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

Best way to charge for snow removal

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Bchlawns, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. Bchlawns

    Bchlawns Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 147

    Hello,
    What do you guys charge for a double care wide driveway? Also how do you charge for like apartment complexes? Do u charge by the hour of like $70, or by each time you plow, or by inches? How do you figure out a price to charge per plow depending on snow amounts. I hear some guys talk about plow by the amount of snow, how do you do that? What is the going rate for plowing by inches?
    Thanks
    Bchlawns
     
  2. kl0an

    kl0an Senior Member
    Messages: 215

    You just need to browse the threads on this site to see several that talk about these things. From monthly billing to per event billing.. Some are broken down by inches of snow and some add salting/sanding services as well. It also depends on where you are and the competition you have..
     
  3. avalancheplow

    avalancheplow Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    Here in the northeast a lot of guys charge by per inch and base it on the national weather service records per storm. I charge by approx inches on lot, because the national weather service doesnt' do every town. I try to figure out how long each place takes and use $125 per hour to figure what the per inch charge is. :drinkup:
     
  4. Bchlawns

    Bchlawns Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 147

    Avalancheplow,
    How do you figure out a per inch charge going off $125 per hour?
    Thanks
     
  5. kl0an

    kl0an Senior Member
    Messages: 215

    If a 100 X 100 foot lot take ya 30 minutes to do with 2 inches, it might take you 45 with 5, 60 with 8, etc..

    So, if they get 2 inches, you charge half an hour, at 6 inches, you charge the whole hour..
     
  6. avalancheplow

    avalancheplow Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    As an example: if plowing two inches would take 30 min. then the first 1-3" would be the min. I would charge $100 ( I use $100 as a min charge), and then an additional $60 every 2" after that so: 1-3" $100, 4-5" $160, 6-7" $220. This is just the way I do it. There are many different ways. Use the way to get the most money payup
     
  7. Mick

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

    While most methods are based on an hourly rate, most do not charge hourly for several reasons. The two mains reasons for not charging hourly are the customer's perception and that you are then limited in the amount you can make from any given job. The more efficient you become, the less you make. Perception by the customer is that you are overcharging: For instance, if you charge $30 for an area that you can efficiently plow in 15 minutes, the customer will not be likely to balk at that. However, if you charge $120 an hour (the same as $30 for 15 minutes), you are likely to get a completely different response. Now if you charge $120 an hour (and the customer agrees), you might plow his driveway in 1/2 hour and charge $60. Ok. Then, as you get experince, you might cut that down to 20 minutes. So, do you now charge $40 for the same area that you first charged $60? My advise is to set a price for any given job, especially being fairly new to plowing. Don't worry about being too high or too low. If you're too high, you won't get the job and if you do, good for you. If too low, you'll figure that out the first winter and adjust. It's just part of the learning process.

    Regarding the increments: first decide what you'll have for a "trigger". Don't let customers talk you into a higher trigger "just for them" or you'll wind up damaging your equipment and souring relationships with other customers. Triggers are usually a factor of custom. Around here, I use a 3" trigger. Then base you increments on realistic spans that will work for you. I use the following:

    3" to 6" - $xx (ie: $30)
    over 6" to 9" $xx times 1 1/2 ($45)
    over 9" to 12" $xx times 2 ($60)
    over 12" $xx times 2 plus $yyy per inch over 12"

    I apply the depth to the total snowfall in a 24 hour period regardless of how many times I plow it. This allows me to determine when to plow based on the characteristics of the snow. Wet and heavy I plow more often than light and fluffy. Obviously, for some people, especially those with retail accounts, this method would not work.

    Another thing I would suggest is to not have gaps in your increments. For instance: avalancheplow might get a couple of arguments. 1 - what would you charge for 3 1/2 inches? 2. Why would you charge more than twice the amount for plowing 6" ($220) than 3" ($100)? I'd rather you come and plow 3" twice, even though that would take you longer in driving and cost more in gas.

    Hope all this helps a little.
     
  8. Bchlawns

    Bchlawns Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 147

    Thanks for all the help!!!! Mick, what kind of tired do u use for snow removal or what kind would u recomend?
    Thanks Bchlawns
     
  9. Mick

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

    You're welcome, Bchlawns. Before I forget, there is another method I started using last winter that's going over real good. One guy asked for a set amount so I offered him the rate for a 6" to 9" and used it for anything up to 12". He preferred that every time, even for a 2" push when he asked for it. We agreed there would be an extra charge for anything over 12". It simplified things for him since he just kept track of how many times it snowed and he'd know how much he owed. Then I started explaining it and offering it to others. So far, everyone wants it, even though they pay a little more for smaller snowfalls.

    Bchlawns, I assume you meant to ask about tires (rather than "tired"). There are quite a few out there that guys swear by. I simply bought a set of Cooper Discoverer M&S tires that I studded and have used for three winters so far and still have real good tread. They come off in April when the snow goes. There have been several discussions here about tires and you might do a search for "tires" and read away.
     
  10. Bchlawns

    Bchlawns Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 147

    Mick,
    I see that you are from Maine where you get a lot more snow than we do in ohio, but just for my knowledge, how much do u quote people on for 6"-9" like u said above. So you are saying you charge the rate from snow 6"-9" and use that for anything up to 12". I just dont know what method to go with. Here in Ohio its seems to me that everyone charges per hour and that is about 65-80$. A lot of guys figure that for 2" and anything more they charge more. I think they are saying they get 65-80 per plow and anything over 2" they charge more. What would you charge for more than 2"?
    Thanks Bchlawns
     
  11. fga

    fga Member
    Messages: 51

    I go by the amount of snow that has fallen. I don't really like "by the hour" estimates, cuz why would you ever get more efficient and faster equipment. i have categories.... 2" - 4", 5" - 7",etc.

    i started making money doing snow, with just shovels ay first, then snow blower, now a plow, and i'm upgrading truck and plow this year. i'm getting similar money that did in the beginning, just alot faster. (yes, my first season, there was this small 5 car lot i did with shovels!!)
     
  12. Mick

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

    I charge a minimum of $25 which would cover the two car wide, maybe 50' driveway in your example. There is a lot of difference in our environments, like you said. Here, very, very few driveways will be like you're saying. Here, we have mostly long driveways (40 feet to a mile) with a parking area (maybe 30'x50') at the end in front of the house or garage. I usually figure $100 per mile for a private road (3" to 6"). So, what I'd do is offer a rate of $35 or $40 (to keep it even) or $150 per mile, for anything up to 12" in a 24 hour period.

    As for apartment complexes, I'd advise first getting some experience with driveways for the first year or so. You'll run into a whole different set of problems with them. You will need to carefully figure how to clear the parking spots and how to get the snow to where it gets piled. You may need additional equipment, like a Bobcat or truck snow offsite in which case you'll need loaders and dump trucks. And a place to dump it. You will also need to figure clearing the sidewalks. You need to advise your insurance company as most will have a different rate for multiple dwelling sites.

    Maybe someone from your area can chime in with things I'm not mentioning?
     
  13. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    You may want to do some looking into applying salt too. It makes it easier to do your job, gives you extra $, and it may be a selling point that gets you a contract.

    Being a sub for another guy for the first year give you a chance to learn the ropes a bit and concentrate just on plowing and not have to worry about the bizz stuff. You can get a feel for what it takes and you may pick up quite a bit working with an experienced contractor. And you dont have to worry about making a bad name foryourself in your first unexperienced year. You wont make as much $ as a sub but it will have alot less headach especially if you are just concentrating on moving snow and not all the other stuff. Just another thought.....
     
  14. Bchlawns

    Bchlawns Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 147

    thanks for the info again mick and others
     
  15. DJC

    DJC Senior Member
    Messages: 481

     
  16. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    Here we just charge by the hour, as we improve or upgrade the equipment we rase the price acordingly,

    get paid for what you do and do what you get paid for.
     
  17. kl0an

    kl0an Senior Member
    Messages: 215

    So Dwan, if you improve your time you get paid less for plowing the same amount?? I know I started a parking lot last year and the first time I plowed it, it took me 7 hours, by the 3rd time I was down to 4.. Should I have charged less once I got my pattern down?? What incentive do I have to be more efficient??
     
  18. Mick

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

    If I'm understanding it, kl0an, he would be charging more per hour and getting the same amount of money. I just think it'd be confusing for the customer to get billed that way, but it's just my opinion.
     
  19. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    Kloan;
    I have been plowing for over 25 years and find that after a few times in the same lot there is not much one can improve on to save time other then new and better equipment. When I plow a lot that has signed a contract for the first time I only charge 75% of my normal billing because it does take me a little longer but after a few times it will be charged at 100%. This id not to say you or any buddy else should do it this way it is just the way I do it and it works well for me. I do not try to cheat my customers. They only have to pay for the amount of work I do and nothing more.
    again I am not saying that billing by the job is wrong because the customer can budget better for that type of billing but in my personal opinion I don't like it.
     
  20. Bchlawns

    Bchlawns Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 147

    what is a good salt spreader for a tailgate hitch to start out with and not to expensive to get me going?
    Thanks Bchlawns