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Preference: Commercial vs. Residential? Why?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by hansenslawncare, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. hansenslawncare

    hansenslawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 300

    Do you all have a preference on commercial vs. residential? If so why?

    Currently we plow 90% residential 10% commercial. We are in a position to start taking on more commercial; but, the residential profit margin is typically much higher.

    Your thoughts?
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I prefer commercial just because there is a more set time everything opens and closes. Resi's, everyone wants it done at different times or what not.
  3. hansenslawncare

    hansenslawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 300

    Roger that. I take it you plow more commercial than?
  4. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    That's all I do now.
  5. alpine779

    alpine779 Member
    Messages: 70

    We are strictly commercial, found residentials to be a pita. Doesn't matter how careful you may be there is always gonna be grass to repair, concrete touch-ups etc to do in the spring. Driveways done twice, once before they go out, once after vehicle gone. Too many requests for different completion times. I also find commercial businesses WAY easier to deal with then residential customers. Mind you some customers in resi were quite pleasant. I just find commercials are straight forward - Here's your lot, get her done by 6:30, sand when finished, I'll call you when I want ya to remove it. Thank-you
  6. 90plow

    90plow Senior Member
    Messages: 734

    The problem with residentials in most cases you cant go out to salt and some winters if you didnt have salting youd be out of buisness.
  7. leigh

    leigh PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,968

    With an average of 30" of snow ,zero tolerance high end commercial accounts are the only way to go in my area. The guys doing residentials may get 10 events per year. I'm going out for a half an inch. I make more money salting than I would make plowing 50 driveways. It's a no brainer here on the coast. If I only did drives it would be a hobby , a way to make maybe 1k per storm maybe.
  8. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,838

    I like the resi side cause it pays more & it generates more other work for me dealing with so many people, but I like the commecial side cause it easier, quieter, less of a pita. So really my preferance is whatever site I can stay in my truck I like more :)
  9. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,539

    Good posts so far..

    If I had the option of choosing what I would do more of, it would probably be commercial lots.

    If I show up at 3:00am and start plowing, I don't wake anyone up with the sound of my diesel back and forth in front of the building.

    The lots are generally "square or rectangular" in shape, so it's easier for stacking / placing snow, etc.

    I spend less time "worrying" about hitting a kids bicycle, a basketball hoop stand, or the Mercedes benz in the driveway

    Field of vision is usually much better, as you're working in a much larger space. My dodge has a terrible turning radius, and it's horrible to work with in small, confined spaces.

    Residential, otoh, I get paid the same day.... so I guess each has it's own benefits.

    Now all we need is some snow to go and push around...:rolleyes:
  10. leigh

    leigh PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,968

    Another positive with commercials is the ability to stagger the open times. I've got properties that need to be done by 6 am all the way to evening. I even have a day care that follows the school closings, got a whole day to plow that one. I can fill my routes to 8 - 10 hrs and not be overly rushed. Just have to mix it up.
  11. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,539


    Every year, I plow a graveyard, and to this day, I've never been accosted by one zombie, living dead, or any other ghastly apparition, no matter what Time I'm there

  12. beanz27

    beanz27 Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    Money wise, I prefer resi. (no salter...yet) otherwise I MUCH prefer commercial. Less complaints, set times, people don't wine about back up alarms, lights, or anything else.
  13. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,822

    Commercial has a higher dollar volume with less administrative management. By that I mean, to make $60,000 on one property is pretty easy to come by in the commercial world. But to make $60,000 on resi, how many different customers will you need? 100, 200? How about collecting 100 to 200 payments, or sending that many invoices?

    Of course, that goes both ways. If you loose the one $60,000 commercial account, your sunk. But what are the odds of loosing 100 or 200 accounts equaling the same amount?
  14. Buswell Forest

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

    I have a mix of both. My driveways are more or less on the way to the 3 commercial accounts. By that, I mean the driveways that are year round residents. Only 8 of them. The other 28 are weekenders or absent until summer. Works out well.

    So, I say a mix of both.
  15. ryde307

    ryde307 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,131

    We are all commercial now. So commercial because less backend/office work.
    50 customers vs a few hundred.
    In residential it seemed everyone thought you were their only account and you would be there within 15 min of when they wanted things done. Commercial is somewhat set schedules.
    Commercial provides alot more work per account. 1" or less triggers, salt, walks ect...
    I would say it is easier on equipment also.
  16. snowbrothers101

    snowbrothers101 Senior Member
    Messages: 154

    We are 100% commercial now. The headaches wiht homeowners was enough to make me want to quit the industry. I will take an uninvolved Property Manager any day!
  17. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,030

    I have had mostly resi's for my 12 years of clearing snow for myself. I do not have the problems that many others on here have with home owners,none of my customers complain ever, if you find someone that is a pita then let them go quick. My customers are charged a flat rate for the season, I require three post dated cheques, the first is due at signing, the other two are dated for January 5th & February 5th, so there is no chasing money on my part. It works great.

    I often read posts from members about how difficult home owners can be and that it's not worth the trouble but at the same time no one looks at it from the home owners point of view.

    You half to realize that often times residential customers end up with someone that has no experience ("chucks in a truck") in snow removal after all often times the inexperienced plowers are targeting residentials to gain experience so pretty much the home owners end up being training ground for newbee's, you know the ones that have never plowed before go out put a plow on a truck and all of a sudden they are a contractor but are a long way's from being an operator. I feel that often times it's these bad experience's with inexperienced operators that makes the client skeptical of future contractors.

    When meeting a home owner for the first time, I'm asked things like "When it snows are you gonna come and clear my property for real cause the last guy showed up when ever he felt like it if at all"

    I have been told many horror stories over the years from my customers about previous plowers that they had hired, one person had a fella that decided to take two weeks off during the winter to go on vacation in Florida but never bothered to tell anyone that he was going. There are many other stories as well.

    The customers that are with me, many of them don't care how much I charge because they know the job will be done on time and that there will be no damage to their property, but if something was to happen I will take care of it.

    Lastly,I believe Neige has proven quite well that residential can very profitable, that's for sure.
  18. nsmilligan

    nsmilligan PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 704

    "Lastly,I believe Neige has proven quite well that residential can very profitable, that's for sure."

    I think Neige's residentials are mostly seasonal accounts, which is very hard to do in my market, but which is the way we bid almost all of our commercial accounts, as snow is our main business I need a guaranteed income in order to pay for the equipment I need to fulfil the contracts.

    We do residentials and some per push commercials as a hedge for those above average winters, to cover the extra labour & fuel, and salt costs.

    Don't forget this site is pretty well global now, what's works in your area, doesn't in others.

  19. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    I like Commercial there always a place to pile snow Driveways you always run out room after first 15''
    Plus 1 small Commercial lot price = to 4-5 driveways and Less driving around On driveways my self don't get to do much salting

    Less backing up in tight areas to
  20. MSsnowplowing

    MSsnowplowing Senior Member
    Messages: 688

    When I started I looked at the market and decided to go strictly commercial.

    Too many guys with plows on their trucks doing Resid. for $20 to $30 a pop.

    While I found commercial is a bit harder to start in, once it gets going and you get your name out there and show that your dependable and do good work it starts rolling.

    I try to stay around 12 to 15 contracts a year, I could take on more and much bigger contracts but that just increases the PITA factor.

    12 to 15 a year keeps me and my guys busy, makes us some money, and we don't have to deal with major PITA issues.

    I don't have a ulcer, I don't worry during big storms, I know we can handle anything and get the job done -(Nemo was the test and we passed it with flying colors, every one of our contracts was done and blacktop by Sunday afternoon, even if no one could get to their properties till Monday/Tuesday because the state was still closed down)

    I say for anyone starting out, try for a 50/50 mix of the two and see what is best for you and what your area supports better.