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Somebody help! Can I start a business?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by darnel8, Aug 12, 2002.

  1. darnel8

    darnel8 Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    Hello everyone, I am new to this site as well as being new to the possibiliy of snow removal. I would really like to start a snow plowing business. I am a 22 year-old Marketing major and this business would be run mostly for management experience (although who can deny themselves the joy of blasting through the snow in a 4x4). My goal for this business would be that I can start from nothing and slowly build a successful business by putting all revenue back in. I am starting out with a 1988 ford bronco II (170k miles, 5speed) and about $2000. I have good business skills, but I have never plowed before. I am not afraid of the time it will take to learn, or the long hours I may have to work. I am a blue-collar guy with white-collar skills. I would like to handle residential jobs.

    Do you think it can be done or am I just a dreamer? How much will insurance cost? I am interested in beginning as a dba, is this a good idea? Will my bronco be up to it?

    Please help! I would greatly appreciate feedback from more knowledgeable people. Has anyone here started from such humble beginnings? Please keep in mind that I am very committed and very hard working. I have a strong chin and can take critticism so please be honest. Thanks in advance!
  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Can it be done? Yes. Has anyone here done it? Yes. Several here are very large operators (hundreds of thousands of dollars and at least one person generated several millions in snow removal last year). Some have snow as their only business. Many others (like me) are basically a sole operator outfit. One thing - can your Bronco take a plow? Meaning does it have a frame? Next (being a Marketing major you know this), complete your Business Plan. You will then have a good idea of equipment costs (including several thousand for the plow) and operating costs including additional for Commercial Vehicle and General Liability insurance. What services are you going to offer - plowing only, plowing and deicing, sidewalk cleaning etc? Do you have the resources for maintenance and repairs as plowing is very hard on vehicles? Since you have no experience plowing, consider a couple of options - sub for an established plow guy/company or get two or three friends' driveways lined up for the first year. You'll lose money that way, but there are many advantages. During the next year, you can get a better idea of what you want to do, define your business services/products, define market area etc.

    "Blasting through snow"? Not unless you want to tear up your plow and truck. Consider the less glamourous - getting up at 3:00AM in a driving snowstorm, cold truck seats, getting stuck with no help in sight, lousy coffee etc.

    Maybe you'll want to stick to the business end?

    Good Luck
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2002
  3. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    Yes you can. I believe that Ford Bronco you have is a good truck to start out with. Then in a few years when you build your profit and gain more accounts, you can get a bigger and better truck to handle the job. I started out last year plowing snow for the first year with my current Toyota pickup. It is a small truck but it does the job very well. My business is registered as DBA. That is what you should register to if this is a small business and you are doing it on your own. You can register your business in another way but it is not necessary.

    The insurance will vary greatly. You would want commercial vehicle and commercial general liability insurances. What would be the best thing to do is to get a few quotes from your local insurance carriers and comare them to each other and see which is the best for you.

    Plowing snow is a fun job but it is not always easy. But I think you will like it and be successful with it. Good luck. If we could just get some snow.

    JD PLOWER PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 751

    The link below to this book has most of the answers to the questions you've asked and then some. I highly recommend the book. Some of it will not apply to your current situation but it will give you a good deal of insight regarding this business and what it takes to be successful.

    You seem enthusiastic which is a good sign, but as mentioned above persistence is key to this business in particular.

  5. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    Darnel, check the locales you plan to do business in to see if you need to be permitted. I found out the hard way about Putnam's contractor licensing.

    I would be concerned about using your Bronco II as a commercial plowing vehicle, you will find reliability will grow your business quickly and one heavy storm will be all it takes to show your truck's shortcomings.

    Most here use 3/4 or 1 ton pickups for plowing, if you plan on soliciting some of the estates in your area, I think you'll find the Bronco isn't up to the task.

    Now, I'll take cover in anticipation of immenent flames!:eek:
  6. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    If you pick up the book JD Plower referenced, you'll find out that one of John's favorite sayings is... "If you think you can, or if you think you can't - You're right!"

    If you want to start a business you can by all means. But do your research. You've got a lot of questions which you'll need to get answered. As well, many of your questions will be answered with experience. And time behind the wheel will only lead to new questions.

    Reliability is key as mentioned already. Reliability is a starting point for good service. If you can't get to the property to do what you've contracted to do, then you don't even have an opportunity to shine.

    Start off with residential accounts and maybe a couple of smaller commercial lots. If you don't know how to plow, pick up the two training videos from SIMA (www.sima.org) on beginning plow operations and intermediate plowing.

    Good luck with your start up!
  7. darnel8

    darnel8 Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    Thank you guys!

    I am very enthusiastic about beginning a business, and I appreciate all of your responses. You've given me much to think about, but I am not discouraged. I have no plow setup for the truck (1988 Bronco II), but I was hoping that I could buy one used, for under $1000. I've seen many for sale ranging between 500-1000 for 6 1/2 to 8 foot plows. Are these worth buying? I am going to take all of the advice I have gotten so far into account. I will start out small with about 5 to 10 residential driveways until I learn the business. And yes insurance is a must for me. I will also get the video on plowing, thanks for the link. One more question: Since my truck has a manual transmission, will this put more wear and tear on it? Does anyone in the New York area have a truck with a plow on it for around $2000?

    :drinkup: Thanks again!

    P.S.- Pelican thanks for your honest opinion
  8. 4 Saisons

    4 Saisons Senior Member
    Messages: 260

    Darnel, take a look on the used equip forums, there is anexpensive set up right for you, 1988 bronco and6.5 meyer plow.
  9. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Denis, I was just getting ready to tell him the same thing. That's pretty funny how the equipment he needs comes up for sale on the same day he wants it. I'd be interested how far it is from him. Darnel8, you might do well just getting the whole Bronco setup, then you have parts (disclaimer - I'm not really trying to help sell the unit:nono: ).