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on-call plowing service

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Mike from NH, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. Mike from NH

    Mike from NH Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I own a full service drywall company in NH, and for the winter months I want to get back into plowing. I started plowing 5 years ago and did it for 2 seasons. I had no guidence and just winged it, but Im wiser now. At the time I had a new 3/4 ram and a 8' fisher plow. I purchaced a commercial libility policy on my truck and general libility on the business. Which was insane. I want to buy a used truck and a new plow and advertise in the local newspaper like this:

    Snowplowing
    24 hr on-call service
    (603) 555-9999

    I want to have an oncall per visit type business, because when I plowed before I had contracts and gave estimates and spent a ton of time billing,with no loyality. So I want to have a cash on delivery type arangement with my customers. No contracts because they dont mean anthing, they can cancel or not pay when they please and the cost of small claims isnt worth it. So basically a person will call me, I will get address and info, give a estimate over the phone if they agree i will go plow them out and collect cash on the spot. I will have magnets made up with "snowplowing 24 on-call service 603-555-9999". This type is service seems to make alot of sence to me, heres why.

    1. some people want to have plow guy for the big storms, and use a snow blower on the smaller storms. So setting a 3" mimimum wouldt work.

    2. the who issue of charging by the snow fall amount, is asking for b/s I would say $XX.XX for up to 6 inches $10.00 and inch over.

    3. billing for plowing is a major pain in the ass, when must storms your customer could pay in cash when the service is complete.

    4. plowing is a service like a taxi, person calls and 15 mins later they get the service and pay cash.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 8,518

    "1. some people want to have plow guy for the big storms, and use a snow blower on the smaller storms."

    If you are offering call out only you will only get a call or two after a big blizzard, because thats the only time you will be needed. so you will only work a few times a year.

    What is going to make your add stand out from all the other adds for snow removal that are posted on the grocery store bulletin board or in the paper next to all the other adds?

    "4. plowing is a service like a taxi, person calls and 15 mins later they get the service and pay cash."
    Snow plowing is a service, you need to be convent. Do you expect the client to get up at 4am to pay you?

    "2. the who issue of charging by the snow fall amount, is asking for b/s I would say $XX.XX for up to 6 inches $10.00 and inch over............."
    Why go down this road? Who cares if there is 5 or 10 inches, your an on call business just give an estimate for plowing the drive.($X per push)

    "I purchaced a commercial libility policy on my truck and general libility on the business. Which was insane."
    You will need commercial INS again.

    Just some things to think about.I'm not trying to flame you, I just don't think you are going to get a lot of work this way IMO..
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2006
  3. Mick

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

    I have done on-call jobs and have considered doing only on-call like you're talking about. Two things I'd advise:

    1. Agree to a price (not an "estimate") in advance and collect BEFORE you plow. There isn't much you can do after you plow if they decide they don't want to pay what you're charging.

    2. Be VERY careful - you don't know what's under that snow. You don't know if there is a ditch or where it is. You can't see that piece of steel that's about to puncture your tire. You can't see where the driveway ends and the lawn begins.

    Besides, you will only get the biggest and wettest/heaviest snowfalls. When you look at a place and think it's worth $xx - double it.

    You definately need General Liability insurance for something like this. You will never have had a chance to scope a place out before you plow it and nothing will be marked.
     
  4. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368

    on call plowing

    In our area to plow only when you get a storm you will starve to death. The bread and butter is in the 2 inch and under snow plowing and keeping lot clean type of customer. This year we have had 2 plow events. Not one got us a call in. The cash business is a good thing. How do you know the customer told you the right information about the size of driveway and snow conditions on the phone? Your problems are still there, what about a bad check or you damaged something I want plowed for free issues?

    Good luck

    Dave
     
  5. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    Where you at in southern NH?
     
  6. Mike from NH

    Mike from NH Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I live in Manchester NH
     
  7. PORTER 05

    PORTER 05 Senior Member
    Messages: 449

    no that wont work, im listed in the newspaper , verizon yellow pages and have flyers everywhere, most people dont call when it snows, maybe 1 or 2 , but not enought to make any $$$$..+ if you go out and plow a "stranger" you will have no idea what his drive looks like, is ther e awal, grass , wat about a oil or gas hook up next to the house, ths is wat we look for and mark down at ever commercial and residentail account in september and october, well before the snow comes....id watch out for this...and billing for snow plowing is not har,d bulk it up and dont bill every storm, bill ever 30 days or somthing, so youre not sending bills out ever day, this is stupid....i wouldnt just rely on on call plowing, you wont even make you newspaper advertising back....
     
  8. GL&M

    GL&M Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 223

    Not to be a smart azz but I think you just wasted your money on the plow and truck if you go per call only. The calls will be few for all the reasons listed by the above posters.
     
  9. CARDOCTOR

    CARDOCTOR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,310

    if you dont want the ag but want to make money sub for somebody.

    john
     
  10. crazymike

    crazymike Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 639

    Do your add, put out cards for on call, per push and sub contract.

    This is what I do. I get the odd person who calls me every storm to come to their driveway on a per push basis. They pay cash, I get there when i get there so they pay a little less.

    I do a gas station for $40. It takes me 20 minutes. Many people would say I'm lowballing. But they pay cash, they call me when it needs to be plowe and I can come whenever I want. They else give me a deal in the store.

    I do a few house driveways for $30 cash. 3-4 swipes, 15 minutes later I'm out. And it's cash in my pocket.

    But a good portion of my snow removal income comes from subbing. The company provides slip and fall, they do the billing, customer service, estimating, etc... And I just plow the snow.

    $80 an hour and all I have to do is sit and wait by the phone when it snows. Plow their route, plow me few calls and be on with it.

    Just a note. I'm available 24/7 for emergency. If someone needs to be plowed in to somewhere at 3am for an emergency I answer my cellphone as advertised. However, this is considered an emergency call and they pay extra.

    Also remember that if you are per call, you will be out much longer after a storm but get less return per hour. Some guy might call at 9am to do his driveway, another guy might call at 5pm to do his driveway. Another guy might call 3 days later after he keeps getting stuck and has rutted the driveway to ****.
     
  11. Jpocket

    Jpocket Senior Member
    Messages: 302

    Yea just sub for someone, thats what I call hassle free plowing.
     
  12. bluejeep

    bluejeep Member
    from IL
    Messages: 49

    I did just that this winter. I am in school and cant sign up people for contracts. I put up about 300-400 flyers and that’s it. I did the same thing 24h on call service and charged $25-50 for driveways. I plowed 3 times this winter. All of my customers are no more then 3 miles away from my home which I loved. I got referrals and I had plenty of work. Acutely my biggest problem was the fact that people called after they wake up in the morning and all of them wanted me to answer the phone at the same time and for me to come as soon as I could. That sounds like a good thing, but when you are plowing and you have call after call non stop, its ridicules and you cant work. You have to talk to them and give them estimates and the ETA and write down the address and all that all in the same time. Does not really work. Some customers learned to call ahead of time and get on my list. I think if the 4th snowstorm came I would have had it down by now but the first 2 snows were brutal. If I have someone who answers phone calls for you while you are working, I would be set.
     
  13. Makndust

    Makndust Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    We have about 16 regulars that are on the list at either 1" or 2" and then my wife takes the calls at home and dispatches to me in the pickup. I let her know when I can get to it and she calls them back to let them know. I understand that we don't have the compitition out here that alot of you have where you are located at. This works good for us but makes for a long day/night/day for us when we get a substancial snow (4 + "'s). I have only one customer that has my cell #. He is the grounds supervisor for a privately owned prison at our home town. He is very understanding and easy to work with as far as a timeframe when I can come to plow "inside the fence". We get more private drive calls than commercial because we do all the other comercial accounts that have snow removed in town. I wouldn't ever do a strictly "by the call" business. It would turn into a schedualing nightmare for us.