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New guy looking for help

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by College Cuts LC, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. College Cuts LC

    College Cuts LC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I have a small landscaping business (15 accounts), it is my 2nd year, and I have missed out on 4 or 5 new accounts this year because I do not plow snow in the winter. As of right now I don't even have a 4wd truck but I am hoping to get into the snow plowing business within the next couple of years and I have some questions.

    I plowed snow with a friend of mine last year and learned a lot of stuff from him (he had 35 mixed residential and commercial accounts). I also learned that it takes pretty much all night to plow. We were out an average of 6 hours.

    1.) I am hopefully going to be working full time at a fire department soon and my hours will be on 24 hours and off for the next 48 hours, so my problem is what if it snows when I am on shift?

    2.) Do you charge the person twice if you have to make a second pass on their property before the end of the night?

    3.) When should you go out to plow? (Over 2"? over 3"?)

    4.) Do most of you guys bill per service or give a set price for the whole season?

    5.) Do any of you guys do this stuff part time and have full time jobs you have to get to in the morning? If so how do you deal with basically getting no sleep throughout the night? I know I went to school all day then started plowing with that guy at midnight and get home at like 6:30 am and have school again at 9. It was awful haha.

    I want to do this but my main problem is that if it snows while I am on shift I cannot just leave to plow, I know people that would be able to possibly help me out that night and do it but then I have to pay them. I would do it in the morning when I get off but that wouldn't be until 8am and I know traffic will be annoying then plus people need to have their properties cleared to get to work. Any advice will be much appreciated!
     
  2. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Hope that helps with some of your questions, GOOD LUCK TO YOU
     
  3. College Cuts LC

    College Cuts LC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Yes that is very helpful thank you! How often do things wear out on a plow like the blade edge at the bottom and stuff? Last year one of the hydraulic pistons went out on the plow so it wouldn't raise or lower does that stuff happen often?
     
  4. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    It really depends on use. If you do a high volume things will wear faster. Cutting edges should be good for at least a year but for me (most of the time) i can go several years. You will want to develope a good relationship with your local plow dealer and buy a plow that has parts easily available. I know in my area napa and advanced can get your basic parts for western and meyer but I know that advanced cant get parts for a boss. There are lots of options for plows and I would recommend one that you have a dealer near by. Its getting more common to find (at least in my area) plow dealers who are open 24hrs when theres a storm. If there is a problem, they can hopefully get you back out in no time.
     
  5. College Cuts LC

    College Cuts LC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    In my area it seems that Western is most popular. I am not going to be getting into this for probably at least 2 years, right now I am focusing on getting more lawn care accounts but I just wanted to get basic knowledge about how things work in this business.
    I am just worried about sub contracting people for when I am unable to plow because of work, I want to make sure I make money and not loose is ya know haha.
     
  6. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    Yup, I understand. I bid all of my accounts per push, but pay my subs a hourly wage for each account (not including drive time) Usually it cost me about half of what the actual per push is to pay the sub, so I still come out ahead. It is only when we have storms that dump access amounts of snow that "cost" me money. The whole idea is to stay on top of the game and be plowing at the trigger point
     
  7. College Cuts LC

    College Cuts LC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Okay so say I am making $200 on my plow accounts when I do it myself, I can plan on paying the sub about $100? That's not bad seeing as I am making $100 for doing nothing plus I'm not using my truck. That's how it works right? The sub uses his own truck?
     
  8. College Cuts LC

    College Cuts LC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I forgot to ask is the amount per push the same if its 4" as when it is 12"? For instance last February we got 2 feet of snow dumped on us, is that the same price even when you have to go back 2 maybe 3 times to clear the lot again?
     
  9. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    That's typically how it works out for me. It is really dependent on how much you pay your subs. You will have to get the feel for them during the first season. I have had subs that are very efficient, do very nice work, have presentable equipment and work very reasonably. I have also had subs that milk the clock. Again, if you can find people you can trust, they will take care of you if you take care of them. If a sub is using your equipment than they are really more an employee than a sub. There have been many debates on this site about subs vs employees. I would recommend that your subs use their own equipment.

    You will want to have a set "trigger point" that you base your per push price off of (ours is 2"). Most of the time you will have no problem getting out and clearing 2 inches at a time and that is where you make your money. In a per push situation, you do run the risk of losing money if you get dumped on during a heavy storm/blizzard and cant keep up. It does take longer to plow 6" than 2". The idea is to be on top of the game and be plowing at your trigger, even if it means you will have to go back to the property multiple times before the storm is done.
     
  10. College Cuts LC

    College Cuts LC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Okay that's understandable. So as soon as the storm starts and gets to 2" I leave and start plowing and keep plowing as long as the storm lasts and until all the snow is clear right?
    So no matter what time it snows whether it be 1am or 1pm you leave to plow as soon as it reaches 2"?
    Sorry to be the annoying new guy, I really do appreciate all your advice.
     
  11. Plowtoy

    Plowtoy Senior Member
    Messages: 929

    2 inches or what ever you decide to set your contract at. I will tell you that if they are predicting more than 2 inches overnight, we still start around the same time unless there are blizzard like conditions or a heavy storm predicted that is going to drop a lot in a short time, then yes you may be in the truck earlier or all night. Realistically, 3-4 inches (most of the time) push the same as 2 and really don't take much longer. The all nighters are no fun but it is a part of the job.
    You will also get the feel of your clients as you start plowing. Some may not mind if there is 2 and a half to 3 inches before you get there and others will be calling you when there is an inch and half on the ground wondering where you are. One thing I can tell you for sure is that no two clients are the same in this business
     
  12. College Cuts LC

    College Cuts LC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Yea I know how that is from the lawn side of the business. Some people don't care and some people want you to come special on your days off just to do their lawn. I guess I can't blame them if they have never been in the business, they just see it as they are paying so they are your boss, which is not entirely true haha. Anyways you have been a big help, thank you for answering all my questions.