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How to price jobs?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Wayne Offiler, Sep 21, 2000.

  1. Wayne Offiler

    Wayne Offiler Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    I've been doing lawn care & light landscapiing last 3 years. Now ready to get into snow removal. but do not know how to set prices.
    By depth of snow?
    Square footage of area?
    Do you always get started early, even if it is still snowing? Do you often go back to the same job later, after plowing it earlier? If you hit the same area more than once, do you charge more, and thus do customers co
    mplain about the charges?
    Thanks for any info.
  2. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Do a search: pricing, contracts etc. Plenty of info on your questions already posted. Definitely plow with the storm. Check out Chuck's site for lots of info & Dino's for great sample contract to use develop yours. Then come back with questions that you couldn't find answers to. Good luck!

    http://www.snowplowing-contractors.com/[url/] [url]http://www.thehousedoktor.com/[url/]
  3. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Join SIMA and network with others in the industry. Yuo'll be amazed at how open the members are, and how much they will share.

  4. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Pricing: You have 3 options.

    1. Per Push, $xxx.xx per visit ( never less than $25.00 (for a residential drive) in my mind). That is for each visit, to the location, only some guys charge full price for the first and 1/2 for the second (depends on your location in the country), then they plow ever 4" of accumulation.

    2. Per season, you charge xxx.xx per year to keep the drive or lot cleared, even if it snow once, or 20 times. This figure is generally generated by, XXX.XX per push visit N(number of storms on average). So XXX.XX* n+5. Depending on your contract it may or may not include sand/salt.

    3. Per hour, I don't use except for when i am haulling or moving snow with a loader.

    Plow every 4-6" off acumulation, is my advice (however this is for my area, may be different where you are) Just base your working hours on that.

    My advice, stay away from commercial lots your first year. Get good at plowing, it takes sometime, then take on bigger accounts. Some guys service high end residetial jobs, and do complete service ( drive, walks, decks, sand/salt) and they make enough money, not to have to do commercial. Some of the tricks of the trade you will have to learn on your own. I would also keep your account numbers low the first year, then expand the numbers the second ( so you can learn the tricks of the trade). Note you may not be able to live off the plowing money, on your first year, just keep that in mind.

    Best of luck, just be detailed orriented, provide quality service, at reasonable prices, and you will do well.

    Read some of the old post, you will find the info ya need.


    [Edited by GeoffDiamond on 09-23-2000 at 02:43 AM]

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    This is a great place to get some ball park figures, and set some pricing goals. The area you are in may ultimately set your top end for you. Around us, particularly in residential plowing, you have a hard time getting past the "going rate". Here, a standard res drive is about 25 per push or 200 per season. Lots of competition, and many lowballers as well. Just don't be one of those. Keep your prices at the top of the range in your areas, and stay small at first. You will grow because of your quality and dependibility rather than your cheap prices.
  6. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    Going rate

    I seem to see a trend where in the areas where less snow falls the prices for residential work are higher. As PineIsland commented >>Here, a standard res drive is about 25 per push or 200 per season.<< Here in the northwest corner of Vermont (80 inch average)residential drives start in the $15 range. Roughly 12' wide and 75' long with a garage at the end that you have to backdrag away from.

    I wonder if the higher prices are based on the fact that snow is a panic situation in some areas. Also, while PineIsland mentions >>. Lots of competition, and many lowballers as well.<< I wonder if there are really that many "casual" plow operators. Around here it seems like anyone who has a 4 wd gets a plow and does "a few driveways" for "extra money in the winter".

    I have to admit to having a bunch of those $15 customers, and overall they are some of the most profitable stops I have. But, they are in for a surprise this year as I am upping the "going rate" for my services. Not sure just how much I can bump without making them go to Billie Bob's Plowing Service, but I'm taking the attitude that those that want good service will stay and the price shoppers will move on.
  7. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Your comments are interesting to me Alan. I'm in NJ & I snowboard & I try to get up to Vermont as much as possible. You seem to be in the predicament of having to give a volume discount with all of the events you get. I was talking to the owner of a house we rented near one of the resorts & for curiousity's sake (I don't do any residential plowing) I asked what he was paying for plowing. He told me it was $12.00 per push and it was a long driveway on a hill with some parking spaces at the top. Looked like something I would get $50.00 - $60.00 per push in my area. What an eye opener!
  8. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    In Erie (where 250" is an average winter), most of my competition gets $12-$15 per push for residential. We quote $23-$25 and if the customer wants us - they pay the rate. Normally, during a storm, we refer the resident to a list of plowing contractors that are looking to grow their business. The contractor becomes a "friend" and we give him enough work that he doesn't 'compete' with us because he's too busy.
  9. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    I have found that as well. A driveway here that is in the 30-35 range, was quoted as 12-15$ by Rick Keir. He averages about 120" a year. So the more you get the less you make per time. But of course you are out there alot more.
    In my market the residential will only get plowed 3-4 times a season, so we dont go after that segment, where as the commercial will 10-15 events per season.
  10. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    It's supply and demand. I see it all the time when talking with plowers around the country.

    Unit cost goes down as frequency goes up.
  11. mike48114

    mike48114 Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    I am in Michigan and our prices go as follows: truck plow bid at 100 per hour-- bulk salt 150 per ton-- shovel walks 45 per hour-- ice melter for walks 22.50 a bag(only costs me about 9 a bag!)--
    Just remember make sure you have good equipment starting out or you will hate it in a heart beat!
  12. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    In my area you can get a drive done cheap, 10-15 if you are willing to wait for someone to stop by and offer to do it, but for someone who will do the drive every storm without having to be called it starts at 25 nobody gets out of the truck, more if steps/walks/front of garage need to be done.
  13. iowastorm

    iowastorm Senior Member
    Messages: 358

    Wow! I'm really surprised how cheap drives go for out there. Since driveways are such a pain in the rear, we won't drop our snowplows for anything under $40. We don't do many drives per season, but this is because the money in commercial is so much better.
  14. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    Last season we also plowed residentials for $40. Basically we offered the service only for those who desperately wanted it. We've found commercials much easier and much more profitable.
  15. jrblawncare

    jrblawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 121

    Iowastorm,Just wondering what is your avg.snow fall and how many pushes a year do you get?
  16. iowastorm

    iowastorm Senior Member
    Messages: 358

    jrblawncare: We average around 33" per season with about 8 pushes per year on average. Wish I could say it was more, but the last couple of winters have been bad. Last winter we only received a total of 22" with 5 pushes.
  17. yardsmith

    yardsmith Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    Here in Ohio we get less snow than Michigan, Vermont, & NY.
    Commercial is more cutthroat than res. by a long shot; People are doing lots that take 35-45 min. for $50! I can make $50 on 2 driveways in 15 min. total! Never understood that one. Anyways, I have a $25 minimum, which helps with travel time, which I'm always whittling down as best I can. I'm a price shopper myself, but can't stand to work for them. :)
  18. JCurtis

    JCurtis Banned
    Messages: 862

    The blade on my plow doesn't hit the ground for less than $45.00 on a residential driveway(thats more than 30 feet long)

    If I can't plow it in one pass in and out the price goes up.

    I have an account that has a long drive about 200' a circular drive and a large parking area by the garage. This is a $100 driveway, with a 50% additional charge for each and every return visit during the same storm.