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Residential Snow Removal

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by MJLsLawnCareNmo, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Let me start out by introducing myself. I'm the owner of a small lawn care and landscaping company out of Detroit Michigan. This year completes our 6th year in business in the green industry. I personally just finished college this past spring with a bachelor's in Landscape Horticulture Design and Build from Michigan State University. Now that I'm done with that I will need to have a source of income during the winter months. I've always considered snow removal as a service in the future, but was unable to do so in years past because I was about 2 hours away from home while going to college. As a result snow removal just was not reasonable option for me due to the situation. So now I'm done with school and looking to start snow removal as an additional service to my existing business. Now I have no experience with plowing, deicing, etc. and I want to do things right. I've been a member of this site for a couple of years now, but just never had anything to contribute to it. I know not everybody views a newcomer to this industry as a positive thing as it can be more competition etc. It's the same in the lawn care and landscaping industry. We get "lowballers, scrubs, mowjoes, etc" all the time. Now I believe that if everyone was informed and on the same page both industries could be a more profitable and professional career. I intend to contribute and represent both industries in a positive manner to our customers not take away from it. However I need some help getting started in order to do so. I would like to thank all that are willing to help me in achieving this goal ahead of time.

    Ahhh now that I got that out here's my first question: In all reality I will not have trucks capable of plowing in time to establish a commercial customer base so I will most likely focus on residential snow removal this year. From what I heard there is not a lot of companies offering this type of service. Anyway, for those that do or have done this before what do you use to clear residential properties? Large commercial snow blowers, power brooms/brushes, backpack blowers, etc? What works best and is the most efficient and profitable method of doing this? Also how do you carry this equipment from account to account?
    Thanks so much in advance :waving:
     
  2. Mick

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

    Welcome and I don't see you as competition at all. I doubt that you'll be going for any of my accounts. As far as your question, probably a 3/4 ton truck and 8' plow if you're doing residential this year with plans for commercial next year. A half ton CAN do residentials, but you'll want a 3/4 or one ton for the commercials. You might want to look into a V plow. Although it would be overkill for most residentials, it'll be good for commercials. Expect a good plow to last ten to fifteen years (probably outlast your truck) so don't go cheap on the plow or you'll have a long time to regret it. Some guys start out with a snowblower, but it's slow going and you'll be very limited in the accounts you can take. Forget brooms, brushes and blowers - you get too much snow. They might be ok for an inch or so of light and fluffy, but who in Michigan wants an inch of snow plowed, anyway?
     
  3. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Basically you will want to start out in snow removal just as you did in lawncare.... A little at a time..... Start off with a snowblower and go to a truck when money allows. Transport a blower on a trailer or in a truck. You can salt or shovel with the stuff you carry in your truck.
     
  4. yamaguy

    yamaguy Senior Member
    Messages: 556

    I think the reason some start out small is because of not having the capital to start bigger. If he already has a established company then I would think he has a fullsize truck that he could put a plow on, and a plow is really a low cost investment when you look at the big picture. Since it is so late in the year to be trying to get alot of accounts I say go and buy a nice used 8 foot straight blade plow or a vee depending on how much money you ahve to lay out and sub yourself out this year. You can learn and get paid good money at the same time. Now if you are only using a mini truck for your landscaping business then go and get yourself a snowblower, or if you have a quad get a blade for that and you might be able to sub some sidewalk work.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  5. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Haha and Thanks Mick. Yeah Maine would be a little bit of a drive. I'm still in search of the right trucks to do plowing. Right now we have all 1/2 tons and 3/4 tons but none of them are four wheel drive. It's just not feasible to get the trucks and plows and set them up in time to also get the accounts. I definitely see the benefit of being able to use a truck and plow for residential driveways, but this year will probably have to be done with lesser equipment. If this turns out to be the case, you think a good commercial snow blowers would be my next best option for walks and residential drives? How do these guys carry them around? A trailer would be kinda scary to be pulling around in winter. Also for light snows would a snow blower still be best or would one of the other options be better?
     
  6. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    That kinda seems like my best option at this time of the year. Like I said in my last post all my trucks are 2wd :cry: and I dont have the time or experience to set everything up in time to run a successful plowing service. I've also never plowed before in my life so I dont think I could learn in time. I figured starting out doing residential homes this year would be best. Thanks for the reply and good advice.

    Question for you: Some of those snow blowers are 300lbs+ how do you transport those in a truck. Lifting one in and out of the bed would be crazy! Also using those truck bed ramps could be dangerous too. What's the best way to go about doing this? Maybe i'm missing something or its not as bad as I think. Being that ALL of my trucks are 2wd pulling a trailer probably wouldnt go well.:confused:
     
  7. Mick

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

    Well, then, I'd say stick with a snowblower this winter. Get a good commercial, 2-stage model. Actually, a snowblower will do a better job than a truck (just slower and colder) and can be used for sidewalks. Then it'll last for when you can get a 4wd truck and plow. Get a good set of ramps for the truck - I know what I'm thinking of, but don't know what they're called. Basically they're grooved to let snow go through them, not let ice build up and give traction. You might find that you can get all lots and drives that are flat so you could use a 2wd with a good set of studded snow tires. I couldn't get by without 4wd; but for some situations, 2wd could work.

    Light snow - snowblower is still a good option.
     
  8. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Right now, all 2wd 1/2 tons and 3/4 tons. I just dont think that will cut it. By next year I plan on getting some better qualified trucks with plows. Learning is definitely a big factor too as I dont have any plowing experience and wouldnt want to just have at it and risk damaging something. I'll probably take this next year to learn the ins and outs of not only the physical plowing but how to organize the business aspect of it.

    How would I go about subbing myself out? Is there a place where you leave your info and other companies call you or is it more about who you know in the business?
     
  9. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,045

    Why don't you drive for someone else this winter, you'll learn alot and make money in the process without buying anything. Then next year you'll have a better idea of what you need.
     
  10. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Yeah I know what you're talking about with the ramps. I dont know exactly what they're called, but they have a design similar to expanded steel. Looks like I'm just going to have to rough it this year wesport . It'll be colder that's for sure, but I dont know what kind of lots I will be dealing with this year. I just had a thought, how do you think one of those cargo carriers would work out for hauling a snow blower around? You know one of those platform things that plug into the trailer hitch receivers? Anyone know if that would be legal to do?
     
  11. yamaguy

    yamaguy Senior Member
    Messages: 556

  12. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    You know I have given that a lot of thought, I just dont really know anybody to work for. I thought about just calling some plowing companies and ask if they'd be interested in hiring me. I kinda figured they wouldnt want to spend the time to train someone to plow and would rather just hire someone with experience.
     
  13. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Great thanks for the link. I just checked out the website. Cripes there are a lot of different types. They have some of those cargo carriers I mentioned on one of my last posts. (the platforms that plug into the trailer hitch receiver) That might be a good idea too, because it would be lower to the ground and easier and probably a little safer to get a snow blower on and off. Plus I would have the truck bed space open for salt and a spreader. Any idea if those are legal for a business to use to carry a snow blower on?
     
  14. yamaguy

    yamaguy Senior Member
    Messages: 556

    If you can carry a atv on it a snowblower would be fine I think. You could buy a set of bi-fold atv ramps for $70 on the site I referred to above. The carriers are alot more money. I wouldn't like the carrier because I would be afraid of someone rear ending me and taking the blower out.
     
  15. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Very true. For what it's worth if I decide to go that route I could fab one of those hitch carriers up pretty quick. I have a little welding and fabrication experience plus I like doing that kinda stuff :nod: .Thanks for all your help so far.
     
  16. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,548

    If you are going to do Residential driveways get the right tool for the job A Jeep.
    for driveways you cant beet them. I used an F150 when I started in 1986, In 2 years I was ready to hire another driver. I got a used Jeep cheep (New had 9 miles on the odo and he and hit a car). next snow storm I used the jeep :) I sold the truck!! I doubled the number of customers I can plow by using the Jeep. I now have 75 residential Accounts all in a 3 mile circle. 1 Jeep 1 Driver, me. I am ready to expand again. for parking lots and streets trucks are great, for driveway Jeeps. I have a frend the next town over he has 110 driveway accounts. With 3 Jeeps, 1 Dodge 3/4 PU the pickup sits at home most of the time.

    my $0.02
     
  17. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Yeah I have a couple of friends who absolutely love their jeeps. They use them for off roading but I can see how they would have their benefit in plowing things like driveways. What kind of jeep are you referring to, wranglers, cherokees, grand cherokees?
     
  18. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,548

    http://www.seetheusabyjeep.com I got into plowing to pay for my off roading.


    Jeep Wrangler, 7 1/2 Fisher RD, Front Air Shocks, Duel Batteries, Lead rear bumper, ARBs, Belt Driven Air Compressor, Dana 60 Rear End, Blizak Tires
     
  19. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,548

    First year start small a jeep 6 1/2 plow some sand in the back take it easy, learn, decide what will make you more profitable and do that next year.
     
  20. MJLsLawnCareNmo

    MJLsLawnCareNmo Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Sounds like a neat setup. It's something I might consider if I get enough work to justify that kinda setup.