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25 years in buisness snow removal is new to me

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Corman, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Corman

    Corman Member
    Messages: 30

    Hello, this will be my first year in the snow removal and salting business. I have been running a successful landscape business in the Vancouver Canada area tymusic and have decided to add snow removal as part of our services.
    My main goal is to keep the employees making money during snow days. I still get paid the same money even if there is snow on the ground but the employees stay home and they can't afford that many days off . We plan on paying the employees $30/hr for day time shifts and $40/hr for night time shifts. We will be servicing small strip malls and gas station type of properties.
    My hope is that by adding snow removal we can make a good return on our investment of a 2005 gmc 4X4 ext cab 2500 hd with a snowdogg plow and a Honda 420 ATV quad with a 4 foot blade
    This year will be a test run for us and hopefully we can expand some more next year.
    Any advice , tips pointers would be appreciated.
    I am sure glad I found these forums.

  2. Mark13

    Mark13 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,795

    First thing that popped into my head was salt. It sounds like your going to run commercial and my guess is your accounts will want their stuff salted to keep the ice to a minimum. I didn't see a spreader listed in your equipment but you might have one anyway.

    Good luck on your first winter.
  3. chcav1218

    chcav1218 Senior Member
    Messages: 954

    ...don't hit anything. No, I'm jk. I just started a thread jsut like this a little while ago. Best of luck to you. Sorry I dont have any usefull advice, I'm a rookie too
  4. Corman

    Corman Member
    Messages: 30

    I plan on using fertilizer spreaders for now. They can handle the icemelt/ salt . Eventually a mounted spreader is in the plans.
  5. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    How (or better yet...why) have you put this decision off for so long? Seems a natural course for your type of business and location.

    You may not be in it for long paying your hourly employees $30 & $40 per hour. You will run into expensive overtime issues unless you are paying them under the table.

    How did you achieve your goal of providing for, or keeping your employees in the past without snow work?
  6. BlackIrish

    BlackIrish Senior Member
    Messages: 902

    IMO $30-40 hr is crazy, in my company I increase wage $2 hr for winter work and only in certain cases.
  7. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

    Have you ever plowed snow before?
    How much an hr do you pay your guys to do landscaping?
    I think your paying to much for employees.
    For just a little more you could subcontract it all out.
    no worries.

    Most contracts are signed in Aug and some in Sept.
    If your just starting now your late for this season.
    Good luck in your endeavors..
  8. Pristine PM ltd

    Pristine PM ltd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,891

    My understanding is that snow goes for a premium in Vancouver due to it being fairly rare... is that true?
  9. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    For Vancouver that's good, my guys end up making more then that. It really depends on the market you get and how much snow you receive. I'm assuming you already have alot of contacts from your lawn buisiness but I must admitt for being in buisiness for 25 years your equipment list is quite small, unless your not telling us something.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008
  10. Corman

    Corman Member
    Messages: 30

    thank you for responding guys.
    The contracts are being finalized this week.
    I never needed to do snow removal because I make a very good living just doing maintenance and we hardly got snow, however, the climate is changing and it is snowing more and more in my area, Global warming has been good for snow removal contractors here .
    The equipment I mentioned is what we just purchased just for snow removal . Of course the 2500 gmc will be used in the landscape maintenance side.
    We have 2 gardening divisions one on the south fraser river side and one on the north side,no rush hour on brides that way. The other division has the same equipment and will be there to back each other up if we have equipment failure on either division.
    We have 10 - 12 full time employees , not all want to work in the winter but many do.
    As a previous person responded earlier in the thread it hardly snows here in Vancouver and the cost of removal is huge. I have had property managers asking year after to year for me to get into it because there aren't that many contractors who do snow removal.
    $30 - $40 an hour is a good wage but with a labour shortage that we are having here you need to pay them well or your employess will can get close to that in another snow removal comany.
    Gardeners here get paid $15-$25/hr. so we have to make it appealing for them to want to get out there at 3 am . Over time will not be an issue. The guys are really excited about having minimal downtime this winter.

    Here we charge out per push at a 2 inch trigger with a 2 hour minimum charge and a 1 hour traveling charge. labour and salting is extra. It is not un heard of for a truck/plow atv with salting invoicing out $600 for 1/2- 2 hours work.
    A buddy last year made $150,000 in our 3 month snow season with 2 trucks and salters. No bobcats.
    There is money to be made here as I said before,
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008
  11. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    I can see why your geting into snow then. Vancouver is a beautifull but expensive place to live. I know people that do construction out there and they say they only have to work 4 months to make the same money they would make here, so they stay 6 or 7 months and then spend the rest of the time at home with their family.
  12. Camden

    Camden PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,604

    What's this "global warming" you speak of?
  13. BlackIrish

    BlackIrish Senior Member
    Messages: 902

    Global warming= extreme weather conditions and not green xmas!
  14. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    [QUOTE=Corman;597482 Global warming has been good for snow removal contractors here .

    Someone explain this one to Gore xysport
  15. Corman

    Corman Member
    Messages: 30

  16. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    That will take forever walking a strip mall salting with those.
    You will want a back-up truck or have a sub lined up to help you if and when something breaks.
  17. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    well, please keep in mind , im not from your area. and best of luck, im sure we all want to give you advice to help you suceed in yur plan....

    but that also means some real common sense , and hit you in the back of the head

    you cant salt parkign lots, on a regualr basis using fert spreaders... I have done it for emergancy situations, but it takes way too long,... your truck will be sitting still waiting for the salt to be spread... another thing... your gonna have a guy , in the freezing cold, push a fert spreader 100 lbs on ice? injury waiting to happen. heres more... lets say you have someone ride alot to help spread, now you just doubled your labor... so you just let hte driver spread... so he gets sick, cuz hes in and out of a cold/warm truck.... i plow with just a sweatshirt on... if i had to get out, now i need boots, a warm jacket... so i need to get dressed-- time problem, and with snow , i fyou didnt know... TIME is everything.... 25 mins makes a world of difference... even if you have a contract...after the first 3 hours... if its day time... customers will get nervous and hire the first guy they see to do the job...

    my point, get a professional spreader, if not you really need to stay home

    40 per hour? your crazy - you will loss money , Im not sure what you are charging per hour for a truck.... did yo know, that yor ufuel burn might be 5 or 6 gals per hour..... so thats $25 dollars right there.... travel time, this just looks bad. Profits on plowing need to be very high, cuz when something breaks..the repair is also VERY high.

    $600 for 1/2 hour for salting... yeah easy i can do that... heck i could do that in 15 mins.... and the expense assoiated with that 600 is gonn be about 450 these days

    im really thinking you might need ot relook at your entire business plan, and set up , and be reallistic about some things... I could be wrong , again im not in your area....

    I will tell you ur salt set up is no good
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008
  18. Corman

    Corman Member
    Messages: 30

    Thank you all for the feed back I appreciate all of it.

    elite1msmith , The cost of spreading icemelt/salt is extra . The going rate here is per bag applied For every bag ice melt we spread , the customer pays $30 we get a 25kg bag (50lb ) . We buy it for $15 and the customer pays us $30 per every bag we spread. Think about it, employee has already already made enough to cover his wage with 2 bags spread.
    Snow removal here pays huge coin as I stated before $600 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours visit.We make a huge mark up on the salting salt.
    I am considering getting a spreader for the back of the atv next year. The properties are not as big as you think you can spread the icemelt in 15-20 minutes the guy on the atv will be in charge of that.
    The profit is huge here I may not be explaining it well enough.

    I do take every post seriously .First lesson I learned in business is learn from those who have been doing it for years.

    Here they charge $190/hr 2 hour minimum + $50/hr per man + 1 hour travel charge + $30 per bag of icemelt applied with the set up I have mentioned. It's all by the hour.

    you can see there is a huge profit.

    Keep all the advise coming
  19. Corman

    Corman Member
    Messages: 30

    yes, you are correct. One of my employees came from ontario to work out here. He couldn't believe there weren't more guys doing snow removal here.
  20. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    i charge 20 per 50lbs or rock , and i pay less than $5 , and you almost said it your self, the properties will use less than you think,...means less profit to be made - just my thoughts.... Time is still gonn be a problem... 20 mins is way too long.. i salt 10 acre sites in 20 mins.... how many properties are we talking about , travel time between them?