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salt application

Discussion in '<a href=http://www.plowsite.com target=_blank ?>Sn' started by Greenman2ooo, Oct 23, 2000.

  1. Greenman2ooo

    Greenman2ooo Banned
    Messages: 176

    Do any of you think that $50 is reasonable compensation for salting 42,000 sq ft of lot and applying Calcium Chloride to 2,000 square foot of walk.

    I had a client request the service and that is how much they were paying. My cost for salt, at "recommended application rates" would be $42. Add $5 for half a bag of calcium chloride and I'd be spreading it all for $3. This is a management company that should know how much things cost???

    I have seen their numbers for other lots and they are equally low, so I know they haven't made a mistake, so to speak.

    I obviously can't afford to salt the whole lot (their spec) at the recommended application rates. Any suggestions? Should I plan on applying less and have them sign a waiver stating that they assume all risk since the price they are willing to pay won't cover "recommended application rates" of 2-4 ounces per square yard (about 14 lbs per thousand, on the low end)?

    Or should I just make two half-rate applications and charge for them? On-site management will want the lot properly taken care of and would sign the forms needed to salt twice if I explain the situation. However, then they are being overcharged in my opinion.

  2. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    Well,, I'm pretty much a hardnose about some things. One of those is having the customer tell me what they are willing to pay for a given service. That's kinda like telling the grocery store how much you are willing to pay for food. I'd be inclined to tell them that if they want to set prices they oughta find another sucker to take the fall for them.
  3. Greenman2ooo

    Greenman2ooo Banned
    Messages: 176

    There are other ways around the problem. I can talk with the managers of the individual stores and explain the situation and ask them what they want done. We may be able to come to an agreement as to what areas to concentrate on.

    The managing company could care less if I put the salt on the roof of the building, as long as the store managers don't call and complain about the parking lots. Ultimately, customer service falls in my lap. I saw a sign that said something along these lines, "'yes' is the answer to any reasonable request made by our customers."

    I really like that attitude, even as bad as mine can get. I prefer to attempt to meet reasonable requests. If not, I attempt to figure out a solution other than throwing in the towel as my first option.

    If this was an account I hadn't yet landed, I'd do as Alan said (Diplomatically, of course.), 9 times out of 10. This is an established client. I can't let a few dollars jeopardize this when I can do as they ask, or find a solution that pleases everyone.

    Anyone that has additional input, feel free.

    BTW- Alan, I wasn't discounting your advice, I certainly undertand where you are coming from. Feel free to comment further.
  4. n y snow pros

    n y snow pros LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 252

    I whole heartedly agree with Alan.We spread by the yard and the minimum we will charge is 195.00.You must also remember the cost of the equipment,driver and your liability.If they cant understand this then you should say thankyou,but no thanks let the libality fall on someone else.The last time i checked paying out thousands in claims was not worth a 3.00 profit.
  5. cat320

    cat320 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 823

    I agree with snow Pros let them do it for$3 dollars and your see them charge more for there time & gas+profit.I get $90 a pass for a 100x100 lot with a sand salt mix and i know that I should be getting more than that but there are to many wolves here waiting to jump on my account.
  6. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,651

    This is why i believe the best way, is it if you call on what and how much you want to spread.

    Now for me, In the contract bid, i figure in a material spreading cost. Now if I have to come to the lot 5 times in January and spread 12 yards of salt. Then i send out a bill, for the monthly payment (all ready stated in the contract of what i is going to be) then i add an extra 360 dollars (sand/salt mix 30 dollars a yard). Now in the contract the monthly part of the bill includes a factored in amount for the spreading of sand and salt, plus plowing. I am making a profit on the retial sale of sand and salt mix, in addition to my regular profit.

  7. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 849

    I've salted and applied calcium for what may seem like a low price. I simply added $20 - 40 to my rate for plowing the lot to make up the lost profit. Of course I don't tell the customer that. If you already gave a price on the plowing then this is not an option.
    The reason I say $20 - $40, is because some only want salt when the lot is plowed, while others want salt any time ice is present. Those who want it only when the lot is plowed, I add $20 to. Those that want it whenever ice is present, I add $40 to. Yes it can backfire in a sense, if we get 5 ice events, to one plowing event. No method is perfect, unless you charge what you want, for each service, right from the start.
    I've also "stuck to my guns" on prices for plowing, and gave them a "freebie".... I've sometimes "given" them 3 flats of annual flowers to be planted in the spring for free. Of course they pay the labor for me to plant them. I explain it as "3 flats of annual flowers free, that's 96 plants".
    To them, 96 seems like a lot. My cost for them is $24. They see the word "FREE" and it "blinds" them sometimes. I also charge them for cedar mulch, and top soil. So actually, I am getting more work and profit in the spring. Sometimes the planting areas need peat moss too. You get the idea here. Recoup the cost of salting in other ways. This has worked for me, and I am happy with it. What works for you, well, you have to decide that.

  8. Greenman2ooo

    Greenman2ooo Banned
    Messages: 176


    Thank you for the advice. As the tone of my post should have indicated, I was trying to find a way to make this work, rather than an excuse to give the job up. You have obviously picked up on this.

    I can't afford to tell people how I'm going to do the work THEY are paying for. As long as the work is profitable and reflects well on our company I try to do whatever it takes to meet customer requests. If they need to be "danced" a bit, I can do so. In my area, college grads don't make what I am making yearly. I'm sure this is the case for many of us.

    After talking to the management company, I found out if there is a 10x10 patch of ice that needs salting, I get paid the same as if I do the whole lot. If I have to throw a little ice melt at the entrance of the store, ditto. So there are solutions other than telling the customer to find another contractor. If I come back after-hours and clean up where the cars were parked and clean the aprons, I get paid for a full plow. As you can see, giving this customer up would be foolish. There is a lesson to be learned here.

    I've taken a lot of good advice from others. Take some from me. Be more creative in solving "problems" such as this one. I will be the first to admit, sometimes I would do well to take my own advice. So I'm not "pointing fingers."

    One good idea--or even looking at things from a different perspective-- can be the difference in a couple thousand dollars a month in your pocket or another contractors. That may be chump change to some of you, but not the case here.

    I understand, sometimes the people think they know your business better than you, but this is not the case in this instance. Although I'm new to this business in general, I am not new to business practices and customer service procedures. I always knew I would start my own business. I envisioned how I would deal with customers as I was being dealt with by various companies in my day to day life.

    Do you like dealing with companies that have rigid policies and refuse to make exceptions, even in the face of common sense?

    I'll step down off the soap box now, but it is food for thought.
  9. Doug406

    Doug406 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134


    I realize Chuck is telling you what you want to hear, but not properly maintaining a lot in snow and ice control is not flower installation.


    Do you think the patron that is walking in to the establishment that slips and falls breaking her 74 year old hip care that you were following "the rules of the contract" for salting. NO- she is going to sue the store and you. Then the store would have been glad they were charged by the yard for salting.

    Expain this to the client or do not plow the lot. It is too much of a risk factor. Sure there are other contractors doing shabby work, but you do not have to be one of them, because you have a support team in this forum to compile informative data.
  10. n y snow pros

    n y snow pros LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 252

    I stand behind what i said and agree with Doug406.You are now telling us information that we were not privy to earliar when you asked for our opinion.I for one will do anything possible and in reason to save an account,BUT not if it means i have to stick my neck on the line.I like most here you included im sure have worked too hard to get where you are at to have some management company tell you how to take care of there property during a storm.That is why they are a management company and not a snow plowing firm they dont have a clue.To think its a good deal to get payed for a complete sanding or salting when they only need spot sanding,sure that works in your favor but to have your hands tied by only being allowed to put so much down during a storm well thats just stupid.I take salting and sanding as an extremely critical and profitable money maker and i believe the reason i have not had 1 slip in fall with all the commercial work we do in New York(the slip & fall capital of the world)is do to the several reasons but the biggest being that we control the amount of material we spread.If you let the management company control this you will get hit hard one day and you wont want to feel the sting that will follow.I have seen it numerous times and i certainly.My own feelings are if a management co wants to control your salt usage well you may as well make them your partner.

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