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Is spreading salt worth it?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by snowpusher tim, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. snowpusher tim

    snowpusher tim Junior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 28

    I have been plowing snow for 3 years for myself. I see more and more operators that are using tailgate and V box spreaders. How do you make money spreading salt? Put salting in the bid before the season I guess. Before I spend $1500 for a spreader, I want to make sure I can get a return on my investment.

    YPLLLC Senior Member
    Messages: 144

    Although I am new I have seen this question here a few times. If say you get salt for $5 a 50# bag you will charge at least $10 to spread that bag. I have in my contracts that I will spread salt if it is suppose to snow less than 2 inches aas that is my trigger, also I do a few neighborhood streets and it is up to me to spread salt. I have not had to spread it this year yet but plan to do it if i have to plow and then it is going to be below 32 degrees for more than a day or two. Hope this helps and you can search salt spreading to get more answers.
  3. snowpusher tim

    snowpusher tim Junior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 28

    I have 2" triggers, but for next season will I want to put it the bid that I will salt from a dusting up to 2", over 2" plow then salt everytime? I do spread salt on the sidewalks and I do double the cost of the bags of salt the customer.

    YPLLLC Senior Member
    Messages: 144

    I give the option to all my customers whether or not they want salt. Most say they do not want it (thats residential) Commercial usually want it and i explain to them that salting is basically a seperate charge per 50# bag. I tell them they will be charged for only the amount of bags i use and when i use them. Hope this helps. You actually could still get your clients to use salt this season. I would personally call each and let them know you suggest salting for under two inches and any other time you think it is necessary. then if you get enough clients to say yes you can buy the spreader.
  5. snowpusher tim

    snowpusher tim Junior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 28

    I never thought of going to them and asking them if they want salt. I thought no because they agreed to the contract. But I will ask them, and hopefully enough say yes, and I can buy a spreader.

    YPLLLC Senior Member
    Messages: 144

    Sounds good let me know how it goes for you
  7. Superior L & L

    Superior L & L PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,035

    If you salt your accounts you will need to lower the trigger to 1" because it takes way to long and way to much salt to melt 1.5" of snow
  8. dannyslawn

    dannyslawn Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    I use bulk treated salt for my bigger commercial accts. I charge per application instead of per ton. Last season we averaged invoicing $400.00 per ton of salt used. On smaller accts. I use bagged material, but still charge per application.
  9. Smitty58

    Smitty58 Senior Member
    Messages: 223

    Your questions is, is it worth it to invest in a spreader? In my opinion if you are going to do anything bigger than driveways you have to buy a spreader. You don't have to spend $1500 though there are less expensive ones or buy a used one. There is more money in salt than plowing. One lot I do I get $75 to plow and it typically takes me 45 minutes and I charge $12 per 50 lb bag and pay $4 a bag. I typically plow then put down 10 bags so $75 to plow (45 minutes) and net $80 to salt (15 minutes). Also there are several times through the winter that all we do is put down salt when we are only expecting a dusting to 1 inch ,don't spread salt on top of 2 inches it won't work. Buy yourself a spreader you won't regret it.
  10. YPLLLC

    YPLLLC Senior Member
    Messages: 144

    How do you charge per application? By the square foot? And if so what is the price you charge?
  11. BSDeality

    BSDeality Senior Member
    Messages: 736

    we charge by the application. we're primarily driveways with half a dozen clients that request salt when its not plowable or after plowing anyway. I used to use a small walk behind spreader that I would load out of the back of the truck. If you're going to use bags you have to buy it buy the pallet wholesale and then mark it up off the retail price. This year I bought myself a 7' Ice-o-way spreader. over $4500 for the spreader, but it cuts my spreading time down big time. Last season I was spending as much as 7 minutes per house unloading/filling/spreading/refilling/loading the spreader. Got to do my first salt run yesterday morning and boy-o-boy it's nice to flip a switch and just back down the driveway and then drive out and you're done.

    My words of advice are if you can afford to buy a spreader (get a good one!) do it. Check your local craigslist.com ads and look around town for a nice used one for sale. Do yourself a favor and pay the premium for a stainless steel unit. The upfront cost far out weighs the extended life over mild steel. Offer your services to your existing clients and see if you can convert them. A few will say yes if they have hilly driveways. The most common answer I got when I ask my older clients about it was 'I didn't know you could spread salt'. If you don't tell people they won't know you have it. Then when you get an ice-storm or freezing rain you're going to be the hero for the rest of your clients.
  12. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    because with salting you get to go out if the temps are below 32* and you have a dusting or more. plus you salt after a plow, so you will double your trips to your commercials that use it. say you plow 20 times in a season, but now with salting you got to salt those 20 also making extra bucks doing that plus you got to salt only an extra 15 trips that normally you would never have gone out for.

    just remember salting increases your liability so make sure your insurance coverage is aware your salting. and Always note the time/temp/location/what you did and keep in a safe place for 3 years incase someone sues you.
  13. MB3

    MB3 Senior Member
    Messages: 123

  14. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    Increase liability? Just the opposite. and i doubt my insurance cares either way but if they had a choice they would rather i was spreading salt
  15. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,030

    If you don't spread salt because the customer doesn't want it, he then assumes all liability for slips and falls.
  16. sven1277

    sven1277 Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    I am considering switching from salt/sand mix to straight bulk salt to reduce the mess created by the sand. For an ice storm, is salt enough, or sand too for traction? Should I keep both materials in the yard depending on conditions?
  17. Dailylc

    Dailylc Senior Member
    Messages: 226

    You will pay for a spreader in no time. We only got 10" of snow last year and I made more money applying Ice Melt / salt than I did plowing. I put down over 10 ton of material last season. If you do the math with the numbers found earlier in this post you can see what kind of money can be made. And I charge 4 times the cost of product to apply ( which is tolerable in my area)
  18. gamberbull13

    gamberbull13 Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    here in maryland we r payin 80 aton and gettin paid00.38 a pound spread bulk and we r extremely competitive salt money is nuts
  19. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    How much would that be per ton?
  20. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Hee hee hee...