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max. amount of customers

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by petesplow, Jan 26, 2003.

  1. petesplow

    petesplow Junior Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 6

    I may start my own plowing business next season, and am not sure what is the max. amount of customers I can book. I will do both residential and business lots, and will have one truck(probably with a straight plow).

    Thanks any suggestions will help.
     
  2. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    You can't think in terms of number of customers. You have to think in terms of how much plowing.

    You might find one commercial customer with a 10 acre lot and that would be all you could handle. If all your customers had one lane driveways 30 feet long and they were all right next to each other, a hundred might not be too many.

    You'll also find that some customers demand earlier service than others, (a doctor who leaves for work at 6 a.m. will want done before then, but a resturant that only opens in the evening may not need to be done until 2 p.m.), so if you get a good mix you can handle more than if everybody wants done at once.

    Don't be overly ambitious and bite off more than you can chew. Get a reputation for reliability, not unreliability. It'll pay off in the long run.
     
  3. Rooster

    Rooster Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 650

    Plowing only, depending on how far apart accounts are and size will be a major factor.

    A question sure to come up is "What about ice control"?

    Do you have contacts to apply de-icers?

    Over all just guessing I would say 3 commerical accounts or less, and the 3 all being small lots. If you get a major amount of snow fall you want to offer on time professional service.

    Also do you have any contacts to asssit you if you have a breakdown?

    As for residential accounts that amount can vary, I always inform residential customers that the commerical accounts have priority. You might try to find some teenagers to shovel or use snowblowers for residential.

    Just a thought.

    Good Luck!!!

    Rick
     
  4. Rooster

    Rooster Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 650

    Another idea:

    Go to: http://www.snowplowing-contractors.com

    That site is owned by our own Chuck Smith Senior Moderator on Plowsite.com.

    He has written a book for snowplowing, also check into joining SIMA, I believe you can purchase the book thru SIMA also.

    You can email Chuck Smith also, it may take a day or two for him to answer as he does have a job outsidie of Plowsite!

    Rick
     
  5. chris k

    chris k Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    I go by the total hours. I don't want any truck taking any more than 4-5 hours for their route. That is for your one pass storm with an experienced driver. Once a truck is over that time then I get another truck. I find that any more tan that the customers start to get a little itchy. The ones at the end of the route start to call wondering where the plow is. Works well.
     
  6. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    As a suggestion for starting out - limit to 3 or 4 driveways that are like 50 feet long with a parking area in front of a garage. If you do that, you'll get an idea of how long it takes to plow different areas, you'll get experience at backdragging, locating areas to pile snow and how to plow different depths/types of snow. Then the second year you'll be ready to go after some commercial lots. Also, your insurance will be less if you're limiting to "residential only". The first year you could fill in by taking some callers or sub work.
     
  7. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    That is a generic question that is very difficult to answer. Some people here can plow 50 -60 driveways \hour because they are routed close together, they have lots of experience, and are using the right equipment. Might take me 4 hours to do those same 50 -60 houses here for the reasons mentioned. So as mentioned, you have to think in terms of how much time you have available as opposed to how many clients, based on your abilities. Think about how long you want to be out, then think about the worst case scenario for each as far as how long they may take. So in the case Rooster makes, worst case scenario 2 of those small lots could take an hour & the 3rd one 2 hours. Figure 12 driveways at 15 minutes each and now you've got yourself a managable 8 hour plow shift including some time for travel. Always have a back up plan (subcontractor, spare truck + plow, salting services) because something will break eventually and sometimes everything breaks. During one blizzard here ('96 28"-35") I knew of one company with 13 trucks that lost 12 of them to various problems before the snow stopped :-( . For another snow plowing book to check out, you could PM or Email John Allin here about his book. Its against PS rules to post the link to the web site where it's on sale, so I can't post that.
     
  8. petesplow

    petesplow Junior Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 6

    30 res. 4 comm.

    If I am working by myself with one truck 30 residential driveways and about 3 or 4 small plaza parking lots, is this going to too much. Since I only have one truck any snow that would have to be moved off site I would call a contractor and pass the bill to the client. Also these would be a couple minute drive from each other, and hopefully I will have some that are grouped in a subdivivsion.
     
  9. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Too much? Yes. I really think you're overcommiting yourself.

    Ignoring the fact that you only have one truck and plow, no backup - Let's estimate your time at each residential to be 15 minutes. For 30 residentials, that's 7 1/2 hours. Add in 3 shopping plazas at 30 minutes each ( 1 1/2 hour) - Total time is 9 hours. Plus travel/fuel/food time. Any breakdown and you're in trouble. That's for an average snowfall - if you're planning to wait till the snow is over, it'll take longer at each place. If you're planning to "plow with the storm" each round will still take AT LEAST nine hours - more since it'll be in a snow storm.

    Are you going to be doing any ice control (salting). That takes more time. Are you going to customize service according to customer needs? Especially if you're doing commercial. That'll take more time.

    But, hey, go for it. Good luck.
     
  10. landman

    landman Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 185

    My sugestion would be to pick up a few driveways on your own and look into sub-contracting for a larger company for a season. This way you still make money directly by having your own accounts and get the experience of larger places to get a feel about plowing techniques and ideas of how long it takes to plow certain areas. This way your on the clock for somebody else and if your truck goes down it wouldn't be a big concern if accounts don't get done cause the GC will have another truck finish what you can't. And even if your truck goes down you could do your driveways with a snow blower and get them done.
     
  11. Earthscapes

    Earthscapes Senior Member
    from WNY
    Messages: 577

    Mick--- 15 min. at each residential ??? man how big are your driveways out there ??

    petesplow--- last year i had 60 residentials and my route took about 3 hrs with an average of 5" per snowfall. Most of them were in groups say, 3 or 4 next door to each other. An average time per resi. driveway is 2min. to plow, plus drive time to get to each of them.
    If you plan to shovel walks thats what will kill your time.
     
  12. petesplow

    petesplow Junior Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 6

    Earthscapes- thanks for you reply, when you did 60 driveways did you have a single truck, or did you have multiple trucks plowing.
     
  13. Earthscapes

    Earthscapes Senior Member
    from WNY
    Messages: 577

    oops sorry i forgot to add that. I only had one last yr my 90' Chevy.

    I'm running 2 trucks this year with a little over 80 accounts and 6 are commercial lots(nothing large just what pickups can handle). Average run 2hrs.
     
  14. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    80 residentials and 6 commercial lots in 2 hours???

    It's all based on local situation. Just came in from a typical one. Drive 5 miles to get to the house. The driveway is about 100' long with a 90 degree turn into a lot in front of the garage. Lot is about 80' x 50' with garage on one side, house on another and push the snow over the edge of the fourth side. All areas are gravel and hard pack. Takes about 10 - 15 minutes with backdragging from the house. Now getting ready to go out to five in the same general area (within six miles of each other).
     
  15. Got Snow

    Got Snow Senior Member
    Messages: 104

    i have 35 driveways and this takes around 9 hours an average. with larger snowfalls (like the one we had 3 weeks ago) it's prety much non-stop. i only have 1 truck. just subbed out 12 driveways.
     
  16. Earthscapes

    Earthscapes Senior Member
    from WNY
    Messages: 577

    LOL Mick,, i'll go take some pictures of our average driveways.

    Gravel won't touch the stuff,,too much of a pain in the spring to deal with.

    Your right location is the key. I dropped 26 driveways from last yr b/c the drive time was killing me. I can't see driving 10 miles for 1 driveway, unless they pay BIG money.
     
  17. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    You DROPPED 26 driveways? I couldn't even handle 26 driveways up here.

    Yeah, it's funny comparing circumstances. But the point I was trying to make originally was not to get over-committed the first year. I'd still say that a 2-3 hour route is good to learn with the first year (goes along with Digger242j's idea of time vs # of customers). Then, it's hard for someone to judge what's going to take that amount of time for an average without experience. That's why I figured an "average" drive at 15 minutes (I've got one that takes 40 minutes and another that takes 30 - not counting drive time).
     
  18. Got Grass?

    Got Grass? Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    30 some here & a parking lot in really bad shape I can only go about 2mpg in. Takes about 3.5hrs total to clean them up real nice & shovel a couple walks.
    It's all about location & grouping them together, Most of mine I have at least 2 together, I have a few small blocks that I have 4 on. My route is pretty much a big figure 9 with all my drives 1-2 blocks off that.

    It's hard sometimes to say no to summer customers who pay well but are out of your winter route. You have to determine weather it is worth it or not for your buisness...
     
  19. Earthscapes

    Earthscapes Senior Member
    from WNY
    Messages: 577

    Mick these are for you, not quite as large as yours:

    jan29#01.jpg
     
  20. Earthscapes

    Earthscapes Senior Member
    from WNY
    Messages: 577

    One more,,these are average, with 1 1/2" of snow on them from last nite. The driveway on the house to the right is 1/4 mile long and 30' wide,but the pic looked like crap

    jan29#02.jpg