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New here, looking for some direction

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by treeguy, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. treeguy

    treeguy Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Really happy I found this site, it is very helpful.

    For the last 6 years or so I have been slowly trying to build my business. I am a tree climber, but, the last couple of years I have added lawn maintenace as a service I provide. I am focussing on grass now more than the trees, mostly to save my body.

    Anyways I have been thinking of getting into snow plowing in the winter(next year). I just haven't quite convinced myself that there is enough money in it for me to justify buying the necessary equipment. I would still hold down a full time job. I am not interested in going after large contracts, I would probably do just do a few residential and a couple small parking lots. I've done some rough figuring and either I would have to charge a huge hourly rate or suck it up and take a loss the first year. I understand not making money the first couple of years, but, losing money during the roughest time of the year would not go over well with the family.

    Just interested in what people would recomend for equipment and insurance etc? Maybe my thoughts are way off. What is the maximum you would try and take on with a 1/2 ton truck? Any advice would be appreciated on keeping a business growing and making it worth while.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Mick

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

    Probably about 5-6 hours worth.

    As far as equipment to start with - a primary truck with a backup truck that you can put that plow on. Both should be 4wd. You'll need Commercial Vehicle insurance and General Liability insurance. (Your regular vehicle insurance is not sufficient.) Have a repair kit - most plow manufacturers have a kit you can buy that has the common hoses, pumps etc. Get some hydraulic fliud. Carry common hand tools and a tow strap. Have the number for a tow truck or a good friend.

    Do not expect to make any profit for the first few years. The first two years I didn't even make enough to pay my liability insurance.

    Whether you plow for some else to learn or jump in with your own accounts is up to you. Each has good points. I've never sub-contracted and never will. I like doing things my own way. If you have a regular full time job, you're going to have to keep that in mind - there'll be a lot of jobs you simply can't take. Don't make promises you can't keep - you'll go farther and get more business based on your reputation than any other factor.

    Never compromise. And never, never, EVER cut your price just to get a job. You'll only wind up doing more work for less money and get a reputation as "the cheap guy who plows snow".

    Keep planning for the future. Keep adding services. Plan to expand at a certain rate every year. Track progress. Make a Business Plan (even a rough one). But don't grow too fast. Many new companies fail because they don't "plan growth". They grow too fast and can't handle it. Then fold under their own weight. Don't take on debt unless you have other income to make the payments.

    I tried to hit some "high spots" but I'm sure I left plenty for others to chime in.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2005
  3. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    1/2 ton truck is great for residential work and maybe some small lots. I would want to get some experience (however small) before you actually go out and buy a plow. Even if its just a friend who plows and will let you "get a feel for it" and if it seems like something you want to do then go for it next year. Start small as you said, there is room to grow if need or desire is there.

    Business End: Just listen to Mick, hes pretty good :waving:
     
  4. Up North

    Up North Senior Member
    Messages: 921

    Mick as usual pretty much covered it. I guess what I can help you with is this is my first year back into the business. My dad plowed when I was a kid and I helped him for a few years, we did all residential. After about 16 years I decided to hop back into it. In my first year I've taken on 15 accounts, 4 commercial and 11 residential. My route takes me 4-6 hours depending on the amount of snow. One thing I need to do for next year...tighten my route. I have a couple accounts that are spread out, I took them thinking I just needed the business but would have been better off just passing on them I think. I drive a 2000 1/2 ton Chevy Silverado with the Blizzard 760LT. I'd like to add salting to the business as nobody around here does that, so even on accounts that I don't plow I could pick up the salt business. But that part of the business plan may have to hold off until I get a 3/4 ton truck. I know this depends on the area you're in, but my plow has almost paid for itself already. That's taking in consideration the insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc..

    One thing, and Mick touched on this, is don't lower your price to get a job. I made a similar mistake on one of my commercials...I didn't lower my price but I based it on what he told me he payed last year. And since it was my first commercial I didn't really have the market figured out yet, I may lose this one next year when I submit my new price. :rolleyes:

    Anyway, good luck Treeguy. Hope it goes well for you.

    Buck