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Advise for the young guys

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Banksy, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    I've been reading a number of posts started by some young guys who can't even drive yet. I enjoy reading them actually and have to commend them for their enthusiasm to earn an honest buck. Which is rare these days, even with adults.

    I started out in the snow business with a shovel, then my buddy and I added a nice snow blower. We walked all over the neighborhood and had regular customers that counted on us. Then at 16 I bought my first truck with a plow. My buddy with the blower quit the buisness and I just kept the customers we always had. I was able to add more since I could drive around town now. I didn't go buy a nice new truck or even a newer used truck. I bought a 10 yr old F250 with very very low miles for $3500 cash. I had been saving for a long time for it. I still had lots of cash left over for repairs, gas or whatever. My old man put the truck in his name so the commercial insurance would be cheaper. I DIDN'T have a payment and no 16 year old kid should have one. That truck served me well for almost 3 years. I was then able to buy a used truck and plow from a dealer and had a not so bad payment for a 19 year old. I sued the dealer to take that truck back for a bunch of reasons and I won. Then I went and bought a 1989 F250 for short money and it worked great and I used it until I sold it and moved south.

    At 14, 15 or even 16 years old, you guys don't need a shiny new truck, payment, expensive insurance and a business beyond your capabilities. A good used truck with some years on it will do just fine for a while. If you ding it up a little, who cares, because it's going to happen. Start out small, learn the business, be reliable, get a few customers and let it grow. Don't lowball either, you look more like a wanna be when you'll work for anything. I wasn't the most expensive guy in town, but my prices were fair and in the range of a competitive price. I never did any advertising. My customers always came from referals. I had to turn new accounts down all the time, because I was a one man band and didn't want to get so big to where I couldn't handle it and become unreliable. Don't count on it that it's going to snow, it might be a lousy winter. I ALWAYS had another job that had nothing to do with plowing, so make sure you have a PRIMARY source of income. Plowing is a SECONDARY source of income. Don't expect to get rich either, because you won't. You'll have some extra cash, but be smart with it. Maintain your equipment and make sure you have an emergency stash for unexpected repairs or something. It's easier to pay out of pocket and replace that mailbox you crushed yourself, than it is to make an insurance claim. Save those if you can!

    Don't count on family to bail you out of problems. If you want a small plowing business, consider yourself a business man and act like it.

    The questions about plowing with a 2 wheel drive truck come up a lot. There are exceptions, but consider it impossible when it comes to you new guys. Not being a jerk, it's to save you huge headaches.

    Do lot's of reading here and learn everything you can. Good luck and make some payup
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2007
  2. big bird

    big bird Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    this is the smartest thing i have seen on this site some one Finley had something smart too say:salute:
     
  3. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Sound advice. I'd also like to add that school (college) is seldom talked about here with the younger crowd, and I refuse to buy the idea that a 17 year old has saved enough money to pay for school. Please keep college in mind when your heads are filled with the big snowplow dreams. It CAN be lucrative when people can put the right amount of time, money, and knowledge into it, but young people lack all 3 and need to do things in the right order so as not to end up simply a meathead with a beatup 4x2 with a plow. Please don't misunderstand me as saying kids aren't smart, as that's generally not what I mean. People need the extra years of working on people skills to build & maintain a good customer base as well as running other aspects of business. Maybe buy a beater, do lawns & MAYBE plowing if insurance costs & so forth aren't unreasonable, but keep the bigger picture of school & the future in mind. If I may liken our business to pro sports... SO many people get into it looking to hit the big time, but so few can do it. Don't hang your future on being the future Bill Gates of property maintenance. Go to school, master business & maybe even landscaping specialties, but give yourself a future that doesn't necessarily depend on 30 years of grunt work.
     
  4. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I just want to second what YardMedic is saying about school. You might be surprised how many guys who plow actually are college educated with careers in Accounting, Law, Business etc.
     
  5. Clapper&Company

    Clapper&Company PlowSite Veteran
    from NE OHIO
    Messages: 4,413

    I agree with the above
     
  6. Stuffdeer

    Stuffdeer Senior Member
    Messages: 606

    I just want to comment on this, being a 16 year old.

    Thanks for the valuable info. I definately don't want a new truck, but would like to have a Reliable decent truck.

    The truck I have now, is a great personal and small things work truck. (2000 Chevy s-10, 2wd)

    With what you just said, instead of getting a used late ninty's, I think I'll look into a mid to late 80's dodge 3/4. I just gotta find a decent one. And then I will have a work truck, and a personal vehicle.

    Thanks for the information!

    And yes, no one has to tell me. In this dayand age, You NEED a college education to fall back onto if things go wrong. I plan on going to college part time for a business degree.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2007
  7. KGRlandscapeing

    KGRlandscapeing 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,660

    i know i am only 18 but i think he was saying that when he was younger. mid 90s was already 10 years ago. dosent seem that long and if ur gonna get something older i hope u can turn ur own wrenchs labor will kill u to have somebody eles do it. now oil changes thats a diffrent story on the truck i can have somebody eles do it for 20 bucks thats cheaper then the oil and filter for me to buy. I am in an online landscaping class through penn foster its not that deep yet but its been helping me learn somethings the feild dosent teach me.
     
  8. Stuffdeer

    Stuffdeer Senior Member
    Messages: 606


    How's that penn foster class?

    I got info on it, and was considoring taking it
     
  9. KGRlandscapeing

    KGRlandscapeing 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,660

    ya know for me i have been workin for a landscaping company for years now so its pretty easy to understand. i like it so far i sit down for a little hear and there blow threw a section take the exam and on to the next one. i dont really enjoy down time so its a good filler when i need it. for the money i feel its gonna be well worth it u can never know too much.
     
  10. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    I'm sorry, let me clarify this. I was 16 and got my license in 1996 and bought a 1986 F-250. So, that would be like buying a 1997 truck now, although it might be tough to find one for $3500 that is in excellent shape...
     
  11. DUMZ

    DUMZ Senior Member
    Messages: 153

    I've been plowing for 10 yrs now... first 3 1/2 yrs for my boss i had while in college for the extra money. I still drive the same plow truck I bought then... wow 7 years ago. It's a 1990 k1500. And it came with the plow I used up till last yr. Paid 3700 for it. Replaced the plow last yr for 3200. I've replaced every part of that truck but the body. I figure the trucks got at least 2 yrs left on it. There isn't a strait piece of panel on the whole truck. The first few yrs are the hardest on equipment. This set up has paid for it's self so many times. It's a hard buisness to be in, it's not for anyone who has a truck and plow. I don't rely on the income. But i will not kid you... I really love when it snows. More the better.


    My advice... go to college so you can get a good job and pay me to do your diveway and your parking lot...
     
  12. pats plowing

    pats plowing Senior Member
    Messages: 281

    My brother and I are both full time college students. However we have been able to run a company while doing so and this next year hope to become a snow business that does landscape construction as well. If we didnt have payments on trucks I dont know where we would have been. We had used vehicles, heck even new ones that broke down constantly. We now have three trucks and have a payment on only one mostly because we just bought a house. They are an 04 f350s/c, an 02 f550 psd s/c dump and an 07 f550 s/c dump. Yes kids shouldnt get over their heads but if we didnt take the plunge into running multiple trucks, investing heavily in new equipment I know we wouldnt be making what we are today.
     
  13. farmerkev

    farmerkev Senior Member
    Messages: 847

    Thanks for making this thread and all the helpfull responses. I am only 16 and am anxious to begin plowing. But my plans are to wait two years till im 18 to begin plowing and continue with the regular lawn mowing service but hit the sidewalk and driveway snow removal hard next year with a buddy who has an ATV plow.
     
  14. JeepPlow18

    JeepPlow18 Senior Member
    Messages: 658

    I am turning 20 next month and this is my second year plowing. I started out with a $500 jeep with a western with one commercial lot(apartment complex). This was very new to me but I knew I did not need new equipment so I think that I started out ok. This year I expanded tremendously. Sold the jeep and plow bought a very good shape 95' chevy silverado 2500 with a 8' western getting a tailgate salter and snow blower really soon. As for accounts I have 5 commercial and 6 residential. I think that im doing really good for my second year. Mike
     
  15. TEX

    TEX Senior Member
    Messages: 606

    great advice thanks
     
  16. mulcahy mowing

    mulcahy mowing Senior Member
    Messages: 718

    Good advice. goes along with my plans i'm 16 going on 17 i'm currently an apprentace electrcian I already own a 2003 f-150 and am buying a blizzard speedwing for it this week. I will hopefully be a subcontractor for plowing through an electical company this season hope to do that and pick up acounts on my own and eventually own my owm electrcal company and plow in the winter.