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

General Pricing Help

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by Moose's Mowing, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    I know this is like asking how much to charge for mowing a yard, BUT.....I just started my little side business last fall. Took the winter to get everything set up and legal, insurance, licensing, etc etc. I landed about 10 weekly mowing jobs and some have been hounding me about plowing for them in the winter. So I decided instead of referring a competitor that plows AND mows, and run the risk of losing my mowing work, that I'd get set up to plow and hopefully gain some extra income and grow my client base for mowing by offering plowing services as well.

    I've plowed before in lots of equipment. Trucks, tractors, Toros, blowers.....So actually plowing isn't an issue. But I'm trying to find out how to price my work. I was able to get a used Meyers 7-6 blase E60 and Sabers for about $1700 total. I'd certainly like to at least break even this year on my purchase but if we get a good winter, I'd like to actually MAKE money to help pay myself back for all my mowing equipment as well. I work full time in another job so I can't be out getting 100 accounts, but a dozen would make me real happy.

    I'm in south eastern PA in Berks County. I'm looking for general help on market pricing for driveways and also for commercial lots. Assume I know nothing about plowing prices (because I don't). I don't want to lowball and give away my services, but at the same time, I can't price myself out because I need to build my client base. So I'm looking for a "fair" market price in my area for plowing. You can give it to me anyway you have it like by the runing foot, square foot, time/labor, lane footage...whatever. I can figure out how to make it apply to me but I need some general help.

    I'm going to charge per push this year. I may consider other options next year and offer packages but this year will be per push. Seems the most fair and simplest way for now. As of now, Im thinking 1-6 inches, 6-12 inches and 12+ inches price points.

    Sorry for the long winded posts, just wanna give enough info to get a good response. Thanks in advance
     
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Each season should stand by its self. So you take your expenses from ,say Nov 1st to when ever your season ends. You do put your summer bills into your winter ones. But in the end it is the market they will tell you how much to charge. Just start looking at newspaper ads and see where everyone else is. You can try going higher because your just looking for a few driveways
     
  3. 04ram1500

    04ram1500 Member
    Messages: 97

    Only you can answer that question.

    First you need to know how many events per year you average in your area, then add a couple just in case. When you know this information divide all of you expenses by the average number of storms.

    Once you know your costs per event you need to divide by your total number of customers to get the cost per drive. Then you can add something for PROFIT. What one guy may charge and make money can be totally different than what you need to charge to make money.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  4. John143

    John143 Senior Member
    from NEPA PA
    Messages: 254

    Check out craigslist. There's guys on their advertising driveways starting off at $15.00 bucks plowed!! Not sure how many more then 25 or 30 bucks your going to get. Seems everyone with a truck has a plow on this year. I even seen a guy with a plow on a Geo tracker!! Commercial is the way to go!! At least "for the most part" your bidding against other guys with all the proper insurance and so on...

    Good luck and happy plowing!! Thumbs Up
     
  5. phillie

    phillie Member
    from indy
    Messages: 97

    I think you could make a decent amount if you target bigger driveways. For instance say $60 driveway is your average, it snows 20 times there, and you have 12 accounts. 12x$60= $720x20storms=$14,400. If your average comes down to $40 per drive you drop to $9600 for the season. Then you have to subtract your overhead.
     
  6. M.A.H.

    M.A.H. Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    What I do for Residential is set a minimum, which is half my hourly rate. I charge by 2-6, 6-12, 12+. Lets say 2-6 = minimum price, Then I add 50% for 6-12, Then 12+ another 50% increase. Not sure if the pricing will work for you but it does for me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2012
  7. REAPER

    REAPER 2000 Club Member
    from 60050
    Messages: 2,228

    I don't see it working if you have a full time job already.
    Are they going to let you off when it stops snowing at noon or so and people want their drive cleared before they get home from work?
    If you work nights are they going to let you off early so the drives are clear by whatever time the people need it to get out to work themselves?
     
  8. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    It'll work. I'm a school teacher (unfortunately) so when it snows bad enough to need plowing, I'll have a "snow day" to make up later during mowing season :)
     
  9. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    Thanks, I think I might play around with that idea. do you feel $50 is reasonable for an example driveway of say 200' long ~10 ft wide with a turn around at one end? I'm in Berks County btw
     
  10. John143

    John143 Senior Member
    from NEPA PA
    Messages: 254

    And you don't make enough money being a school teacher, that you need to get into another field and take off the table of guys that make a living removing snow? The price of health care getting a little to much? :laughing:

    Talk about double dippen. :rolleyes:
     
  11. M.A.H.

    M.A.H. Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    I can't really answer you on prices, I don't know your overhead. Break down you overhead to an hourly price and charge accordingly. $50 for me would be way to cheap on a drive way that size, but I may have more overhead then you to cover. I'm in Berks county also, btw.
     
  12. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    How do u guys break down overhead into an hourly rate? I know how much I spent on equipment, gas, insurance, etc but have no idea how many hours ill be working. So if I plow 20 hrs I divide my overhead by 20 and so in. But without knowing the hours I'd just be guessing. I also don't have any clients "locked in" yet either. Once I do I can more accurately estimate the time needed per driveway then multiply that by an estimate of plow able events. But I'm stuck in a catch 22 right now since I really don't have any hard numbers to run with. I really need a season under my belt to get the numbers. But I can't have a "season" without customers and I can't get customers without competitive pricing. I feel like I'm pissing in the wind here by just sorta of guessing at 50 bucks minimum for a typical long country driveway and adjust based on difficulty, time, and so on. Am I on the right track with my logic or am I over complicating this?
     
  13. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    Ahh, typical. thanks for that shot btw. I'd love to not have to work two jobs, (with a masters degree and 7 total years of college, and 5 years teaching) in order to pay my bills. But until teaching can deliver a decent salary, I'm stuck working double time. We're not all lazy, greedy, demanding union thugs btw. Most teachers are just trying to make it, like everyone else.


    For everyone else that actually had something helpful to say, thank you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2012
  14. John143

    John143 Senior Member
    from NEPA PA
    Messages: 254

    Ok soo I gave ya a good whack and ya took it with a grain of salt. I like that! And for that reason I will help.... Only a little. :nod:

    1) Why do you need to be "competitive"??

    I ask that question because if you don't even have one account yet? How many bids are you planning on putting in everyday? Keep in mind to put bids in, you need to have customers calling you or at the very least be out handing out flyers or something. If you don't have either one don't worry about being "competitive". I'm sure you know the meaning of the word "competitive" being a teacher and all...

    2) Over-head (pricing)

    Don't worry about coming up with a price on what it cost you to remove snow. A: It's your first year. B: You don't have any idea what your costs will be because it's your first year. C: Reread A and B.

    My best advise. Go out knock on some doors, find some customers that may need there driveway plowed. Ask....... Sir: did you have your driveway plowed last year? Answer: Yes! I did and the guy was never on time. Made me late for work!!! You: Well if you don't mind me asking what did that guy charge you to make you late for work? Answer: $55.00 dollars. You: WOW!! THAT MUCH!! Well I can do your driveway for $45.00 CASH at the end of each storm and I'm sure I won't make you late for work. Answer: Ok buddy you got a deal!! payup

    Do the above 40 or 50 times and you should have a few new customers for this year. :salute:

    Once you get a year under your belt. Next year, if you didn't have any slip and fall claims that put you out of business and you still have insurance and your truck didn't fall apart from snow plowing or get totaled from backing out of a driveway into a busy intersection "because you forgot about that funny looking yellow light on top". You'll have a better idea on what your cost of snow plowing will be. Until such time you should just wing it.

    And must importantly....... GOOD LUCK!! ussmileyflag
     
  15. Moose's Mowing

    Moose's Mowing Senior Member
    from SE PA
    Messages: 198

    Thanks, just winging it is pretty much what I'm doing for the reasons you mentioned. I really don't have any concrete numbers to go on. I also didn't explain myself that well when I said I have no clients. I started my little side venture as a mowing service only. I took on some decent mulch jobs this past year and did a few brush mowing jobs as well. Did OK, but not as well on the mowing as I wanted. I offer contracts only and invoice at the end of each month. everyone was happy except for one guy that woke up dead one morning and his son fired me.....(Him dying wasn't my fault btw, had a heart attack) anyway, some of these customers, about 4 maybe, have asked about snow removal. I told them I probably wouldn't offer it and I'd refer them to somebody good. Prob is, most plowing guys in my area are also the mowing guys. So I run a huge risk of losing good customers by referring them to another company to do the plowing. then next summer, they get my mowing contracts as well. not only that, I'm leaving $ on the table by not plowing and I'm hoping plowing will gain me some more mowing work next year.So although I don't officially have any plowing accounts. I should have at least 4 even though it's not in writing yet. I should be able to grab a few neighbors on my street as well. Steep nasty driveways that nobody else will touch. worst case I'll use the 4 wheeler for those. So I'm shooting for around a dozen driveways and one small professional complex in my area as well. thanks for the help. and I teach shop class, I don't know about those fancy book learning vocab. words like "competition" :)
     
  16. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    calculating cost for plowing

    We have a CD called Know why you charge what you charge. It calculates your company's cost per hour based on your overhead, expenses and use-rates. Sounds like this is what you are looking for. Call us or visit our website.

    Being a commercial contractor for 33 years, we know what a contractor is looking for. Something simple, accurate and professional.
     
  17. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I make it simple,seasonal pricing .It snows anytime from Nov1st to Apr 30th I will plow it.
     
  18. thelettuceman

    thelettuceman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,216