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Best time to get plow contract

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by wxmn6, May 25, 2001.

  1. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    I would like to know when is the best time to start searching for customers and when to get the contracts signed? I am new to snowplowing business so please help me out. I would like to know what the contract should look like. I checked out Chuck's snowplowing-contractors.com site and tried to view the link to sample plowing contract but it appears that this link is gone. Is there anyone who can give me some suggestion of making a contract? I will only be doing the plowing, no salting. I will be using a Toyota pickup truck so I think that I would limit one "push" for each 6" of snow. What do you think of this pricing setup? If you think you have a better suggestion than my idea below, let me know. Thanks!

    2"-5.9" = $x
    6.0"-11.9" = $2x
    12"+ = $2x + $y for each additional 2" of snow
     
  2. Mick

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

    The last two are basically the same (2x). Maybe you meant 3x? Actually, I'd suggest the 2nd 6" increment to 1 1/2x

    I'd also suggest joining SIMA. Lots of good help for a new person. You'll definitely make the cost of membership back if you're willing to take advise and learn from others.

    Good Luck,
    Mick
     
  3. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    Mick, what I mean by the 12"+ pricing is like for example, it cost a customer $30 for one "push" so it would be $60 plus $10 for each additional 2" of snow above 12". So let say for example there is a 16" snowstorm to plow, that would be $60 plus $20 equal $80. This mean that I would need to visit three times. Just wondering, why do you suggest me to charge customers 1 1/2x rather than 2x for 6" to 11.9" storm if I have to visit two times? Is it because it sound unreasonable to charge customers 2x for 6" or 7" snowstorm? Maybe should I narrow it down to like 6" to 8.9" for 1 1/2x and 9" to 11.9" for 2x? Thanks!
     
  4. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Now is as good a time as any to try and get new contracts, or express interest in getting contracts. More so commercial contracts than residential ones. Many commercial contracts go out to bid during the summer months, you'd be surprised. As far as the increments, they can vary. Some guys use 1 - 6" as the first, others use 1 - 4". I always like to start at 1", even though some contracts have a 2" trigger. This is in case they call when there is less than 2" of snow. The price is already spelled out for them, and they don't try to haggle.
    I have had increments that go 1 - 8", over 8 - 12" etc. Sometimes, the increment structure can be the selling point. With a 1 - 8" first increment, you have to keep in mind, that you most likely will plow twice when you get more than 6", and have to keep that in mind when formulating a price. Also, be sure to add a "clause" that all snowfall amounts refer to a 24 hour period. It can create havoc when it starts snowing at 2 PM, and goes until 10 AM the next day, with a break in between, from say 10 PM until 2 AM. This might not be the best example, but never the less, make sure you add that 24 hour note. It is not applicable on seasonal contracts, just on per push contracts.

    ~Chuck
     
  5. Taconic

    Taconic PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 180

    Stephen you also may want to reduce the 1st snowfall amount given your equipment.Even though you may plow 2x or maybe 3x for a 6 inch storm your customer will want service regardless of 1 inch or 6 inches and if you get behind with your route ,well 4,5,or 6 inches of wet snow is alot of work for a Toyota.That truck is going to take a beating and therefore price yourself accordingly.Please dont take this the wrong way i am purely pointing out that plowing is about the most abusive thing you can do to your truck regardless of the make.So if i were just starting out and were pricing by the push well i would limit the first group to 1 to 3 or 1 to 4.
    John P
     
  6. Mick

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

    Stehen, sorry I didn't get back to you till now. Wife wanted to go "garage sale-ing" and buy some mulch and plants. You pretty much had the idea for my suggesting 1 1/2x pricing. Logic says you need to charge for each visit, but you also need to consider what your competition is charging and what the customer is willing to pay. I tend to push more often than some around here because I'm not willing to abuse my equipment with heavy loads like other guys. So I'll push maybe 4-6" and push twice for a 12" snowfall. The other guy just waits till the snow is over and pushes once. (Last winter most were pushing a 14" snowfall for one regular charge/trip) If I were to charge for two when he charges for one push, I wouldn't get any business. I have to market myself differently, but still keep the cost to the customer in mind. Of course, in your area this might not be a concern.

    I think if I were you, I'd consider making the "range" smaller - say 4". Not sure how big your Toyota is, but pushing 6" of wet snow can get real heavy real fast.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2001
  7. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037


    I do not really understand what this mean and why it should apply in the contract. What is wrong with the storm with a break in between and why it may cause confusion in contract? Can someone be more specific?
     
  8. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    The 24 hour clause is to allow you to bill for 2 separate plowings. If you don't care, and will plow it all for one price, then that is your decision. You can get paid for your time well, or you can get paid for your time, that choice is yours. You might be happy making $40 an hour for your time, or you might want to make $80. I was just trying to point out that you need to be specific in your contract language.

    As Mick and John P said, plowing is very hard on your truck. Mick mentioned he would plow twice, what others would plow once in his area. You can get paid twice, for plowing twice, or you can get paid once, for plowing twice. When something breaks from the strain of plowing wet, heavy, snow, you'll be wishing you billed for both.
    Also keep in mind with wet heavy snow, you are going to need ballast in the back of your Toyota, add that to the resistance of the snow, and you will be straining your truck.

    ~Chuck