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Primarily Residential Work - Seasonal vs Per Push

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by OneManWithAPlow, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. OneManWithAPlow

    OneManWithAPlow Member
    Messages: 97

    I am looking to plow Residential in my town, and this is going to be my first year plowing. Ive spent countless hours determining what I am going to be getting myself into and came to the conclusion that for this coming year I am going to start small, and utilize flag-downs when available. I have about 5-7 clients definitely interested in my services and I have yet to put my name out there as I'm currently in the process of getting my contract situated.

    My problem lies in that I want to offer as many possible options to the customer as I can.

    Average annual snowfall is about 50 inches
    Last year we had maybe 12 inches, two years ago we had probably 100+

    If I am to plow per push, for a 15x50 ft driveway and the customer notes they want a 4 inch trigger, I was thinking $40, $50 including sidewalk.

    Smaller driveways would be $30, anything larger or more complicated would start at $50 driveway alone. This would be done at my discretion.

    My questions arise in two areas. First:

    Salt/Sand/CaCl...how does this get factored in? typically included? typically not done? charged extra? Am I charging too much? If I'm doing a slightly larger driveway and sidewalk, would I charge $80 per push at whatever trigger the customer wanted? Also for a seasonal rate...for a 50x15 driveway with a 75 ft sidewalk, how much salt would be used? Some people are saying 3x cost at $9 a bag, I feel like that area could easily eat through a bag and a half of spread. $30 on top of snow management for the property to be salted brings it to nearly $90 per push.

    My second question, I wanted to offer a "per storm" option...Is this just not feasible? Is it too difficult to price out a per storm rate? I feel confident in my contract as a whole, but am almost stuck at what could be the most important aspect of it.

    Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 7,256

    To start off you're general location would be helpful to determine rates since different parts of the country / states differ.

    Are seasonal contracts common in your area, if so it'll be an easy sell and if not you'll have a challenge. I'm sure you know with seasonals you do well some years and others not so mulch.

    I've found resi's want things cleared before they go to work and before they get home in the afternoon/evening. My resi's are all per push and I've never approached them aboot a seasonal. Check local ordinances to see at what point sidewalks along the street need to be cleared, in my area it's 1" so that's where my triggers start. Most my resi's are in subdivisions with drives 30X16 with aboot 50' of walk and I get $35 per push for 1-6", $45 for 6"-12" and 12" is $60, this include deicer if they want it. I have a couple in the county that have larger drives but no walks, they start at $50 and go up from there.

    There's no reason why you'd have to spread 150# of deicer on a resi you described you're only talked about 1000sq feet. 15-20# would be more than enough depending on conditions and the product used. 3X the cost of material's is a pretty safe rate to use unless you have to make a special trip to apply.

    Per storm can be dicey unless the terms are clearly stated, as I said before resi's want to cleared in the am and pm.
     
    JustJeff likes this.
  3. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Location like Buff said will greatly effect pricing. You have to figure out what your hourly cost to run your plowing business is going to be. Cost of the truck, fuel, maintenance, plow cost, plow maintenance cost, insurance costs etc. Then add how much you want to pay yourself, then add a profit margin on top of that. Service businesses usually shoot for the 15%-20% profit markup. Once you have that then figure out how long a drive will take and make sure to factor in drive time between sites. So if everything is really close like all in the same sub division, you can theoretically charge less than if your route is spread out. I say theoretically because you should charge the same if they are close together to increase profit to help even out the ones that are further out. Also what plow set up are you using? Are you running a snowblower in the bed of the truck as well?

    Pick a trigger that is customary for your area and service all accounts at the same time. Do not get yourself into a situation where you have some customers that are at 2" some at 3" some at 4" etc. pick what is customary and inform them that is the trigger for your service.

    For me I figure out what a half bag price is and full bag price. I have two prices for salt and charge half bag for normal drives and full bag for larger ones. I don't have any residentials that take a full bag per application and yes of course it's additional.

    In my city there is an ordinance that states sidewalks have to be cleared withinn 24 hours after a storm. So we service the drives and walks up to the house during the storm and then when the storm is over we come back for final clean up and use the blower for the sidewalks unless it's a big storm then we will do the sidewalks twice just so it's easier to clear.

    My prices are similar to Buffs. They are based off of $100 an hour for my truck and V plow. $65 an hour for the blower, $45 per man hour for hand shovelers. Per push is the cheapest price for the customer as you know the route and everyone gets serviced at the same time. Seasonal costs a little more. Base this off of your average amount of storms per year to figure out how many trips you will make and then add another 5-10 trips to cover your butt. One time customers get hosed. Which I think is what you are talking about with the per storm customers. Meaning they only call you if it's a bad storm and you have to add them in. I charge half hour minimum for everything so for drive and sidewalk that is $75. If it's a driveway only no walk $50. And that's for a small storm up to 6-8". If it's anything over that incharge an hour minimum and go up from there. They usually sign up for the route after that, sometimes not. Good luck.
     
  4. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Oh and if your using a plow I have a damage waiver in the contract that says surface scratches and gouges are typical and not responsible for repair for any surface scratches that are non structurally damaging. Also you need to have a separate waiver you carry for flag downs that covers you not responsible for any damage to grass/sod, utilities, sprinklers etc. etc. that you can not see under the snow.
     
    JustJeff likes this.
  5. JustJeff

    JustJeff 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,028

    You've gotten a lot of good responses there. I personally would never have a 4" trigger. My absolute highest would be 3".
     
  6. FredG

    FredG 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,227

    OP, You still have not responded with a location, You got :terribletowel:plowing resi's for $20 to $25 and maybe catching the walk. Personally I won't start the truck under $45. $50. Unless you got a bunch in one small area.
     
  7. OneManWithAPlow

    OneManWithAPlow Member
    Messages: 97

    Okay so I'm leaning toward per push/per season depending on the client. I'm in CT and a few of my upcoming clients have done per season in the past which feels difficult to price. Do you raise/lower the price if they want de-ice? And say you have a 1 inch trigger, client wants every 1-6 inches, you get a 14 inch storm, you go out 3 times and charge $105? Does that include front walk as well as sidewalk?
     
  8. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 7,256

    I've had several resi's for 6-7yrs, looking back at what they're paid season to season if I did seasonal contracts it would be close to a wash with them making oot.
    As I said for small resi's if they want deicer it's included since it's only 5-7# and it cost me $7.50/50# plus its just a couple minutes spread chicken feed style.
    I plow my resi's in the am and late afternoon/pm unless the storm moved oot during the day then I'll plow. I tell my resi's is they have a party or like event going on to let me know and I'll service them as needed (charging accordingly), I do the same for my churches I plow.
    My resi's in the subdivision are all with in a 1/4 radius of each other, each takes aboot 6-7minutes for 1-6" and I do 6 an hour at $35ea.
     
  9. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Like we sa
    Like we said above anything that requires you to open the door on truck and step out costs more. So de icer costs more, every time you apply it. This is business not charity. You need to make money on everything you do. If you don't want to charge separately then give one price that includes everything plow shovel and salt. This was outlined in the above responses. Take the time to read them. Per season is not difficult to price as long as know your numbers.
     
  10. OneManWithAPlow

    OneManWithAPlow Member
    Messages: 97

    If you make two trips to the house, as you said above once for the initial push than again for the second cleaning and to hit the sidewalk, do you charge one rate? or do you charge them twice for this? say it snows 8 inches, you plow once at 4, and again after another 4, do you bill them for two pushes or one, as youre only hitting the sidewalk on the second "push"...?

    Im thinking I will go with a base of $50 per drive including salt with a 2 inch trigger and $50 per 1-6 inches or if they want me to come out every 6-10 inches itll be $60 if they don't want me to come out until it hits 10 inches itll be $70. It will be a 2 man crew, the truck and a blower. Also I feel like with all the information ive obtained this seems on the lower end, if people are saying they wont get out the truck for this...I was thinking the push, than blow the sidewalk than two shovels after to clear the rest and throw de-ice chicken feed style. You mentioned that the drifts will accumulate as well as snow that's been pushed to the front from city plowing, youll come out to clear those. Is that a courtesy for the service that's already been paid for, or do you bill again for that?
     
  11. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    No per push pricing is usually incremental. So 1-3.9 inches is the base price for you you're saying $50. Then 4-7.9 inches is 40% more so that's $70. 8-11.9 is 40% more so $98. Typically after that it's per inch over 12 inches. So like another $20 per inch. So if it were a 15 inch storm per the NWS you would charge $158 for that storm. Not $158 every time you come out but for the storm. You would probably service them 3-4 times during that storm. Done ever let someone dictate at what interval they want you to come out. If they want route pricing then they get serviced with everyone else. If someone wants you to plow if it gets to 10 inches and not before then you treat them like a one time call out like I said above. It's hard on you and your equipment. I wouldn't do someone that waits till there is 10 inches on the ground to call you for less than one hour minimum charge so like I said for me that's $100 for the plow and if we use the blower for the walk $65 for the sidewalk and if they want de icer then like $15 for the few pounds they need so total for a job like that would be $180 for the one time service. If they pay with a card it's a 3% fee on top of that.
     
  12. FredG

    FredG 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,227

    Go with the per trip at $ 35.00 $40.00. If you want to do seasonal charge your per trip by 25 or under. Add for shovel, blower 4 X's minimum wage per hr. each shovel man and a little material. double your salt cost. See where that gets you. I have no idea in your area. They could be getting $25.00 or $50.00 per drive??

    I would assume your going to need at least 25 to 30 drives if thats all your doing to be somewhat happy with the earnings for yourself and the biz. Make a few bucks and invest in a pull behind cut your time down and make life easier. Good Luck
     
  13. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 7,256

    Every Time I show up everything gets done, plow, walks and deicer and they get billed for every time I show up. So am and pm plow gets billed in full.

    I only use a blower when the snow is 10" of deeper, by the time you unload, start and load you can have half or more of the walks done. I use SnowPlow shovels, pushers and scoop.
     
  14. OneManWithAPlow

    OneManWithAPlow Member
    Messages: 97

    This makes so much more sense. So it's done on a route. Say you go up main st, and onto east st. You have 3 houses on main 2 on east st to total your 5 contracts. 2 inch trigger, snow fall hits 2 inches, you go out, 5 inch accumulation, $70 per drive you pull $350 for that storm. Next storm a week later 8 inch accumulation you pull $500 for that storm.

    This leads me to two more questions. Is this including shovel work and snow blower labor factored in?

    Also, if you get a lot of contracts, will customers at the beginning of your route get shafted, or do you wait until the snowfall diminishes/service twice? A 2 inch trigger, on 6 inches of snowfall you go out at 2, by the time you get your last house 5 inches have fallen, the first house already has 3 inches of snow back on the driveway? Just part of the job?

    You local? For all the help you e given me I feel like I owe you a beer..:drinkup:
     
  15. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Seen a bunch about the Snow Plow shovels on here. I think I might order some for this year. I'm guessing that your snow is pretty similar to ours as we're both on the Colorado plateau. What size pushers do you use? I was looking at the 36" ones but was thinking that with some of heavy wet storms that might be too much for the guys to push?

    To the OP. As you can see we all charge a little different but are usually close in our numbers as we know what our operational costs are and how long our work takes. In my example of the 15 inch storm it came out to $158 for that storm. Under Buff's example of per trip at $35 if he serviced 4 times during the storm it would be $140. That's just an $18 difference for a storm. A $20 difference in a storm over 12 inches is not going to make a huge difference between you and your competition. You need to know your numbers and then you can charge a professional price that is competative for your area. You don't need to match someone if the difference comes out to $4 per trip.
     
  16. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    No unfortunately I'm not local. I live in Northern Arizona. Yes you want to make a route. You don't want to sit around and wait for customers to think it's time to plow and then call you. You will go out to Main Street and do one job get half way home get a call turn around to go back to main st then you get half way home get a call for east st and it goes on forever. You as the contractor set up the route and explain the rules of being on the route. Flag downs and one time calls cost more. And like Buff said above. They really don't care as long as they are plowed out before they leave for work and again before they come home. I build a route that can be serviced in 5 hours or so. Start at 3 in the morning and everyone gets hit before work. You can then get everyone again before they come home. But my route is a mix of commercial and residential.
     
  17. OneManWithAPlow

    OneManWithAPlow Member
    Messages: 97

    I apologize but this seemed opposite from what I was reading earlier. So it isn't incremental? Or it is, but you charge $50 in the morning for the first push, than say $30 in the evening for the second push? Do you charge a third time if they call you because the plow trucks came through and plowed in their driveway?

    I guess what I want to know is, do you charge per total amount of snow moved, or snow moved per push...?

    People are willing to pay $100+ per storm to have their snow managed? That sounds absurd.
     
  18. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 7,256

    I have a 36"and 30" pushers and a couple Dominators. The 36" is great for open areas but the width can be a problem meaning short armed / little people get there feet tangled up in them when they use a radial motion to shovel. Our snow has more moisture in the fall and spring, colder months it's fluff, so yeah same stuff. Even though we're considered as being giants by some the 36" can be a handful with fall/spring snows this is why I have an assortment of sizes/styles just like most tools/firearms...
     
  19. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 7,256

    My stuff is all priced incremental, they amount of snow that is on the ground is what they get charged for each per push visit. For resi's since they're small compared to a parking lot I use 1-6, 6-12, 12+. So I show up in the AM and there's 7" they get billed for the 6-12" rate, when I return (if needed) in the afternoon and there's 2" the get billed for the 1-6" rate. As I said every time I show up walks are done and deicer is spread if they require it.
    I don't come back and open up the drive after the county/city plow have come through and I've never been asked to. If I was they'd be charged for the base 1-6" rate for the PITA factor.
    I've never been challenged by a resi's or commercial customer aboot what or how they're charged for snow removal, so yes depending on the storm my resi's get invoices up to and over $200.00 if the storm dumps for 2-3days.
     
    OneManWithAPlow likes this.
  20. OneManWithAPlow

    OneManWithAPlow Member
    Messages: 97

    that definitely cleared it up a bit for me. My only lasting concern, was that if you had a 2 inch trigger, or even 1 inch, how does 7 inches of accumulation occur? but I figure if you've got a lot of contracts by the time you get to the last one 5 hours in its quite possible that there could be quite a bit of snow. Also, do you use the weathers measurement accumulations (say channel 3 says weve got 5-6 inches) or get out the truck and stick a tape measure in the ground?