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Suggestions for homeowner/"enthusiast" plower?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by JFon101231, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. JFon101231

    JFon101231 Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 426

    This is a little long, but stay with it for the questions at the end

    I have an 88K2500 w/ Fisher 8' plow. I think its fun, and I'd like to save up enough to invest in a better truck/setup for next year and keep going with it around my regular job.

    Case in point - I have an agreement to do one person's driveway in my neighborhood. Its long (400 ft?), but mostly flat, and the end has a great open space to turn around and clean near the garage - $45/visit and takes about as much time as my driveway that is half that long b/c its easy to clear.

    With this storm we just got about 18”, about 14” of which was on the ground by 8a when I got my dumb ass out of bed. Did my neighbors above, and then 3 more people wanted me to clean them out. I charged $20-30 each based on length of driveway etc. But my issue is that it took me say 2.5 times as long as it should have, and I still only got paid for 1 visit.

    Convenience store owner flagged me down, and asked me to plow. Initially turned down since I don’t have insurance. Filled up with gas and turned around, walked it, and said $75. He said normal guy does it for $20 but truck broke, no thanks. Thought to myself that is probably why his truck broke, but guess I would have been fine w/ $50…

    Did a family members driveway b/c husband was out of town – no markers, unpaved gravel driveway. Slid down a hill, luckily there were two guys there that were able to help me get out, but certainly pissed me off.

    I had a friend of a friend call my wife, drove 30 mins out there (should have known better when they balked at $60 so I caved to $50), then realized they had almost 24”, up a slight hill, and it wasn’t paved. Pissed away 15 mins trying then apologized that my ¾ K2500 light duty wasn’t going to cut it, and drove home. Figured if I got stuck, they certainly weren’t going to pay for my tow. I have 600lbs of sand in the bed and regular tires, I guess not enough weight and/or lack of snow tires didn’t help…

    Came home to plow my driveway and all was fine, with one exception. On my way out in the AM, I only pushed the last 20 ft or so. When I plowed ours at night that section I had pushed earlier was basically a sheet an inch or two thick I couldn’t get up? I actually hit when pushing out and it tripped the plow and I was like WTF? But the rest cleaned up, which didn’t make much sense – maybe the weight of the plow wasn’t enough to get to the pavement on the way out (I may not have dropped it fully) but enough to compact it?

    Guess I’m chewing myself out and looking for opinions…
    - What do you guys suggest, billing per visit, or per inch? At least if I say “by inch” it would be up to me to decide whether I’d like to spend say 40 mins at one visit or two trips at 15 mins each? Though I stay home on big storms like this, I do have a FT job so one visit would be more likely for smaller amounts.
    - What is the suggested plowing range (realizing it depends on how wet it is)?
    - Who offers insurance for someone like me, who mainly plows my driveway and 1-5 others per storm?
    - Thinking that I need either more sand, better tires, or a snow blower in case I get stuck…

    Any other thoughts/suggestions/comments welcome!
     
  2. geer hed

    geer hed Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    Well I'm almost like you. I'm not in the plowing buis for myself so I'm not looking to make money at it, but I'm not gonna do it for free. I have a couple I do that I charge per storm, regardless of how long it takes me, that way I don't feel pressured that I gotta get it done. Now I have had people flag me down to plow them out, I look at the drive first, deside what I want to do it, and if they don't like my price then get someone else. I really don't care because chances are the next guy will charge even more.
     
  3. Your best bet is setting up a price for each place based on a per inch bases. For example larger and more difficult driveways more $$$ per inch because of the pain it is to do. Try your best to stick with the prices you choose per inch. Repairs are costly. The prices you gave are low compared to my are. Look around the site and see what your area of the country pays
     
  4. JFon101231

    JFon101231 Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 426

    Yeah, most are neighbors so I think I felt compelled to be nice, and I'm a good $10-15 at least below "market". Party is over, repairs aren't free, see below.

    Did it again tonight - family up the street, hadn't left since Saturday night. Plowed out 18" for $30... downside is at some point over the past two days I snapped a fuel tank strap and lost front and rear brakes (popped MC and its dry on both sides)...
     
  5. Sp3cialized

    Sp3cialized Member
    from CT
    Messages: 58

    See Im kind of in the same boat as you- I dont have any formal contracts for any commercial properties but I do mow lawns in the summer and some of my clients have asked for my snow removal services as well. Most are great- but one wants me to get out and shovel, blah blah. I dont really like doing that so I overbid the shoveling and she said ok Ill do it myself but still plow for me.


    I didnt break anything this storm but my power steering pump went wild a few times- little to no pressure at idle but worked fine above 1200rpm

    PS if you need any parts for that LD 3/4 I have a parts truck (8600gvw tho)- message me and we can see if I have what you need!
     
  6. Sp3cialized

    Sp3cialized Member
    from CT
    Messages: 58

    Also to add, I have a personal liability policy on myself so if I do something that breaks someone elses things, or causes someone else harm, be it by negligence or not, my insurance will cover it.

    I am still super careful all the time, try not to go anywhere my truck will/could get stuck, and try to keep my 'way' plowed for myself all the time.
     
  7. used2jeep

    used2jeep Junior Member
    Messages: 6

    By the inch could be tough though. If you have sticklers that might say "I only got 2" " when everyone else on your route got 4-6". When I was doing it for semi serious money I had a range (roughly) 1-3" was $X, 4-6" was $X times 1.5 (essentially adding 50% to the cost) and over 6" was $X times 2.

    It seemed fair and everyone was happy because they felt they were getting a fair value and I got decent money right as I was leaving the driveway in most cases.
     
  8. jjklongisland

    jjklongisland Senior Member
    Messages: 470

    It took you longer than it should have because of the large amount of snow. Driveways that are small with alot of snow take time. Time is money... Now I understand you arent doing it so you can retire off of it but doing a neighbors driveway for $45 on a moderate snowfall is a good dead rather than a business adventure. When the snowfall amounts increase and the time it takes you to do it is more inconvenient than just lending a helping hand then you are making a poor decision to do it for such a low price.

    You either have to price them on a per push basis and get your but out of bed and make sure you dont wait until 20" have fallen or its your loss or on a per inch basis. Higher amounts of snow = longer time to clean = more risk for damaging your truck etc = more money. Stand firm on your price. Its not worth the aggravation when you are busting you but and you break something. A 2500 with an 8 foot plow is not light duty by any means...

    Your only hurting yourself. Your lack of weight and lack of snow tires didnt get you stuck on that driveway... It was the irresponsibility of the homeowner for waiting until the end of a giant snowfall to have someone try an plow out a driveway... Listen 24" that wasnt hit once is a minimum of $100 for me just to show up and if I cant push it then I get half no matter what for my time agreed over the phone. And thats for small driveways...
     
  9. kingf350

    kingf350 Junior Member
    Messages: 16

    u do know that u need commercial license to plow
     
  10. jjklongisland

    jjklongisland Senior Member
    Messages: 470

    That is not true...
     
  11. used2jeep

    used2jeep Junior Member
    Messages: 6

    I would think that a commercial license would only be required if the vehicle is over 10K gvwr. Also maybe depends on local law but small trucks (non street work) are regular class licenses.
     
  12. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 861

    No commercial license...you do however need commercial auto insurance, at least I do but I'm not from CT.
     
  13. kingf350

    kingf350 Junior Member
    Messages: 16

    i am from OHio. I am trying to find someone around here that has a plow that i can use on my truck and work it off like them get half my profits
     
  14. JFon101231

    JFon101231 Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 426

    I did switch my auto insurance to cover me carrying (and using) the plow.

    I think the comments above are all valid, and I think the point about $100 (or get out of bed) is right on point.

    Jeff
     
  15. jjklongisland

    jjklongisland Senior Member
    Messages: 470

    I understand how you dont want to "Beat people up" and do the right thing for neighbors and friends etc but plowing snow especially on private property has inherit risks. Damage is easy and every time you drop that blade there is also risk to your equipment. Just make sure its worth you effort. At the end of the day, the neighbor asking you to plow her out on a 2 foot storm for $40 is giving you aggravation, let her find some other sap that will to it for that.
     
  16. kingf350

    kingf350 Junior Member
    Messages: 16

    true thats what i did last year when i had a plow before it broke did it for $10-30 and wasnt cutting it
     
  17. lukynskywyrd

    lukynskywyrd Member
    from wisc.
    Messages: 54

    paid it forward.....

    and helped the neighbors out during the 2/2 storm in SE Wisc. My 86 K10 and Western came through just fine and I put some smiles on their faces!!! No Charge!!