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Charges for 24" snow

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by DFLS, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. DFLS

    DFLS Senior Member
    Messages: 339

    Yeah this subject has probably been beaten to death but I couldn't find answers in search so here it goes.

    We got 22 to 24 inches this last storm. I do 46 driveways and 2 lots. Every one of my customers had a push by 10 AM Wednesday morning and it was still snowing 1 to 2" per hour at that time. So they could get out of their driveways and get 20 feet up the road and get stuck. I managed to go back to everyone a second time by Midnight. Most roads were not even finished by that time. Next morning (Thursday) I went around again to clear the road snow from the driveway curtains, make mailboxes accessible, clear 2 hydrants, and make a few drives a little wider. That's 3 trips for every customer, about 26 hrs. in the truck for me and 20 hours for helpers shoveling.

    Triple regular price is what I am thinking at this time, plus extras like hydrants and back decks.

    Sound good to everyone??

    Some videos from 12/27/10 storm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfBJyT7gWvc

    I'll have video from 1/12/11 soon...
  2. diesel dust

    diesel dust Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Good luck getting triple we got 20" I'm charging double and they still b*tch
  3. bristolturf

    bristolturf Senior Member
    Messages: 435

    I agree I think you will have a hard time getting tripple seeing as on the third visit you just did some clean up work. You should get 2 most certainly and then just a minimum charge for that third visit. How do you have it set up with your clients, as far as your agreement? We bill each visit based on the amount of snow on the ground. Say we get 18" of snow, and the base price is $30/push up to 6" after that its 40% up to 12" and anything over 12" is billed hourly at 65$/hour with a one hour minimum. So if I went in the am and pushed 6" Id get 30$ plus then another $42 for the afternoon push totaling $72 for the storm.
  4. vmj

    vmj Senior Member
    from conn
    Messages: 746

    2 - 6" one plowing i bill $30 6 - 10" im there twice so i bill out another $30 (two plowings) If i have to go back because it was syill snowing to clean up i charge out half of diveway rate..
  5. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,748

    We plow each time we get 6" of snow. But it would probably be hard to plow everything 4x. Some would get done 4x, others probably only 2.
  6. captadamnj

    captadamnj Senior Member
    Messages: 148

    What's in their contract?
  7. DFLS

    DFLS Senior Member
    Messages: 339

    I never had contracts and have only had 2 customers complain in 15 years. One of those customers eventually came back when they could not find another dependable service. My rates are a base price for up to 6" then an additional amount per inch for every inch over 6". This method has always worked well, but the most snow I have ever plowed was 18". For this storm the small $30 driveways would be $30 + (18" X $6 = $108) = total of $138. Larger more involved driveways with circles, triple garages, etc. have a bigger per inch add on. So a large drive with a base price of $112 I usually add $19 per inch over 6". This storm would be $112 + ($18" x $19 = $342) for a total of $451. Every base price in between has a per inch charge which effectively doubles the base price at 12" and triples it at 18" and would 4x the price at 24". Since this formula is producing some steep prices for 24" snow, I thought I would be more fair to just triple my base prices.

    Many of my customers need to be out early and I have always been there for them. Funny that sometimes they can get out of their driveways but end up getting stuck in the street.

    Remember that I shovel clean in front of every garage, shovel the front walk ( or both front and side) and any town sidewalks too. Lots of plow guys I see just get as close as possible and don't even get out of the truck. Their customers are left with a mound of snow up against the garage doors.
  8. captadamnj

    captadamnj Senior Member
    Messages: 148

    Then triple sounds like a good deal from the customer perspective, assuming they otherwise understand the rate structure as you described it.
  9. Maleko

    Maleko Senior Member
    from Ct
    Messages: 777

    I have a set fee up to 10 inches. Then its 35 dollars an inch after that. This is for my commercial accounts though.

    Drive ways i charge every 6 inches. So i was able to charge 4 times for this storm.
  10. swtiih

    swtiih PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,179

    I think charging them 3x their normal rate would seem very reasonable and fair. Some will probably protest. Curious to some of the responses you get and overall outcome. You definetly want to be compensated for your very hard work and long hours.
  11. rtm038

    rtm038 Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 231

    Your pricing is similar to what I used to do when I did driveways. If I were you, I'd charge them double and note on the bill that the 3rd visit was a courtesy visit to clean-up and would be free of charge. Throwing them this "free" 3rd visit will A: Make it hard for them to complain about the bill, since you're only charging them for 2 of the 3 visits and B: It will probably make them feel as though they are getting a good deal and you're a fair person to deal with.

    I always looked at customer retention, rather than actual profits. You can always make an adjustment here to or there to make a profit or make up for a lost profit, but you can't "make" customers. These days it's too easy for people to go somewhere else and sometimes you have to make a little less (not go into the red mind you) for the good of your overall business.
  12. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    I agree, throw in the 3rd as free, people love to get free stuff, no matter what it cost them!

    I am screwed if we get 12 inches, as my contract says 1-12 one price, good thing we never get that amount and have not for about 20 years,and I have no contracts with resy drives...

    if we got 24", I do not think anyone would have there drives cleaned, they would just stay at home, the city would be shut down anyway and if you were cought out driving I bet you would get arested
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  13. Dr Who

    Dr Who Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    I do the same thing most of the time, I charge 25 for most drives, I try to get 10 more to do the walks, but usually I get the eye roll, so I just include the house walk with the push, I don't do the city walk unless they pay the extra 10, and so far..no one has paid. I guess they don't realize that if someone falls on that walk, its there liability..Oh wait, I guess its mine since I was paid to clear there snow...Huh, I wonder about that, since they did not want it done......

    You know, the sidewalks I can see charging extra, but the snow in front of the garage door, that is just stupid to leave, what is the point? its not that hard to go clear it then drag back..
  14. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Seriously, NO Contract??? I would reconsider because someday after and event like you had they are not going to want to pay that bill and there's nothing that says they have to. I have a 2 inch trigger and if its at all possible I have trucks out at an inch and a half to stay on top of them. If we were to get a 20 inch snowfall I would hopefully have plowed each account 10 times.
  15. DFLS

    DFLS Senior Member
    Messages: 339

    I wonder if I charge enough for my commercials.

    I have 2 lots. 2 commercial buildings each with 5 big garage doors and several regular doors (for people), the lot is a dogwood "L" shape around 2 sides of the building. The long side is 30' wide and 150' long and the back parking area is 75 X 75. There is a loading dock that has to be partly shoveled because the truck can't get into it. Does $80 for 6" and then add $14 per inch over 6 inches sound right?
  16. DFLS

    DFLS Senior Member
    Messages: 339

    Most of my customers are referrals and have come to me because others could not provide consistent service. 1/2 are working professionals that need to be out early and 1/2 are retired that worry about emergency access to their house. Most are 12+ year customers. They all know the pricing system. Most are lawn service customers also.

    I will , however, be using contracts for new customers from now on. Just to be safe and spell everything out and have it documented.
  17. DFLS

    DFLS Senior Member
    Messages: 339

    I busted my arse to get everyone done early then do them a second time asap after the heavy snow stopped. 21 hours straight. Then a few hrs. sleep and off again the next morning to do the particulars ( which was equivalent to plowing a little 3 inch snowfall). So in my head the triple makes perfect sense and gives everyone a break from what the actual price would be if I went "by the book".
  18. nepatsfan

    nepatsfan Senior Member
    Messages: 727

    We charge per push. $35 minimum. If you get pushed 3 times $105. Who would complain about paying 100-150 bucks to have 2 feet of snow plowed?
  19. FordFisherman

    FordFisherman PlowSite.com Addict
    from 06611
    Messages: 1,593

    I usually do everyone twice in a storm like that, and wait till they call about the road berm and mailbox. Then I can make it clear that a return trip will be X-dollars. Let em' try to shovel near the road and see how fast they call. Do it for them and they won't wanna pay.
  20. FordFisherman

    FordFisherman PlowSite.com Addict
    from 06611
    Messages: 1,593

    Depending on the size of your route, this storm hit so fast and hard that a third push couldn't be done; If you start at 3 inches and its snowing 2-4 inches an hour and your route takes you 6+ hours you will have 20+" down by the start of the second pass, 17"+ on the first driveways you plowed. At that point I decided just to wait till it stopped for the 2nd pass. It came down too fast to break it up to manageable amounts.