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When do i double push

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by adam5557, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. adam5557

    adam5557 Member
    Messages: 88

    Hey guys i am obviously a newbie to plowing and i will be doing around 10-15 residential drives this winter. I am curious how you guys start your routes. IF it has snowed all night when do you start going out to plow. Do you guys wait till the very end of the storm to start plowing or just start at night so its cleared in the morning. I dont know when i am allowed to bill for a double push. thanks guys!If there is anyone from michigan could they fill me in on pricing residential drives.
     
  2. WMHLC

    WMHLC Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    i always plow with the storm, as soon as my 2 inch trigger hits, i'm out the door. It really depends if I doulbe plow, if their is a lot of snow in a short period, I only plow once. If it's snowing all day long, I usually plow res. 2 or 3 times, depends on the amount of snow fall.

    I always charge a set amount for all property's, no matter how big they are. It's just easier for me, I like the same amount of money coming in every month. When it snows hard, I always pick up customers, to off set the extra expenses, so it evens out.

    I charge $85 an hour, I'm located in Grand Rapids, and average driveway takes me four minutes to clear, and I charge for the season for average driveway $375.00 for no walkways. I don't get out of the truck. If they want walkways, it depends on amount of walks, but they range from $425.00-$775.00
     
  3. adam5557

    adam5557 Member
    Messages: 88

    So what if you plow it 2-3 times do you charge them for a double push. Also what do you think you charge on a average driveway for one storm.thanks for the info
     
  4. Mick

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

    Isn't that contradictory? Would you charge a 15'x50' driveway the same as a WalMart parking lot?
     
  5. Mick

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

    Adam 5557, what are you using to plow?
     
  6. adam5557

    adam5557 Member
    Messages: 88

    I am just trying to figure out how to charge residential drive way customers.So your saying is i should do a 2inch trigger and then plow through out the storm and then charge them X amount for each push i do.Also what if there is more snow the second push i do.Thanks i appreciate you trying to help me figure out a contract to give to my customers so i am not a lowballer and losing money.Adam
     
  7. adam5557

    adam5557 Member
    Messages: 88

    It is my first year plowing and i am using snow blowers this year and will buy a plow next year.I have a two man crew which i me and my buddy.thanks
     
  8. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 676

    I charge like this... per 24 hour period, regardless of number of pushes

    1-5" quoted price
    6-9" quoted price x 1.5
    10-12" quoted price x 2
    12"+ 2x + $2.00/inch above
     
  9. WMHLC

    WMHLC Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    Isn't that contradictory? Would you charge a 15'x50' driveway the same as a WalMart parking lot?

    The way i figure it, for driveways, i charge a minimum of $15 to show up, and the rest by time, so you figure for a driveway that takes 4 mins, I charge $20.
    Commerical I figure all by time, but I never charge per push, I only charge by the season. I just figure how long it will take, and figure it out.
     
  10. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,867

    If I plow three times during one snow fall, I charge for plowing three times.
     
  11. Mick

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

    This is something I wrote up for pricing strategy. There may be something here you can use:

    There are three main strategies to pricing - Per Push, Per Inch and Seasonal. All those are based on the “fourth” stategy - Per Hour.

    Per Push - I will charge you $xx each time I clear the snow from a given area.

    Per Inch - I will charge you based on the total number of inches that gets cleared from a particular area.

    Per Season - I will charge you $xx for pushing any amount of snow that falls during a particular time period (ie: Nov 1st to Apr 1st).

    Hourly - I will charge you $xx per hour for the period of time I spend plowing snow from a particular area.


    The most common strategy is a combination of Per Push and Per Inch. In this you will have a “trigger” or depth at which you begin plowing. Say your customer wants a 3” trigger. He is saying he can drive on anything under 3”. So, you wake up and find 3.5” in your driveway. Do you plow? What if the customer disputes that there was over 3”? Now with this strategy, you will most likely structure price increments - ie” with a 3” trigger, you would charge, say

    $30 - for 3” to 6”
    $45 - over 6” to 9”
    $60 - over 9” to 12”

    To cover your behind and to account for those perhaps rare instances of more than 12” snowfall, you could do something like “over 12” - $60, plus $1 an inch over 12”.

    Per inch - This is generally only used for accounts requiring a very high degree is service, such as where absolutely no accumulation is tolerated and involve anti-icing by using chemicals to melt falling snow. An airport might be an example. Here, you would rely on a third-party weather service to determine snowfall.

    Seasonal - Here you indicate a price (say $1,000) to provide service for the season. With this, you will want to have a contract that is very specific and to what services, when they will commence and what will entail added charges. Example - you determine the average snowfall for your area to be 50” per season and with a 3” trigger, you expect to have seven “events” per year. What happens if it snows 80” one season and requires ten pushes? What if you get seven 2” snowfalls back-to-back? For a Seasonal account, the best strategy is have a three- (or more) year contract. This way, you take advantage of the “law of averages”.

    Hourly - You will charge so much per hour for each piece of equipment used and different amounts for different sized equipment. This may include plow, pusher, dump truck, sander, loader etc.

    How much to charge in each of the above situations is determined by local custom. It’s been tried here on Plow Site before and the variance between areas was pretty surprising.

    I mostly use a variation of the Per Push / Per Inch and offer a price for plowing anything up to 12”.

    I use a system that allows me to decide when and how often to plow. I charge based on the total snowfall in any 24 hour period. Now I can plow more often if the snow is wet and heavy or not so often if the snow is light and fluffy.

    I hope this helps a little.
     
  12. Snow-B-Gone

    Snow-B-Gone Junior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 14

    How I do it

    I'm new to the forum but have been plowing part time for 11 years now.

    I make my decision on when to start based on how long it takes me to do my route. If it starts snowing early in the evening and there's 6" on the ground by 1:00 am and they are calling for more, then I'm out and about.

    I have found that 6"-8" is all I want to plow at one time. I am not hard on MY equipment. Saves money on maint.

    Anyway.....It usually takes me 5-6 hours to complete my route, which brings me to the end around 6 am or 7 am. That way I have plowed out for my customers to get to work. I also know the time they leave for work.....for instance I have a couple of schoolteachers on the route so the usually get plowed last. One thing you'll find is that the great majority of your customers can't understand why they can't be the first one on your run.....even though you may have 16-18.....they all want to be first. I tell them very politely that they are not the only ones on my route.......but I will guarantee them to be the first plowed...........the only catch is that the price is triple!!!! Haven't had too many take me up on the offer!

    I charge by the storm up to 8". If I have to come back a second time I had been charging folks half price, but the cost of fuel this year may change that.

    I don't like yearly contracts as someone is always unhappy. If I charge based on an average 10 storms a season and there is only 3 then the customer usually feels ripped off. On the other hand if there turns out to be 15 then I'm fuming! Get paid for what you do and I've had no complaints.

    When to go also depends on the conditions and location of your customers. We had a storm a couple of years ago that dupmed 1.5" but the wind was 30-50 mph. I plowed on one customer who has a log driveway that goes down a large open field. The wind was coming out of the NW and using the north snow bank of the road as a snow fence. The first time I plowe their was 2' of hard packed snow. I came back only two hours later and it was over the top of my plow! You will learn through experience when to plow who.

    Then there is when it starts snowing at around 30 degrees and the gound is warm and the temp drops to 10 below and you get 8"......the snow on the bottom is heavy and wet making the going very slippery....well you get my "drift".

    Just remember one thing that I tell my wife about plowing.........when it stops getting fun getting up at midnight and plowing for 12 hours, getting stuck, listening to people complain that I dug up their lawn, trying to get people to pay their bills well into July then I will quit!!!!

    Enjoy
     
  13. adam5557

    adam5557 Member
    Messages: 88

    So snow b gone do you normally do a double or even triple push in a big storm?Also I am thinking of giving them a per push price and then if theres a night storm i will go out once before they go to work and then again once the snow has stopped.sound good any corrections to my idea or anything to add.thanks.adam
     
  14. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    when to plow

    Hi Adam5557, yet another scenario for you: I have the customers pre-pay 10 trips. Every time I plow its a trip. I have a 2" Trigger (when the average accumulation on my route is 2", this means it may only be 1.5" or 3") for commercial customers, 3" for residential. If it starts snowing in the evening say 6pm, unless its really coming down, I wait to go out till about 12am. This way I am done clearing the lots by 6am, if it has kept snowing and my first lot has 2" on it, I do it all over again (and charge for another trip.) If the snow is over 7" I charge a different amount, IE MORE. If it snows (and it hasn't) less than 10 trips than they basically bought an insurance policy, if it snows more than 10 trips worth, I bill every two weeks with 30 day terms. If the town plow comes after I have already plowed, and it depends on how much I like the customer, I may charge full price, 1/2 price or free to come and touch up the bottom. What usually happens is I'll be driving around town running errands, see a customers drive and just hit it, I make a note that I did a free plow and inform that customer of the free service at a later date.

    Speaking of notes. KEEP RECORDS OF EVERYTHING, date, time, snow amounts, reason why you didn't plow the right hand bottom of the driveway-the garbage can was in your way. Also a picture is worth a thousand words. I keep a digital camera with me and snap a before and after. When I used to sub my boss got screwed out of money because the customer couldn't believe we were there that many times.
     
  15. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,202

    How would you deal with this situation?
    There is 2" of snow on the ground and you start your route. By the time you finish your route there is another 3" on the ground. You now plow your route again. Now when you have finished your route your first house and also some more houses have between 1" and 0" of snow. Because there is only 1" you don't plow again but this customer has just paid for 2 plows and still has snow in their driveway. If I was the customer I don't think I would be happy.
     
  16. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    Well your not always going to please everybody, but as a customer you have to realize that your getting a certain price because you are buying in bulk so to speak. If you want to pay me $5000 to sit at your driveway and clear every last flake fine. But you don't, you want it for $25, so I have to plow others, and that puts you on a list and I will do my best to satisfy everyone, but not everyone will be completely satisfied. If I happen to be in the area I tend to hit the drive for a quickie/freebie, but we are running a business, and are in business to make a profit.

    I am not out to screw the customers however, so lets play this scenario again. It starts snowing in the afternoon, by 6pm there is 2-3" of snow on the ground with only another 2" forecasted, I'll wait till midnight or push it till 1am than go. Now I probably could have gone at 4 or 5pm and again at 1am but then your running into tons of traffic, you triple your plow time and most likely piss off a bunch of people because the second time you came it was barely 2".

    If I get done with a route and it is still snowing but with only 1" to fall, I will wait till its over than go again. But it looks like it ain't gonna letup then I just keep going. Now if that first/last customer has 1" and calls me to say I need to come. I'll say no problem, but it counts as a third trip. This is also the type of person I would stress salt services too, to help clean up any residual snow, a no-worries kind of deal.

    How'd I do? CET
     
  17. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,202

    I reline that every area has it's own way of plowing and I would not judge or try to tell someone how to plow.


    This is how it works here. Most of our residential prices are for a season. We have a trigger( usually 2") that we have to go on. An average driveway approx. 20'x50' would go for $300/year. For this you would not get out of the truck. Back drag by the garage door and push everything to the street and then up on the lawn. We are expected to come back for the street plow. We have very few large snow storms. Last year we had 2 over 6" and the year before we had only 1. Our houses are VERY close together so if you get a tight route you can do 6-8 per hour. It is not uncommon for someone to do 75 houses per night. Our average snowfalls for a year would be 16-20. We should be able to make over $100/hr. most years. We usually push every snowfall only once.
     
  18. Snow-B-Gone

    Snow-B-Gone Junior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 14

    Hi Adam,

    I'm in rural Maine.........my route takes a while to complete.

    I usually play it by ear and haven't had any compalints that I can remember!

    Don't pay that much attention to the $$$$$ during the first few years......then you can live off your reputation.

    SBG
     
  19. Ken1zk

    Ken1zk Senior Member
    Messages: 192

    Thats what it all comes down to, your reputation. My customers are the PITAs that most nobody else in this area wants. I keep my route tight and plow with the storm. In most cases none of my driveways ever get more then 3 inches before I come back around again.

    Now there are a few exceptions such as during heavy lake events where we can get 1.5 to 2 inches per hour. That's when I record a voice mail greeting telling my customers who are calling looking for me because god forbid they have 4 inches of snow in their driveway how much it's snowing, how bad the roads are, and I just let the phone ring into voice mail and I keep on plowing.

    Because I am about the only guy around who'll deal with this lot, they pay! payup Most are on seasonal contract, and they pay well for good service. For those who are not on seasonal, I charge my per push price every time I'm dropping the blade. It's my reputation of taking good care of my customers that keeps me in business. Like any other service industry expierence, people don't mind paying a little more for better service. Let the lowballers take the cheap skates & make real money.

    The only reputation you will get is the one you earn. :salute:
    Ken