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Just starting plowing any tips???

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Etlawn, Dec 14, 2000.

  1. Etlawn

    Etlawn Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    This is my first year plowing and I have already been through 3 storms. Im in Chicago. I was wondering any tips on going a little quicker and knowing the layout of accounts you never done before. I am always afrain of damaging my truck or something and am real weary of getting close to curbs.It also seems like I have a hard time figuring out how to clean up the snow and not be sloppy. Maybe its because im on 5 days of no sleep but I hate plowing! Anyone else feel like this when they first started? I alredy want to hire a driver for my truck.
  2. MJ

    MJ Senior Member
    Messages: 129

    WOW - and everybody else here chomping at the bit to get out there and plow. I'd say sell your plow.

  3. Smither

    Smither Member
    Messages: 55

    Etlawn, maybe you're just havin' a bad day. I'm only in my second year of plowing. I do it on the side in addition to a regular full-time job, just like alot of other people in this forum. Sometimes I really hate to get up and go out when I'd really rather be in bed sleeping, especially if I have deadlines at my full time job. I think learning to plow takes time. It is kind of frustrating to be learning something when you are out learning it by yourself, and the clock is always beating you over the head to get it done before all your accounts open up for business. I watch other plowers I work with, and other plowers from other companies. I try to watch what they do in the situations where I have trouble. As I have seen on this forum many times, newbies need to take it slow and careful, and only pick up speed with experience. I guess my point in a long roundabout way is, don't confuse inexperience frustration with hating the work. Give it till the end of the season or maybe another season, and if you STILL hate it, then it probably is time to sell the plow. Good luck and don't get down on yourself. Everybody has to start somewhere. Also, Chuck has a book for snowplowers, geared towards new plowers. Look in ChucksChevyPages.com.
  4. bdemir

    bdemir Member
    Messages: 89

    I think you have been through a tough storm. I live in michigan and its not the usual storms we get here. As for technique i could not help you there. Maybe have the driveways stacked good enough so you will see the boundaries better. Im new at this also.

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    It really is much better to start out plowing for someone else. Then you can learn without the pressure of other responsibilities that owners have. You will get to the point that the plowing is the enjoyable part of it all, and then you will just dread the paperwork, and other parts of being an owner.

    Obviously that doesn't help you out now, but for others reading they may want to consider subbing for a little while before they go out on a limb. A winter like we are having already this year will break a lot of small operations like ours. We have now passed the snow total that we received ALL last winter here, and its not even officially winter yet!

    Learn the basics first, then move on to the other parts of owning a snow business.
  6. RB

    RB Senior Member
    Messages: 197


    Chill! This is my 1st year too and I get just as frustrated at times. If any of your accounts are like mine it takes twice as long to get done and than guy plowing across the street.

    I was plowing a lot about 20 minutes when I saw the other guy show up across the street (he has a bigger lot) and started plowing. He finished up before I was done and he drove across the street and started helping me plow my lot. When we finished he introduced himself to me and said "I see you're new at this snow stuff, huh?" When I asked him how he knew, he said that this lot is plowed by a new person every year. He said it's a good lot to get some experience and then he said don't think this is the typical lot.

    My point is that for us it might be that all the lots we have and not the best to do. They might not be the best paying and they might be hard on our equipment. Hang in there.

    Next year at this time we'll compare notes. I bet we have a few of those "butter" jobs too.

  7. matthew Urban

    matthew Urban Senior Member
    Messages: 129

    RELAX...from what i saw on the news you've already plowed through some real nasty weather, so you've got that under your belt already.
    You WIll catch the occasional curb or manhole. Just try not to continually be bashing into them.
    Now as for the rest of it, it'll come with time.
    Keep the plow and give it a season.
    Hang in there
  8. Lazer

    Lazer Senior Member
    Messages: 399


    Those "trial-by-fire" snowfalls aren't fun, especially when you're first starting out.

    But plowing isn't for everyone. Seems all the real good snowplowers are a little "wacked" and they're the ones that really enjoy it.
  9. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Hey man, I'm not wacked, a little nuts I'll accept ;) OK a lot nuts if you ask my wife & friends.

    As mentioned, plowing isn't for everyone. But I'd give it some more time before throwing in the towel. The conditions you just tried to learn in were extreme & therefore difficult. Hopefully the next storm will be a little lighter and you can get the opportunity to practice & learn how to do it more efficiently, and maybe not hate it. Good luck.
  10. jrblawncare

    jrblawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 121

    Etlawn,you have been tossed in the fire up there.You have been given alot of good advise above,my first time out this year I gave myself plenty of time and "played"trying many different things.....backdrags,angles,speeds,1/4,1/2,3/4 and full blade pushes.I wanted to do lots that I'm not even contracted to do just for more practice.Hang in there for awhile if things don't get better maybe its not for you.GOOD LUCK JRB
  11. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Your baptism is definitely under some very tough circumstances. Get through this and everything that comes after will be cake.

    What you've just experienced is unusual by far. Anyone would hate plowing if they were learning in blizzard conditions.
  12. Michael F

    Michael F Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    Just been out last two nights, I ve been plowing for 5 or 6 years now, still enjoy the actual plowing. Trying to get employees to get the work done is now my problem, I put the guy I had last year doing driveways in lots this year huge mistake, its taking him FOREVER, I'm buying a different truck so I can get him back doing drives I'll do the lots, hes in a F350 dump now, to big for drives, looking a pickups, found a couple. Always something.
  13. JCurtis

    JCurtis Banned
    Messages: 862

    OK, ET, Take a deep breath !!!

    You're frustrated, and exhausted... not a good time to be making rash decisions. We have all been in your shoes at one time or another.

    You don't hate plowing, if you do, you are going about it the wrong way. As John Allin said a long time ago, people who plow need to look at plowing as a viable profit center, not as a necessary evil.

    If you look at it from that standpoint your attitude will change.

    Just one quick question, did you have someone riding shotgun with you or were you alone in the truck. It might be a good idea for you to find a friend that can ride with you. it will give you someone to talk to, keep you awake during the 24 -36 hours episodes, and maybe that person can spell you at the wheel .

    It will help. I promise....

    DON'T SELL THE PLOW ! That would be the worst thing you could do.
  14. plowking35

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

    There is no easy answer, some new items can be used to help you with clean up and the like. Pro wings or a v plow will help with that. Urethane edges will help with hidden obstacles. But you have to love it.A big strom backed up by another snow fall a few days later will get anyone down. But persever and wait till the money starts rolling in, now that should ease the pain. By the end of the year, new lots and going faster will be second nature.
  15. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Mentor, Angel
    from Chicago
    Messages: 239

    ETLawn, I can see how you could be frustrated. This is my 25th year and this isn't normal for Chicago to have this much snow this early. This has been one heck of a week and I understand where your coming from on the sleep thing. Most of my accounts I've plowed 6 times in 7 days and I feel like a worn out plow shoe. It will get better maybe after the next 3 storms here in the next 5 days. :)
  16. cutntrim

    cutntrim PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 248

    You'll be fine. Just hang in there. Everyone gets down when they get hammered with that much snow that fast. As far as tips, I'll give you a couple...

    Plowing 6" or more accumulation is different than plowing 2". You need to "thin out" the section of the lot your in first, before trying to cast-off/windrow it all the way to one side. You'll end up with too much snow to push. So thin it out first and look for shorter push lanes than you might prefer if it were a lighter snowfall.

    Also plan on returning the next night to cleanup the edges/drifting from the previous night. With big storms you can't expect to clean each lot perfectly curb-to-curb on your original visit. Unless it's a zero-tolerance contract like Dino carries.

    Plow "with the storm" and do "open-ups" and access routes first, that'll at least get your customers in to the lot. Then loop back and plow the rest of the parking areas later.

    Get some rest, take a deep breath, and welcome to the wonderful world of snowplowing.
  17. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    ... and look forward to the cheques. They usually make me feel better.
  18. jaclawn

    jaclawn Member
    Messages: 92

    Here is a tip...

    Don't take any wooden nickles.

    On a more serious note, read through every post on this forum. You cannot buy info this valuable.
  19. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,031

    I've been running through the same storms... I know how you feel. We just keep getting hammered right after we finish cleaning up from the first storm, or before we finish. It is VERY frustrating. I too have had little sleep this week. Last night I finally got 7-hours.

    Every year when the snow starts flying, each of us has to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, one of our first storms was a big one, with a blizzard following it.

    Just hang in there, hopefully the whole winter won't be this bad. Or, on the other hand, if it is... at least our trucks will be paid for!!!

  20. Etlawn

    Etlawn Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Thank you for all the helpful replies. I really appreciate it. I am not going to sell it this year . We will see how things go in the next few storms