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New to plowing for profit: questions about properly bidding

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by KIVALO, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. KIVALO

    KIVALO Member
    from Uhh NO!
    Messages: 31

    I have plowed with an ATV for over 10 years and with my pick up for 1 year (last year). I was contemplating picking up a few residential accounts this winter just to help offset some costs. I have been looking into the various smartphone apps and webpage estimators and I have some questions.

    First, How do estimate the amount of billable hours per year? I have no idea how many there will be, what is the proper way to determine that?

    Second, is insurance on the vehicle enough or should I form a legal business and get proper insurance? It will just be me and I plan on making some form of arrangement with another person incase my truck or plow dies and I have jobs to get done. I also plan on doing residential only, with one exception being my brother's business's lot. I wasn't planning on doing a lot either, just enough to offset some daily costs.

    Third, considering residential is primarily driveways is there a generally accepted minimum or maximum pricing? A rule of thumb as it were?

    Thanks in advance,

    Brad
     
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609


    :waving:payup
     
  3. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,863

    all Grandview says is true, as for your last queston, Grandview is talking about seasonal price(200-300) if you charging per visit, I'd say min $25-30, as for max.....depends on alot.
     
  4. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    High Brad. You need to be @ 100 per hour minimum. Otherwise, you are working for nothing. Guys will say that is too much, but it isn't when you figure everything involved. It's a minimum.
    Figure it this way...the truck needs to make an average of $1.67 a minute, or more, including travel time.
     
  5. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,591

    Your location will also dictate your rate. Your profile doesn't show your location.
     
  6. KIVALO

    KIVALO Member
    from Uhh NO!
    Messages: 31

    100 seems high for doing driveways, no? Not that I'm doubting you I mean is it readily doable with just driveways?

    Central NY, about 45 minutes from Syracuse.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  7. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,863

    not $100 per driveway, but $100 per hr min he saying, so if you do 4 drives in an hr, charge $30each you be at $120/hr, but if the drives you get are bigger or further & you can only do 2 in an hr you got to still charge accordingly. Not that I mean to put words in his mouth, but I'm sure thats what he means.
     
  8. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    More or less what I mean, yes.

    Another way to say it: If you look at a driveway, take a reasoned guess at how many of those same driveways you could plow in one hour, figuring a 3-4 minute drive in between. If you think you can do 4 in an hour, then it's a $25 driveway. 3 in an hour, $35. And like that. And, don't short yourself...If you think a driveway can be done in 8 minutes, double it. It takes a lot longer to do than you would think by standing there imagining it.
    Also, take the weather into account when you go look at them. On a bright sunny day you will tend to under-estimate. A dark cloudy day, you will over-estimate. I have learned this through many years of cruising timber lots. It applies to most anything you are "guessing at" outside.

    Are you the same Kivalo as on Freedomsledder? I think you are...
     
  9. KIVALO

    KIVALO Member
    from Uhh NO!
    Messages: 31

    I know what he meant, I was thinking out loud so to speak, I guess Im uncertain if I can plow enough & charge enough to earn that. I guess I have more investigation into local plowing costs.


    HA! Yeah, who are you?

    EDIT: OT, is that you?
     
  10. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    It is I, the Oldtimer.
     
  11. KIVALO

    KIVALO Member
    from Uhh NO!
    Messages: 31

    35 year old snowmobiles in your signature are a dead giveaway! :laughing:
     
  12. South Seneca

    South Seneca Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    You also need to keep in mind travel time. I had a lady ask for an estimate on a long and steep lake driveway that was 10 miles beyond my normal route. I had to add drive time and figure in the risk of getting stuck now and then, when I gave her my estimate. Otherwise it would end up costing me money to take that job.

    If you are in a suburban neighborhood where driveways are a minute apart, drive time doesn't play so much of a role in your costs.
     
  13. KIVALO

    KIVALO Member
    from Uhh NO!
    Messages: 31

    Thats my biggest concern on making $100/hr drive time between stops will play a major role for me. I could do city plowing but I don't want to, Id much rather be out in the country.
     
  14. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    Unless you have an ace up your sleeve, or get really lucky, your first few years will be rough. You will probably have customers who are 8 miles apart, and you can't price them too high because of it or you won't get them. So, while what I said about 100 per hour does hold true, it will be a while before you build a route that gets you past the magic number of profit. Network. Spread the word, hit the golf club and drop the word that you are looking to add accounts. Be proactive.
     
  15. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    That 100 an hr. don't focus to much on it. Say your doing driveways only. You pop off 5 of them in an hour but your next dive with drive time and plowing takes you an hr and you only charged them 50 bucks. In the end you still made 100 and hr .The trick is pick up new stuff close to each other then drop the others.Might take a few seasons.
     
  16. KIVALO

    KIVALO Member
    from Uhh NO!
    Messages: 31

    From what I have been able to gather factoring in insurance and associated business costs I can plan on breaking evening or small profits for the first year or two. Is this accurate?
     
  17. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Do you do summer work or a plow only guy?
     
  18. KIVALO

    KIVALO Member
    from Uhh NO!
    Messages: 31

    Oh I have a regular career but its tough out there and I was looking to make the slow season a little easier. I thought since I have a plow for personal use I might as well earn a few extra bucks with some driveways. All these questions are just me trying to figure out if, in the end, its financially worth it.
     
  19. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    Unless you really pound the pavement, so to speak. As I recall, you meet home owners in your line of work...can't hurt to hand them a card...
     
  20. KIVALO

    KIVALO Member
    from Uhh NO!
    Messages: 31

    Yeah thats one way but Im not sure I want to mix the two even tho they may be an obvious choice. Looking to get out of RE, I really hate home sellers and other RE agents. Nothing set in stone tho, time will tell.