to losing my business, but thats another story. But I imagine for those who have, the ability to think clearly and rationaly is gone.

In one thread we as LCO's talk about getting a bad rep, and being just a lawn boy in some people eyes, and trying to educate the consumer that we are not just lawn boys and we are reposnible people with insurance and responsibilities. And in another thread we talk about screwing the customer out of as much money as we can, a Kick 'em while their down, type mentality.

There are home owners on this site who use our services and when they see talk like this, there's no doubt why we have somewhat of a black eye as an industry.....Plumbers, electricians and car sales men have been battling it for years and always will IMO...

I'm not pointing any fingers at you or anyone else, I'm not trying to be the Moral Nanny of Lawnsite, I was just offering a different point of view. No offense intended...

muddstopper
08-30-2005, 05:34 PM
I have considered going down for cleanup. The whole point of being in business is to make money. To make money you have to go where it is at. FEMA, as well as State and local governments will hire you and pay good money to help remove debries. No reason to gouge homeowners that have already loss most everything they have. There are companies out there that specalize in cleaning up storm damage. They also hire just about everyone that wants to work. I know a person that went to Florida last year and was getting paid big bucks for a little 6X10 dump trailer and skidsteer with grapple. He worked for several months and never did any work for a homeowner. A couple of years ago when Charlotte had the big ice storm, there where hundreds of crews with these same dump trailers just hualing debries to a central site. Some only had the dump trailer and the main contractor loaded them for them. I think they got around $65 a load and would hual 20-30 loads a day. $65 a load is not gougeing. How many lawn care guys will hual a load of lawn debri away from a home owner for $65?? But when you hual 20-30 loads a day it is real good money. Point of this post is you dont have to gouge to make money on storm cleanups, just be willing to work.

olderthandirt
08-30-2005, 05:39 PM
Sorry Marc,
I guess I look at it as a big snow storm it only happens every so often and not everyone is equipped to help. So if I have the equipment and knowledge I have a right to set my price to whatever I want and can get. Its up to the customer whether they would want to pay or not. Are they vulnerable? YES But since its a once every 10-20 yr. event it would help pay for all the lean times and the times that the equipment just sat being paid for but not generating revenue. I would not feel guilty trying to get all I could for my services. If home owners can't understand an ins. policy they sure won't understand a business philosophy. JMO :)

muddstopper
08-30-2005, 06:06 PM
Sorry Marc,
I guess I look at it as a big snow storm it only happens every so often and not everyone is equipped to help. So if I have the equipment and knowledge I have a right to set my price to whatever I want and can get. Its up to the customer whether they would want to pay or not. Are they vulnerable? YES But since its a once every 10-20 yr. event it would help pay for all the lean times and the times that the equipment just sat being paid for but not generating revenue. I would not feel guilty trying to get all I could for my services. If home owners can't understand an ins. policy they sure won't understand a business philosophy. JMO :)

You are 100% correct. I think you mentioned in an earlier post the law of supply and demand. That certainly applies here. You are the owner, the one that has the investment and the right to set your prices where you see fit. You also have a ethical obligation to provide a service for a reasonable fee. It is up to you and your customer to determine what is reasonable. If your customer agrees to pay your price then that would be deemed as reasonable. Preying on an uneducated customer just because you can isnt ethical even if they agree with your price.

AintNoFun
08-30-2005, 06:33 PM
[QUOTE=MarcSmith]

There are home owners on this site who use our services and when they see talk like this, there's no doubt why we have somewhat of a black eye as an industry.....Plumbers, electricians and car sales men have been battling it for years and always will IMO...QUOTE]


if we could charge plumbers and electricians rates, we wouldn't have to worry about gouging.

Up North
08-30-2005, 10:42 PM
Just keep in mind that each and every one of us that carries insurance in one form or another ends up paying for the gouging in the long run. Our own home insurance will probably go up, auto will probably go up, GL could go up...it all falls back on our lap in the long run.

Buck

olderthandirt
08-30-2005, 11:57 PM
Just keep in mind that each and every one of us that carries insurance in one form or another ends up paying for the gouging in the long run. Our own home insurance will probably go up, auto will probably go up, GL could go up...it all falls back on our lap in the long run.

Buck
Good point Buck.
But why is it that after paying for yrs on a policy and you finally make a claim they raise your rates? The reason is ins is a gamble and the ins. co. are the house and the house never loses. Your gonna be paying for the devastation from the cain whether anyone gouges or not, The Ins. companys are in it to make money and this will likley send a few into bankruptcy but the rest just pass the cost along to the rest of the consumers. Hope you have a big lap because there gonna drop a big increase in it :p

Up North
08-31-2005, 12:21 AM
Good point Buck.
But why is it that after paying for yrs on a policy and you finally make a claim they raise your rates? The reason is ins is a gamble and the ins. co. are the house and the house never loses. Your gonna be paying for the devastation from the cain whether anyone gouges or not, The Ins. companys are in it to make money and this will likley send a few into bankruptcy but the rest just pass the cost along to the rest of the consumers. Hope you have a big lap because there gonna drop a big increase in it :p

Yep, no doubt. The way the insurance game is played is bull@#$% if you ask me. We put in a claim 3 years ago on some water damage, amounted to $1200. 3 months later we sold and moved, called insurance co. to switch policy over to the new house...denied. They wouldn't cover us because we had filed a claim. You want to see someone go ape? :angry: I just about jumped in my vehicle and drive 800 miles just to choke some idiot bastard over that deal. Then when we had to start looking around for new home owner insurance...nobody would take us due to the claim. Finally found a local insurance company that would take it but at about $300 a year more then we normally paid.

Like you say, we pay all our lives for insurance and then we need to use it...get screwed again either by raising your rate or denying coverage. Must be run by the mafia.

Buck

olderthandirt
08-31-2005, 12:34 AM
Must be run by the mafia.
No just smart business psychology. ALWAYS make money. If the customer can't help your bottom dollar then screw him, sounds cold but its a great business model. Thats why the rich keep getting richer they don't worry about who they step on to get where they want to be. :waving:

fall46
08-31-2005, 12:42 AM
Dirt,

Could you explain how u think hotels/motels are different when they raise or over inflate their prices to meet demand and then get in trouble by the state for price gouging they have CHOICE as well. From what I read in your argument you seem to be applying the same premise to providing your service simply because of demand. Justifying being able to charge not just a premium but as big premium as someone will naively or in desperation accept and then reverting back to people always having a CHOICE will get you in trouble faster than anything. I would be willing to bet u may be able to find someone in desperation that will pay it and then they will find out how badly they were gouged and you and your company will become a marked target by not only the city but by the residents. Iam not saying u shouldn't't raise your margins to cover expenses and in lieu of demand............. rather it should be balanced by ethics for the industry and respect for people that have been devastated. That city is a timebomb right now fueled by desperation.

olderthandirt
08-31-2005, 12:58 AM
Iam not saying u shouldn't't raise your margins to cover expenses and in lieu of demand............. rather it should be balanced by ethics for the industry and respect for people that have been devastated. That city is a timebomb right now fueled by desperation.
Ok tell me what would be a fair price to cover demand and expenses ? The person that does not have a tree sitting in there living room would consider $1k to much to remove it when the person that would like to mitigate there problems and start to do repairs on the house might think $10k was a fair price Who's to say what is ethical ? the looters, the people shooting cops? another LCO that did'nt get the job? Respect has nothing to do with what your asking, I can respect the people and still charge what I want if there willing to pay. Supply and demand. The city is a timebomb and the sooner it gets back to normal the better it will be for everyone. But theres a price to get it there and its like all jobs the faster you want it done the more it cost.

MarcSmith
08-31-2005, 06:38 AM
I think the differnece bewteen getting a tree cut and getting a hotel room is that the hotel room is like water or gas, an emergency supply...where as getting the tree cut is not going affect life an limb, the damage is done.

Now if they start gouging water and food prices, then you got issues, but at this point in time all the looters already got that stuff....

Maybe its time for Louisiana to abandon the mississippi delta region and move New Orleans...I know it wont happen.....

If I was close and business was slow I would go....but if you have a steady business it might not be wise to forsake your existing customers just for a few bucks....I guess it depends on how much is a few....

I still have not heard from my Grandmother, aunt/uncle and cousins they live in Escatawba MS, about 5 miles north of Pascagula...

stumper1620
08-31-2005, 08:11 AM
I think the differnece bewteen getting a tree cut and getting a hotel room is that the hotel room is like water or gas, an emergency supply...where as getting the tree cut is not going affect life an limb, the damage is done.

Now if they start gouging water and food prices, then you got issues, but at this point in time all the looters already got that stuff....

Maybe its time for Louisiana to abandon the mississippi delta region and move New Orleans...I know it wont happen.....

If I was close and business was slow I would go....but if you have a steady business it might not be wise to forsake your existing customers just for a few bucks....I guess it depends on how much is a few....

I still have not heard from my Grandmother, aunt/uncle and cousins they live in Escatawba MS, about 5 miles north of Pascagula...
too bad its not the slower season, I could and probably would go.
wrong time to leave customers now. this is my best part of the season just getting going.
I hope you hear from them soon Marc.

Lux Lawn
08-31-2005, 10:11 AM
Good point Buck.
But why is it that after paying for yrs on a policy and you finally make a claim they raise your rates? The reason is ins is a gamble and the ins. co. are the house and the house never loses. Your gonna be paying for the devastation from the cain whether anyone gouges or not, The Ins. companys are in it to make money and this will likley send a few into bankruptcy but the rest just pass the cost along to the rest of the consumers. Hope you have a big lap because there gonna drop a big increase in it :p


Mac
You are 100% right here.

muddstopper
08-31-2005, 05:43 PM
Traveling great distances to go to disaster areas is going to cost more than working in your home town. One has to raise prices just to cover expenses. Not to mention the problems you might have with housing, food, etc., for yourself and your crew. Hours worked will probably be longer as well. For all this one needs to be compensated. It can be a fine line between gougeing and just covering your expenses. If I go down, I will definatley raise my rates, but I aint chargeing someone an astronomical fee just because I can get it and they are desperate. Cleanup will take a long while, you can work there for months if you want to, but if you start gougeing people, FMEA and other organizations will have you out of there as soon as they catch you.

Indiana
08-31-2005, 09:36 PM
My wife and I are really considering going down to do some work. How do you know where to go and is there some organization that coordinates this. I have never done this but I have all the equipment to do so.

Bings
08-31-2005, 09:56 PM
Last year I owned a new skid steer and many attachments, I contimplated going to Florida. But wasn't sure how it would be perceived to the folks there. Since then I have talked to a friend that went down with 5 Skid steers and have found out there was plenty of work and no real issues with the perception. I sold my skid steer equipment this spring. But now I am considering buying another to take down To the Gulf coast. My thoughts are work a week there then a week at home and alternate that way back and forth. The biggest problem will be where to stay and now the availability of fuel... Anyone done this?? any Thoughts???

Bings
08-31-2005, 09:59 PM
Indiana

Go to the US Army corps. of engineers website. The Phone numbers are listed there for debris removal.

Here you Go

http://www.usace.army.mil/

If you call Please post what Info. you got. Or Message Me

muddstopper
08-31-2005, 10:46 PM
Indiana, you might want to talk to Phillips & Jordan also since you are fairly local to them. They have and emergency response team that specializes in these type of cleanups. They hired a lot of people from your area for Florida last year.

SOMM
08-31-2005, 10:51 PM
Good thread, Mac !

We wholeheartedly align ourselves with Post Numbers:
#2 #9 #12 #13 #14 & #34

This ain't a flippin N. Korean slave labor Camp !
This is America where everybody gets a fair shake, to make a decent living and bankroll their companies away from bankruptcy!
-NOBODY knows our flippin names in the middle of February, and the phones ain't ringin off the hook then either! We bankroll ourselves on WHATEVER IT PROFITABLY takes to make it through the cold harsh Winter (those of us REAL MEN that are out there makin' it happen and not sittng at home sapping of our wives jobs)!

I think our company motto will soon become:

"We DON'T Cut Corners with El-Cheapo Pricing, Materials, Equipment, and

Labor because we like to sleep well at night KNOWING we did a flippin'

SUPERIOR JOB, and didn't TAKE ADVANTAGE of our own laborers backs

and guts - throwing them out and herniating them (this year or contibuting to it years later)

You can take that to the Bank and Ca$h it, friend!
Answer to yourselves and everyone else that you employ.

DLS1
08-31-2005, 11:03 PM
It might take a long long time to get paid since it will come from the Federal government or the insurance companies.