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Moving out on my own. Any tips?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by TEEJAY, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. TEEJAY

    TEEJAY Junior Member
    from NE PA
    Messages: 25

    I have done sub-work every snow storm for the same company for 8 years. I would average 10-12hrs per storm. This season I haven't been out longer than 4hrs., while their company trucks plowed for many more hours in the same storm.

    Long story short, I have decided to take on some jobs myself. I want to try to limit myself to just plowing (no shoveling or salt). What are some of the pitfalls I can expect in my first business venture?


    Thanks in Advance

    TRUCK: 97 F-250 Western 7'6"

    ussmileyflag
     
  2. SKYNYRD

    SKYNYRD Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    if you're going to go it alone you may want to consider driveways. especially if you're not going to salt or sand. you just tell the people up front that would be their problem. there's plenty of pain on the butt customers out there but there's also plenty of real decent ones. the most important thing regardless of what type of plowing you do (resodential or commercial) is to make sure you do a good job, clean it up as best you can and be reliable. word of mouth can go a very long way. you'll always have someone who says bad stuff but if you do a real good job then in the end the "good" word of mouth will always win out. just be patient. it takes time to grow a route and don't let yourself get so much on your plate you can't handle it. we never want to think our equipment will break but even the stupidest of simple fixes can be down time you can't afford to have if you have too many customers. always try to leave yourself a little bit of breathing romm if that makes sense. best of luck to youussmileyflag
     
  3. onemanshow

    onemanshow Junior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 27

    This is only my 2nd year opperating on my own.Last year was pretty tough starting out paying for insurance and replacing a transmission in the middle of the season.I didn't want to take on more work than I could handle and still offer qaulity service.I've also added another truck this year for back up so I can keep going if one is down.The money is better,but the costs are greater also.Good luck.
     
  4. TEEJAY

    TEEJAY Junior Member
    from NE PA
    Messages: 25

    Thanks

    I think I have a lot of those issues covered. My plowtruck is technically owned and insured on my father's business insurance (He owns a HP steam company) so any major problems, I should be OK. I have another guy (the guy who got me into plowing) working with me so any break downs should be OK (not that I ever want any!!!) too.

    I'm more interested in the business end, do all customers have signed contracts, do you charge hourly or per job, ect...



    Thanks
     
  5. SKYNYRD

    SKYNYRD Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    i've seen a lot of posts talking about contracts. where i am we have very rarely had a problem with just a hand shake for a contract. in the long run though a contract would probably cover your butt in a lot of ways. try doing a search on it maybe you'll be able to find answers to questions you didn't even know you had lol. good luck :)
     
  6. TEEJAY

    TEEJAY Junior Member
    from NE PA
    Messages: 25

    Yeah,

    Sometimes people can be scared to sign anything and it could cost you a job. I know we would all like customers who fully appreciate what we provide, but most seem to want the snow gone and worry about the cost later.

    Thanks again!
     
  7. SKYNYRD

    SKYNYRD Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    no problem! always glad to offer my opinions.
     
  8. redman6565

    redman6565 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,411

    good luck and remember customer satisfaction is key
     
  9. Krieger91

    Krieger91 Senior Member
    Messages: 353

    Even though I'm not running a company yet (planning to start lawn mowing and snow plowing next year), I'll give you my $.02.

    Like most have said,. insurance is key. Even though you pray nothing will ever happen, a mailbox, tree, or (worse case scenario) the customers' car will just jump out at ya if ya aren't covered.

    Besides that, redman said it best. This is a service industry. Keep your customers satisfied and you'll have work again next season. If not, you're loosing 10 jobs, not just once.
     
  10. augerandblade

    augerandblade PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,054

    tymusicussmileyflagTeeJay. back to your insurance. I would suggest you call whoever is holding the insurance for your prospective business and explain exactly what you are planning to do and if they will cover you under that arrangement. Accidents in the plow business are par for the course.MAKE SURE U R PROPERLY COVERED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  11. cbelawn

    cbelawn Member
    Messages: 39

    I do 60 driveways and have no contracts.I bill everyone per plow. Most of my customers I have never met. They called from an ad, or becuse I do there nabor. I told them on the phone what it would cost and got the mailing address.I bill everyone at the end of the month. I seem to trust people and they trust me. I only had one customer not pay Decembers bill in January, and that check came today. I tell everyone if they don't pay, I put the snow back :)....

    As far as accounts,I think when I first started I took anything I could get. then I got smarter and kept my route tight. I won't drive 2 miles to do one driveway anymore.

    I also do not shovel or salt.

    One other thing, get satellite radio.
     
  12. Deckscapes

    Deckscapes Senior Member
    Messages: 241

    TEEJAY,
    Always cover your A$$!!! A handshake is OK for payment, but will definitely not cover you in instances of "slip & falls". A well-written contract protects not only your company from liability and payment resolution, but should provide your customer with some sense of security about your abilities and professionalism. Ask your insurance provider for some insight, and spend the money to have an attorney help draft a contract!!! You do not need the practice of plowing snow, and you definitely do not need to give up everything you own because of an oversight.
     
  13. Blazin

    Blazin Senior Member
    Messages: 185

    In my area as well, Myself or any of the other plow contractors around here, none of us use contracts. It is all verbal, and a handshake. Been that way since before I was plowing, and I have been doing it that way since 1991.
     
  14. TEEJAY

    TEEJAY Junior Member
    from NE PA
    Messages: 25

    Well thanks again for the advice, unfortunately I have yet to get any calls or responses to my Craig's list ad yet. If I do pick up some clients, I will keep you posted.


    Thanks Again