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I'm New to Plowing

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by mpaff2, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. mpaff2

    mpaff2 Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    So this is my first post on here, after reading a lot of other posts, and you all seem super helpful. I am a college student who owns a landscaping business who does mainly lawn mowing. We have done very well and have over a 100 weekly customers and now we are thinking of getting into plowing.

    1. We will only be doing residential drives that are on average about 75' by 15'. I use a 2000 Ford F150 XLT 5.4L V8 to pull my lawn mowing trailer and I was planning on using that for plowing with a 7'6" Boss Plow. Will this be able to get the job done or would it be pushing the F150 too hard? I just had the tie rods replaced, as well as the upper and lower ball joints, and I am planning on having the U joints replaced before the season begins.

    2. When people say that plowing beats your truck up, what exactly do they mean? Like mainly cosmetic or overall repairs. How much should I expect to pay in repairs each year on the truck and the plow?

    3. For extra info I live in southeast Wisconsin if that helps at all?
     
  2. Randall Ave

    Randall Ave 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,010

    Welcome, as far as beating up the truck, your hanging 600 pounds of steel off the front, wears out ball joints and more. Just take your time, remember its a snow plow, not a bull dozer. If your gonna be taking on that many drives you better think of a back up solution if the truck breaks. Good luck, and check with your insurance agent.
     
  3. ss502gmc

    ss502gmc Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    You can do it but I would recommend a 3/4 ton truck. Plowing works every part of the truck hard. Drive train, frame, brakes, steering system, cooling system EVERYTHING! Think about what it'd be like rear ending a car at 5-10 mph and what it'd do to the car. When your stacking snow that's exactly what your doing. That truck is 15 years old so to each his own. A 3/4 ton is the way to go for sure. I will never own another half ton again. I started plowing with one and was always fixing something. They're not made to work hard. 100 drives is a lot also. Even 50 is pushing it at least where I live. Good luck
     
  4. k1768

    k1768 Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 490

    Welcome to PS. You might not get many responses tonight; beer, food, guns, and other items have most people's attention currently.

    You're not asking anything new. Briefly:
    1: Do people plow commercially with 1/2 tons? Yes. Would I? No.
    2: Everything in the front end. Transmission. Cooling system. Cosmetic from accidents (potential for minor and major) and salt.
    3: Doesn't help me at all.
     
  5. mpaff2

    mpaff2 Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I guess I should have mentioned that out my 100 lawn mowing customers I'd only be taking on about 35-40 for plowing. Would that be more realistic for a first timer or should I start with even less?

    And do you think I'd end up sinking almost everything I make into gas and repairs with a 1/2 ton that's as old as mine?

    I guess my bottom line question is would y'all suggest that I just stick with what I know I can do very successfully (Lawn Mowing) and hold off with the plowing...or should I go for it?
     
  6. Randall Ave

    Randall Ave 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,010

    If you have kept up on maintainence you should be fine. Just have some type of backup plan, someone else who could help you out in a pinch. You don't no unless you try. Successful people don't stay on the porch. Give it a go!
     
  7. CatVert68

    CatVert68 Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    I don't plow commercially so take that into account when evaluating my answer, but it seems reasonable to me to start smaller than 35-40 driveways until you understand exactly what you're doing and the amount of work each client represents. That also lessens the wear on your current truck. If you find that you're turning away clients and want to do more, then you have a business case for investing in a newer, heavier truck.
     
  8. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,591

    Excellent advice right here. Honestly, start with 20, that are close together. Yes, it's only a couple, maybe three hours of work. But, you'll get your feet wet, learn, and with that small amount you'll have two more benefits.

    1. You'll be able to take your time, and do an AMAZING job on them, which will earn you a mountain of referrals for next season.

    2. If the truck breaks, having to find help (ie, BEFORE the season starts, having a guy ready to bail you out) for only 20 drives is a very simple deal.

    I would advise that you bank EVERYTHING you make plowing this year, other than gas and oil change money. Done right, you may have a few grand lying around come spring. Add that to some savings made in your successful landscaping business, and acquiring a 3/4 ton for the next season is easily within your reach. Then add another 15-20 drives, keep the F150 as a backup (IGNORE the desire to put it to work!) and you're running 35-40 drives in season two. At that point, you'll know whether or not you want to continue, have 35-40 drives, have a solid 3/4 ton and backup truck. Now you're cooking.

    Hope that helps.
     
  9. mpaff2

    mpaff2 Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Thanks so much! This is all super helpful! Just as I'm working thru some numbers would you say 40 drives would be the max I could do wit ha 3/4 ton? And a lot of my drives are only 40' by 15' but need to be pulled/dragged instead of just a straight push, does that change anything?

    I have also been advised by the plow dealer to put on a BOSS Standard Duty 7'6" plow for $5600 including installation...is that the plow you guys would also suggest, and if so, is that good price?

    Thanks again for all your help!
     
  10. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,591

    The amount of drives you can do is not limited by the truck. It's limited by a few factors. Driver ability, snowfall depth, density of drives by location. Just remember, doing real quality work on 40-50 drives per truck is way better than rushing thru 60-70. And as you get better, you can offer that same, real quality work and do more drives. See a theme? "Real quality work". Real quality work lets you charge more. You'll do less drives than competitors and make more, because you'll be able to charge more. Not to mention, as you grow and make money, you can start adding things like back blades etc which monumentally cut time.

    As for plow selection, Boss makes a good plow. So does Western. I'll tell you what everyone else will say. Choose the plow that offers you the BEST service, and closest location to your work.
     
  11. CatVert68

    CatVert68 Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    I agree with Sawboy on this, but I will say the price seems high. We sell the SnowDogg MD75 stainless steel plow, installed, for $4050, so $5600 seems high to me. But you're in a different market area and the underlying costs the dealer has may be higher. I'd just check around to make sure that price is in line with comparable plows in your area.
     
  12. mpaff2

    mpaff2 Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    That's good to know about the plow price, thanks!

    And Sawboy, that's what I like to hear because that's how we do things in the summer with our lawn mowing and landscaping. Since I am new, what is the difference between a quality plow and a sloppy plow?
     
  13. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,591

    1. Plowed from edge to edge on the sides, not just the width of the door.
    2. Apron snow, moved to the grass and widened making pulling in and out of driveway easier. Again, most aprons are wider near the street. Don't just say "good enough, they can pull straight in and out"
    3. Snow pulled all the way from the door. Not "that's close enough" which results in a 6-12" hump of hard pack as the season wears on.

    Drive around this winter. You'll be able to see where guys are just stealing the money. I promise you, if you kick ass on a driveway within sight of a guy who is half-assing it, you'll get it next year......And you'll be able to charge a premium because they will see you're worth every penny.
     
  14. CowboysLC_DE

    CowboysLC_DE Senior Member
    Messages: 174

    I would advise adding Timbrens, although I have never done that on my trucks but will be on the '09 this year. You should be able to plow all 35-40 driveways that you said you should be able to get from your current lawn client list. You don't need to worry about gas, you'll go through maybe a tank per storm. I go through a tank and a half working 20 hours, that's on $80-$100 per storm.

    I'm only a couple years ahead of you. I put college on the back-burner but still take classes. I found that commercial is much better in my service area then driveways are. Are driveways can be twisty, weird angles, elevation. Whereas most commercial lots are open but need much more attention.

    Even if you break down for an hour or two you should be able to make it up. Also make sure you have a guarantee in one form or another from your clients before you spend all the money on equipment. I'm surprised your Boss is more expensive up there.

    Michael
     
  15. mpaff2

    mpaff2 Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Thanks Michael! That price that they gave me included timbrens and installation, so I don't know if that makes it more reasonable, but I will still call around for more quotes!

    As far as 'breaking down' is there usually a typical thing that happens or could it be anything?
     
  16. CatVert68

    CatVert68 Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Depending on the Timbren kit, it still wouldn't make up the difference. I think the helper spring kit for the front would add (for us) about $450, installed, to the plow pricing I posted earlier. Again, I don't know your market. Ours is a very competitive one.
     
  17. mpaff2

    mpaff2 Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    One last question I think...Also THANK YOU all so much for all your help and advice, I really appreciate it.

    So I have it narrowed down to the BOSS Standard Duty for $5600 or the SnowDogg HD for $4728. Both are 7'6", and the price includes tax, installation, timbrens, and snow deflector. Which would you choose to put on a F150?

    THANKS!!!
     
  18. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,591

    Which dealer is closest? Does either dealer offer extended, or 24 hour operation during snow storms? That's your answer.
     
  19. cbservicesllc

    cbservicesllc PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,425

    This......
     
  20. CowboysLC_DE

    CowboysLC_DE Senior Member
    Messages: 174

    Distance to dealer is important as well as quality of work they will do on your plow/truck. The SnowDogg dealer here is my trailer dealer and is straight across the street from my Boss dealer. Both take great care of me but I've had zero issues with my Boss plows so I can't justify the switch. Also my dealers have less then a $500 difference.

    But, I'm pushing with big trucks. From what I can tell most of the SnowDogg sales in my area are to business owners that want to plow there own property and the younger sub-contractors.

    Michael