If most of your plowing is done ‘per push’, you can easily find out how much revenue you have generated during that event. Go back to the Dispatcher and the fact that the Area Supervisor has given an accounting of what was plowed during his/her shift. An administrative assistant can take this information directly from the Dispatcher’s route sheet documents or from the Area Supervisor’s route sheet documents. A simple billing program can be altered to have the pertinent language already there as a ‘macro’ so that generating an invoice in the computer is an easy task. If all accounts have been plowed, this makes invoicing all that much easier. In this fashion, and assuming that someone actually takes the time to do the billing, it is possible to know within a very short time period how much revenue you have generated.
Again, this is for companies with only a handful of vehicles/units moving snow. Larger companies can afford to have this entire package automated so no human hands need ever get involved in the process.
From here it is a simple task to subtract expenses from revenues to determine gross profit for the snow event. The same holds true for applications of salt, although if you are charging ‘per pound’ or ‘per ton’ you may have to actually wait for the salt truck operator to return with the quantities used in order to invoice accurately.
The Dispatcher also has an important role when it comes to customers. During a snow event, if anything is amiss on a site it should be immediately reported to the Dispatcher. A good Dispatcher will then immediately advise the (commercial) customer of what the problem might be. Most business’s now have email capability. By informing the customer during the event, and right after being advised of the problem, you gain credibility with the customer. You cannot communicate too often to the customer.
For example: Your subcontractor arrives on the site only to find that the automatic gate’s wood arm is damaged. The sub contacts Dispatch and informs them of the damage prior to beginning plowing operations. Good subs (and properly trained employees) will do this so that they are not inadvertently blamed for causing the damage. The Dispatcher then faxes or emails notification to the commercial customer’s point of contact that the arm is damaged, and was damaged prior to our arrival on the site. In this way the customer has a ‘time stamped’ document attesting to the fact that his honest contractor dutifully notified him of a problem on the site. Some companies have armed their “managers” or area supervisors with digital cameras, with instructions to take oodles of pictures during plowing operations. Emailing such pictures can add credibility to your claim of damage done prior to onset of plowing operations. This also lends credibility to what you are doing and avoids the potentially embarrassing situation where you are left answering questions that are raised the next day, or when the bill arrives, to the effect of “Hey, what about that damaged lift gate that your guy ran through during the last snowstorm?” You are then operating from a position of weakness as the customer has now already theorized what happened, leaving you to fight to change his mind.