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Pricing Help

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by elamey, Jan 28, 2004.

  1. elamey

    elamey Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Do any of you have a contract with a Home Owners Association?

    In the next few weeks i'm going to bid for SnowRemoval and Grounds Maintenance for a Home Owners Association in Evansville Indiana (snow contract will be for winter of 2004/05)

    The sub division is about half done, currently has 150 homes with another 150 on the way. There will be approx 2 miles of street when the sub is finsihed.

    Rather than ask how I should bid, i'd like to ask you experienced plowers how you would bid something like this, what you would take into consideration etc....

    I'm going to be using a small tractor (45-50hp, 4wd, industrial tread tires) with a blade because i'm buying a small tractor for the grounds maintenance. In heavy snow i'll have a small front end loader if needed.

    I'd also like to bid for sand/salt spreading. I'm going to hook one of those smaller tailgate spreaders up to an old pickup (4x4)...how do you guys charge for that?

    I appreciate any help you guys can offer...Thank you!!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2004
  2. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    I just gotta ask... Do you now what you will be getting yourself into, both equipment and insurance wise? If so, than lets move on...

    As far as equipment goes, You can plow streets with a pickup truck and a good, heavy duty blade. Maybe an F-450 or better with an 8 foot or bigger blade. Don't waste your money on a tailgate spreader. In a typical event, you will go through TONS of salt on roadways. It will take too long to load a tailgate spreader with only 700 pounds of salt and it will get you maybe 500 feet. I would invest in a V-box spreader. They hold way more salt and are easier to load with a tractor or bobcat. Roads are typically bid by lane mile. I used to charge $1200 per lane mile and that was on the cheap side. I got out of the road scraping due to liability issues and insurance costs. In a typical lane mile I would go through almost a ton of salt. Many municipalities will include you using their salt since you will go through so much of it. They have liability of these roads almost as much as you do. They want to make sure there is enough salt on the roads and that is is spread at the right times. If you have to use your own salt, and since you will go through so much of it, I would figure 3X what you pay for it. Average salt prices are $65.00 per ton. Do you have storage for 20 yards of salt?
  3. Mick

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

    I think we need to clarify something. Is this public or private roadway? Plow Meister is right on for public road. However, private roadways may be much different. For insurance, check with your agent and be sure of the public/private issue before you go there. For instance, I can plow private roads with "residential only" insurance which is about as inexpensive as you can get. But I cannot even scrape on a public street. For billing, again there is a big difference. I plow private roads which are approx 12' wide using a 3500 and a 9' plow. I use sand/salt rather than salt, but for my purpose, if I was to use straight salt - I'd be closer to one ton per mile (lane mile applies to public roads and streets). If you're on a single lane road, a 3500 should be fine (I've done quite well with a 1/2 ton and 7 1/2' plow). But I'd agree, if you're doing similar to municipal roads, you'll need a larger truck.

    You said you were going to use a small tractor, so I was assuming a narrow private road. Even at that, I think 2 miles of road is too much for that.
  4. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    Good call, Mick

    I assumed it was a municipal road.

    Mick, what do you charge for the road part of this account? Do you charge per lane mile or an hourly rate?
  5. Mick

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

    I charge by the mile. Rate will vary based on how wide it is. How torn up. Hills and curves and other potential hazards.

    Check your PM.
  6. elamey

    elamey Junior Member
    Messages: 3


    Hi Gents,

    Thanks for the good discussion.....
    This will be a private roadway for a Home Owners Association.
    The roads are brand new and flat. The home owners will not/are not allowed/supposed to park on the streets. When I drive through they seem to adhere to that rule.

    I REALLY appreciate the info on spreaders....it doesn't sound like a tailgate spreader is an option at all...500 ft per load would just not be possible, and a waste of money to try.

    Insurance....i'll check with my agent. Thanks for the direction
    Being private i'll make sure and ask about "residential" vs. "public"

    Sand/Salt Storage.....there are lots of open spaces and there is talk of the association building a maintenace building and storage area....BUT i'll have to check. When you say 20 yards, are you talking about cubic yards? 20y x 20y x 20y What is that in raw tonage or truck loads....assume a 10 ton truck for delivery.

    I find this discussion very VALUABLE, thanks for letting me pick your brains.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2004
  7. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    Well, than. I would stand by my original post with the exception of the lane/mile price. I would make it closer to $250.00 per land mile plus salt at 3X your cost per ton per mile. That would be closer to a total of $450.00 per lane mile.

    You could probably do this job with three trucks and a loader.

    I would put the following to work on this project...

    1 loader with a bucket to load salt and help in clean up.

    1 F450 caliber truck with a 9' blade or better for clearing the roadways. On the back of the F450 there would be a v-box spreader.

    2 3/4 to 1 ton trucks with back blades to clean all the drives they would have front blades on as well to help clearing the roadways.

    You COULD get away without the F450 for the first year or two.At least until the rest of the development is built. Just put the Vbox on one of the other trucks and nix the back blade on that truck.

    All in all, you will need to make at least X amount per hour for your hwork. I figure the average per-hour rate here on this site is $125.00 to $150.00 per truck per hour.
  8. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    I just thought of something... This is a brand new subdivision so there is a lot of brand new concrete being poured. You could more or less insure your proposal being accepted if you didn't use salt and instead used a liquid de-icer such as Magic.

    The initial investment is greater because the truck mounted sprayer is about $4,000.00 and a storage tank will run you another $1,000.00 but the benefits are vast in new housing developments.

    1. Magic does not corrode concrete. Great for new surfaces.

    2. It is safe for the environment. Salt kills grass. Magic is actually a fretilizer for plants and grass alike.

    3. You don't need a skid steer. The liquid is pumped into your tank.

    4. Easier to store than salt. If you store salt outside or even in a lean-to, it can clump and become difficult to handle.

    5. The cost per application is usually 1/2 the cost of salt when used properly. Use of this product takes some practice and knowlegde. Ground temperature and humidity levels play a big part of how / when to apply.

    6. You can use liquid to pre-treat. This makes it way easier to plow and clean driveways. Especially the smaller 2-4" snowfalls. Typically, you make more money salting than plowing anyway. This helps keep the blade off the ground and puts more money in your pocket.

    There are so many more reasons to use liquid in your application I just can't stop thinking about them.:D
  9. Mick

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

    A cubic yard is 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet (3'x3'x3' = 27 sq ft). So 20 sq yd is 540 sq ft of material vs the 8,000 sq ft as you asked about. (20x20x20). A yard of salt will weigh an average of 1800 pounds (it varies based on the size of the grains). Some people just figure one yard equals one ton. If you're storing salt, be aware that it will get clumped and possibly "frozen". Moisture content will affect this and what you get in bulk is often the culprit. Keep it covered and, if possible, there are products you can spray on the pile to prevent clumping to some extent.

    I would agree with Plow Meister on his last post. I have no experience with pricing something like that as even our condo associations are much different than in your area. Like I said, I do mainly private roads, so I can just angle to one side - go the length of the road - turn around and come back and I'm done except for a little widening at the entrance. Even with hills, I'll cover a mile in less than half an hour.

    For you, make sure who is responsible for the areas off the main roadway. You might need to contact each residence about clearing their area. For multiple driveways, look into a back blade. Allows you to back into a parking area, plow forward the length of the truck, then back up and use the front blade. You could use a 3/4 ton for this and have a one ton for dedicated salt truck. I would agree, for what you're describing you'll want something with a front end loader. Or possibly something like a V plow or a Blizzard 810.

    ("last post" was actually next to last - but I agree with the Magic post too. That is what I was referring to. And you will definately want to avoid salt on concrete the first year it's laid)
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2004