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Solo Operator Rant?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Gettindirty, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. Gettindirty

    Gettindirty Member
    Messages: 38

    This is my third year plowing and I'm a solo operator. I'm sure there are others out there. I salt and do sidewalks as well. My plow truck is a '98 3500 Dodge dump (which makes it worse?). You arrive, drag out the blower and shovel from the back. Shovel edges/steps. Blow walks and curbs. Salt sidewalks. Load up. Then plow. I have enough 1" customers that it takes about 3 hours to get them all done. Then the residentials another 10 hours on a 3" snow. Alot of the residential do not want sidewalks and ice melt so that is OK with me. Am I unique? How do others handle it. Thanks.
  2. augerandblade

    augerandblade PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,054

    tymusicussmileyflag:gunsfiring:Nope thats how I started 26 seasons ago, later got more contracts/pertime plowouts. Now I have 1 o;erator with a NH TC30 with bucket and blade, he handles all my residentials after he has cleared out my commercial walks. Keep pluggin away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  3. bigearl

    bigearl Senior Member
    Messages: 393

    The same way you do 1 drive or lot at a time!
  4. mycirus

    mycirus Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 589

    I am a one man operation and have about 18 driveways. Only a couple require shoveling. No salt.
  5. Lencodude

    Lencodude Senior Member
    Messages: 128

    Same here one man show after 21 years 90 houses and 5 small commercial. People always ask how many guys you got working for you, when they see my 3 plow truck in my drieway. I am refusing new customers and in the last few years dropping certain areas that are farther way from me, because I am picking up more people in my neighbourhood. A third of the residential I shovel the walkways.

    CARDOCTOR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,304

    im a one man for salt but i pickup a shoveler if it snows

  7. timmy1

    timmy1 Senior Member
    from RI
    Messages: 470

    I only shovel 1 walkway on my whole route. And this one is my last stop for a storm, a little old lady.

    I just can't see the truck sitting there idling while I'm shoveling.
  8. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 127

  9. Gettindirty

    Gettindirty Member
    Messages: 38

    Lenco your are a beast! The shovel is for steps and edges only. Sometimes if it is light. Mostly a small single stage blower and ice melt on the walks. I feel the same way about the truck idling while i'm blowing but with the load I have I can not afford another dedicated sidewalk crew. Maybe next year.

    Thanks for the replies. I just keep reading post and looking at pictures and I look like an overloaded idiot compared to you guys. Only one other guy in town is plowing and doing walks and he only spreads with a walk behind.
  10. Blazin

    Blazin Senior Member
    Messages: 185

    One man show here too, average fifty accounts per season, twenty plus years. All residential except two small apartment houses. three, and four unit deals. Only shovel at one place and it takes about 5 minutes. I do have a couple customers ( Vacation places ) that will call if they are not going to be here and have me shovel walks, step, decks, oil delivery path etc., but I can do that a day or two after the storm. No salt just sand from a Curtis spreader in the back of the truck. Real bad ice storm I will hand sand a walk way or under a car in the driveway.
  11. kashman

    kashman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,070

    this the the reason we get 60 a drive and not 20 its all about the little things be meticulous and they will beg for your service
  12. Lencodude

    Lencodude Senior Member
    Messages: 128

    I enjoy the coin I get for the whole season. I used to work for the transit station working on city buses. I make almost twice that salary in the winter months. (Not Bragging) When it gets 4 or more inches I use the yardworks single stage to blow the walkways sometimes, but still have to shovel abit. I used to refuse to shovel and did my route faster. But unfortunately your customers are getting older and need that service or you end up loosing to a guy that will do it. I have between 13-18 houses on some streets and they go fast. I have had long time customers pass away in their houses and I was plowing their driveway and get a call from the police if I saw anything unusual that day!
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  13. Lencodude

    Lencodude Senior Member
    Messages: 128

    Just a suggestion, If you use a short box 4x4 you will see it is a shorter wheel base and easier to get in and out of driveways and alot faster. When I used my backup 2500 ext.shortbox that is longer than my Short box, I find I hit the snow banks on the otherside of the street and takes longer the run.
  14. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    1 man here too- 10 years and counting. I don't do 1 inch triggers, and I only shovel certain accounts that qualify- seniors, perpetual travelers, and vacationers. Plus I charge the same rate for the time spent shoveling with the truck idle as it should be earning pushing snow. I shovel 3 seniors and one big traveler each storm plus the occasional away for the weekender (not counting my parents and my house). Down to 20 accounts this season from high 30's in previous years.

    No blowers, nothing worth hauling a blower around- I keep sand/salt in rubbermaid totes in the bed for ballast and sanding- I don't sand drives, only walks and the occasional drive to get unstuck.

    Charge accordingly, or don't offer the service- works for me.
  15. lawnboy11

    lawnboy11 Senior Member
    Messages: 263

    Solo, 30 accts, over 20 years- all resi- all snowblowers and shovels. You wil almost never ever see guys plowing resis here. No where to put snow, plus ya gotta do walks and steps anyway so it's easier and cleaner to just keep the blower out. Drives take 5-10 min tops to snowblow in about 4". takes me 6-7 hrs to do route in 2-4" snow .
  16. Blazin

    Blazin Senior Member
    Messages: 185

    Different lay of the land here. I have two driveways that are 800' to 900' long, several that break 500', and all the way down to a 40'er. Plus one that the guy does his own with a large tractor and a 9' Fisher plow. When he travels I do it for him plus sand it all season. It is about a 1/2 mile long.
  17. scottL

    scottL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,600

    Riddle me this ..... Adding up the times I see many taking 6, 7 or even 10 hours to complete a route. Some of our storms come back to back and there sometimes only 5 hours between storms. So, how can you get everything done before the next storm AND how do you NOT get complaints when it's taking some 6-10 hours until your last client??????
  18. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    They have to expect it in situations like that, especially when you have been servicing the same accounts for years. I run about 8 hours in a good storm minus shoveling. You also have to be judicious in the service offered when you know what is coming- remember it is our job to know what the weather is going to do in the next 24 hours minimum, so if you know the 5 inches you are getting is going to be followed by another 4 you don;t spend 20 minutes per account pushing back to the banks and cleaning up all pretty- it's a quick and dirty push so they can get in and out then the last plow is the clean up.
  19. scottL

    scottL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,600

    Even the nicest of clients have their moments. Waiting 6, 8 or 12 hours to be serviced ... at least around here ... that would net you a ton of calls asking where the plow guy is.
  20. Gettindirty

    Gettindirty Member
    Messages: 38

    My 1" triggers are commercial. They have to be clear before 7 am. I have a Church that is later during the week and early on Sunday. The Grocery is 6 am every day. But most people are OK with slugging it out but by the time they get home they want it cleared so 10 hr route is OK. It works out pretty well. Last decent snow (5") did not quit snowing until 4:30 am. I broke down twice and lost 3 customers. I called them and they were OK but found someone else.