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When did You start to take snow removal as a real business

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Mikemat31, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. Mikemat31

    Mikemat31 Member
    Messages: 72

    Hi all I am 17 and this year by the amount of calls I have been getting it looks like I am setting myself up for a great winter. I dont have a plow truck and no insurance. I am going to be attending college in 2 years, and therefore my parents want me to obtain an education before I start thinking about running a business. I love snow removal, but school is more important. my question is to those who went to college, how did you manage, when did you start being insured, did you start with a plow truck, how many of you have other jobs and do snow as a side thing. Any teachers out there? I have been thinking about a teaching degree, you work from 8-3 get great benefits and it would allow to own a landscaping/snow removal company.

    any other added things are extremely helpful

    thanks,
    mike
     
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Though I didn't start my biz till almost 25, I'll chime in to help.

    Get insurance right away, don't wait, just do it. Commercial liability insurance is a must even if you are using a snow blower.

    In college, you'll have a little more lee-way in your schedule. I would just keep a small route that you can handle during the school year. But, if you want to make consistent money through the year, you might want to deliver pizzas or something steady to make better money in school.

    Snow removal is usually a supplement to a different business. So, if you plan on being a business owner, do you plan on being a contractor, landscaper, concrete guy, etc......

    As for an education, it is important, and if you feel the same way, then go to school.

    I'm probably going to be flamed for this comment, but there is a blue-collared movement going on trying to tell people to skip higher education and find a good trade to become a part of. Around here there is a shorted of welders, brick masons, and so on. The guys that are around turn down work constantly and make good money on the jobs they get. On paper it looks better than spending an arm and a leg on higher education.
     
  3. dfdsuperduty

    dfdsuperduty Senior Member
    Messages: 597

    I started when I was 18 and sold everything off at 30 the industry at least in this area is being eaten up by people that are giving numbers that are ridiculously low and there is no way to compete and the businesses know it. I will still be trolling around on here because like most we secretly love doing this kinda like boys with our tonka trucks. Get the Education and really evaluate before you invest any money... It doesn't take long in this industry to have 70-80,000 in equipment and product (i.e. salt, sand etc....) Make sure you insurance first and foremost if you do get in and maintain a good relationship with your agent. Some guys on here have made a good living at it however after 12yrs in I saw were the industry was headed and decided to stop while I was still able to sell off my equipment. Ok thats my rant for now
     
  4. V_Scapes

    V_Scapes Senior Member
    Messages: 942

    You cant be a full time teacher and own a landscape business at the same time.
    If your going to start a landscape business and are serious about it. my advice is to go to school for landscape design and management. or business, better yet. there are so many guys around here that couldnt tell a customer what plants they have in their landscape or whats wrong with their lawn, i feel embarassed for them. youll have an advantage if you know your stuff from the start. as stated, get insurance and protect youself, like an llc. i would get about 10 accounts now and do a damn good job on them, if your good enough the word will spread. and dont be afraid to charge. dont cut someones lawn for 15 now and realize in 3 years you need 45 for that lawn. big mistake i made.
     
  5. G.L. In Ont

    G.L. In Ont Member
    Messages: 63

    Trade or get paid?

    I got into landscaping and snow removal after working in the telecommunications and computer industry for 10 years. I have a degree in Business.

    Running your own show will give you the ultimate satisfaction that you'll NEVER ever find workin' for "the man".

    The days of 30+ yrs at the same gig and a nice pension are over.

    Go to school to learn then get out on your own. Keep working the whole time to pay the bills and you'll do fine.

    Snow and grass give you the flexibility to have a family as well which I really enjoy.
     
  6. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    About 10 years before you were born!
     
  7. gwhalen3

    gwhalen3 Member
    Messages: 99

    If you re getting the business and have a lawn base as well, school isn't going to help you. Fun experience, but take all the work you can get and run with it. It sure as hell isn't going to be any better in a couple years. I started when I was 24 after 4-5 yrs. of college. I have a B.A. degree in marketing and business management.
     
  8. SnowPro11

    SnowPro11 Member
    from KY
    Messages: 31

    I am only 24 so maybe I can help you with this. I tried the college thing for a while and it became to much of a burden with trying to maintain my school work and accounts.
    When it came down to it I hated sitting in class for an hour or 2 but I did not mind being up for 30 hours at a time plowing snow. To me it was more important to gain knowledge from the real world and not a book or professor that was either over educated or had worked for ABC company in a management role 20+ years ago. The times have changed and business is different know than it was then. I am not telling you not to get an education but do what is right for you.
    Honestly, with snow there is no way to tell your clients that you will give them the service the expect and deserve if you have a final while the "big one" hits. Snow is not a part time thing that you can do when you are not in class or not teaching. Your clients depend on you to have their driveway cleared, commercial facility open and running, etc. One bad timing of an event and you will create a lot of problems.
    This is just my opinion but you have to do what is best for you. Good luck!
     
  9. jklawn&Plow

    jklawn&Plow Senior Member
    Messages: 469

    Have degree worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off worked got layed off.
    Started own business with Insurance right away, do my own taxes, continue to edjamacate myself.
     
  10. Turf Commando

    Turf Commando Senior Member
    Messages: 567

    Makes sense..
     
  11. Calvinslawns

    Calvinslawns Member
    Messages: 34

    This hits me on the head so well, I hate sitting in class and learning nothing from professors. They just read from a book or show a power point. I am going to school, but I only have 2 or 3 classes each semester. The only reason, I even attend school is because the parents are so stuck on me going to college. Even though, I don't want to attend. I wish they would just hand me the cash that they are paying for my schooling and say grow your business or start a new one. I feel like its wasted money.
     
  12. second income

    second income Member
    Messages: 82

    Mike,
    I too grew up in North Jersey, graduated from Rutgers Newark in 1987. I started in snow removal in 1983, the year I graduated from high school. Like all others have said, you need insurance and you can't get business liability until you are 18. Cut grass and blow snow on the q/t till then. I was able to run the snow thing as a full time student while in college but you have to know North Jersey only had on average 5 -7 relatively minor storms a year back then. During the summer months I worked for an excavator as a driver/laborer. I learned a ton from him. Like how to work around union issues, drive a tractor trailer, lay RCP etc.etc. The bottom line is college is not cheap, a liberal arts education is best had at a community college with a two year follow up from a state school. Major in what you like, landscape design, business, marketing etc. Be well rounded and start NETWORKING and VOLUNTEERING, this is where alot of your work will come from. Good luck education and comes in many forms. I have another gig but snow removal has always put good money in my pocket for nearly 30 years on the side!!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  13. Mike S

    Mike S PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,588

    I was just out of high school and going to college when I first started plowing with my own truck. Not real sure what was going to happen. In the end snow plowing ended up paying for my college and made some decent money. School was ending and instead of staying with the company I was working for I went out on my own. I wouldnt rule out college it has help me a bunch but it by itself was not going to bring me to where I am today. Im not rich but my family and I are happy, so dont think your going to be rich! LOL!
     
  14. DuraBird02

    DuraBird02 Member
    Messages: 76

    I started my mowing and landscaping business when i was in college. Go to a technical school or some place that offers night classes. You can mow all day and then go to class at night. I did it and it worked out great for me. Plus, if you have to take a class during the day, you can always make time in your schedule to do so. It can work if you set your mind to it. It is always good to have a backup plan in case owning your own business does not work out.
     
  15. DeereRunner

    DeereRunner Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Mike,
    I can probably answer some of your questions pretty well or at least give you some good insight...

    If you are looking to go into teaching, look at the state you live in, Jersey! I am 23 and a teacher in Jersey, well attempting to become one, currently a high school permanent sub because there are no teaching jobs in Jersey. I have 2 teaching degrees and because of our lovely governor does not care about teachers, fire fighters, police officers, those jobs are becoming harder to find. He is also attempting to get rid of tenure so you can pretty much kiss taking time off during storms to plow, schools are going to highly disapprove of that...

    I been plowing off and on now for about 5 or so years. Started out on my own with a snow blowing and just doing the houses on my street. Then went and plowed for a friends company while I was in college. Learned a lot! plowing for him but also learned that it is hard to manage school with plowing. Because colleges don't always close for snow. I remember one year I ended up missing a final for a class because I was out plowing for 2 days straight before the test and was so tired didn't wake up for the test.

    Now that I have graduated and in a school system, not full time teaching though, I am curious myself how plowing will workout for my company and because of that, I only took on a couple of my really good paying lawn customers for snow.

    Hope what I have said gives you a little insight... My suggestions to you though is...

    If you do decide to do snow removal on your own, get insurance!! you live in a sue happy state. Everyone in this state has their lawyer on hold when it snows so you have to expect their are going to be accidents.

    Honestly sit down and look what you want to do and where you want to be in 5/10/15 years. Do you want to be in a position where you have benefits and a fixed income or do you want to be your own boss and deal with the headaches that come with owning a company.

    You have questions, feel free to PM me and I will try to answer them the best that I can.
     
  16. Plow man Foster

    Plow man Foster PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,153

    BEST thing to do is GET AN EDUCATION JUST IN CASE!
    Because right now your young and have a huge future ahead of you.
    Who knows what the industry will be like in 5-10 years. With no education your going to have to deal with what you have.

    I know a buddy of mine little older than you who runs a pretty nice business takes off the whole winter And dedicates his time to his business. Usually we dont get pushable snow til late december so it works out. His classes end in december.

    I personally love this industry but with the economy being the way it is, Customers want to find a person who will adjust their prices to accommodate to them. And these are the guys we call "LOWBALLERS." They will cut a lawn that should be 45 bucks for 15 (No offense V Scapes only numbers!)
    I cant do that! I have a family to feed and bills to pay also!
    So if i were you and i could start my life over i would Go to college, KEEP my business just for Side Money and keep it that way.
     
  17. Red Bull Junkie

    Red Bull Junkie Senior Member
    Messages: 159

    I think the preceding posts offered some really good advice. In the end you need to do what fits into your life plan and what you feel in your gut. As far as the teacher gig-forget it. My wife is a teacher and she is at work by 6:30 for an early morning program, then teaches class untill 3:45, and then brings her work home and is wrapped up by about 9-some times later. If your a dedicated educater it is a full time job and then some! Summer break is about 9-10 weeks if you don't teach summer school:)
     
  18. bhmjwp

    bhmjwp Senior Member
    from kcmo
    Messages: 309

    As I understand reading your post, you have parents who care, are willing to pay for an education-you are already in the top 25% right there. Take all the money you make this winter and save up for your education. Maybe Mom or Dad will be laid off when college comes and need that money for a house payment and food.

    If you are just not geared for education, look at Tech schools. Gain a degree and go to work for one of the Nationals that everyone complains about. Including myself. Believe me that will be where the money in the industry will be.

    I am not trying to discourage you but I would hate to think of jut starting out today in this enviorment. I do not think it would be possible to build what I have at todays prices and loyality. And I concider myself fortunate.
     
  19. racer47

    racer47 Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    go to school you can learn the hard life later
     
  20. Mikemat31

    Mikemat31 Member
    Messages: 72

    Christie for president he says if you don't like him don't vote him back the only politician who is willing to do the dirty work to save money. BUT TOTALLY UNDERSTAND WHY TEACHERS HATE HIM. There is a local gym teacher Greg Tanzer most people from jersey probably heard of him he own a tri state irrigation company. I know what all of you are saying though and in all honesty I didn't expect this thread to blow up like these. Keep the posts coming I love hearing about everyone