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Why did I do this............

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by John143, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. John143

    John143 Senior Member
    from NEPA PA
    Messages: 254

    Anyone??? So here's the deal.... We had our first two big storms last week. The first storm wasn't to bad. The second? Well if something could go wrong? Trust me! It did! At the start of the season I was bidding on everything! After last years lack of snow I wanted to make sure this year we were lined up with work. And we are. But now that I sit back and am going over the numbers and after seeing how much salt was put down in the last two storms I'm starting to think the numbers that first looked good at the start of the season before any snow was flying aren't looking at good as they once were when I put the bid in. Now don't get me wrong. Even if we had the worst winter on record we would still make out good but I guess my point is I'm second guessing my bids. There are some new accounts we took that I thought would of got done way faster then what was the end result.

    The point of this topic is a question for anyone that feels like putting in some input. Did you ever add up all the numbers at the start of the season and say to yourself. Damn! I'm in line to make some BIG money this year! And then the season starts and all that BIG money turns out to be a lot more work,labor,salt and so on.... then you first thought? I know I can't be alone.....

    Whats everyone's thoughts?

    And for the smart *** that says.... yes I was inline to make big money and I still did!! (I know your the best) Keep them comments to yourself. Just looking to get others thoughts on how their season did or didn't pan out.
     
  2. underESTIMATED

    underESTIMATED Senior Member
    Messages: 188

    I second guess every bid I submit. But I give it an honest guess based on what I feel its worth for me to do it.

    What kind of spreader are you spreading with? Are you/your team using more than you need? How are you factoring in the amount of salt usage vs the quantity than you estimated? I always bid everything based on 2#/100sf or $.20/lb. if your using bulk, you should be making a fair price, bags....a decent rate.

    I base everything on square footage so I don't short myself. Its worked out on some places that i really thought I would more salt, but actually used less than expected.

    Im just a noob, but its my educated experience that seems to work for myself.
     
  3. peteo1

    peteo1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,660

    Don't get too stressed after only the second plow. It's going to take a couple of pushes to figure out the quickest way to do a new account. What you see when you bid isn't always the same when there's snow on site. As long as you're still coming out on the plus side that's what counts.
     
  4. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Its funny you came up with this thread..... I Have ran my lawncare business for about 12 years and had a lot of my customers tell me that they would give me the plowing if I ever decided to do that type of work (plowing). A few of these were pretty large strip malls but I would always take off, kick back and fish all winter..... Or just sit on my tubby ass.... Anyways I decided 2 yeas ago to ask them exactly what they were willing to pay and to my surprise they offered me good money per truck hour for the malls..........

    So after 2 years of making great money on these I decided to try and get some of the smaller businesses in my town because the fella that had done them before passed away this fall. I got almost all of them but they were per push per salt......... They were all within a few miles of each other so I figured go for all of them. Got 8 out of the 10 businesses..... Im making what I want to plow but decided to give them the same deal on per bag salt spread as I did at the strip mall.......... I figured out that with some of these smaller lots (5-7) bags of salt that I think I should have gone up some on the per bag spread price. Reason being I gave them the same price per spread bag as I did the malls which take 50 bags at one mall and approx. 40 at the other. Kinda like I gave all my new place the "discounted" salt per bag spread price (because the malls get the large quantity per spread). I think I screwed up there. Should have went up a few bucks per bag spread I think?

    With all that being said, I make a little more per hour with the plowing so it kinda evens out I guess but Im still learning....... I figure between all the lots I shot myself in the foot over all by about $120 bucks per storm when I calculate all my new lots up..

    Live and learn. Im still a rookie!!! LOL I should have stuck with fishing and getting fat in the winter!!!
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  5. John143

    John143 Senior Member
    from NEPA PA
    Messages: 254

    We got V-box's, all plow with wings, bulk salt, new trucks and so on. I guess what I was really trying to get at. Is I took a few accounts that we really didn't need. (seasonal's) and that's the only reason I took them. Two of them of about 10 to 15 miles off our route. (thats were the biggest problem comes in) It's taking alot longer to get down the highways in a storm then I would of liked. I'm thinking about subbing this two out. But they are seasonal and sometimes subbing seasonal s out isn't a good choice.
     
  6. John143

    John143 Senior Member
    from NEPA PA
    Messages: 254

    Could not agree with you more!!! 100% dead on balls with that statement!
     
  7. John143

    John143 Senior Member
    from NEPA PA
    Messages: 254

    .35 cents a pound you can never go wrong! Thumbs Up
     
  8. snoboss

    snoboss Member
    Messages: 57

    There is the figures do not lie thing and then there is the actual figures that do not lie! been doing this for 30 years and the real cost of operating still surprises me as well! so many variables. Hired help is the first thing that can blow a bid sky high!! some guys you can not light a fire under them hot enough to get them to move while the good ones can make a bid make you feel like a genius! a very successful business man once told me if you do not have a sharp pencil you cannot work hard enough to overcome the handicap. Keeping track of the numbers will enable you to adjust for the next bid. and with snow being so unpredictable time and materials is the only way that is accurate. If I loose on my seasonals I gain on my hourly. Price of fuel for me is making the seasonal thing more of a gamble.
     
  9. Drakeslayer

    Drakeslayer 2000 Club Member
    from Carver
    Messages: 2,785

    We have added a fuel surcharge below the seasonal price. We have not had any complaints or concerns yet.
     
  10. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Holly Chit!!!! Unless im calculating wrong that 17.50 per bag....... My goodness, im not sure Id have any work in my area if I were that high on price........... Here is the thing, at the strip malls I told them I wasn't not going to jump into this with no ideas what to charge. Coming on here and getting info on pricing? Well hell when I asked on here for some help on salt pricing, ppl just wanted to kick me in the nuts.

    So, I went out on a limb and asked the strip mall manager If I could see a copy of an old bill and it was $10 per bag spread and had been for the past 3 years straight. With that being said this place takes 60 bags of salt. That is my allowance, which does give a good coverage on the lot.

    So with that being said I know that wouldn't have went well if Id been at .35 per pound. That would have been the difference in 600 per salt to $1050...... I don't think that would have faired well......

    I can see this at say a gas station that gets 3-4 bags of salt though??

    I don't know, maybe Im wrong.......... When I saw they were getting it for 10 per bag spread for three years straight I asked if they were okay with an increase since I know salt had went up over that three year period and they did let me up my price per bag a little bit but def not that much.....
     
  11. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I think you'll make more money if you get a lot of snow earlier. 1st plows that the longest,full lot to plow ,curbs being hit. as the lot fills with snow they get smaller and you plow them faster. .
     
  12. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,174

    This theory applies to everything, ...painting a room!...sex!:D
     
  13. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    If you have V box spreaders, why are you using bag salt? Here in NW Ohio, the cost of bulk salt is less than half the price of bagged salt. I personally sell bagged salt for 18.00 per bag spread. That equates out to .36 cents per pound. I sell bulk salt for 250 dollars per ton spread, which equates out to
    12.5 cents per pound. Bulk salt requires way less handeling, and is faster to spread. If you switch over to bulk, then your margins should increase. Look into liquids for next season, and you will see your profits increase even more.
     
  14. ducaticorse

    ducaticorse PlowSite.com Addict
    from we
    Messages: 1,426

    As someone mentioned above, start using bulk salt. And I underestimated the time to complete my route this year too, and thus received a cpl of complaints after our first storm. BUT, I was also asked to cover more properties by other clients. My problem was mainly a lack of bodies, and not equipment. I'm putting on at least 2 more shovelors on, if not three for the next storm. I found out that its more difficult than originally anticipated to get a full size PU in and out of drives where I am in the city.
     
  15. Wiseguyinc

    Wiseguyinc Member
    from MN
    Messages: 56

    It seems like too many variables with plowing to just look at the first month of winter.
    Some snow is light and easy, some is pure slop and makes you work really hard ect.. Sometimes traffic sucks and the travel time is long other times it flows really welI.I would imagine you will have a better idea when everything is done for the year how you came out.

    I have yet to make a ton of money when everything is all said and done.But I have enough to live on.

    Around here though everyone and their brother has a blade on thier truck or a skid or a payloader or a tractor with pusher. It makes the prices lower when you have so many willing to work for a little "extra" cash or beer money. I am sure everyones area is a bit different.
     
  16. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Man, I sure wish I could get my hands on bulk salt!!! NOBODY around here will carry it. Were in southern Ohio and don't get near the snows that northern ohio gets so these agricultural places that all of us local guys get salt from will only sell it to us by the pallet. The nearest place for me is Evans in Cincinnati and that is a little over an hour away. That's just to much effort to get bulk.

    In this area youd be lucky to see a v-box..... I just have the snowex 1075........ Yeah the bagged is a lot of work for sure!!!!! We have a Trupoint ag place here in town that I have BEGGED to get us in bulk salt and they simply tell me there is not enough salt need in our area to get bulk......... Id buy a v-box in a heartbeat if I could take advantage of bulk but its just not gonna happen!!!!

    This is another reason why us little local guys are getting beat out by some of the city folks that are coming out this way because they come out here with large v-boxes and there killing our salting prices...... Not there fault, just the hand we were dealt in my area....
     
  17. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    Bulk salt

    If you have a storage facility check into truck load delivery to your site. If not, do it bagged. We are in Louisville and sell salt at .48 per pound. We cannot be competitive on large sites at that rate but for small to medium size facilities it works for us.

    If you are using bagged material think about the number of times you touch the bag before determining price per pound. For some it is only handled one or two times. For others it may be handled as many as four times before it is loaded in the hopper. You unload it off the truck into the shop, load into our truck, load into the hopper, spread on the lot. Think about the times you load your truck and it doesn't get spread as well. You prepare for the snow and it never comes so you unload. Handled twice and no bill sent out. Wow, all the variables.

    Good luck. Bidding is not as easy as it should be.

    Let it snow!
     
  18. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    Get bulk salt trucking would probably only add $6-7/ton. So you're at $.039/lb or $1.95/ bag and a ton of saving on your back. Don't have a fancy building? Get a tarp.
     
  19. buildinon

    buildinon Senior Member
    Messages: 583

    Even if you have bulk salt trucked in once a year (and say it lasts you one and a half or two years) then you would still come out ahead on price difference over bagged salt. You could either keep it stored inside your shop or do as alot of other guys do and build a temporary salt storage facilty. Or even make a permanat salt storage site. Some guys even use old shipping containers to keep it in. Either way using bulk you would reduce your base line cost and see your bottom line drop which means more $$$ in your pocket in the end.
    You could even take this as an oppurtunity to have enough bulk salt shipped in and start selling it per ton to other plow guys in the area. There are guys here in Chicagoland that do that. For instance, not everyone has the space to store the salt, so some of the bigger guys fill others V-Box's when it snow's and then they pay them for the amount that was put in there. That could also add to your bottom line. Just food for thought :)
     
  20. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    You hit the nail on the Head with handling the bags so much and then the storm doesnt even hit and you gotta get that crap back off the truck by hand!!!! Honestly last year I was ready to send a nasty e-mail to every weather man in my area. Yes were gonna get snow they say. Get the trucks ready then nothing. That prolly happened 10 times last year!!!!

    Anyways, I don't have anywhere to store salt plus even if I did I don't have a way to load it. No bob cat or loader. I would think it would be more trouble than even the bags if you had to load a v-box by shovel:eek:.........

    Like I said were in rural area and theres not as much work as in city areas so most of us don't have huge plowing business................... For a man to have a large plowing business he would have to have every business in the surrounding 3 towns near me...... None of us are getting rich around here plowing and getting residentials is mostly out of the question because of the lack of paved and cement drives. Mostly gravel drives here in the country.