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Road service during storm

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by procut1, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    Just going to throw out some ideas and Im looking for whatever comes to your mind.

    Breakdowns are pretty popular 3am on a sunday during a storm.

    One thing around here is that there are NO dealers that are open after hours for parts or repairs. If they close 5:00 normally, in the middle of a snowstorm, 5:00 on the dot they close. If theyre closed on sunday, sunday during a blizzard theyre closed.

    Over the summer I put together a service truck for my blacktop maintenance business. Its fully equipped to do pretty much anything. Generator, compressor, torches, welder, parts assortments, battery charger, you name it I have it on there.

    Though I am primarily a "white shirt" in my business, I found this truck to be the greatest idea since sliced bread for my company. I dont know why I didnt have one years ago. What a dream when something breaks in the field to have a mobile repair shop.

    This got me thinking.

    Im going to have this truck stocked for the winter with all the common parts that like to detonate during a storm.

    Hydraulic lines
    Lengths of chain
    Plow pumps

    Thinking back over previous years, since Im a mechanic by trade and the only contractor in my area that stocks repair parts, other companies are always calling me to help them out with a broken something during a storm.

    Im throwing around the idea of offering road service during the storm for plow and sander problems. Having the parts, and the right equipment, nothing takes too long to fix. Usually the biggest headache for me in the past was not having the part or anywhere to get it, and not having a full set of tools. My shop is quite a distance away from my snow contracts in the middle of a storm.

    What is a service like that worth?

    Someone you can call 24/7 that stocks parts and can get you up and running in the middle of a storm.

    Nobody in my area does this, and plenty of times Ive had a truck have to sit out a whole weekend of plowing because of a $20 electrical part that I couldnt get until monday morning.
  2. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    A ton!!!!!!!!!1

    The way I've seen it done in the big truck world is normal labor rate is X

    After hours rate is 1.5X (worth every penny)

    after hours rate if you need the service truck starts from the moment their truck leaves the shop. (still worth it)

    parts cost what parts cost.
  3. IHI

    IHI Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 245

    I think it'd be worth alot, minimum $100 charge to show upto break down site...within a certain radius...plus parts and service on top, I wish we had a service like that locally, but here...you break down, your on your own until either the next morning when the shop opens and then you take a number...and god forbin something goes down on a friday night...you will be down all weekend. Our "support" in our area is non existant..kinda fend for yourself, so luckily most of us know that and between all the contacts we have just about everything needed to get eachother fixed up....it'd just be nice to make a call and have it taken care of though...i've lost all motivation for working on things yrs ago, i'd rather just pay to have it fixed at this point in time..not worth my time creating more problems LOL!!
  4. augerandblade

    augerandblade PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,054

    Just find out what is the going rate in a area that has, emergency tire repair, or farm service repair and tack on a lil extra for going out in inclement weather. Ask yourself first though why no one is too interested in providing this type of service. Its probably cuz its a shxtty job, lots of hassle, could be dangerous working conditions if y ou have to make a mobile service call.
  5. SPD

    SPD Inactive
    Messages: 48

    I would think if your the only game in town at that time you could get a healthy rate. Be careful to not bill too much or you will get a bad rep.

    The only downside I see is getting the word out. So people know to call you when they break. I would suggest getting in contact with all of your local auto wrecking and towing companies. Offer them a birddog commission for any referrals.

    Get some business cards for this purpose and hand them out to any plow truck driver you see.

    Great idea you just need exposure for the service.
  6. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    pricing would have to be a delicate balance.

    Being the only one offering the service is worth a premium. Plus getting a truck back in service thats making $100 an hour is worth a premium too.

    The downside is that I am only one person.

    I have to consider if its worth more for me to just run one of my own plow trucks.

    If I didnt do snow work, I think I could do well with this. But at the same time, the service is badly needed around here and I know I could be really busy with it. I know when I was much heavier into snow, I could have kept someone like this busy for the whole storm...haha

    I have tossed around opening a repair shop. From being in the snow business I would definately be open whenever its snowing. Road service would be available for when someone is stuck and cant get to the shop.

    Over the past couple of years Ive been transitioning out of the snow business, I just dont like it. This is probably the last year Ill be doing major accounts so this may be a venture to start when Im done doing snow.
  7. jlouki01

    jlouki01 Senior Member
    Messages: 198

    I think it's a tough sell.. guys like me fix our own stuff because we can't afford to wait on you to get there and we can't afford 85.00 / hr ( which is reasonable ). So we fix it ourselves.

    Guys who can afford the service are going to be larger outfits and may have their own guys to run and repair things.

    Just my .02..
  8. iceyman

    iceyman 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,521

    ya but can u fix ur stuff in the middle of the nite without the right part? thats where he can make some money
  9. SPD

    SPD Inactive
    Messages: 48

    Exposure is the key.

    As mentioned there is always someone who will need your services. Yes there are some who won't

    The key to success here is making sure they know about you and how to contact you when they need you. This is going to be the hard part. Overtime word will get out but just starting out will be slow.

    I broke last year 3 times and twice I had the parts and tools I needed and fixed it on the road myself. The other time I was dead until morning and would of called someone like this for sure, if I knew how to reach them. I was actually called every 24 hour roadside assistance place I could find, no one could help me or point me to someone who could.
  10. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,954

    I'd say it would be worth it for 1-3 truck operations, medium sized companies are going to have backup trucks ready to go, large sized companies are going to have their own mechanics ready to go.
  11. fordpsd

    fordpsd Senior Member
    Messages: 308

    Sounds like a good idea.

    Around here almost any fisher dealer is open 24hrs throughout a storm, so it is easy to get the part you need. But for your area it sounds like you could definitely stay busy and make money throughout the storm.
  12. kpmsnow

    kpmsnow Senior Member
    from Elkhart
    Messages: 156

    I set up a truck similar but I went as far as to mount an under chassis stinger on it. I can fix my trucks on site or if its a catastrophic failure I have my mechanic put a spare truck on the stinger and take it to the site and switch out with the operators broken rig. I also offer the truck and my mechanic to other plow company's in the area. It's a pretty slick rig. And it payed for its self faster then any piece of snow removal equipment I ever bought. charge $100 an hour on site $1.50 mile drive charge, plus parts, minimum charge of $100. I also have my shop open for 24/7 emergency repairs during snow events with 2 mechanics on call.
  13. jimspro

    jimspro Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    i think it is a good idea, i have both a plow and towing biz, our wreckers are out winching guys out of snow banks, and we have helped other plowers out with either fixing or towing it somewhere, during the storms at night we get $165.00 per hr from the time we turn the ket to were done, to get the plow truck back on the road is worth paying the rate, remember they usually break about 2 hours into a 8 hr storm
  14. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    For the guys who already have the problem handled, thats a good thing.

    I do know from experience around here though that many many dont.
  15. Kramer

    Kramer Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    The question I have is----- how many parts can you stock ?

    Because the bottom line would be that different plows have different parts. What happens when I call you at 1 am on Sunday, you show up, and dont have a part and cant fix anything?

    I'm out 1-2 hrs waiting on you then have to fix it myself someway.

    You'd need western, fisher, meyer, curtis, blizzard, snoway..... parts.

    Its a lot easier addressing your own stuff cause you know what equip you have.

    IPLOWSNO PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,619

    sure it will cost money to have all the stuff but like they said if you have it they will pay, just don't try to beat them up, theyre trying to make a living also, keep that in mind and you should do good.

    if and when the time comes you maybe a authorized dealer of sorts, i think your ontosomethingher goodluck
  17. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    Sure. Wouldnt be able to stock everything but I dont think it would be too hard to have almost everything.
  18. Mdwstsnow512

    Mdwstsnow512 Senior Member
    Messages: 168

    around here guys are 85 an hour turnkey to turnkey. from the time he leaves his house till he gets home. + parts

    and hell fix everything, loaders trucks welder whatever.

    totally worth it depending on the storm/fix
  19. BMWSTUD25

    BMWSTUD25 Senior Member
    Messages: 630

    I think it would be a great service if youre area needs it and you are going to be doing it for yourself anyway. Great way to help offset the company loosing you as a plow truck operator. As far as pricing goes I think everything that has been mentioned is reasonable if you can get them back up and going relatively quickly. The way I look at it is if I have a breakdown I'd rather loose money or break even on that that storm than be cheap and take the chance at losing ANY of my contracts. Parts to me doesnt sount too bad as many hoses, solenoids, relays and such can be universal and with more and more plows being made by the same companies this should only get better. I would think a welder and set of torches would also be key in many repairs.
  20. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    Thats what I was thinking.

    From plowing the last 10 years on a commercial scale, there have been many times that dam near everything breaks at the same time. Even being a mechanic myself I had to decide whether to take the hour and go fix the truck that was down, if I had the parts, or spend that hour covering for the guy plowing with my own truck.

    Most of the time I would end up just plowing like a maniac trying to cover. When more than one truck would go down it would be a nightmare.

    It would always seem to happen around 5 or 6 am, right at the time people are waking up and we should be on top of the game.

    I need to figure out a balance in the pricing. If Im going to be out there freezing my nads off in freezing rain in the middle of the night, it has to be worth a LOT of money for me.

    Yet at the same time, since I do plan on moving more into the repair business, I dont want to really gouge people either. I dont want guys to be afraid to call me or have them feel im taking advantage.

    Its a lot to think about.