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Snowblowing...how to maximize profits?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,905

    I do snowblowing ONLY at the time. I have two machines i can load into the truck. Theyre large, 32" 12 and 13hp Simplicity commercial grade snow throwers. I can usually get done a driveway/sidewalks/steps handshoveling with both snowblowers going in around 20minutes in heavy azz snow like our 18" we got here in NJ recently.

    Only problem is, i get ALL my calls to snowblow out driveways within only a couple hours. I had over a dozen people already on contract for this and then a few more called in between. Even with that, working from 1130am -5pm, i only made $300 or a little more. Now it doesnt snow MUCH here over 6+" when people want their driveways done. Id say 2-4 times per year i would do this service.

    How can i make MORE per snowstorm? no one wants to wait 4-8hours after the snow is over, should i charge a premium to be done within 3hrs after the storm is over and charge my normal rate after that? As soon as the snow stops i have people calling me left and right , having 2 workers with me to call all the people back and to help minor hand shoveling and snowblowing.


    A. I could probably vastly improve my route.... IE: going from one area to the next VS back and forth adding up miles doing 25mph in the snow.

    B. I could change fees to let people decide to pay less if they can wait a few hours not have it done right then.

    I had people calling saying theyre turning down kids and all left and right to handshovel their driveways 80' long with 15" of heavy snow? what are these people on crack? How much do you suppose theyre charging? I saw another group of 10 kids doing driveways with shovels, how much can they make doing that? for $20 thats only $2 per kid:realmad: \


    I also had 3 customers have their driveways already done 3-4hrs after the storm basically stopped and didnt call so i drove out of my way to find out they were already done.. Should i charge a surcharge for this? thanks guys!:dizzy:
     
  2. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,905

  3. Evan528

    Evan528 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 153

    If you only made 300 dollars working that amount of hours to really not charging nearly enough. For this storm we got 16 inches..... For a driveway that can hold 3-4 cars I charged $125 plus salt. Lets face it.... this is not fun work....not fun hours.....and not pleasant conditions to work in. Either I make top dollar to do this work or id rather not do it at all.

    We do snow removal at about 30 homes within a 1 mile radius. If im not making at least 200 an hour.... something is wrong.

    BTW..... I am running a toro dingo, 2 8HP snow blowers.....and a couple small single stagers when nessesary.
     
  4. KCB

    KCB Senior Member
    Messages: 153

    Try and get 25 to 30 on a seasonal rate, and get them to put it in writing so others don't scoop your business. Don't do one timers unless they are right next door. Once you are finished the main route then you can go bombing all over town, chasing down the people who called and left messages make sure to call them to double check they still want your service so you don't waste your time and fuel.Save your pennies,steer clear of magic beans and get yourself a plow. Good luck .:salute:
     
  5. mister_snowplow

    mister_snowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    You say it takes you 20 minutes (running both blowers) to do a driveway? How much time does it take you to unload and load the blowers from your truck...10 minutes total? Thats a half hour right there for one driveway.

    Have you considered buying a plow for your truck? With a plow, you can do a driveway in 5-10 minutes. If you have a tight route you can do 4 or 5 driveways an hour. At a minimum of $30 a driveway you could make $120 to $150 an hour.

    My suggestion, get yourself a plow. :nod:
     
  6. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,361

    You need to charge more! I charged around $80 for most of my drives, I plowed them every 6" or so with my ATV and plow. I can plow 6", and shovel walks in around 15-20 min. Charge more payup, you're providing a service, not doing it for free. How much were you charging per drive?
     
  7. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,905

    Most of what i do i would have a difficult time plowing, theyre smaller driveways that all have garages directly in front of them. id have to drive in and drag everything out, i would be draging more than plowing.
     
  8. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,905

    well most of the driveways were smaller 2 car wide, 1 car deep plus sidewalks and handshovel any steps into the house... I was doing most for $40+, one was $35 was already half done, not any easier but figured theyd go for it. I had one that was 80' long by 24' wide for $60.

    Its difficult to know what to charge since this is only my 3rd time out in the last year and the 2006 season and all 3 have been major storms. Im not going to someones house with 7" and saying yeah $40 and its easy work, im working go get through 2' of snow most places where the plows plowed in their driveways... on average for HEAVY snows like this what would someone charge to plow it or snowblow it and sidewalks/steps? I already see im undercharging a ton for my rate of $40-$60 if other guys are charging $120..

    I had kids going door to door in most areas probably for $20 so i felt the need to be competitive for some reason knowing they could have gone around already. Ill work on getting more customers signing contracts up front so they dont get it done before hand.

    Who charges a deposit for the season? something small $50-100 that will be refundable at the end of the snow season? just so it saves myself from having the customer plow out their own driveway or something then not wanting to pay for me showing up?
     
  9. Vaughn Schultz

    Vaughn Schultz PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,565

    :rolleyes: Sure they are;) You have to love what you are doing :nod:
     
  10. lawnboy11

    lawnboy11 Senior Member
    Messages: 263

    Man, you crazy! You'll have to work 10 blizzards at that rate just to pay for the snowblowers. You're loosing money. Do the contracts. Do state in the contract a reasonable time to expect you in an avg storm, say 6", from the time the last snowflake falls, maybe 4 or 5 hours. If the house is done charge a site visit fee. Reverse the order of your route each storm so the guy at either end isn't always last. Most houses around here I charged 125$+++ and they aren't huge either. The avg property lot size is maybe 60 or 80ft by 100ft to give you an idea. Screw the 20$ kids. They're stupid. 2$ each? Ask potential customers what happens if the uninsured kids break something or hurt themselves or cause a lawsuit. 20$ could turn to bye bye house!
     
  11. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,905

    true, so your driveways are 60-80 ft long or thats the lot size with a small driveway on them? I think i will put a service fee in my contracts if they dont want the driveway done when i showup. It just eats up my time when they do that. I have to start earlier too, before the storm is actually over. If it stops at 3am though, by the time im up in the morning and working say 8am maybe sooner, everyone wants it done BY noon or they get angry, i mean the roads are terrible, theyre not going anywhere anyway, so is it UNREASONABLE for me to tell customers that within 4-6hrs after the storm is done it will be cleaned?
     
  12. Jpocket

    Jpocket Senior Member
    Messages: 302

    Residential Snow Removal IS NOT WHERE IT's AT. If you want less headaches and MUCH MORE FUN, get a plow truck and try to drum up some commercial business. We have a few commercial customers accounts that keep us busy during big storms, and a bunch of pain in the AZZ driveways that get done after. Sundays snow storm confirmed for me that we will NOT be looking for anymore driveways next year, and going after ALL Commercial. The residentail is always going to be a hassle. They want top notch service and aren't looking to pay more than $35. And it's the worst when everyone HAS TO BE FIRST, and they act like they are your ONLY customer.

    If they only knew that one push at a commercial lot pays more than they pay all season they would under stand and maybe do it them selves.

    RESIDENTIAL SNOW IS TOTAL BS
     
  13. lawnboy11

    lawnboy11 Senior Member
    Messages: 263

    4-6 hrs is totally reasonable I think. I start my route as soon as we get a few inches of snow and then just keep going until it's done, if the storm calls for more than 4-6 inches. This way, it's easier in the long run AND people know you've already been there and will be back. If I started my route when it stopped snowing in a big storm people would be waiting waaayyy too long. Just make it all clear in the beginning w/your contract and info pack and explain your system. I also only use blowers/ shovels. Most drives are 1 car wide, maybe 2 and maybe 60 ft long, max.
     
  14. lawnboy11

    lawnboy11 Senior Member
    Messages: 263

    It can be BS, but you have to educate the customers. When they are well trained, it's a good deal. At least for me. 35$? Ha ha ha. My minimum resi for 1-4" is 45$. I provide a great service 24/7 and people are willing to pay. I also service a well-off town. This storm my minimum was $125 for drive, walks, steps and a little salt. Tight route- 3 miles end to end. Many multiples too. (took a few years to get there).
     
  15. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 676

    Here's what I can tell you from my 2 straight winters of ONLY snowblowing experience.......

    Me and a buddy had 40 resis which we used 2 Troybilt 2stage 28" snowblowers on. We drove them around in that jeep which is on my avatar (yes, somehow they both fit). We would both hop out, and it took less than 20 seconds to unload both by hand...... but damn did they get heavy fast. We then snowblowed the drive together and when it looked like we were almost done one of us would get the blower back by the jeep and grab a shovel to do the stairs/porch. Then we'd both finish about the same time and lift both the blowers back in the jeep and roll to the next house.

    One guy said he thought it took 10mins to load/unload the snowblowers..... no way! Takes less than 20secs to lift them both in, and same for out.

    Sometimes we'd get to a house the same time a plow company was pulling in to the house across the street and we'd have the drive done the same time they had there's done! (they had to plow and shovel the walks)


    Anyway..... to help you out with some of your questions...
    We would do out route the moment the snow stopped. It took 6-8 hours depending on how deep the snow was to do all 40. They were all in close proximity to each other, probably within a 5 mile radius.

    Some of the "high-end" resis.. lawyers, rich wives, etc would demand we get their early. Well with one jeep, we couldn't be everywhere at once! So we zigzagged our route all over to hit the right houses with the right priority. In the end, everyone was happy.

    The 40 houses yielded about $1000 everytime it snowed, which my buddy and I split 50/50, minus the gas costs (we had both thrown in 50/50 on the snowblowers and shovels).

    IMO - tell your customers your situation, that you won't be able to get to them for up to "x-hours" after a snowfall. But then explain that you're using snowblowers and they wont have to deal with problems like: torn up sod, huge snow piles, and large equipment rolling up and down there driveway. Maybe they'll understand, maybe they wont.. There's always more customers out there!
     
  16. Jpocket

    Jpocket Senior Member
    Messages: 302

    I thought you plowed with the F-250 and F-450 in your Sig. So what do you put drivers in them and drive around with the snow blowers?

    Personally there is nothing like sitting in a warm truck pushing a blade around with the strobe on. WITHOUT ever getting out of the truck.
     
  17. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 676


    Do you think that my 250 and 450 suddenly appeared from thin air?
    I had to start somewhere, and that somewhere wasn't even snowblowers..... it was me and my friend with 2 shovels and 12 driveways :) :)
     
  18. Jpocket

    Jpocket Senior Member
    Messages: 302

    No I was just wondering, I personlly started out with a plow, with profits form the Lawn service.
     
  19. mister_snowplow

    mister_snowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    Living just outside of Boston, a lot of the driveways are small and tight with garages directly in front of them. Just a question...what's wrong with back dragging? If you back dragged the whole driveway, it would still take you less time than snowblowing...trust me.

    You know you don't always have to back drag. If there is room to either side of the garage you can pile snow there.
     
  20. mister_snowplow

    mister_snowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    I was simply trying to make a point that it is faster and more time efficient to plow the driveway. One guy plows, while the other snowblows the walks.