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Thoughts on going commercial???

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Kidder, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. Kidder

    Kidder Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    I am new to the forum and want to say first and foremost thanks for your input. I have been doing residential snow removal for 6 years, I currently have 14 properties that I do to help make the ends meet. I am a professional firefighter and do this to supplemet my income. I am thinking of purchasing a used skidsteer and getting some commercial properties. I feel that I can make more money doing commercial and it is not as physically demanding on my body. I have been weighing the pros and cons for about a year and am really stuckas to which way to go. If I do look at going commercial I am looking at a 40K investment, but am in this for the long haul, probably another 20+ years.
    What are your thoughts on this matter, has anybody else been in this same situation? Thanks. BTW, I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
  2. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,468

    My first thoughts are - what if there's a :yow!: You would have to have a helper that is capable of doing everything you do. If that's the case you will pay them more than you think. Commercial is a whole new ballgame. More risk, more equip, more time and more money to be made -- and spent. I think with being a firefighter first it will be tough to juggle. Commercials are not as forgiving if you can't get them done when they want either. I'm not telling you not to, but try to picture what will happen if it doesn't work. You will be out a lot of money. Good luck.:salute:
  3. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Commercials will want you to be there alot more then resi's will. A full time job and snow removal usually dont work well together. Insurance will be a BIG thing too. You may also be asked or required to salt. Keep readfing the forums here to get more insight into commercial stuff too.
  4. jhook

    jhook Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    Usually guys with regular jobs don't last too long in the commercial field. You just can't commit to a certain level of service that they will require. Also, i am assuming that you are on call sometimes as a firefighter and so what if you are out on a call when it snows?

    Why do you think you need a skid steer to go commercial? We plow a lot of commercial places with our pickups. I do this full time and don't have a skid steer. I could never justify the investment - and I billed out over $180k this year.

    I would make sure you have a reliable pickup and take on some residential stuff where they can be a bit flexible on the schedule. I am assuming you have a pickup already since you mentioned you are doing this now...
  5. Kidder

    Kidder Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    I just bought a 2006 Ford 350 Superduty crewcab diesel in October of 2008. I was thinking of putting a blade on it but with a skid steer I can do landscape work in the summer too. The main target of mine for commercial jobs are apartment blocks and churches, I know people who own apartment blocks and people involved with the church. I also have a guy who owns 4 pharmacies in the city and another has 2 sporting goods stores. I agree that commercial does take more dedication but I think with these properties and knowing the owners would help tremendously. As far as firefighting I am never on call. I work 2 days 8am-6pm followed by 2 nights from 6pm-8am. I am not saying no to a blade but would prefer the skid steer first.
  6. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Member
    Messages: 58

    Ihave a skid and Iam getting back into the snow business because of current economy. I have plowed off and on for 30 yrs. I USE to plow with a truck , which is wear and tear, but with truck you can cover way more gruond and it is faster in genral, more jobs more money. The SS you have to haul everywhere, takes time to load and unload, have to charge for that time. So alot of times the truck shows up for x= $, and you charged that just to get to site.THE pro's, I HAVE SS sitting, collecting dust, so I put it to work, I GET THE hard jobs that trucks can't do or do not want. I do not have to put $6000. into truck R&R, which I had to one year. And Iam using a heavy duty commercial machine, I am already lic. and insured for my other buss. Good luck :yow!:http://www.plowsite.com/images/smilies/blob2.gif
  7. Ipushsnow

    Ipushsnow Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    My partner is a firefighter, and I can tell you this, when he is at the firehouse-it snows. I am not kidding. He has like 5 days off and nothing, he goes back to work and it snows! He has a guy that works an opposite shift as him so they never work at the same time and he covers for him. It works out well for him because the other guy is dedicated and always shows up. And seriously, the cover guy has spent more time plowing then my partner the last 2-3 years. If you can set up something like that you would be set.

    As far as the skidsteer or the truck...do both. If you already have the truck, and have the money to get and run the skidsteer then run them both if you can get the work for them. I think your first year you should just do one though. You got the truck already, spend the $5,000 for a plow and go to work.

    SP6x6 is right, you can cover a lot more ground in a truck. Skidsteer is good for a big lot and you keep the machine there all winter. If you need it at other lots to move snow around you can always do that.

    And one more thing....the money is in the salt!
  8. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    I do a mix of commercial and residential. The comm is nice because it is 95% hot top and pays better. But comm customers are more demanding, and everyone wants to be done at the same time. If it stops snowing at 5 or 6 am, it sucks. Resi's are nice too. Breaks up the monotony of plowing big lots. Plus they are billed per storms (for me), so it helps with the cash flow. I agree you don't need a skidsteer to do commercial. And unless your commercials are right next to each other you will need to trailer job to job. That takes time. And talk to your insurance agent.
  9. pohouse

    pohouse Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    Buy the plow for 5k. Minimal investment for maximum return. Run the plow truck for next season. If you make money and actually like doing commercial (and it fits with your schedule), buy the skid steer in the spring and run both for season #2.
    Knowing people who own commercial property certainly helps, but does not gaurantee you will get their accounts.
  10. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Churches are the worst. They want excellent service and DO NOT want to pay for it. JMO
    As for friends and plowing....the people that rent the apts are the ones who will call and complain because they want out when the snow stops. Not to wait till someone has time to show up later.
    Find a good back-up driver like was mentioned.
  11. deicepro

    deicepro PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,124

    I do commercial and residential, good money in both.
    However, i currently plow an average of 10 driveways an hour. (they are very close together, blocks of neighborhoods)
    I charge a $35 minimum on driveways.
    $35 x 10 = $350 / hour doing driveways or $100 / hour for commercial
    And yes residentials are more forgiving than commercial.
    Just my opinion

    RODHALL Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    30K is a large investment into somthing that you may or may not do well at.

    it may be wise to buy a plow for your truck and pick up 1 or 2 small accounts and see how well it works for a year before dropping 30K.

    I have about 6K in a 3 trucks with plows, one truck for commercial one for resadentual and one just in case. you really need to look at if something brakes do you have extra as a back up or a back up plan, before starting to look for commercial lots.

    i know you could use a bobcat/skid steer for landscaping also, but do have or can you get enough work to keep it paying for its self? so it is not taking out of the current income you have?

    there was a poll on here somewhere that showed the avrage % of income from snow plowing was 30% some were 10 others were 50. if your income with the snow is at the lower part will that pay for the skid steer

    You'll also need to look into insurance and licancing and what is need for where you want to work.

    sorry for the ramblings. i am not trying to talk you out of it, just trying to make sure you have everything covered