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Plowing as a second job?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Kunker, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. Kunker

    Kunker Member
    Messages: 96

    Hi All,

    I did some searching on "part time" and "second job" but had little success. I currently work full time as a software engineer with semi-flexible hours (I can come in late/leave early, but can't miss entire days). I've been throwing around the idea of residential plowing for a couple of weeks now (yeah I know, lots to learn, I'm reading a ton) and wanted to know if anyone on here does just this? That is, plowing out residentials only, and as a second job.

    The idea would be to plow early mornings (between 5-8am) and/or evenings (6-9pm) to fit it in around my work day. Anyone having any success with this, or is it a pipe dream?

    Any advice from those who have done it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Kevin
     
  2. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Welcome! It's not a pipe dream, unless you consider MANY of us are living the same dream! Having a primary source of income is wise in the driveway biz. That's not to say those who rely completely on snowplowing don't do well; quite to the contrary, many bill out seasonal contracts for residential and/or commercial & have dependable income for winter as well. Many of us primarily in the residential side of things charge based on snowfall (by the depth, by the push, or whatever the technique), making winter very unstable for income. I personally work full-time hours landscaping the other months while actually having full-time work as a firefighter/paramedic year round. Snowplowing is sometimes difficult with the inflexibility of my scheduled job, but it's manageable and quite a significant income. A big key for you will be the flexibility of your primary job -- if you can plow somewhat WITH a storm, making it into work either before or after plowing, or making up some hours in the days following (ie: you plow all morning, work from 11-4, plow more if needed, and make up the 3 hours over the next couple days). Insurance will be a necessity for you, and it's always good business to get a couple backup guys with trucks to get your driveways should something come up (big project you can't get away from at work, the truck isn't working, etc). Beyond that, I say you're looking at something good for yourself. You may be a little late for this year, but ya never know! It takes a little time to get established. Best of luck, and feel free to ask along the way


    ~Kevin
     
  3. mr.greenjeans89

    mr.greenjeans89 Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    kevin
    I think as long as you do it in residential only it mite work ok for you.Those hours are usually the time to plow and should work out however you mite want to get a back up plan for someone you know to plow 4 you if it snow during your other job hours during the day or just be honest with your customers and tell them your plowing hours and then they wont mind waiting.Do you have a tractor or something to plow with?
     
  4. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,699

    No pipe dream. Very doable. You should be able to find an outfit that will gladly cater to that.
     
  5. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    If you are just looking for a job, talk to plowing companies and tell them when you are available. I know during big storms alot of guys would appreciate getting spelled off or to fill in for guys that are injured or sick. Where I used to work we always tried to have a few guys like yourself just for those reasons.

    To start a second business though, it is likely too late this year.

    Good Luck!
     
  6. mycirus

    mycirus Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 589

    Its very doable. Just explain to your customers that you have a real job but it will get done. Most will understand.
     
  7. csx5197

    csx5197 Senior Member
    Messages: 209

    Yeah that would work fine, like there saying, Just tell your customers, so they are aware. Better yet, get customers who don't leave during a storm. But you should be fine, do you have plowing equipment already to go?
     
  8. Kunker

    Kunker Member
    Messages: 96

    Thanks for all the advice and words of encouragement.

    My thoughts were along the same lines...be up front about the service and hours that I'm available, and leave the decision up to the customers. I hadn't thought much about a backup in case of breakdown, but it's definitely something I would look into. I know our first plow guy last year didn't have one and we were snowed in for 2 days before finding someone else.

    And that brings up a little bit of background: I moved into the neighbourhood last year (2 acre lots, 100 foot plus driveways) and we got dumped on with record snowfall after record snowfall. We found one guy, his truck broke, he never contacted us and we found another on short notice who did awesome work. Unfortunately he sold his business in the offseason, so we're with a new guy. The new guy is okay, but I'd like to be a little more independent and be able to get myself clear rather than waiting, especially since my wife runs a daycare and we need the drive clean by 6am when parents start showing up.

    Currently I have a 1992 Suburban (brand new HD tranny in it) as well as a 2007 Trailblazer. My thoughts were to try a Sno-Way with down pressure on the Burb after a lot of reading on here. I know it's not the perfect platform because of it's size, but almost all the drives in our area are straight, 2-3 cars wide, and 100+ feet long. The other thought was an ATV with 60" blade, but I'm not sure I could "plow with the storm" enough given my other job. I have no intention of trying to start this season, and would only truly consider giving it a go next year if I could get enough neighbours lined up over the summer.

    Oh, and I also work on the weekends as a satellite installer, so I do have some of the insurance in place like the commercial vehicle and some general liability. I know I'll have to have a long chat with my insurance agent well before I start signing people up.

    Bajak,
    Since I don't currently have a plow, do you think many companies would pick up someone with no experience for supply work as it were in their trucks? Or would it be a "you need a truck/plow first" sort of thing? Once I read a few posts on subbing and the short notice, long hours, I kinda gave up on working for someone as my schedule isn't flexible enough even if it is the best way to learn.
     
  9. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    Even if you can find someone willing to let you ride along a few times it would be a great way to pick up on some tips. Get familiar with a route and tell them you could be available. Tell them your intentions and be honest. You can help them and they could help you.

    What have you got to lose?

    I believe it is far more profitable to network, than to become competition.
     
  10. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,780

    As far as working around your other job goes you should be able to do it easy.

    Another thing to consider is can you actaully make money doing it? Consider the cost of fuel, plow, wear and tear on truck.... Then of couse there is insurance and taxes....

    Let us know how it goes!
     
  11. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am sure everyone on this site started with "no experience".
     
  12. Kunker

    Kunker Member
    Messages: 96

    Bajak,
    I guess there's no harm in trying like you say. Now off to the yellow pages!

    As for the no experience comment, I'm just remembering how hard it was for me to get my installer job...no experience hung around my head like a noose. Same for GL insurance, if I didn't have several cars and my house through the same company, they probably would have refused me I was told. All that over installing little satellite dishes...a lot more damage you can do with a truck.

    JP,
    I hear you, but for me it's less about making money and more about being independent right now. If I can get some accounts to help pay off the plow, I'd feel ahead on that alone.
     
  13. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Go for it.
     
  14. BGehl

    BGehl Member
    Messages: 89

    I would say go for it too, as long as you can function on little sleep.

    Even if it is just a modest storm, you are going to be looking at a very long day. You will have to be up to plow, go work your "real" job, and then be back to plowing.

    Most plow guys have to deal with this on a regular basis, but it would be a little different for you if others will be expecting you to be able to perform your regular tasks.
     
  15. terrapro

    terrapro PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,878

    actually, i came out of the womb with a snow shovel in my hand.

    on another note. if you are just doing yours and some neighbors drives it might be cheaper to pick up a used plow truck for a couple grand instead of outfitting your current rig. you might decide its not for you.
     
  16. Laner

    Laner Member
    from IA
    Messages: 63

    It is very doable as long as you can work on little sleep for several days......storms are so unpredictable. I have a full-time job and do lawn care/snow removal for the past 9 years. I enjoy being outside no matter what time of year it is. Just make sure to explain to your customers your situation and let them determine if they can work with your service hours. Some may not and others will be more than happy just to have someone that they can rely on. Be sure to keep your customers informed of any changes in service due to timing/weather/equipment, etc. Go for it!
     
  17. BlackIrish

    BlackIrish Senior Member
    Messages: 890

    Are you in Ontario?
    Your best bet would be to get on as a relief driver for some company. Lots of practice and you get paid.
    Or you blade the "burban but 100 ft lanes will kill it. A tractor ,44hp, w/blower makes quick work of most snowfalls. Expensive but rig will last 10+ yrs and still have a good value when resold.
     
  18. Tango

    Tango Senior Member
    Messages: 205

    I started seven years ago just doing my drive. I figured what could I screw up and if I did it was mine anyway. The next year I did most of my neighbor’s houses as well. It just kept growing. It took a few years to recoup the cost but I learned as I went. I work my “real” job full time. I now do 95% commercial lots that work well with my schedule. They all know when I can and can not be there. Best of luck to you.
     
  19. Snowaway

    Snowaway Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    This is my third job, I fish commercialy in the summer and do fiberglass boat repair in the winter. All self employed so I don't know much about squeezing plowing in with a real job, but I can tell you that I started plowing this year for myself. I have managed to get some good accounts, and I think I will break even this year or I might even turn a small profit. I had absolutely NO plowing exp. With a little common sense and a lot of plow site the learning curve has been pretty mellow. Make sure you have good equipment so you don't have to learn how to fix it at 3:30 in the morning. Good luck to you.:drinkup:
     
  20. Ford445

    Ford445 Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 243

    My full time job involves 12 hour shift work. I plow snow on the side for myself and I also plow snow for a company. My company route involves mostly residential and some commercial. The company has always understood my career comes first, then plowing snow (my wife and boss would probably argue that). They appreciate having me versus having to train a new guy. It usually works out well and I dont have to miss either job, but once in a while a storm hits at the wrong time and I just cant do much of my company plow route and they have to pick up the slack. As far as my own plow route, ALL of my customers are aware of my job, and they were aware before I took them on.

    I think as long as you are upfront and honest with either your new plow boss or your plow customers they will understand. Just dont promise somebody something and then not be able to follow through.

    I say go for it!