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bidding help please

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by hunterpreferred, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. hunterpreferred

    hunterpreferred Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Hello everybody,
    I have many questions about the plow season. Any replies would be greatly appreciated.
    We have been in the irrigation business for 20 years and I decided I would like to offer snow removal, Last year I bought a plow and did about 12 drive ways and I subbed for a large local outfit. This year I want to go out on my own doing commercial lots. I have several contacts and currently have 10 or 12 bids to send out. Problem is I am not sure how to structure the bid. So far a bank is the only place to tell me how they want it priced, everyone else says submit your bid now. I was thinking 2" trigger, then maybe up to 6" flat rate, per inch after that. That is how the bank wanted it. Anyway I have 2 trucks with 8' straight blades and 1 sander, also have access to 2 more trucks with 1 sander. Any idea how much this set up can handle. I don't want to bite off more then I can handle. I would love to go all seasonal like Grandview, just trying to figure out how to do it. Any help would be great, and sorry for the LONG post.
  2. ryde307

    ryde307 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,131

    We are in a similar spot. Been in business for 6 years, but plowing for all of them. started with driveways realized it wasn't the way we wanted to go. Decided commercial was the direction but realized it would be hard to get the types we were after with little experiance in the commercial world. So we went out and became a sub for one of the larger companies in our area for 2 years. It worked ok made ok money and learned alot. Long story short we did get screwed last year when we asked to move to a new area they said ok and then dumped us first week of dec. So we scrambled and found some more sub work for another large company. This year on our own hopefully I am out trying to find properties now. Sorry for the long post I guess in short what I'm saying is you might be best subbing to learn it then go out on your own. Good luck either way.
  3. hunterpreferred

    hunterpreferred Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Subbing is cool for steady work and learning the snow removal side. Problem is I'm not learning how to actually bid the work. I know how much I would like to get i just don't know if it is in line with the area pricing, or how these accounts are bid on. When the commercial account says yeah send in your bid it just seems like a free for all. I guess I thought they set up the terms and you bid accordingly. If not, how can they compare all the bids they receive if they are all different set ups. Does that make sense? All I know is I gotta figure it out fast if I want to get some good accounts this year.
  4. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    It really isn't hard guys. If I (and the rest of the rocket scientists) can figure it out it's easy.

    Easiest- Hourly, though not best for you

    Not too Hard- per push-figure you hourly desired rate, consider fuel, reps&maint on the truck and plow, fuel and profit into this number. An average driver in a well maintained truck with an 8ft straight plow can get 1 acre(approx 43,500SQFT) done in an hour. Multiply your rate x acres = per push price.

    Bracketed Inch Pricing- My most preffered method- Assume that in an average storm it takes the same time to push 3" as it does 1", your 1-3" price is the same as per push. From there it gets somewhat more complicated. Some guys say it'll take 2X as long to plow 3-6" so double it( I disagree), but whats important is that you're comfortable with your choice be 1.5,2,2.5 as a multiplier. Follow the math out and you can give prices like this 0-3,3.1-6,6.1-9,9.1-12, then per inch over 12..

    Seasonal- Hardest to figure, but again not really hard- some guys figure how many pushes they average per year in their area and base their seasonal that way, we do it differently as ours include salt/calcium and shoveling.

    Heres the highlights and some tips-

    1- Be comfortable with your base(per-push) rate and it's really math from there.

    2-Be VERY careful with seasonals and no matter how tempting don't take one on that isn't capped. Some guys do them without a cap and love them, me I won't.

    3-Get educated and offer salting as a service, best margin/revenue generator(at least locally)

    4-Join SIMA

    5- Continue to visit plowsite and ask lots of questions, but do yourselves a favor and don't give the gumpy guys a reason to snipe, use the search feature before asking a question, there's a decent chance it may have been asked already. If it was you'll be glad you did as numerous answers are likely already posted, you may get your answer before you ask your question......No line/no wait!!!!

    6- When you make a contact ask for an RFP(request for proposal) or a spec sheet, IF it's available it will spell things out so they see bids apples to apples. Most seasoned and well prepared owners/managers have seen the light and have one they use for most if not all of their sites. If they don't have one offer to asist them in writing one. It's SOOOOOO easy and it's a good way to get to know these people. If you make the right impression you may be the only one that ever sees it.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
  5. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    Ya, what he said!.......:D
  6. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,954

    After that post by forestfire guy there should be reason for any more posts like this.....nice job.
  7. hunterpreferred

    hunterpreferred Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Forestfireguy, Thank you very much for your reply. The info was very helpful and appreciate you taking time out of your day to post it. For the record I searched for days, just didn't really find what I was looking for. Now I have. Thanks again
  8. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    You're welcome guys. I've learned volumes here over the years, it's only right to give back. To those who complimented me...Thanks it's nice to get a pat on the back now and again!!!
  9. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    And BTW consulting starts at 200Hr plus travel and accomodations, meals, sightseeing,souvenirs,guide fees if you're near any good fly fishing waters, (discounts on hourly rates given for those near good water). Just Kidding guys, couldn't get away if I wanted to.................And I don't believe I'm that smart :)
  10. plowatnight

    plowatnight Senior Member
    from Mn
    Messages: 305


    OK Forestfire, good enuf, thats kind of how I used to do it, Only thing is how or who is gonna substantiate the amout of snowfall and does that factor the wind, or water density. I'm hourly (just my preference maybe not any better) When it comes to bidding, I want to work for people who know me, so, I suggest you dial in on the folks who will take the time to meet w/ you and lay out some expectations. If the account just gets a bunch of bids, rips through them and picks out the best one by the numbers, they have no vested reason to stick with you vs. having actually developing a relationship. I'm convinced that every good account has a relationship as a foundation, personally I don't want a Walmart or Home Depot if their contact doesn't give a rip about who I am. Y'all can plow a million $$ worth of snow and be a big shot if you like, but I'm a people person, and I've found that, that is one of the main reasons I really like what I do.
  11. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    Good points all. Storm totals are substantiated by a weather service, certified totals are sent along with each billing. I strongly agree with your relationship logic, I should have expanded on this when I mentioned the idea of helping them write specs, it's a relationship thing for sure. Helping write specs works 2 ways, you can get to know the people behind the property and if you do it right you can get things in there that lean towards you, be it service within a certain amount of time, having a CSP on staff or whatever. As far as wind, we have an hourly add on for drifting after we've done a final clean up, thats not part of bidding for us it's just a condition of the contract. As far as water density I don't follow?? Please explain and I'll answer how it applies to the way we bid/write contracts.
  12. plowatnight

    plowatnight Senior Member
    from Mn
    Messages: 305


    I'm in agreement w/ you, as far as water density, it can affect your ET as dry fluffy plow one way with less fuel and breakdowns and wet heavy really puts on a load especially if you have to change directions in a long push, you know when you stop and hit that 2ton snowball and like to fly through the windshield. Thats all I was refering to.