1. Welcome to PlowSite. Notice a fresh look and new features? It’s now easier to share photos and videos, find popular topics fast, and enjoy expanded user profiles. If you have any questions, click HELP at the top or bottom of any page, or send an email to help@plowsite.com. We welcome your feedback.

    Dismiss Notice

A struggle I am sure we all have

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by exmark, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. exmark

    exmark Senior Member
    Messages: 340

    Hiring and keeping snow shovelers. What do you guys do? I generally use craigslist and spread the word. However every season I start out with several determined guys who want to shovel and they do a great job. However as the season moves along I tend to have a few drop off. And by that point no one is wanting to shovel or even apply when I post a job add requesting snow shovelers. What have you guys done to keep snow shovelers around and keep them motivated? I have in addition set up end of season bonus programs. However that doesn't seem to help for me. I generally need around 30-40 snow shovelers per storm. So it gets stressful and pushes the times back for each account when we have no shows. Any advice is helpful. Thanks!
  2. Spence92

    Spence92 Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    What machines are you using? I'm a shoveler, and if I came to work and had a shovel thrown at me, and told to go shovel 8 inches of wet snow. I wouldn't last long.

    On the other hand if I had a snow blower or a tractor of some sort. Or even a quad then I might consider it.
  3. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    I think this is everyone's weak spot at some point. We downsized our whole operation and now just have our employees doing most of the walks while plowing (even me), most of our sidewalks take a whopin' minute or two to do so it's not too bad. I've come to realize over the years that sidewalks are a necessary evil and basically the one dedicated guy we still have makes out pretty good. I think he averages around 25/hr using all our equipment and fuel, his truck.
  4. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,450

    I can't even get equipment operators...........
  5. jhall22guitar

    jhall22guitar PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,044

    Find kids looking to earn money, check local colleges. You would be surprised how many of us younger guys will work, it may not be every storm, so make sure you have a long list, but they need beer money too.

    That being said, I have had storms where there is 36" of heavy snow and I would rather shovel than use a blower, but the time i get the blower out, started, and back in the truck I can be gone from most sites.
  6. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    There was a guy years ago around here who just ran sidewalk crews. He subbed like 40+ shovelers to various companies and had a good thing going for years. He told me he put up flyers at 2 colleges and that's where he got most of his help. If I remember right he charged 40/hr to the companies and paid 15-20/hr to the guys and that was back in the early 2000's. Not too shabby...if he ran 20 guys a night for 4hrs that's 3200.00 and pocketed at least 1500.00 a night for driving around checking their work. He since quite doing it for whatever reason, my guess is the work ethic around here has dropped off so much and companies started doing it in house more and more.
  7. jhall22guitar

    jhall22guitar PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,044

    Being college aged, and I hate to say it, but so many kids I have met at school have zero work ethic, mom and dad pay for everything, and they feel like they shouldn't have to be up before noon.

    I have actually met a few kids that think they can get low grades, but because they are in a Frat they think they will be getting a 80k a year job out of college. :dizzy:
  8. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    I swear the govt. is putting something in the water! lol.
  9. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,450

    Unending welfare and unemployment "benefits".
  10. exmark

    exmark Senior Member
    Messages: 340

    I have tried local colleges and got some good workers for a few storms. But once they got into it a few times. They weren't to excited to come back. As far as equipment goes. I invest a lot into sidewalks. I own roughly 25 single stage blowers, two two stage blowers and two quads with blades for all long runs along with 50 some snow shovels. I basically run two extended cab trucks with six guys and two 15 passenger vans. So either way the crews are rolling out with a good amount of additional help. I may try some of the local colleges again and see if I can't get a good amount of guys just on a call list.
  11. Randall Ave

    Randall Ave PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,429

    Here, you go to the next town over. They are on the street corners waiting.
  12. Defcon 5

    Defcon 5 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,512

    I wonder why???

    Need TCLA to chime in here...He is the sidewalk Guru
  13. JMHConstruction

    JMHConstruction Senior Member
    Messages: 780

    Just curious, what do you pay shovelers? I am much smaller, but still have the same problem. I tried to expand into 2-3 crews this year and let some of the guys I've had for years try to run a crew, but couldn't fill positions. I am on the search again now for guys. I wanted to get an account with no trigger that we would just be at that one huge account for the whole storm from before it started to after it ended, but I needed at least 10 guys running. I could only get 7 that I thought were serious, and I called everyone on Monday to make sure they were still available and 3 told me no. This is the worst year I've had, at were still in the 60s! No one wants to work anymore...
  14. JDosch

    JDosch Senior Member
    from Joliet
    Messages: 125

    I am having the same problem. Nobody seems to have the work ethic anymore.
  15. sectlandscaping

    sectlandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 313

    Had the same guy in the passenger seat for 3 years. The other guys are a revolving door. Now he moved and Im already stressing.

    I would have 5 or 6 guys calling when its flurrying but if I need help its like they owe me money or something.
  16. GMC Driver

    GMC Driver Senior Member
    Messages: 706

    This is likely one of the most challenging aspects of snow removal.

    I have two scenarios, and one works well, the other is a constant headache.

    First one - I have been fortunate to find a couple of guys who are willing to work on a piece work basis. They get a flat rate for the route, whether there is 2" or 12". On larger storms, they will likely be out more than 2x. These guys have full time employment in the summer months, and are looking for some extra $$ in the winter, so it works out really well. They supply their own equipment/transportation, and each route is limited to one town (very tight route). On a 2" storm, they can bring in $80-$100/hour (up to them if they want a helper). On heavier storms, that might be reduced by half.

    The headache - I have several hourly shovellors at one site. It really requires 6-8 shovellors, but on light storms you can do with 3 or 4. I've had as many as 12-15 "signed" up for the winter, with the idea that there is some backup. It pays $15/hour, paid weekly. Equipment is provided, but they have to get to the site. We've also given a bonus ($25 per time) to those who make it out for every storm, payable at the end of the season. If I were to look back, that bonus may have been paid out 4 or 5 times (20+ storms a year, easy money if you make it out every time). Very few make it past 2 or 3 storms. Somehow the money isn't worth it to them. Some will say you need to pay more. In my experience, that's not always the answer.

    I've also tried subbing out this work completely, and will be pursuing that avenue again this year. I would rather make one phone call than try and chase down 8 guys every time.
  17. B-2 Lawncare

    B-2 Lawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 219

    Never would have even thought about trying this until its was suggested by a customer.
    We have and an account that is a gentleman who owns several hotels, we use several of his maintenance and cleaning staff. We also have a Bureau of Land Management office here and they hire seasonal firefighters for this early spring to early fall and have gotten a guys there as well. I never stop asking guys if they want a job.
  18. exmark

    exmark Senior Member
    Messages: 340

    I have generally been paying $16 an hour for all sidewalk members. But my full time guys get time and a half working snow hours. Witch I try my best to keep the routes under 10 hours of completion time. However last winter there was a few storms that just wasn't the case. So I am trying to bring in additional help this year. Plus set up a emergency contact list for spare guys incase of a no show. This season will be quite different from past. But of course you never know what each storm will bring. So hoping each storm brings low totals. It would be nice to not have any blizzards.
  19. jhall22guitar

    jhall22guitar PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,044

    I was in charge of shoveling operations for a company. We had two crews and then 2-3 guys in plow trucks. Each crew was usually 2 guys, blower, shovels, and salt in a truck. In the middle of a blizzard I had the second crew call and say they were leaving because they didnt want to work the rest of the storm.

    Some people don't get it, and you can't get some people to work, its sad. People want money to just be handed to them.
  20. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,468

    How can you have routes that take 10 hrs or just under?? Who the hell wants to do walks for 10 hrs? Don't answer that, I know the answer... NOBODY!

    If you have that much walk area to do then get more efficient equipment so you don't need so much man power. Yes, it costs more, but you must be making money on these or it wouldn't be worth the hassle.