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Starting a Snow Plowing/Lawn Care Business

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by thefunkyone, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. thefunkyone

    thefunkyone Junior Member
    Messages: 26


    New to the forums here. Some friends of mine and I are planning on starting a lawn care and snow plowing business. I was hoping to get some basic ideas on what to look for in plowing equipment, including the trucks.

    We plan on running two trucks. We are leaning more to Ford F-250/350's or GM 2500/3500 trucks. Our plan is to plow just about anything we can. Residential or Commercial. It doesn't look like we will provide other services such as shoveling or salting although that might change.

    Could I get some pro's/con's on trucks? GM v.s. Ford (without starting a ford/chevy war lol)

    Gas v.s. Diesel etc....

    Plows- What should we be looking for, doing a mix of commercial and residential? V Plow? Standard?

  2. thefunkyone

    thefunkyone Junior Member
    Messages: 26

    BTW- I read the newbie thing and although I personally have no experience one of my friends has been doing the lawn care and snow plowing thing for years. He will be helping to train all of us newbies.
  3. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,822

    First off, watch out for partnerships. It never works out. OK I'm sure at least one person will pipe up now saying about how they've been in a partnership for 20 years and its been great. BUT I've never seen it happen.

    Second, you will have to offer shoveling, and salting services if you get anywhere near commercials.

    Third, as for a truck the brand is all personal preference. And since it seems you don't have one, it is whatever is the best price and most economical. Go for a 2500/250, gas, 8 foot blade. Thats all you need. You'll get a bunch of guys telling you "oh you need a diesel" but you really don't. If you're towing a 8500 pound skid steer on a 22 foot construction trailer on a daily basis, OK get a diesel. But your not, don't waste the money. And I do have a diesel and I love it. I always drive it just because I like it. But I still have no idea what I was thinking justifying the extra $10,000 or whatever it was.

    Just be cautious, its not as easy as lots of people think. And do it right. Don't be the low baller with the pick-up truck running around mowing grass and plowing driveways for side cash. Get registered, get insured, etc..
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  4. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Well you have a 50/50 chance of making it ,that's if you go with the Fords with a V plow you will have a better chance of making it!

    From what I hear Michigan is taking it hard so I'd be careful about buying all this new stuff because you'll never make the payments plowing driveways for 10 bucks.

    The partnership may fall apart if one of you likes to work harder then the other one.

    Of course this is internet advice but, I would setup your partnership with one of you owning more then 50 % of the business.
  5. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,696

    What's the plan for the other partner(s) since you will only run two trucks? I'll agree with the others......partnerships have a high failure rate, especially if any family is involved.

    Could be your plan is to sub. You won't get far being the primary if you don't offer salt/chems and sidewalk service.

    Ford vs Chevy ~ not going there.

    Good luck to you sir.
    (go with the Chevy)
  6. Mick

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

    I'd agree with getting a 3/4 (make sure it's 4 wd), gas and 8' straight blade. With this setup, you can add a sander when you get the justification (Tailgate or Vbox). My preference is sticking with a regular cab (then there's more weight allowance for the plow or Vbox).

    Go into a partner ship only with someone who is not a friend. Otherwise, you'll only lose a friendship. If I had to go into a partnership, I'd choose my worst enemy. Then I'd sic a lawyer on him to draw up the agreement.
  7. IHI

    IHI Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 245

    Partnerships are no where near 50/50, it's always more like 70/30 or 80/20 hence why almost all of them fail. Best bud and i thought we could overcome that stigma too, were were close like brothers...nope, business came between us, i bought him out and luckily after a few months of ackwardness we were able to sit down, express our thoughts, get i on the table and move on with life being best buds again...but like mentioned above, pick your enemy to work with...keeps ya both on the ragged edge where you have to be to run a business anyhow.

    Whatever you feel comfortable with, working on. I grew up chevy, race chevy engine/drivelines but have switched the trucks over to Ford, and since i've been job tracking we're earning far more with the fords since they dont go down nearly as often as the chevy's alwasy did. And i'm not talking about just plow season, i'm talking about annual operating and maintenacne costs. I will say, chevy's ride nice and get good mpg...but i dont look for a truck with those qualities, kinda like comparing a black and decker drill at wal mart to a milwaukee of hilti...one gets ya by, one gets the job done with little ever asked of it for a long time. (flame suit on)

    V plow over straght blade if you can only buy one plow-alot more versatility obviously

    gas vs diesel...look at what you'll be using the truck for in the big picture, I run all gassers and they're fine for what i do....though when i've used diesels to tow it's obviously the cats azz with the tons of tq they bring and better fuel mileage...but with the new deisel fuel and emissions...the fuel mileage arguement is'nt even a arguement that makes that big of a difference anymore. Down side of them is the big inital buy in price and outragious parts and repair costs if/when somethig goes down, the nice thing is they do last longer and hold resale and have tons of tq.
  8. suzuki0702

    suzuki0702 Senior Member
    Messages: 649

    wish somebody told me about partnerships like that, had one with the brother. didnt work out so well.....just starting off, get a couple beaters. this is a hard market to slide into right now. everybody and the brother and sister is into it ...with all the jobs lost out there competition is at its greatest.
  9. azandy

    azandy Member
    Messages: 73

    I would sugest starting out by yourself cutting 25 lawns with one mower and plowing about 4-5 hours with that same truck. What ever truck you like. They are all good and just a preference. If one was bad, no-one would buy it right? Do not grow that fast. Start slow and eliminate debt asap. After your business is started you probably won't want to jump into a partnership at that point. You should offer shoveling and salting. You can hand salt the walks and sub out the parking lots if needed. Or buy a inexpensive tailgate salter and use bags. Try to get these customers to be full service year round. This is our 22nd year and I learned a lot of hard lessons. Remember, there was no plowsite back then. But I thought I knew everything as well. As much as you don't want to here some of these comments, you should think about them. Non of us want to see you fail.
    Good luck!!
  10. Turf Commando

    Turf Commando Senior Member
    Messages: 567

    Worst part is your trying to start it in Michigan....:help:
    I expect there to be HUGE amounts of new lawn/snow services this season good luck..:waving:
  11. thefunkyone

    thefunkyone Junior Member
    Messages: 26

    Thanks for the info guys. I should have been more clear on the partnership thing. It's not so much a partnership as it is one of my friends buying a bunch of equipment and me and my best friend running it for him. The friend in question is a military contractor and wont be around here much. There will not be payments as we will be paying for everything with cash so if it's a slow start thats fine it buys us some time to get the momentum going.

    So it would work like this:

    Friend 1 (owns the business, all assets...etc..etc..etc..)
    Friend 2 and 3 work for Friend 1 providing management, promotion and labor and share in the profits of the business.
  12. Clapper&Company

    Clapper&Company PlowSite Veteran
    from NE OHIO
    Messages: 4,413

    Sounds like a recipes for disaster

    THEGOLDPRO PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,136

    this all sounds like a horrible idea.
  14. Mick

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

    Agreed. EVERYONE will feel like they're getting screwed and putting more into the business than the other two. To start with, who has the say of how the company is run? Who lines up business? Who does the paperwork/billing/accounting? How is profit calculated (remember, one has ALL the financial risk)?

    You will definitely need a legal arrangement for this. I wouldn't touch it otherwise.
  15. thefunkyone

    thefunkyone Junior Member
    Messages: 26

    Friend 2 and 3 will be handing everything basically. Friend 1 is providing the cash.
  16. Clapper&Company

    Clapper&Company PlowSite Veteran
    from NE OHIO
    Messages: 4,413

    Yep, the one who paid for everything should make more money then the other two.... But they will feel like there doing all the work and hes making money doing nothing...

    Then out of the two frends one will be "mangememnt" so they should get more then the "Labor" friend....

    Can you guys post this on you tube for us to all watch??

    .... Toby we need popcorn!

    THEGOLDPRO PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,136

    if im reading this right, your buddy (the financial backer/guy buying all the equipment) is the owner. He is going to invest all the money, find all the work,bill the cliets,pay the insurance, field all the calls,ETC ETC ETC, and you guys are going to run the equipment for him??? does this sound about right???? if so you guys are just workers who will likely get paid 10 bucks an hour, and see no real benifet at all from this.

    If your buddy pays you guys any more then that he is clearly stupid, what makes you guys think he is going to split the pofits with you when you have nothing invested at all into his business??
  18. Turf Commando

    Turf Commando Senior Member
    Messages: 567

    I'm glad to be Sole Proprietor ''I'' make all the calls and shots and answer to knowone .
    To the OP I'd just would refrain from this whole idea...
  19. IHI

    IHI Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 245

    Oh no....ohhhh nooooooo.

    Well, i guess you boyz that have been doing this for awhile can expect yet another wave of catastrophe to screw up the market in the area again...i know we're seeing it more often than ever with thought processes like what's being discussed here, but it still sucks:(
  20. thefunkyone

    thefunkyone Junior Member
    Messages: 26

    No not really. Friend 1 is only providing cash. Thats it. He will not even be in the country or have anything to do with managing the business. Myself and a friend will be handling the management and labor. We will not be making a "per hour wage" we will be splitting profits in the company.

    There is 1 huge benefit to doing it like this. No payments. All equipment will be paid off so even if we get off to a slow start it doesn't really matter.