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loosing summer customers

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Heavy, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. Heavy

    Heavy Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Hey fella's, I'm new at this game but I think I have to start to do something. I lost 3 summer contracts because i didn't plow. I'm 18 years old and still in high school, I'll be out of school for next winter. I'm hearing from diferent people different things, like you can't make money doing residential places, i could go on contract tomorow and be garanteed 100 hrs work for next winter but I'm just not sure. I also heard DON"T buy a plow truck in the spring because their getting rid of it for a reason. I'd appreciate any advise anybody can spare. Thanks
  2. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I hear a lot of whining about how there is no money in plowing residentials. I must be missing something because I think they generate a better hourly return than commercials do. About the only way to get into plowing is to start with residentials, learn what you can produce, figure out if you REALLY want to be in the business and then move into commercials with some experience behind you.

    There's a few qustions you need to face first.

    Do you mind not having any holidays that you can count on? From November through March you're married to your route. No way around it, if you make the comittment to your customers they expect you to be there, whether it's Christmas, your girlfriend's birthday, etc.

    Are you comfortable with driving in the absolute worst conditions you can find?

    Are you prepared to suffer through the lean years? Or expensive repairs? Look at some of the comments on this forum and you will see quite a few plowers who aren't too pleased with this past winter. You're going to have times when you just wish it would stop snowing because you're SO sick of sitting in that truck. That will be countered by the winters when you would kill for one plowable event a month,, or maybe even one a winter. You didn't give a state in your location, so I don't know if you're in an area where a bad winter means no snow at all.

    As for buying a truck in the spring, it doesn't necessarily mean they are for sale becasue they're beat up. After a poor winter like this past one there are guys getting out of the race, don't care if they ever see a snowplow again. These may be the same guys who thought that after last winter this was a good road to riches. Like Merle said,, WRONG! Around here plow trucks are cheap now, by October they will be up in price. And if you buy one now you would have all summer to get the bugs out (if there are any).

    I hope I didn't seem too negative, I was trying to be realistic. This can be a financially rewarding business, IF you can live with the hours and possible pitfalls. I love doing it, that's a big help when the hours get long and a truck goes down. If you've got the attitude and ambition, go find a truck and c'mon along.
  3. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    Ah, ya got here first Alan - and pretty much summed up what I was thinking!

    Heavy - by "Markham? Unionville", I'm assuming you're near the Toronto area? Great winter we just had for seasonals, not so great if you're a subcontractor or bill on a per-push basis.

    With a winter like that just past, a good number of the plow trucks with the "For Sale" sign in the window will likely be as Alan describes - not too many hours on 'em.

    In addition to Alan's good advice, here's a couple other options you can consider: By the way your post is worded, I'm assuming you don't have a truck/plow as yet. If possible, working as an employee for a company that provides plowing services next winter will be a way to gain some experience. You'll know pretty quick if you really want to keep doing this!

    Or, get yourself a decent plow truck and sign on as a sub for that 100 hours you mention. You'll need to set yourself up as a proper business (insurance etc) but won't have to be chasing contracts and the money you're owed. Again, a season of that will make it pretty easy to decide "Do I really want to keep doing this?"

    The season just past was my first working "for hire" (as a sub) and I guess I'm just crazy enough to be ready to do it again next year!

    If you haven't already visited there, click on the link at the top of the page to "Snowplowing Contractor's Network" and check out the info there.

    Welcome to the crazy world of snow! :D
  4. SCL

    SCL Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    If you have the summer accounts, roll them into winter contracts. That way you have steady income no matter the snow. Just a thought,.
  5. Heavy

    Heavy Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Thanks for all the great advice guys, if there's anything else you can think of just let me know. Thanks.
  6. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    Again, you may have already done this but if not, reading through the older posts here will provide you with a wealth of information - and possibly answers to some of the questions you have right now.

    Since it always slows down here with the onset of spring, it's a good time to scroll through some of the "archives" and read away! :)

    And you can still post if a question does come up - although it might slow down here, we never shut down completely. :D
  7. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    My situation is opposite of yours, plowed first, then started landscaping. I used to sub to a commercial contractor and had a few residentials on the side. It didn't take long to realize that I was making much more from the residentials than subbing, so I gave it up and expanded the residential route.

    Soon my customers began asking about lawn care and landscaping, but I had a full time job that I couldn't walk away from. The company made my decision for me through downsizing so I put out a letter to my plow customers, (nearly 100) and started the landscape business. Many of my accounts are year 'round, one business compliments the other.

    Like Rob said, take a look at the achives, there's lots of info here, you're sure to find ideas that will work for you.
  8. RCIPlow

    RCIPlow Member
    Messages: 86

    As for not buying truck/plow in spring because they are getting rid of it for a reason, after this past winter in a lot of places, the reason maybe because they cant afford it. Some very good deals out there right know. Just be careful. As far losing summer accounts , not sure what you mean, but my buddy rolls his landscaping into 12 month payments, so hes always got a cash flow. As the others have said, it would be great to be able to do the same with the plowing. Just having finished my 2nd year of plowing, let me offer you this. I know more now then the begining of the past winter, but not as much as most of the people on here. 3 words for you READ READ READ. 99% of these people on here will help you out with whatever they can, just be sure to ask and thank them. Good luck and dont eat the yellow snow.

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    I hate residential, and keep saying that next year I wont do any.

    But...every year I run my numbers and the residentials always pay about double the hourly rate that my other stuff. They do pay just fine here. I know many who do all residential. I just get sick of having so many customers to worry about. If I can do the same dollar amount with two commercials as 20 residentials, I would rather.

    You already have the customers however, so that is no big deal. I would definately jump into it. You are a step ahead of many first timers because of your lawn customers, so take advantage of it. I wouldn't buy $30000.00 worth of equipment to do it, but rather start with good used stuff and see if you like it.
  10. Heavy

    Heavy Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Thanks guys ::)