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Don't Want to Be the LOWBALLER!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by zwhit81, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. zwhit81

    zwhit81 Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 10

    I have ran a part time lawncare business for over 15years. I have never got into the plowing business because I have not had a vehicile that would push snow. Now I am looking at purchasing a F250 and am now cosidering running a part time snow removal business. (I am a teacher so during most snow events we are closed anyway.)

    As to the thread topic: I have seen the lowballers in the lawn care business aroud here come and go. I don't want to be a lowballer so could someone give examples of prices? (I know all markets vary/just looking for a ball park.)

    Examples:
    Lot size and amount of snow?
    Also what do you charge for spreading salt?
     
  2. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 638

    100 an hour

    150 per ton $70 minimum
     
  3. zwhit81

    zwhit81 Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 10

    Thanks. Do you know of anywhere I can get an estimate on how much salt a particular size lot will take? I know it depends on how much you put down but what is an average?
     
  4. Greenstar lawn

    Greenstar lawn Senior Member
    Messages: 405

    Here in Michigan a straight blade will get ya $65-70 an hr where a v blade will fetch ya around $80 an hr. $150 a ton for salt
     
  5. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 638

    Use search, there are a bunch of threads. I think it was around 15 lbs per thousand? It really depends on conditions though.
     
  6. Herm Witte

    Herm Witte Senior Member
    Messages: 553

    You are going to get rates and pricing all over the board. Different numbers for different areas of the country, etc. I encourage you to figure out your cost of doing business, figure out what you want out of it, once knowing those numbers you will not be a low baller because you will know what it takes to get the job done. Arrive at your price and then see where it fits in the marketplace and join SIMA.
     
  7. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 620

    Starting out he will have no idea of what his costs are.

    If he think's it's $15 an hour. He wants to make $25 hr. So he should charge $40 an hr and he will not be low balling.

    We what if the job goes for $60 an hour where he lives. Your advice just has him leaving money on the table and low balling.

    One needs to find out the price range the jobs go for where he lives.
     
  8. Herm Witte

    Herm Witte Senior Member
    Messages: 553

    I agree with your comment that the op will have no idea what his costs are, as for the rest of your comments I totally disagree. Your scenario starts out with "if he thinks it's $15 an hour." My suggestion was that he know his cost, not "think". Thinking you know your cost is like throwing a dart at the dart board while blindfolded. If the op asks for help to understand the costs of entering the snow and ice management industry I think we can all help him do that.

    By the way, money is routinely left on the table, especially by successful businesses. They know their costs, they win the bid, and they grow their business. Do they lowball?
     
  9. thelettuceman

    thelettuceman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,216

    By the way, money is routinely left on the table, especially by successful businesses. They know their costs, they win the bid, and they grow their business. Do they lowball?

    Good Question and I will give my answer. Successful business do leave money on the table. It's called competition. They are not lowballers.
     
  10. Meezer

    Meezer Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 291

    Indiana is a big state & pricing varies in the different market areas. What part of Indiana are you in?
     
  11. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 620

    When starting up a business one can not google what are my exact business costs.

    Starting out and guessing is like throwing a dart. Though keeping your eyes open you will at least hit the board, even on the edge.

    Making an intelligent guess is the best that one can do. They are operating out of their garage. They will most likely already have a truck. Their expenses will be low. They should of paid cash for their plow and be debt free.

    Because of low expenses they will be able learn and grow their business as long as they stay debt free.

    Problem is too many people expect every business to operate by the text book. Well the way you run a 1 truck solo operation, multiple truck, or national all have different operating needs.

    Leaving money on the table is losing money. I do not know employees working at the same job accepting less money for doing the same work.

    Same for business owners. I know of a Landscaper for 14 years that is still doing lawns for $25 because he is afraid too raise his prices. He sells his work by price not level of service. His financial situation is that his daughter had to cosign the loan so he could buy a new 36" WB.

    He's accepting where he is. Accepting is to often confused with being happy.

    To charge $40 when your market will pay $60 is losing 1/3 of the money. That is nothing to be happy about.

    Costs $20, pay one self $20. Well one needs to charge another $20 because you have to have the income to reinvest in your business. The more that you can afford to reinvest the faster your business will grow.

    You say it is ok to work below market. I say there is no reason to claim I am happy working below the market rate allowing your competition to win the race to reinvest in ones business.

    That is worse then not knowing your costs when you're starting out as a green horn.
     
  12. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 620

    Every business has different prices for as many reasons as there are prices.

    There is a range where most businesses charge for a job. All the power to any one that can get people to pay above that.

    They problem is when they price themselves below that normal range. They short change their financial growth and destroy local pricing.

    Short changing and damaging local pricing is never good.
     
  13. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 638

    Starting out you know fixed costs, so you're half way there.

    I'm sure if you are savvy enough you could find a cph calculator for a shovel if you wanted.

    So once you know these costs you can figure your desired margin and go from there.
     
  14. Meezer

    Meezer Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 291

    Well according to OP, he's never plowed. I would recommend working for someone else first so he can learn the ropes before going out on his own.

    The other thing that is going to be a problem is this "part time" stuff.
     
  15. Herm Witte

    Herm Witte Senior Member
    Messages: 553

    Part time or not, wouldn't you want your venture profitable?
     
  16. Meezer

    Meezer Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 291


    It's going to be very hard to keep customers & be profitable when:

    A) You've never done any of this before & don't know what you are doing

    B) "Sorry I can't come out & salt right now, I'm busy teaching a class & will get back to you later tonight when I have time"
     
  17. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    No, thats not true. As long as the clients know ahead of time that service may be limited or not availible during certin hours, the op will do just fine. It will likely limit the number of commercial accounts they get, but most residentials will be fine with it. That has worked for me for several years now and I do have some commercials. Secondly, plowing is not rocket science.... If you can drive a truck, use your mirrors to back, and get up ontime (that can be the hardest part), anyone can plow. I started when I got my license and havent looked back. Have I made a mistake or two? Yep. But so have most of us.
     
  18. mdsnowremovalpw

    mdsnowremovalpw Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    My best suggestion would be to take an educated guess at 1 or 2 jobs and start there. If you find that you are to low and not making money, then you know that you need to raise your prices the following year. Start small and grow slow, you did say that you wanted to do this part time so I think this will work with your plans.
     
  19. Meezer

    Meezer Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 291


    Oh Actually, it's quite true. Over the years we have picked up quite a bit of work from people who were "Abandoned" by part-timers. payup
     
  20. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Maybe in YOUR area that is true. Indiana, with a few exceptions, doesn't get much snow comparatively speeking. I suspose if there is a snow storm and your guy doesn't show up until after their day job, that could make a client panic in your area. But here and maybe where the OP lives, snow is no big deal and everyone know's how to deal with it. Again, it's worked well for me, but my clients are made aware of my availibility in the contract they sign.