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Per Plow Vs. Per Event

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by cbservicesllc, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. cbservicesllc

    cbservicesllc PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,387

    Slightly nervous about posting on here since I'm a new kid on the block and don't want to get my butt chewed too much... I am going to be doing snow removal for the first time as an independent contractor and I'd just like to seek some definition from those that have been around the block.

    I feel like I have a good handle on some of what I need to know, but a major sticking point for me is Per Plow or Per Event. Can anyone give me a definition on these? I joined SIMA and downloaded sample contracts, searched here in the bidding and estimating forums, and wasn't able to come up with much.

    It looks like people break down the "per plow" price based on quantities plowed, but does that account for storms that last a good portion of the day and need more than one push? If it snows 12 inches and I plowed 3 times when it was around 4 inches, do I just account this into my 12 inch rate and bill it that way?

    For "per event" pricing it looks like most people limit the event to a 24 hour period (makes sense) so I'm assuming my prices per a given quantity of snow should account for, potentially, more than one trip to the site plus cleanup.

    Maybe I'm just looking WAY too much into this and I need to keep it simple... just looking for some advice from those who have done this WAY longer than I have.
  2. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Glad I didn't piss my money away on a SIMA membership if they can't explain Per Push vs. Per Event.

    Sounds like you are over complicating it. Per push is just that. Push the lot/drive, bill it. Three times in one storm? Bill it three times.

    Per event is just that. One snow storm, one price.

    You can also add accumulation components to either of those systems.

    I kept it quite simple, no confusing contracts. Big storm, plow twice - Bill for one and a half. Three visits, Bill for two. Never had a complaint, and it seemed fair to me.

    Good luck to you this winter.
  3. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,696

    Are you creating spec's for your contract, or are you being asked to price a property "per event"?

    If you are creating your contract, I would give the client optional pricing, as in per push pricing, seasonal pricing, per application for lots, per application for sidewalks (or actually usage's) or all inclusive pricing and let them choose which way they want to go.

    I would stay away from offering per event pricing as this is mulch more difficult to nail down even if the time-frame is defined. A marathon event can be costly to you if not priced right. Numerous marathon events will bring you sadness. If you consider the worst case scenario in your per event pricing chances are you will be overpriced and not get the work.
  4. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    You will never get your ass chewed for asking a good Question.......Its the stupid ones thet get the chewing.....:salute:

    The two fine fellows before me gave Great answers...The only thing i can add is.....Stay away from Per-Event pricing and stick to Per-Push and Per-Application for your Contracts...Also, You need to set a Trigger that best suits the sites needs...Example, a 2" Trigger will not work for a Hospital that needs a Zero Tolerance....
    Talk to the Potential Client about the needs and wants of the site.....

    Since i only Plow for Beer Money i don't have these issues...:drinkup:
  5. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    Hit the nail on the head!
  6. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,954

    Do you not follow your own advice?

    No wonder you never had a complaint, you were/are undercharging. payup
  7. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Even more simple,go seasonal.
  8. cbservicesllc

    cbservicesllc PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,387

    Thanks for all the info... much appreciated. I figured I was probably over complicating it. Per Plow or Seasonal seems to be the way to go. I am actually putting together a contract for my first potential customer who wants it quoted per plow, no walks. I just need to make sure I'm in the same wheelhouse as the current contractor.
  9. bignyla

    bignyla Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    I'm trying to do the same trying to find out the best way to come up with a price for a commerical job she wants seasonal price no matter what comes can you guys help me?
  10. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    The search feature is your friend but that said, what is your hourly rate?
  11. cbservicesllc

    cbservicesllc PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,387

    So it seems as though some call out "per plow" in their contract and say it is going to cost "x" amount of dollars each time I come out... period. Then in some of the contracts I have downloaded it calls out "per plow" for given depth ranges. Should the prices I quote in these depth ranges reflect the number of visits I anticipate making (1-3=1 visit, 3-6=2 visits, etc.)? Seems like that would make sense... again, just making sure I'm in the wheel house...
  12. buckwheat_la

    buckwheat_la 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,254

    I think you missed the point actually, let me try explain it.

    If you get 12 inches of snow and you manage to get out 6 times with a 2 inch trigger you will charge for 6 times....


    Now if you can only get to it 2 times (snows 6 inches in a hour) or if the client insists you wait until the snowfall is half way over or accumalated more before you plow, will now you have 6 inches of snow to plow, which will take longer to plow. At the same time you only had to make the trip 2 times so it will still be faster then having plowed it 6 times so your billing might look something like this

    6 inches plowed 2 times
    2x$250= $500

    Now lets say they tell you to wait until the end of the snowfall, and you show up to plow the full 12 inches it might look something like this


    You save the gas and travel time from coming numerous times, but it is going to still take you a lot longer then if you were just doing 2 inches. All these numbers were just pulled from the air and are not necessarily reflective of a actual contract but I think you get the point.

    I hope this helps you out
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011
  13. dutchboydx

    dutchboydx Junior Member
    from 01945
    Messages: 1

    The easiest way I can think of to come up with a No-Cap seasonal contract it to take the property and figure out what you would charge per push. Take the average number of events per year in your area. Take the average number of pushes/events in your area. Add two or three for good measure. Multiply Rate per push x average events x average pushes per event.
    For example $35 per push
    15 events add 2 to be safe so 17
    2 pushes per event
    35x17x2= $1190.00 or 1199.00
    subtract 15% $1000 or $999.00 early bird discount
    What I am trying this year is offering 15% discount on seasonal contracts if paid in full by November 1st. I may lose a little on them, however it is money in the bank to pay for gas and salt.

    This is my first year doing this seriously. I have in the past helped people out with a snow blower, but had no official contracts or clients. This year I am getting serious, have a brand new simplicity signature pro, general liabilty, and contracts. I have about 7 contracts so far, with about 5 bids out. Plus a buddy of mine who is plowing is about to bid 17 commercial properties, all with long sidewalks he wants to sub out.
  14. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,868

    :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

    Wow! Funny as hell, but no comment here..
  15. ryde307

    ryde307 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,130

    This is good advice but I would leave out the middle part its a hybrid of per push and per event really.

    Per push is everytime you show up during or after an event you plow as much as possible thats 1 push or plow. You bill the number of times you do this times your per push rate you have a final bill. As described in example 1 above. In the example the idea was a 2" trigger. If you make it every 2 inches great realtiy is in a big storm it doesnt happen you may be there for 2" one time 4" another and so on you still bill number of times multiplied by your push rate. yes you dont make as much on a 4" push as say a 1" but you use a base 3" rate or so and it averages out.

    Per event now is where snow depth comes in to play. an event is a approx. a 24 hr period. using examples from above lets say your per push rate was $100. your base rate 1-4" would be 100. 4.1-8 would be x and 8.1-12 would be y 12+would be z. You will have to fill in the blanks on what those are. But you will calucate based on amount of times you will be there. So lets say 4.1-8 you will plow twice 100x2=200 thats your price for that depth and so on. After and event you look up snow reports from the nearest credible source and bill it. make sure you define this in your contract as the source you will use and that you will not be out with a tape measure on every lot.

    Hope that helps somewhat.
  16. Nutz4Plowing

    Nutz4Plowing Member
    Messages: 30

    It may just be me but why would you want to not have a fixed rate for snow removal. You hear on here it all balances out all the time. But take the last two years like we had here in the northeast. How can you say a seasonal rate wouldnt of put a beating on you.
    Here I charge per push ( 2in). If a storm is 4 in, I only charge for the amount of times I actually plow. Example two trips equals 2 pushes. 6 inches equals three trips equals 3 pushes. I use a local weather station location as reference on my contracts.This makes sure everyone is on the same page and if i decide to do a 6 in storm in only two pushes I still can bill for three because it is the amout you are removing not just the number of times.
    This also depends on the need of the client ie 24 hr operation or hospital etc., but if they want to be zero tolerance, they will have to pay for trips. This is a different type of client but contracts specify how much you are able to charge for and special services are billed at special rates.

    Bottom line I am saying that each client may have different needs, but each area may or maynot use seasonal contracts. Where I am located I want to bill for amount of snowfall wheather or not if " I CHOOSE TO DO IT IN ON-TWO-OR THREE PUSHES". That way the event is what they are paying for not how many pushes I get it done with.
    Take six inches for example...I get three pushes per event. I bill for three and choose to do it in two to save time if account allows for it. But I dont find it that much more dificult to push 2 vs 3 inches.
    In my opinion you do what works for you and this site is a great resource for ideas to try to incorporate into how you do business and if it doesnt work well adapt and overcome...just my opinion and always open to suggestions...
    Does anyone agree or
  17. GSS LLC

    GSS LLC Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    the way people charge is just redicoulously confusing sometimes.

    hourly, gives the potential to pad hours.

    per push, can get very pricey for the customer. if its a 4" storm, and you go out twice on a 2" trigger. thats double the price. now, should you wait for the 4" to come to an end and pushed it? do you still charge for one push?

    per push/per inch- seems the most credible but also very confusing, hard to pin down what works. 2" base price, then every depth tier adds more money. do you go by whats on the ground at the moment youre pushing, or what the total storm depth is?? (pushed 3" first time and 2" second time or bill them for 5"??)

    seasonal, easiest way to bill. however, someones getting ripped off. no snow, property owner getting ripped off, hope he sees the long term how it "supposedly" averages out. lots of snow, youre getting ripped off, hope you had enough billed to cover your ass, and had some cash saved up. very rarely is everyone getting treated "fair"

    beer- just get paid in beer. everyones happy. pizza can be used to..
  18. rtreads

    rtreads Junior Member
    from Denver
    Messages: 29

    I agree with the above 99%... I think it is VERY well said! Though, I think hourly is the most "fair" method of billing. No risk by either party. The contractor isn't taking unnecessary risk of loosing their butt, and the customer isn't being over charged for a service they are not using.

    I would add... to find the remaining 1% please see the definition of "integrity".
  19. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    For me,i feel hourly rate is good if your a sub or if your using heavy equipment.If your lot takes under hour why not bid a per plow price?
  20. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,536

    Last couple of years, I plow a park roadway for a customer of mine. It's a group of roads made into rectangles, and I have no idea how many acres it is or what the total of snow I'm moving is. I do know that I bid the job based upon how much time it would take me to do plow all the roadways and be out of there for the next job. They have a 4 inch trigger, and I get paid for how many times I have to go out. 4 inches gets dumped, I plow the roads. 4 more gets dumped, I get to plow a second time, and bill them for a second pass, and so on.... I'm generally out in about an hour and a half.

    Now if the weather report says .....2" of snow then turns to ice, and then cold for the next week, I go at the end of the storm and bill them for the normal 4" push. They don't want a snow storm to turn into an Ice storm and turn the roadways into an impassable mess. I talked them into doing it this way, as I've seen ice storms where no plowing was done and it was a nightmare to do anything with it afterwords..... and I won't touch it if it happens, as I'm not breaking my truck due to someone being cheap.

    At the end of my run of plowing other properties, I go back and clear any residual snow (<2 inches) from the storm most of the time without charging, as it takes me little or no time at all to make a final pass Only If the next plow is 3" or greater of depth, they get charged, as they expect to pay for what's being done for them. A light "re-pass" is a good way of telling them I care about how well it comes out, as well as allowing me to check my work to see if I missed something the first time.

    Personally I think it's better to have a customer who knows I'm going back to re-check the property because I care about their satisfaction, than it is to sock it to them for another 15 minutes or so of work.

    I wouldn't do a "per event" billing as there are too many variables that I wouldn't feel comfortable giving a price for.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012