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Greetings from PA

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by xandrew245x, May 3, 2014.

  1. xandrew245x

    xandrew245x Junior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 13

    Hello everyone, Names andrew, from south central PA. I am in my third year of the lawn care business, a new client I just picked up for mowing was a group home, they have multiples in my area. Well they also want me to give estimates for doing snow plowing for all of them in the area this winter.

    Before any of you get started let me give some background. I do have the proper equipment to plow with. I have a 2008 silverado 2500hd, standard cab long bed 4x4. Already had a plow on it before. I have 6 years of experience plowing with a front end loader and backhoes. I plowed my parent's business facilty(which is a couple hours of plowing with a front end loader), and I plow my parents house and 3 of their rental properties. I had entertained getting into plowing last year but I knew I wasn't ready and didn't want to rush into it. Thats what I am looking for the most info I can before buying any equipment or looking into it any further.

    I do not plan on doing any commercial plowing until I can handle doing residential driveways. So I have a few questions.

    1. Plow recommendations for my truck.

    2. Best way to price out residential plowing.

    3. Best way to actually plow a residential driveway(where to put snow, etc. etc)

    Like I said, I am here to gain knowledge, I am by no means going to jump into plowing unless I am sure I can do it. I do plan on carrying liability insurance for plowing to, and I want to price jobs properly and make a profit, Im not in this to undercut people just to get the job. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Moose's Mowing

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

    best plow is one you can afford. If time is $, get something like a Western Prodigy, or speed wing or power plow. Those things are sweet. I run a Meyer C8. Oldie but goodie. I pieced it together from various places. I also have an ST 7.5 that will pin on as well. Don't use the ST anymore, just sits in the barn as a backup. I got the C8 with a tons of spare parts (pretty much an entire setup with pump, et al) for like 200 bucks. Had to reskin it (PITA) but now it's almost brand new, sorta. It's ok, it works for what I do but wish I had a V or a speedwing. Can't justify that expense though. The C8 is simple and takes a beating. I didn't like it at first but I've put some punishment on it and never broke anything yet.

    As for pricing, I just have a set minimum I won't go below. Then I just sorta guestimate time it will take and I charge a fair price. My residentials go up in 6" increments for price points. So an example would be 2"-6" = $50. Then 6-12" = $75 then anything over 12" would be $100. I stipulate in my contracts that anything more than 8" of predicted accumulation will be plowed twice and billed twice. So rarely would I actually charge $100. In reality, I'd plow twice and charge $50 each time or $75 then $50 depending on the depth at the time I plowed. That seems to go well. I also have about a dozen seasonal's where I plow anything over 2" unlimited times for a flat rate. Most are between $300-$400. It's nice to have a mix of seasonal and per push contracts. That way I can make some decent $ on big storms, but still have a guaranteed income at the start of the winter to get me through a slow winter. I was leary about the seasonal pricing when I first started a few years ago, but now I like a mix of about 30-40% seasonals and the rest per push.

    As far as residential go, they suck. That's about 80% of what I plow. They're all different. Some aren't too bad, most suck. There's never anywhere to push the snow and the C8 doesn't backdrag too well. Once you do a new driveway once or twice you'll have it figured out, just have to think a bit.

    Def go for it. If it snows, people will be calling you like crazy. We had a good winter this past year and I turned down a lot of work. There's only so much one guy can do so know your limits. Don't want to push it and end up wrecking your truck and plow cause you fell asleep after a 36 hour bender. One thing I also do is sub for a larger outfit. I plow a few commercials during the storm. Once it stops I'll go hit my driveways. The guy I sub for is a member on here and he's cool to work for. My drives are the priority, but I made good $ subbing. Lots of hours though, but def worth it.

    Good luck
     
  3. xandrew245x

    xandrew245x Junior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 13

    I very much appreciate your response, it was very informative. I have found a couple of plows that would fit my truck for decent prices used. I can imagine it gets to be a pita doing residential and trying to find a place to put snow. I have already looked at the ones I would be bidding on and they are all pretty simple with where to stack snow fortunately. I'm not going to jump into it, but I will submit a bid and if I get it then I will go for it.

    Do you usually wait until it is finished snowing to do residential, that's more of what I was thinking of doing. I work a full time job, but in the winter it is really slow and if we get measurable snow we are usually on delay or don't work at all, so it would work out great with plowing.
     
  4. Moose's Mowing

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

    for resi's, yes and no. I try to wait until it's done snowing, or very close to being done. If we're getting slammed with a large accumulation or really heavy, wet snow, I'll hit them twice but only if I have to. My contracts spell this out very clearly, but I don't like to charge more than absolutely necessary. I try to keep my resi's happy since most (not all) also use me for mowing and other misc jobs during the year. So it's not worth potentially losing a customer over one extra plowing.

    I'm in the same boat as you with my regular job. I'm a school teacher and most times we get cancelled during a plowable storm. So it works out well. That doesn't always happen though, and having to plow all night, go straight to school, then plow again all night to catch up makes for a loooooooong 2 1/2 days without sleep. So be careful how much work you take on. This past winter I had a tough time turning down work since we had such a good season up here. It got way overwhelming for me though. My phone rang all winter long but I got to the point where I literally just couldn't do any more. So my advice would be to guestimate on how much $ you NEED to make and how much you'd LIKE to make. Then figure out how many driveways it'll take to get there. Ino ther words, don't bite off more than you can chew. Snow can be really stressful.
     
  5. thelettuceman

    thelettuceman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,216