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small lawn care business expanding into snow removal

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by KPC, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. KPC

    KPC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    We are a small family run lawn care business looking into expanding into offering driveway plowing service for our current residential clients. We also have several small commercial clients with parking lots (10-40 car spaces) that are interested in having us plow their parking lots.

    As stated, we are a small family operation. Mostly a 2 man team.
    We have a f250 v10 2x4 with contractors steel cap, that we use to pull a lawncare trailer, that hauls our zeroturn mower and a walk behind brush cutting mower, then in the back of the truck we carry the trimmers, tools, etc..

    We’ve been in business for about 5 years and each year we have been doubling our clients, we are still a small operation but we are doing well and growing at a comfortable level.

    For the past several years when winter storms come around because our f250 is only 2 wheel drive, we borrow a family members 4x4 truck to pull our lawncare trailer to some of our residential clients locations where we offer snow cleanup using an industrial snowblower and atv with snowplow. One person runs the atv to do the driveway and the other person uses the snowblower to do the sidewalks. We load the snowblower & atv back onto the trailer and off to the next location.

    This method has been working well on the small level, but we are ready to take it to the next level by getting a 4x4 truck with plow. We do not have the budget for a $35k diesel with $10+ plow setup.

    We have been shopping around for a 4x4 quad cab (dedicated 4 door crew cab) smaller truck, dakota, colorado, canyon, etc... Preferably v6 or for the colorado / canyon they have the 5 cylinder.

    It seems we can find some decent trucks in the $7-10k range, then we would have to add the plow cost on top of that. We do not need salt spreaders or anything like that.

    We use a simple hand push broadcast spreader for salting driveways & sidewalks which is all that we need. We do not have the amount of clients to where a tailgate spreader is necessary. It takes us just 5 minutes to use a hand push broadcast spreader to salt the driveway and sidewalk after using the atv & snowblower to clean up the snow.

    We just want to get our own 4x4 truck with plow. Also, as said above, we have been doubling our spring-summer-fall lawncare clients each year to where we might need to go out individually to these locations and pick up part time employees, so to have another truck in our fleet is going to be needed. We are already picked up a second lawncare trailer for next summer, so we are planning on having two truck setups for spring-summer-fall this coming year. About the only thing left we need for have two full setups for next warm season is to pick up another zero turn mower. But that is another story.

    The point of this thread is to discuss getting into small snow plowing using a 4x4 four door crew cab pickup, something like a dakota, canyon / colorado.

    Can anyone offer any advice or comments directed towards what we are trying to do. We are very hands on, mechanically inclined, so lay it on us. Positive or negative comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.. I’d rather receive the advice now, before shelling out $$ or learning the hard way.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  2. lilpusher

    lilpusher Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 139

    I'm partial but the Dakota has been a good plow truck for me. I got a 97 Dakota with a snoway 26 on it and is really a great setup. I do some small commercial accts with drive thrus. I like having the smaller size truck with a v8 actually goes through snow better than my 2500 chevy did
  3. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    Small Quad cab trucks are very limited in their plow potential. Be sure before you buy one you can get an acceptable plow for it.
  4. ddb maine

    ddb maine Senior Member
    Messages: 832

    Smaller truck and plow setups certainly have their niche, just make sure your not going to outgrow that niche next year and wish you have bought something bigger. Quality service goes a long way and if you provide that, before you know it you have twice the winter accounts as the year before.

    The niche I've found for the smaller trucks is hands down maneuverability. Small driveways and tight commercial lots these can run circles literally around a bigger truck. Yet get a big storm and the tides can shift. In an open lot or driveway a larger truck and plow will become more efficient time wise. Depending on your average snowfall and your market, that will tell you what to buy. Smaller truck can sure be sweet sometimes....
  5. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    Yes sir, I agree small trucks have their place. Crewcabs however give up a lot of GVWR to the body weight leaving little excess FAWR for a plow and material with-out the jeep like turning ability that make little trucks shine. A better choice for a small nimble vehicle would be a regular cab short wheel based pick-up. Dodge and Chevy both make them and Chevy even offers the VYU package on their's.
  6. KPC

    KPC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I just picked up this truck today, fully loaded 04 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab Z71 4x4 5 Cylinder 3.5l engine, one owner, well kept. Plan on turning this into the plow truck I mentioned at the top of this thread.




  7. KPC

    KPC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Can anyone (with actual mid size truck plow experience) comment on which makes & models of plows to look at for this truck.

    I know that I want as close to a commercial plow as I can get with this midsize truck setup. I want to stay away from cheap low end, low quality budget residential models.

    I do realize that this is not a full size truck capable of handling a extreme duty commercial plow, but I do want to go with a good high quality plow suited to this medium duty truck platform. I realize that just about all of the manufacturers advertise the mid size truck plows as being for home owner residential use only, but on the other hand, there are plenty of threads where people are using colorados with higher quality plows that fit the Colorado and use them as official commercial plow vehicles but they just use them for light duty commercial plowing. I read one thread where they outfitted 3 colorados for a school district all with snow-way plows. So it is possible to use the colorado in a semi commercial plowing environment. I realize the limits of both the plowing and the truck, as I purchased this truck with the intention of doing small residential driveways and small 10-40 space parking lots. I just don’t want to buy some cheap tin can plow that will never withstand even light duty commercial use.

    The plow must be hydraulic, no cheap winch lift plows. The plow must also have hydraulic downforce option for backdraging as from what I've read, non of the mid size plows seem to have enough natural weight to do well when backdraging snow.

    I have spent countless hours over the past day or so reading dozens and dozens of threads on these colorados & various plow setups. As I would read down thru a thread, I would take notes.

    Below is a list of the notes that I had copied from reading the dozens of colorado threads.
    There is no particular order, it is just a bunch of notes that I copied, everything from user opinions, to just various makes & models so that I have a list of companies to look into.

    If there is something that stands out in the notes below, feel free to comment on it.

    One question that I still have is what size of plow should I go with. I don’t need some 9’ plow (not like they make one anyway for this truck) but I can’t go big because I’m doing residential areas. But I don’t want to go with the narrowest either, as that can be underproductive if it is downright too narrow. So what is a safe width range to stay in for doing small residential driveways and small parking lots.

    I jumped at the opportunity to buy this truck today and I'm looking to get a plow asap so that I can have this truck fully equipped and ready for the first snow fall. I live in western Pennsylvania. We aren’t quite into the snow season yet, but it isn’t far around the corner either. So I am looking to move quickly to outfit this truck, but I want to do it the right way and not cut corners.

    Anyway, here are the notes:

    Snoway ST blade with downpressure

    Snowbears plow

    Snowing front blades have 180 degree movement

    fisher SD & HT blades

    Fisher HT 7'6"

    7 ' boss sport duty ,hand held or joystick control smart hitch 2 i don't know pricing in your area might be around $4300.00-$4400.00 get the shoe option kit

    Blizzard 720LT it's a 7.2' straight blade. I was also checking out the BOSS Sport duty 7.0'. I'm leaning towards the Blizzard though

    You could also look into the sno-way plows. A member on here (toby4492 I think) is a rep for sno-way.

    The Sno-Way 22 series will fit this application. You can learn more by visiting our factory website, http://www.snoway.com

    buy a Fisher homesteader. weighs like 300lbs. costs like $2000. perfect for doing just a driveway. or go to like the LD series or sport duty plow they weight like 500lbs and cost like 2500-3000

    Blizzard 7.2 ft plow Only modification we made was to have stronger trip springs made as the original tripped a little easy for customers' taste.

    Go to www.coloradofans.com and www.355nation.net/forum these 2 sites have everything you need to know. If you purchase a Colorado go with a 5 cylinder auto, plow wise go with a Boss Sport Duty or Fisher HT. I will be doing a full review on the HT and Colorado combo after a few more snowfalls.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010
  8. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990


    Snoway 22 series

    Boss n/a

    western/fisher; Suburbanite

    Meyer; n/a

    snowdogg; MD68 w/800 lbs of ballast:eek:

    Good luck
  9. hightop

    hightop Member
    Messages: 47

    Isn't Snoway the only one with the down force you said you require?
  10. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

  11. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    snow way would be the way to go, they are lighter than most, but with added down pressure they will clean and scrape just as well

    i knew 2 people that had them on ford rangers and explore sport trax, both were very happy
  12. Stik208

    Stik208 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,316

  13. pongow26

    pongow26 Senior Member
    Messages: 153

    I have a 98 z71 1500 and I use a Boss 7'6" straight-blade for mainly residential contracts. I have a couple restarunt contracts and it handles those just fine. Boss has a fast and easy hook up which I like because I can hook and unhook in a matter of minutes. Bare in mind I own a storage business too which is about 3 acres worth of plowing which I have never had an issue with.
  14. KPC

    KPC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I'm set on getting a 22 series sno-way plow
    As I said, the majority of the plowing will be residential small driveways, so I'm leaning towards the 6'-8" (80") instead of the 7'-6" (90"). Both plows are 22" high
    Would the 6'-8" (80") be a wise choice? I'm afraid the wider plow will be too difficult to get in some of the narrow drive ways, especially ones that have curbs on either side of the driveway, if I get a plow that is too wide, it won't fit down inside the curb rails along the driveway. Or is the 6'-8" (80") downright too narrow of a plow, even for small residential driveways?

    I figure that if I would rather make an extra pass or two and be able to accept a narrow driveway job, than to have a plow that is too wide and be unable to fit it on a narrow driveway. This truck will never be intended for doing commercial parking lots, so I think the 6'-8" (80") is the better choice. Please comment!!!!!

    I'm considering adding timbrens on the front. Eventhough the 22 series sno way is a light weight plow, I still don't care to put excessive wear on the factory torsion suspension, so I think for $200 the timbrens are a worth while upgrade.

    I'm going to upgrade to a higher capacity battery and there is a local alternator shop that offers high output alternators so I'm going to contact them and see what they charge for a beefier alternator.

    When I bought the truck it didn't come with any service history, so I went ahead and just maintenanced everything. I just changed out all driveline fluids & power steering fluid, changed engine oil & filter, fuel filter, new spark plugs, bled the brakes, new air filter.

    Can anyone think of anything else to add into the mix. I have been working non stop to get this truck ready to go for the first snow this year. So please add any advice if you notice something that I'm forgetting.
  15. KPC

    KPC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    bump for answer to choosing plow width
  16. pongow26

    pongow26 Senior Member
    Messages: 153

    Well I have never used that style plow although I do know this I have yet to come across a drive with my 7'6" i can't fit down. Then again I live in the country and most drives here are 2 car widths or larger. It depends on the local jobs you are looking at but it does look like the plow you chose is a good fit. As far as maintenance you will want to also check coolant and possibly flush the system if needed. You said you changed driveline fluids but which fluids. Here all the ones I check - tranny, transfer case and differential. I also pull apart the 4x4 hubs to make sure the bearings are good and and make sure the grease is good. I also make sure everything is tightened to spec. Yes there is a wrong and a right way to reassemble 4x4'hubs so make sure you know these before you open them up otherwise have a shop do it. Check tie rods and ball joints so you know they are good to go as they are put under more than normal stress.
  17. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    Plow is ok

    Sounds like the plow issue is well under control.

    Don't forget about the salter for the back of the truck. You'll make more money with that than you will with the plow. Check out SnowEx products. They have several that will work great on that truck.
  18. KPC

    KPC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I fully serviced all fluids, all driveline fluids - diffs - t.c. - transmission, power steering fluid, I'm replacing the thermostate so I will also replace coolant, I flushed the brake fluid, I pulled the calipers off the brackets, greased the slider pins, pulled the rear brakes and set the parking brake adjuster, checked all front end components (which nothing is loose), greased what suspension parts had zerk fittings (tie rod ends) and have it scheduled for an alignment in the next week because it pulls slightly to the right and I'm just installing 4 new winter treads and I don't want them to prematurely wear due to the alignment being a little off.

    I'm not someone that goes light on maintenance.

    I am still undecided when it comes to plow width. I want to go with the wider plow, but I guess I'll need to check the width of the truck and also get out and physically measure a few driveways that I'll be plowing.

    Most of the driveways are single car width, about 50-75 feet long that leads up to the house that usually have a 1 car garage, in a residential housing community type area. there are a few longer drives, say 500 feet long but they too are one car width.

    Can anyone give me some real world pros & cons between the 6'-8" (80") & 7'-6" (90") plow widths, for doing residential & small parking lot plowing. Not just the obvious, (if the driveway is narrow, and your plow is wide, it will dig into the grass beyond the width of the driveway, that is a obvious one). But any other real world pros & cons that aren't so typical, that would help me to decide which plow width to buy
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  19. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    At full angle a 80" blade is only 69" while a 90 inch blades is 78". Driveways are normally at least 96" wide.
  20. KPC

    KPC Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    figured I'd drop back in and say that i decided on the 7'-6" (90") plow by snowway with the wireless remote and hydraulic downforce option.

    I couldn't be happier with this setup. We've been using it all season and have no problems at all.

    I'm equally pleased with the colorado truck. Both the truck & plow setup are working very well for us.

    We picked up a handful of new cliets and business is going well. We just need some more snow.