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What to do? Get bigger or stay small ?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Double C, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. Double C

    Double C Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 41

    OK i'm looking for some input on what to do, Currenty I have one 1983 1/2t chevy with a 7'6" meyer straight blade. I have one "job" lol that i'm responsible for it's about 10 miles of dirt road in Montana. All i have to do is keep it open so 4x4's can get in and out = 3 to 4 plowings a year on my time schedule it take about 3 hours to do. Now I have 2 1985 chevy 3/4 tons and a 1996 one ton plus anouther 1990 1/2ton. I'm willing to put o plow on all of these trucks the question i have is how much can this equipment handle? The city has more than doubled in size over the last 5 years and there are only 4 reputal snow removal business's in town who are swampped everytime it snows. So I feel i have a good oppertunity to be the 5th and stay busy. We'll get about 7-10 plowable snow fall a year with about a 4-6" average. got to go will add more tonight
     
  2. iceyman

    iceyman 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,546

    shoot for the starsxysport
     
  3. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Sounds like a great time to get in the snow removal business.
     
  4. Double C

    Double C Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 41

    And there is more??? In the last couple of years a Taget, Costco, Lowe's and Home Depot have opened here, I know that Costco and Target are looking for a new plower and there are several small lots that are in need of good service ( 8-15 cars ). So the next quistion is where is the better money? Several smaller lots or 2 or 3 big accounts?? P.S can handle sanding and removal of snow off premesises if neccessary.
     
  5. Turf Commando

    Turf Commando Senior Member
    Messages: 567

    Most likely plowing department stores will require million dollar insurance coverage ..
    Myself, I plan to do residential and small lots like DR offices etc...
     
  6. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I all ways thought in my opinion that there are 3 levels to plowing.

    1. driveways
    2 small to mid size lots
    3. the big ones

    Drives are where most have started their plowing career.From there they move up to mid size lots they can handle themselves without to much trouble. With the big ones (malls) thats when you have the big toys to work with. Just because you may have 5-6 trucks don't mean you can plow them. With 5 trucks you can send them out and if you have a tight route (this is important )you can bang out 200 driveways .If you go to the mid size lots the one where you may need 2-3 trucks all the time this is where your competition starts to thin out. Most guys run 1 or 2 trucks. So I guess my point is go for the bigger mid size lots.
     
  7. nicksplowing

    nicksplowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,226

    DONT RUSH IT , WORK INTO IT .....GETTING BIGGER THAT IS :nod:
     
  8. Double C

    Double C Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 41

    so is 15 "small" lots to much for one truck?
     
  9. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I do 12 small lots in about 5 hrs but I bid on places that don't all open up at the same time so I have time .Most of my places are closed on the weekends so plenty of time to get them done by Mon.
     
  10. GL&M

    GL&M Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 223

    Depends on what you consider small, the difficulty to plow, how tight the route is, and when they need to be open.
     
  11. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    well from what you tell me, ur town must be small, as fare as population goes.....

    keep this in mind...small towns talk, if you do a really good job ...the word will travel,... if you do a bad job, the word will travel... alot

    So , lets say you jump into it, and one of ur guys doesnt show up, or ur plow breaks because ur using them longer and harder now..... Bad reputaion is all ur asking ofr

    get bigger, but at a controlled rate, you cant just increase ur fleet by 400% and expect good things to come of it all the time

    'and some of ur equiptment seems a little on the older side, which could be more prone to breaking with out proper care

    i would say this get 8 hours of plowing for you, and maybe 4-6 hours for a second truck... be very selective about who u get , because if they all open at 9 AM ur screwed if porblems occur

    get 2 more plows... this way you have a total of 3, using 1 as a back up only... If you do well this year the word will get around fast, and then you can shoot to have 4 trucks up and running 2010
     
  12. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    managing more than urself and equiptment is about 75% of the job,...
     
  13. Enzo

    Enzo Senior Member
    Messages: 387

    Just like everyone is saying. I kind of jumped into this business not knowing to much. I have learned a tremendous ammount of information from this website and a few buddies of mine that live here. I got alot of business since I started this past March some of it will be to much to handle this coming winter so I will either sub soemone out or get another truck into the fleet. I didnt really plan everything out 100% but you got time to figure stuff out so my suggestion would be to plan it out carefully.
     
  14. Double C

    Double C Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 41

    elite1msmith, thank you the county i live in has about 4500 people, the city that i will be plowing in is Helena, MT about 40,000 people and 45 miles away. By trade i'm a Farmer and very good at it, I'm the guy everyone call when they can't get the job done or want it done right, My reputation is why the Costco and Target jobs are available to me(small town talk) and don't want to hurt it. I am a firm beleaver in running good equipment, doesn't have to be new however does have to be well cared for. I've plow driveways for years used everything from a shovel to a d-8 cat the problem i see is you have to go commercial to make any money.
     
  15. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    yes you are correct, the big thing in my area anyway is salting... thats the biggest difference, i can charge them to plow, spend 10 extra mins, and chrage them double to salt

    your equiptment doenst have to be new at all, just well taken care of...

    Keep this in mind, i dont know how hard you are on ur equitment, but lets say for example that you plow/truck breaks 1 time in every 10 storms that you plow..... well if you get 4 plows, guess what now ur fixing stuff every 2 or 3 times it snows ur breaking...

    ur the best operator for your equiptment, u know when its dialed in and when its running poorly.... a guy that jumps in it and plows , then parks it until it snows next doesnt...and theirfor is even wrost for your equiptment.... and thats remembering that they show up, and dont give you the excuse that its the GF's birthday or something lame that i dont give a $ht about...lol

    Im not saying dotn go commercial , or dont expand...go for it!!

    but do it smartly... you have 3 hours already , get 5 more for you, then if you can 4 - 6 for a second truck

    Heres y, if you do 8 hours, and your newest plow driver is a no show, you can get it done in less than 12..although behind schedual , its not way out of line....
    customers start becoming "itchy" if they havent seen service after 6 hours, so 12 hours with 2 trucks, is 6 hours each,

    and finally to add to this, is cost, and cash flow... i can flip my buddy a sweet hundred to plow for 5 hours without impacting my wallet too much, plus some extra fuel.... but 8 hours would require an extra 200 - times 4 operators, and u get $800 cost, plus fuel over a grand...... easy, hard to come by when ur new, espsecially if you get 3 storms back to back and the customer pays 60 days later....
     
  16. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    If you really want to get ONE of those big accounts do this.....

    sign them to a 2 year deal , just tell them that in order to get the proper equiptment, thats what it will require.... DONT do it urself this season, sure put 1 truck, maybe ur new driver there for a few hours to help out.... and urself for a few,.... but get1 or 2 OTHER contractors with BIG equiptment to do it also, every time it snow, have an aggrement with them , on the times they start... In other words dont put ur eggs in one basket.... you might make little to none this season on that acccount, but it will be serviced, or over serviced correctly... and you have the second year already signed to try it urself....

    if things go wrong, or not as smooth, at least they are locked in for the second season, which you might do an even better job, and win them over after a bad first year....

    but i still would really avoid it....unless your really ready
     
  17. Double C

    Double C Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 41

    Thanks for the input!!
     
  18. nicksplowing

    nicksplowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,226

    1ST :::YOU ARE TALKING TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BEAST HERE...GOING FROM DRIVEWAYS TO A TARGET AND COSTCO LOT IS A HUGE STEP UP. I HAVE SEEN GUYS LOSE THERE ASS DOING THIS:cry: I WOULD START NOW AND GET AS MUCH HELP/ADVICE FROM LOCAL GUYS THAT DO JOBS OF EQUAL STATURE.....MOST PEOPLE WITH LOTS OF THAT SIZE HAVE AT LEAST 1 WHEEL LOADER W/ PUSHER AND A BACKHOE OR SKID LOADER ON THE LOT W/ PUSHER........2ND::::YOUR ABSOLUTELY CORRECT GOING COMMERCIAL TO MAKE MORE $$$$$$ ,BUT IT CAN ALSO BREAK A BUSINESS QUICKLY......ANYWAYS GOOD LUCK I HOPE ALL WORKS OUT FOR YA KEEP US UPDATED :drinkup:
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
  19. lumps

    lumps Senior Member
    Messages: 365

    Also, keep in mind the fact that in snow, this is at least an hour commute each way. That means that you won't be coming home between pushes in a storm, you're going to be just sitting around there. Not to mention ~$50 in gas per truck each time you run out there... just something to bear in mind when setting your prices. Good luck with it, sounds like it could be a huge opportunity!
     
  20. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,046

    Not sure what kind of equipment you run on your farm but we've been utiliizing are farm equipment on large lots for almost 40 years. Being 40 miles from your snow is somewhat of a problem but all of our snow is 35 miles away and we get along just fine. On some large storms we get hotel rooms and such but if you have the in for the big contracts I would definetaly look into it further. Maybe just try one big lot to start and then go from there. Make sure all your bases are covered, when it comes to insurance also.