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Condo Complexes. How Hard, Is it a Pain.

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by PremierLand, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. PremierLand

    PremierLand PlowSite.com Addict
    from detroit
    Messages: 1,572

    Well, fellas, just so you know, this is my first year plowing. Long story short, so far i have a few places signed for snow plowing. Dominoes, 7-11, Body Shop, and maybe this 9 building condo complex.

    Long story short, i know the treasure of the buildings (my father), and he said last year they charged 3000 to plow it. but the thing about these complexes, is that 1, cars in the way like always, 2, speed bumps, and 3 it has those manholes that have big dips in the ground on the cement.

    anyhow, they pay up front, i was thinking of bidding $2500 just to make sure i get it...

    now i will be using a 94 f150 with hopefully 720lt... would that push it?

    and if it were to break down, i'd be using a 03 or 04 (not sure on what year it is) f250 with 8ft myers plow.

    bassically, should i do this? i know that i'll have to have someone do the sidewalks, and someone do inbetween the cars... but would it be worth it? because it'd basically pay for a plow.

    sorry for all the questions, and sorry if it sounds like i dont know what im talking about, but again, its my first year.
  2. qualitylawncare

    qualitylawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 502

    I don't see how your going to plow commercial properties and still be in school. Maybe you can explain your plan, but I couldn't make it work. Commercial properties will want the lot cleaned once before they open, and every 3" after that. Sidewalk triggers on commercial lots are 2"..

    If your getting 3" an hour, you will need to be there alot. Commercials aren't like residentials. You can't let the snow accumulate on the property because there are cars/people going in and out all day. They need to be done on your trigger. For residentials, once before they go to work and once before they come home and maybe once around midnight but thats it. Around here, I will plow a commercial lot up to 8 times in a day (for a health center that needs wheelchair access from the parking lot which means, every 3" or the chairs will get stuck..

    And no.. DON'T LOWBALL just to get the account.. Come on :rolleyes:
  3. Mick

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

    That is the textbook example of a lowballer - Using someone else's bid to set your own bid, instead of figuring your own costs.

    I'd suggest figuring what you'll pay someone to scoop the walks, how long it will take to plow the lot; then figure how much you want to make an hour against that and add in the walk cost, plus a markup for your associated expenses. Make sure you can meet the expectations and submit your bid.

    The biggest problem you'll find with lowballing is that once you get that label, it's awful hard to shake. Then you'll not be able to charge a decent rate and wind up going out of business. Set your reputation now, while you're just starting and it'll follow you.
  4. plowman350

    plowman350 Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    take it

    Well, here's some positive.

    Take the work. Using your dad to get an "in" and find out some prices is not a devious practice...its smart business. I would bid around $2800. It has to be a little cheaper so they'll pick you, but if they're willing to pasy $3k, don't give your services away. Remember, that with little experience you'll be slower, therefore meaning you're making less per hour than the guy who charges 3000.....better to bid a bit higher and risk losing the account, than to take on a time-consuming job that will kill your night.
    Take the work, just figure out your costs, and make sure that your bid covers it. But, don't worry what others say....sometime's having last year's numbers is a GREAT thing....what better way to determine the going rate in your area?

    You asked if it'd be worth it, since all your money will go to the plow. OF COURSE! If you're not plowing, how can the plow pay for itself? Getting equipment paid off on one account is a great thing. Next year, you'll be looking at all profit. Take the job...(as long as you have the time for it) and get that equipment paid off....it's easier than taking on an additional 15-20 drives to pay for that plow isn't it?

    Good luck to ya!
  5. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    :gunsfiring: Lowballers :gunsfiring:
    Lowballers cost us honest business men work....
  6. qualitylawncare

    qualitylawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 502


    The price should be increased this year, not decreased..

    $3000 should be at least $3300 this year because of the rise in fuel costs.. If you want, bid the same as the guy last year, but don't do it for less.. :gunsfiring:
  7. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    I totaly agree! With the constant rising of fuel costs, you've to make up for it. There's no way I would lowball a job just to get it and not make any profit on it. I'd rather give it to some jackoff who doesn't know the first thing about snow removal. :cool:

    from pa
    Messages: 38

    1ST Conflict of interest cause of your dad thats a big downfall
    if you really wanna do it the
    2nd Bid $2900 to $3300
    3rd dont worry about speed bumps cause you will just go over them anyway unless they are the moveable ones then put well marked sticks in the ground at the point where they are
    4th manholes with dips thats funny. what ya scared u might fall into one :rolleyes: . the plows are big enough that they will just roll over it
    5th. i would strongly recommend the F-250
    6th. DO NOT DO BETWEEN THE CARS. that is up to the car owners to dig themselves out. unless u have 2 or more open spaces to get your plow thru. if you scratch there is a liability
    7th Get yourself Business insurance a million dollar policy you will need it. it will cost $600

  9. PremierLand

    PremierLand PlowSite.com Addict
    from detroit
    Messages: 1,572

    well i had my father look and see what they charged last year. and he said in december and jan. it was 900 a month. and ended up costing about 4grand total. i just wish i knew what they charged per push...

    anyhow i see what you guys are saying, i figured im looking at $35 and hour in expenses (that includes gas and pay). so im thinking around $200 per push with salt. does that seem right... i told my father about lowballing, he said what you guys said, look at waht its costing you to make sure you can afford it.

    long story short, i have to have a bid done by 5pm tommarow, and tommarow hes going to discuss it at their meeting, and show it to them, and discuss that i can do it for 10% less than last year. thank you guys very much....

    so basically, im looking at about $3600

    now, should i charge per push, or just charge a flat monthly rate, say 3600/5, so 700 a month no matter how hard it snows?

    im kind of thinking the per month thing would be best for me.
  10. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,192

    I know it is tough getting started but doing for the same price as last year will already be giving them a discount, there will be no price increase. If your dad is there then that should be going for you. He will make sure you do a good job. They should take that into consideration.
  11. PremierLand

    PremierLand PlowSite.com Addict
    from detroit
    Messages: 1,572

    never really thought about that. good looking out. thanks :)
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2004
  12. Mick

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

    Good luck on the account, whether you go "per push" or set a monthly charge. On the monthly charge, set up a modified "storm clause" - make your bid for up to so many pushes or so many inches; then an additional charge over those # of pushes/inches. Maybe a percentage of what a regular "push" would be.

    Just to clarify - although I am hard on "lowballers", I don't think there is anything wrong with using your Dad's relationship with these people. It's just "influence" - it's how everyone does business in one way or another.

    $35 an hour is way low but if you're comfortable with what you bid, go for it. You might be estimating time high and, with experience on that site, you will likely get faster.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2004
  13. qualitylawncare

    qualitylawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 502

    Like I said, if the price last year was $4000 your price should be at least that, probably more. If you know they did it for $4000 last year and the owners weren't happy with the service, I'm assuming they would give it to you for $4000 since they already accepted the price once.

    You still haven't said how your going to plow the lot and still go to school though??????? :eek:
  14. PremierLand

    PremierLand PlowSite.com Addict
    from detroit
    Messages: 1,572

    i see what your saying about lowballing, i kind of forgot how it cost about $66 to fill up the tank, and the fact that i only get about 300 miles out of it (thats with no weight and no trailer or plow on it)

    anyhow about school.
    good question.... however, i have it figured out, i hope.

    i basically have from 3:30pm until 7:30am to plow, so for those times im set. anyhow, i have a backup person who can plow for me, first i plan to learn how to plow first, then teach him. im pretty sure i can do both, plow and school.

    what i plan to do is plow when i can (3:30pm - 7:30am) then before i go to school, leave the plowtruck at my house and take my dakota to school and that way if it needs plowing inbetween those times i will have my help plow it.
  15. PremierLand

    PremierLand PlowSite.com Addict
    from detroit
    Messages: 1,572

    this is the contract proposal that is going to be discussed with their comittee this evening. i didnt state anything about insurance, but i AM getting it ASAP. then when i get it, in like 2 weeks, ill re work the contract to state something about it. what else should i add or take out? missing anything? thanks guys.


    1. The purpose of this Agreement is to set forth the terms and conditions under which Premier Landscaping (hereinafter called "Contractor") will provide Plowing maintenance service for Customer at the above address.

    2. Contractor agrees to perform the following services as outlined in the plowing plans. Service under this agreement will be:

    • Basic Plowing 2" +, Parking Lots, Entrances of Complexes and Walkways.
    • Pricing Structure:
    Parking Lots, Entrances, and Walkways shall be plowed, also salted once every 24 hours for 5 months, from November1, 2004 until March 31, 2005 for a monthly rate of $900.

    • Contractor shall not return to site more that 5 times in a 24 hour period or additional charge of $250 will apply.
    • Contractor shall not apply salt more than once in a 24 hour period.
    • Service will exclude: Plowing In-between Cars

    • Service will include: Plowing Lots and All Entrances to Complexes and Walkways. Salting every 24 hours upon snowfall.

    3. Contractor is to Plow site when 2" or more of snow is on the pave ways, a maximum of 5 times per 24 hours or a fee of $250 will apply.
    4. Customer agrees to promptly notify contractor in writing of any dissatisfaction with the maintenance service to insure that maintenance is performed as agreed.

    5. Customer shall pay to Contractor the rate of $250 per service call for the service herein agreed to be performed when exceeding 5 plows in a 24 hour period. Contractor will bill Customer and Customer shall make payment within ten days of billing date. Customer agrees to pay a service charge of $50.00/10 days overdue. In consideration of the extension of credit, Customer will pay a deposit of $900.00. Deposit will be applied toward final bill for March 2005.

    6. The terms of this Agreement shall commence on November 1st, 2004 and shall continue in full force and effect thereafter until it is terminated by March 31st, 2005.

    7. This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Michigan and constitutes the entire agreement between the parties regarding its subject matter.

    8. Should Contractor be required to engage the services of an attorney in connection with this agreement or to enforce payment hereunder, Contractor shall be entitled to reasonable attorney or collection fees.

    9. Contractor guarantees that it will perform its service in a professional and conscientious manner. Contractor shall not be liable for any damage due to acts of God or nature. Customer's right to repair and replacement are the exclusive remedies and Contractor shall not be liable for damages, whether ordinary, incidental or consequential other than as expressly set forth herein.

    Customers Name:


    Start Date: First Snow Fall of November 2004 continuing until the last Snowfall of March 2005

    Other Notes:
  16. Mick

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

    Mark, I want to make sure I understood this - You are going to learn how to plow; then teach someone else? All before the first snowfall this year?
  17. PremierLand

    PremierLand PlowSite.com Addict
    from detroit
    Messages: 1,572

    lol no... the first few snowfalls, im hoping it will be between the time frame in the previous post so i can see how to plow, and bring the guy along with me to make sure he knows how.
  18. streetsurfin'

    streetsurfin' Senior Member
    Messages: 770

    Steve from Quality touched on it some....about the frequent visits you'll probably need to make to keep things clear. Along with that will be all the people you'll be dealing with who live there. They will wait till you've plowed their lot (so they can get to their car easier), then while you're in another area, they will move their car to the aisle and clean the snow off it. They will most likely walk up behind you when your nerves are frazzled, while your backing out of a tight spot and scare the crap out of you because you nearly ran over them. They want you to now come and clear their spot out so they can park. This persons neighbor saw whats going on and is now getting dressed to do the same. You do because you are jubilant to have the account. Finally, as you are leaving to go to the next account, you see the neighbor running toward you with snow broom in hand. He's just cleared his car off and now wants the same favor.You will invariably see others follow suit. You're aware the temps are going to drop below zero, so you dont want to leave the snow in the aisle. You go back to clean up and the phone rings... it's the irate manager of the next account wondering where you are.
    At condos and sites that have multiple work shifts, you will need to be prepared for the matter of shuffling cars. Spell it out to them how you want it done or it can become total chaos. You will often spend more time there than you figured on because of things like this, so don't sell yourself short. Focus on the quality work you will provide, and getting the right amount for it, not on doing it for less than the last guy to get the job. Chances are they did a poor job because of time constraints due to underbidding anyway.
  19. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176


    :rolleyes: You have been through that too??? :gunsfiring:
  20. Five Star Lawn Care LLC

    Five Star Lawn Care LLC Senior Member
    Messages: 426

    hey mark....glad to see that you are getting into plowing its a very profitable market as long as you know your way around.

    just a fore warning that that figure sounds a little low expecaly if you are including salt with that bid also.....mind you i havent seen the site..
    Is it 9 residence's or is it 9 buildings with muiltipe resedences per building?

    condos and apartment complexs are a very tricky thing to plow due to the amount of cars that are on the site during the night when you will be doing most of your work.

    most apartments or condos that i have ever bid on have asked for a seasonal price for snow removal and then a per application or per ton price on salt and a per application or per bag price on CC

    I find that per ton for salt and per bag for CC is the best pricing structure for me...this way durring heavy ice events or extremely cold temps im not worried about the money im losing by putting down the proper ammount of product to effeciently deal with the condidtion....I know some contractors that are under per application pricing and when it comes to an event that requires more product then they will try to underapply to save profits....i just wont do that i wouldnt be able to sleep at night knowing that i dint put down enough product and someone could slip and fall.

    Snow and ice managment can make or break a company.....dont let it break you