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First year, have mercy, advice pls!

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by BuffaloSnow11, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    Hi, new member and new business owner here. I will apologize now for a lengthy post, but I have been reading for hours and hours on numerous days on this site and others. I try to get as much information as I can before posting questions that have already been answered numerous times. As it turns out in this business the answers are significantly different from place to place due to an unimaginable number of variables. I could really use some advice and I’ll give as much info on my area as I can to help make things more accurate.

    My Climate and Equipment ussmileyflag

    I am in the Buffalo, NY area and the weather here is as severe as just about anywhere.. The snowfall varies from 80”/year to 160”/year. This past December 1-3rd 2010 we received 40 inches in 36 hours. This was one of our more significant storms in a short time period, but a foot, 2 feet or more in that time period is pretty normal. We get “lake effect” snow fall and when Lake Erie doesn’t freeze we get hammered. Snowfall predictions are impossible. I’ve talked to people around my area in an attempt to get an idea what to charge. I am trying my best to learn my actual cost per hour to run my business. I only did a few driveways last year and now am bidding on commercial and fire department lots. I am looking at getting a second or possibly a third truck in service for this season, but as it stands right now I have a 2008 Ford F250 SD (20k miles) and a 8.6 Western MVP Plus with Western 2500 tailgate salter.

    My Bids

    I am focusing on about 6 commercial contracts to start. Residential driveways fetch 300-400 minimum here which is the only price I have to go on for estimating. So for commercial I’m having trouble bidding. I’m really not looking for anyone on here to do my job. I really just don’t want to 1 – get sued and 2 – lose my shirt and/or my pants in this endeavor my first serious year out. Some of the PM/POs have given me an idea of what the last guy charged, but I question if they are giving me a bogus low figure to make me compete. The properties are as follows:

    26,000 sqft lot. The lot is a large rectangle with the building right in the middle with businesses/pavement on all sides. Annoyance factors – most of the piling area is in the back of the lot, 2 sidewalks to clear, fire hydrant that should remain accessible and 3 separate entrances to keep open. I need to bid the plowing/salting of the lot and give separate figures for charging the sidewalks and the fire hydrant. Business hours 6am-11pm. This is a seasonal pricing bid.

    40,000 sq ft lot for a church. This one has no obstructions at all, is an easy rectangle and just push everything straight ahead basically. Seems low to me, but I think maybe 45 mins to do. I’m not sure how long because I haven’t done anything this size but the lot couldn’t be easier. It’s just a matter of my cost??

    36,000 sq ft total (which is 2 properties side by sideowned by same client). Both properties have lot space around 3 sides of the building and a small sidewalk that needs cleared. This one is mandatory clear by 7 or need not apply. Obviously I will need to charge a premium to dedicate service prior to 7 for this one but it closes around 5 or 6.

    24,000 sq ft lot with only one small island. Half the lot in front of the building and half the lot in the back. limited piling space in the front. Sidewalk at street to clear and sidewalk in front of building. Open from 8am to 5 or 6pm.

    Last one is 25,000 sq ft Fire Department which will need to remain clear 24/7 and have priority during blizzard conditions. There is a front pad spanning 3 garage bays out to the street and has limited piling area there. Rear pad for same bays and connected to a rectangular lot that is all straight plowing and no obstructions. Plenty of pile space in back. Sidewalks in front and back as well. This one concerns me for the limited piling space in front and I don’t know how to charge for basically being on call or giving them priority 24/7. This is the contract I will most likely get if I price it fairly because I am a police officer in the same town and they all know/trust me.

    I am completely legit with paying taxes, insured, etc. Insurance will cost me about 2800 a year. All properties are within 5 minutes of my business address. Labor cost to start will be 15 per hour for employees. Salt will cost approx 65/ton. I was trying to guess id save about 10/hr toward maintenance of equipment for future break downs. I don’t know how to figure fuel cost… you plow slow speed but pushing heavy weight. Any advice on estimating fuel when using $4/gal price? which is what price is near here. I’m going by a figure of 28 snow events per season requiring plowing at minimum 3” and up per event. I apologize again for such a lengthy post, but I realize It’s impossible for any accurate advice without the details. I promise I wont be so long in future posts ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    All those lots your bidding on sound like I'm already doing them,you trying to steal my stuff?;)
     
  3. ponyboy

    ponyboy Senior Member
    Messages: 956

    Sorry I get$500 a driveway in lower ny youshoukd be much more than me
     
  4. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Not in Buffalo.
     
  5. Spucel

    Spucel Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Haha nice Grandview.

    Well a lot depends on what kind of properties they are when it comes to time. I see that they are all commercial but are all the lots completely empty at night or do you have to work around overnight vehicles. What appears to be a nice easy straight shot lot on a Sunday night really blows when they are 24/7 6 days a week and closed on Sundays.

    Being a Firefighter I have a little expirence with the Fire Department lot...but from the other side of things. What is the snow removal requirements for the fire house? 3 inches probably wont work well if they have a short apron because the ambulances suck in snow. :mad: So depending on how big it is and their requirements it might be a pretty decent contract. Make sure you have all the details on this one before you make a decison. Oh yea and if you are hungry...go inside we eat well.Thumbs Up
     
  6. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    lol yeah these definately arent yours. i dont live or work in lancaster.:gunsfiring:
    *insert taser smiley*

    Grandview, 300-400 a drive sounds right to you? its not a number i came up with. Its generally what ive heard for a long time. If the driveway has crazy attributes to it then its different. im just talking normal drives.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011
  7. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    I have been eyeing these lots up for the last year and talking to the businesses that are with in the plaza. all of these lots are vehicle free for the most part. one lot has a delivery service with large delivery trucks parked in back. i plan to have them alternate which side of the lot they park on so it is always cleared the next time i come through. The church lor has morning mass and some afternoons/evenings as well, but the majority of the time its empty and i can avoid their hours here and there where its in use without much of a hassle.

    The firehall hasnt given me any specs yet officially. Some of them work as dispatchers for the police dept as well, so i spoke to a couple of them and they are passing the info through their channels. Their first concern was insurance, which i am with commercial veh and general liability. so now they took that info back and im waiting to hear specifics. The guy last year had horrible service and one of the ff had to bring in his own lift to move the snow. the plow guy said "hey, why'd you plow my lot. I have the contract" the ff said "it needed to be cleared, i need my guys to be able to get these trucks in and out." can you believe the plow guy said "thats not my problem"... like they are supposed to wait til he gets around to doing it when he feels like it. nevermind if there is an emergency.

    these are the hall measurements from my spreadsheet:

    Total Area Total Linear Distance
    24985.88 sq ft 0.00 ft
    2776.21 sq y 0.00 y
    2321.26 sq m 0.00 m
    0.57 ac
    0.23 ha

    Label Description Area Perimeter
    Parking Lot Area Add 15765.03 sq ft 647.18 ft
    Rear Hall Access Area Add 4964.96 sq ft 427.04 ft
    Front Hall Access Area Add 2399.27 sq ft 226.73 ft
    Front Walkways Area Add 1437.58 sq ft 391.26 ft
    Rear Walkways Area Add 419.04 sq ft 183.18 ft
     
  8. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    this is the Fire Hall

    Fire Hall.jpg
     
  9. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    For that place all you need to do if your in a hurry is bang out the front area for just in case. Don't pile any snow on the corner or you'll just have to remove it.
     
  10. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    this is the lot with the delivery trucks parked behind building 1 but they have plenty of space to be moved around as needed.

    Total Area
    35486.57 sq ft
    3942.95 sq y
    3296.81 sq m
    0.81 ac
    0.33 ha

    bid2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011
  11. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36


    well thats my real problem with this one. i dont know what i do with the snow. lack of real estate in the front. unless they let me push it through the garage bays which go straight through the back of the building.
     
  12. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Push the snow from the street to the open side .

    Pix 2 Back drag snow from those 3 parking spots in front on both sides.
     
  13. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    Total Area Total Linear Distance
    23632.79 sq ft 0.00 ft
    2625.87 sq y 0.00 y
    2195.56 sq m 0.00 m
    0.54 ac


    Label Description Area Perimeter
    Front Lot Area Add 1527.06 sq yds 238.02 yds
    Rear Lot Area Add 1026.22 sq yds 138.32 yds
    Sidewalk Area Add 325.81 sq ft 130.77 ft
    Apron and sidewalk Area Add 780.99 sq ft 248.68 ft
    (subtract landscaped area) Area Subtract -468.41 sq ft 115.28 ft

    bid3.jpg
     
  14. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    40,000 sq ft church lot. usually empty save a few hours here and there

    bid4.jpg
     
  15. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    plaza to plow all side and salt.

    Total Area
    28698.00 sq ft
    9566.00 sq y

    bid5.jpg
     
  16. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    If you get all these you will need a minimum of 3 trucks to stay on top of things.
     
  17. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    this last one is very small parking lot and am allowed to pile all snow in back of parking lot. the front and side sidewalks have to be cleared and salted.

    Total Area Total Linear Distance
    6486.51 sq ft 0.00 ft
    2162.17 sq y 0.00 y




    Label Description Area Perimeter
    Rear Parking Lot Area Add 376.46 sq yds 108.11 yds
    North and East sidewalks Area Add 1032.79 sq ft 376.77 ft

    bid6.jpg
     
  18. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    Thats really what im looking to do is have 3 trucks in service this season. Im trying to figure out how to bid them because even offsetting the overhead of one truck is a lot when you pay almost 3000 in insurance. I figured having a second and third truck under the same business policy would increase profits a lot.

    how long do you estimate these lots will each take?

    i really have no clue how to estimate fuel on this either until i actually do it once, which at that point will be a little late.

    I think this lack of experience knowing time and fuel consumption is my biggest enemy. After this season ill be sitting in a much better position. So any help is greatly appreciated.
     
  19. BuffaloSnow11

    BuffaloSnow11 Member
    Messages: 36

    if your first comment about pushing snow to the open side is for the fire hall, you mean north (which is up in the pic)? i cant go down with it because the edge of that pic is the beginning of someone elses lot which i cant pile snow into. im concerned that the small space north of that front pad is not going to hold enough snow throughout the entire season.

    pic 2 that was my plan because there are poles in front of those parking spaces you cant see that say reserved blah blah. im only piling snow on the grass there from the sidewalk
     
  20. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Do this for the fire hall if your in a hurry.

    Fire Hall.jpg