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Residential with a Snowblower

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by ihscoutlover, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. ihscoutlover

    ihscoutlover Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    I have purchased a new snowblower. I was wanting to start by doing some residential driveways and walks. I've read through some of the formulas and such. I was curious how you all started your business, even if it was with 1 snow blower. I'm gonna eventually get a decent truck, and plow to supplement this. I'm not going to do any salting at this time, to leave this part to the customer. How should I go about setting the rest up? I'm gonna be ordering business cards however I'm curious with those that have done this with a blower, how do you charge?? By the sq ft, or how many cars, or just which. I'm looking into insurance as well to CYA and I'm evolving a business plan to be successful. The plans at this time for my current truck have kinda fell through, and the wife says I should start off small and build up slowly. Thoughts and criticism is welcome. I'm trying to make sure I'm still looking at the whole picture. Thanks
     
  2. JustJeff

    JustJeff 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,018

    Good job on starting at a "realistic" pace. I would get (or type my own) contract stating that since you are not distributing any ice-melt products that you are not responsible for any slip and fall claims and have the homeowners sign off on it. As for charging, you could do it by sq. ft., but I price based on how long I think it will take me and what I need to make per hour to justify being out there. How much do YOU need to make per hour, and how many of your average drives/walkways can you do in an hour in your area? Simple math after that.
     
  3. Snow tracker

    Snow tracker Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Look for places that are hard to plow with a truck. Places with no place to push and pile snow. Consider subbing to a snowplow contractor to do sidewalks. That will give you steady early morning work then move to your own drives after
     
  4. Chineau

    Chineau Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    Are there bulletin boards you can put flyers up on, what can you do on line ie. Craigslist, Facebook buy/ sell these are relatively cheap ways to start getting your name out in your area. During really good storms flag down happen but you cannot build on just that, the snow business allows you to get as big as you want, just have a real solid idea of how you will get done what you say you will do.
     
  5. ihscoutlover

    ihscoutlover Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Thanks for the input. Plan was to put flyers and business cards on the bulletin boards at the local shopping areas, as well as post some ads online. I figured some magnetic signs for the sides of the transport vehicle would spread my number as well. Thanks and keep the ideas coming.

    Jeff
     
  6. kawasaki guy

    kawasaki guy Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    I charge by the amount of work. I use a snow blower to do resi accounts that I do mowing and landscaping for. I also do salt though, but just use the broadcast spreader I use for fert. good luck!
     
  7. Lcmains1

    Lcmains1 Member
    Messages: 31

    I started with 1 blower and a shovel, now have 3 trucks and 2 skids with pushers, somedays I wish I had 1 blower and 1 shovel (less headaches)

    You can make a lot of money doing it with a blower only. Get accts that are close to each other. We started charging anywhere between 30-50 per drive, just depended on size and ease. I agree not to salt, we still will not salt any residential concrete and never will, too much can happen and I don't want to replace a driveway,

    Good luck
     
  8. allrservices

    allrservices Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    I'm in the same category as you, although the account I have is a business with multiple single home properties.

    I'm a lawn guy and now venturing into the snow / ice management side. I have no experience with plowing with a truck and didn't feel comfortable doing so for my first year into it. I do however have a skid steer that I'm very comfortable using, but it's definitively not an option for many reasons, mainly safely transporting, parking, loading/unloading).

    Luckily the four properties that I have are very fitting to use a snow blower since a plow truck would be very challenging to get in and out, not to mention where to put the pushed snow after a couple good accumulations.

    Today was our first plowable snow in Northeast PA and my first time at the snow deal.

    The hard part that I faced was writing a contract without any experience. So how do you realistically price something without knowing what is involved and the challenges that come with cold weather.

    I factored the following:

    1. Distance to/from and between properties.

    2. Transportation of your blower, shovels, salt if applicable, etc.

    3. Inconvenience factor. We aren't sitting in a plow truck. We have to deal with unloading a blower. Opps, I just dropped a cotter pin in the snow that holds the ramps up. These are the things that I knew could happen....and they did. Think about the price you gave when you were inside nice and warm, then think about it after you are cold and the blower doesn't start or your shovel brakes! (Speaking from experience now! :)

    4. General Liability Insurance.

    5. Know your limitations.

    I feel very comfortable with my contract that I had wrote and I think my pricing structure is a bit unique. I have a flat rate for each of the 4 properties I maintain and a subsequent rate for each time I go back to that property within a 24 hour period.

    For example: Property "A" has a flat rate of $65.00. I "plow" it and shovel the walkways. It continues to snow and I have to return an additional time, my rate is $30.00. So the client would be billed $65.00 + $30.00 = $95.00. If it snows again after the 24 hour period then repeat the process.

    I decided against the inch formula pricing (i.e 2 - 4" - $40, 4 - 6" $50, etc...) because I know my blower is a the only constant in my equation. It can handle 2" to 16" of snow going at it's maximum speed.

    I was uncertain to a point, but had to do something pricing wise for the contract. Fortunately I'm on very good terms with the business client and can adjust/tweak as necessary. As someone said on one of the forum posts, we are here also here to make our clients happy and not look at them only as dollar bills. Repeat business is a big factor for me too, without low-balling other contractors. That just hurts everyone.

    I'm no where near any of these guys on this form, but I suppose some of my experiences just from my first time can hopefully help you.

    -Rich
     
  9. ihscoutlover

    ihscoutlover Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Rich that helps a lot. I'm in the process of acquiring a 3/4 ton pickup that hopefully next year can be equipped with a plow. In the meantime I'm also following up on a blade setup to work with my existing truck and awaiting my 3X's maiden voyage. Thanks for the advice.

    Jeff
     
  10. allrservices

    allrservices Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    No problem. I have a 3/4 ton F250 7.3 that I use to pull my lawn equipment around. It is immaculate and park it during the winter months. I had entertained the idea of putting a plow on it, decided against it because I'm super protective of it! :)

    I would also love to get a dedicated truck for next year IF I decide this winter season doesn't stress me out too badly :)

    Best of luck. I hope you succeed!
     
  11. derekslawncare

    derekslawncare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,003

    One thing to keep in mind is that by NOT offering the deicing/salting, you are leaving quite a bit of money on the table, that you could otherwise be putting in your pocket. Two things to consider in regards to this is how many storms do you get that are freezing rain, sleet/ice? Nothing to shovel on those, but if you offered deicing, you could go out and treat for those storms that you would otherwise not be making any money on. Second, and far more important is how many storms do you get that START OUT as freezing rain, then change to sleet, then to snow? Speaking from experience, my first year I started, I didn't know that those needed to be pretreated and guess what my very first storm of the season was? Therefore, I showed up to my accounts with two inches of sleet/snow that had frozen to the pavement once the pavement temps dropped and the plow was useless (as will be your shovel and snow blower). I had to drop salt and go to my next account and drop salt and so on. Then had to circle back and blade off what the salt had loosened and retreat with salt and so on. Took Two plowings and 3 salt apps to take care of a storm that should have been handled with 1 pretreat, then a plow and retreat at the end of the storm. I had some upset customers, but no one got hurt and no accidents, so it all worked out in the end. Of course, it was my fault, so some treatments and some plowing was done at no charge.

    So given that info, you may want to rethink your "no ice melt" strategy or at the very least, if you don't want to take on the added liability that that entails, you better be prepared to pay close attention to forecasts and calling your customers on some storms and telling them they need to go out to pretreat for you so that the snow is workable for you when you arrive. And sometimes, that means laying your pretreatment down at 0200 hrs in the morning, just as the storm changes over from freezing rain to snow. Too early, and it just washes off. Too late and it is useless. Just something to think about.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
  12. kawasaki guy

    kawasaki guy Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    You can indeed make some good money. And I price like you. Except, I charge extra if there is more that 6"
    I aggree. I make some good extra money off of salting, and I can also use the same spreader to spread fert in summer.
     
  13. allrservices

    allrservices Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Of all places, why Scranton! :) I just bought my wife's new Toyota from Toyota of Scranton last week.

    I'm about 45 minutes south of Scranton, Lehighton to be exact. If you travel on the PA Turn Pike northbound from Allentown, the exit is Mahoning Valley. I'm 2 minutes away from that exit.

    Yes, chaining a machine is time consuming and a pain if you have to do it multiple times.

    Thanks for the comments.

    -Rich
     
  14. kawasaki guy

    kawasaki guy Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    I am actually in moscow area in woods. LOLOLOLOL might try to get a deer
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
  15. highvoltageva

    highvoltageva Junior Member
    from Va
    Messages: 2

    I'm on the lawn care side right now as well and considering snow blowing residential. What is the average time for blowing a double wide drive that is about 40 ft long. And do you all shovel around the customers cars after blowing the open areas. Thanks.
     
  16. kawasaki guy

    kawasaki guy Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    It depends……… maybe 30-40 minutes for a 30' 2 car driveway with my 18" toro single stage. But, sometimes it takes less or more time.. And, I do usually d around cars if they ask, if not then I don't. :nod: :waving:

    go for it my man. You will make some good money if you can hook all of your lawn customers. Pluse, if you already have a spreader for fert, you can use it for salt and charge even more! :popcorn::alien:
     
  17. highvoltageva

    highvoltageva Junior Member
    from Va
    Messages: 2

    What is your pricing on that size drive. And price with ice melt. Thanks.
     
  18. kawasaki guy

    kawasaki guy Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    usually $20-30 then extra $10-19 for rock salt. layup Really depends on a lot of factors.