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

Driveways with snow blowers?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by zwhit81, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. zwhit81

    zwhit81 Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 10

    Wondering what the income potential is with a couple of nice snow blowers and doing residential driveways. I can't find a thread on here about it. I am sure their are guys out there pushing snow blowers and just doing driveways.
     
  2. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,591

    One big 12-18" snowfall and you're doomed. You'll never open up your route in time. Trucks struggle getting routes cleared within a reasonable amount of time under those conditions. Would take you WAY too long.
     
  3. maxwellp

    maxwellp PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,112

    All depends on your location and the going price.

    $100-150 a snow fall and hope you don't get 12 inches of wet snow in 3 hours.

    Thumbs Up
     
  4. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 620

    For the most part you will need mostly residential and retired people that can wait for you to get to them.

    So that means no commercials. Unless you have two like I do where if it snows they do not open. If they are going to open they do not open till after 12 PM, open only MTWT, or evenings. And each one is under 3,800 SF.

    Then you will need a good size two stage blower. 36-46". Then a 24-28" for where the big blower will not fit and as a back up incase the main blower goes down. Because your blower dies on the first job and you have 9 more to go. You will not keep customers if your not dependable.

    Next depending on where you live determines how much you can charge.

    Another problem is you reach a point where you will max out the number of customers you can do. Then time to get a plow.

    I have done well enough this year that I am buying a plow for my Jeep Wrangler for next season.

    So I say go for it. For the minimum that will happen is if you save the money you eventually will be able to afford a plow.

    You have a good two stage machine you will handle deep snow. I have done 27". Deep slush will be a time killer though you will get through it.

     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015
  5. jhenderson9196

    jhenderson9196 Senior Member
    Messages: 615

    My Uncle lived in Bangor ME. He prefered to have his driveway done with a snowblower. It was about 60ft long and 15ft wide. The guy who did it had most of the plat he lived in for customers. Walked the blower from house to house. Big 2 stage. Last I remember Bangor got some pretty good storms. As far as I know he always got the job done.
     
  6. OPIWS

    OPIWS Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    It can be very profitable but you have to find customers that find value in the difference between snow removal by hand and snow removal by truck. You must be able to sell jobs at a premium which means you need high end clients and you must be the best at what you do. I will give you an example of one of my properties.

    30' Wide X 35' Long Driveway 190' Sidewalk
    I have a 3 man residential shovel crew. 2 men with 621 Toro blowers, 1 with a shovel to clean up trail off behind the blowers and trim all edges. We throw 1 to 1-1/2 bags of ice melt. A 4'' snow amount takes them 15 minutes to service this property and we have wet concrete 15 minutes after clearing and sometimes dry concrete before the competition gets the neighbors serviced. I charge $90.00 + $20.00 per bag. I pay my guys $15.00 /HR with an end of season bonus. You can do the math.

    The key is to cluster a handful of these properties close to each other and have a few clusters within a respectable drive distance. Drive time between clusters is good for a break and to dry the sweat off your clothes before you do it all again.

    The hardest part is selling this service to the customer for the first time. When customers come to me and I give them this price they say " But that is so much higher than the last guy. He was only $25.00 per push." That's where you will have to showcase your sales ability. Then, after you service the property for the first time or maybe at the end of the year they will say "This is the best service we have ever had. It cost way more than ever but totally worth it." In the past I have put down ice melt for free all season to new customers who have never had that level of service. Never had anyone refuse to pay the second season.

    I have done this for five years and have only lost 2 customers that have sold their homes and moved. It may not be for everyone, but we have done well and continue to do very well with it. Low overhead and never had a complaint about property damage. I make more off these residential properties than some of my commercials. Good luck...
     
  7. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 620

    Yes a 50 lb bag or Morton rock salt at $7.77 a bag goes a long way when doing average residentials.

    I use it as a good will gesture. I went through 6 bags. Three used for good will, three charged for. Also I have two customers that have me throw down a 10 lb bag of their own salt after each service.

    Key is to charge for the job not charge less because you do not have a plow.
     
  8. OPIWS

    OPIWS Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    I have serviced the property I described with a truck before. It took over twice as much ice melt to burn off what the truck packed down. That is the benefit to snow blowing and shoveling. Plus you will find that high end customers don't appreciate the rust streaks left behind from a plows cutting edge, if it does happen to clean down to the pavement.

    Another plus to residential is figuring out how to play the "scientific ice melting game". You will learn to factor in all the elements that will be different each event. It is a fine line between throwing too much or too little. Clients do not appreciate a crystallized walkway or driveway after it all dries up.

    If you plan to get into snow removal, especially if you are young I would suggest attacking residential with anything and everything you have. My meticulous sidewalk crews have secured 80% of my commercial work. And, that is why I have never lost a commercial contract. When it comes to commercial... Parking lots and sidewalks go hand in hand. You can only plow what you can shovel. Your operation can only be as big as your shovel crew.
     
  9. snocrete

    snocrete Banned
    Messages: 2,862

    Congrats on having, what sounds like, awesome walk crews. That is very hard to develop. But your last sentence is not fact. We have slowly moved away from doing "as much" walk work, all while increasing our commercial account base. It can be done, if seeking out & finding the right accounts.


    To the OP - I would concentrate on keeping your route as tight as possible. Be up front with your customers about your time frame & the high level of service you are going to provide. Doing drives by hand (whether it be shovel or snowblower) is a premium service....especially if you are going to be de-icing as well.
     
  10. OPIWS

    OPIWS Junior Member
    Messages: 13

     
  11. zwhit81

    zwhit81 Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 10

    What is the best and more importantly safest way to transport the snow blowers from place to place. I have a family member who has a very large snow removal company but he never messes with driveways. I think he would be willing to send me all of his driveway work. Also, he does a ton of commercial and many times does not do the walks which I could do as well. I have two part time college students who help me with lawn care and one high school student as well....they are great help and are looking for winter work. I think I could keep a crew to run two blowers and a shovel no problem.
     
  12. OPIWS

    OPIWS Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Just a crew cab pickup loaded down with equipment is all it takes. Down the road you can customize a vehicle that will work for you. The right 3 man crew, properly incentivized can cover some ground. You will have no trouble finding work for a good crew. Just do your own thing and figure out what works for you.
     
  13. zwhit81

    zwhit81 Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 10

    Any idea of what insurance will run for something like this?
     
  14. OPIWS

    OPIWS Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    You're gonna have to do the leg work on that. It can be profitable but not easy. General liability, and workers comp. can get complicated and be confusing at first but like anything else you will figure it out. Just set up a meeting with some agents and they will give you quotes and explain how it works. Become very good friends with successful business owners and they will share their resources. Good luck...
     
  15. zwhit81

    zwhit81 Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 10

    I already have general liability and work comp for lawn care so I would just be extending that to this business. Also, I have commercial insurance on my auto already so I wouldn't have to worry about that.

    Anybody have input on best blowers? I am currently looking over Cub Cadet blowers. The 30in HD looks nice and they have one with tracks too. What are the best brands?