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A Lot To Learn

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by C.Leman, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. C.Leman

    C.Leman Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I am completely new to snow removal but have been running a landscape company for two years now. I have a 1997 F-450 Superduty w/ a diesel engine. It is has a manuel trans. as well as a dump-body on it. I also have a 1986 Chevy Silverado, automatic, 4x4, 1/2 ton with 3/4 ton springs on it. Lastly I have a 4x2 2005 Isuzu NPR, automatic with a 14' van body.
    I am thinking we could put a blade on the F-450 and possibly on the Silverado. Would this be the best route to go? Could we also put salt spreaders on both trucks? Or would it be smarter to put a blade on just the F-450 and then follow that with the Silverado and salt spreader? How long does it take to spread salt?
    Thank you for your help.
  2. C.Leman

    C.Leman Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Could we still get going this year?

    A couple more questions. Is it still possible we could round up enough work for this winter? How do I know how many snow events to estimate for when doing seasonal contracts?
  3. Big Human

    Big Human Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Here is My Opinion.:rolleyes:

    Put a 7'6" blade on the Silverado. That is is all. Just because you have 3/4 springs that is all you have. You only have small part of what you need. In a 3/4 ton they have larger brakes to help with stopping. As well as the gearing normally is different(lower). I can't remember What the Mid 80's GMC's ran for gearing.:dizzy:

    Now for the F-450 I would pimp it out. First up front a V-plow. Some people don't believe it's worth the money. But, believe me it is. It will pay off After some experience you will learn it's sercert an it will save you alot of time over a straight blade. As for the size you need to think about the lots you are looking at doing. Now for the rear, you will need weight on the back of that or you will be like a pig on ice. Put a Commercial sander in the back. And loader up. Don't forget to tarp it. Also, MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT RUNNING STREET TIRES for plowing. Other wise it will be a pig on ice. We have a 3500HD with a 454 and push with a 10' straight blade. And have a sander in the back. Last season they put tires on it for over 2000.00 dollars. Watch out.

    As for time for sanding. All it is buzzing the lots as the sand/salt gets spread. I'll put it another way, It's takes longer to drive to the lots then it takes to sand them.

    As for Accounts. You are running late to get them. But their are still plenty out there that wait until the last minute to set any thing up. Good luck. :waving:
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2005
  4. C.Leman

    C.Leman Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    More Questions

    Thank you for your thoughts. Now I've got a few more questions. What type of tires do we need? Also, do we need them for front and rear on both the F-450 and the Silverado? I didn't mention before, but the F-450 is a dually (don't know if that makes a difference or not).
    This is going another direction, but how do I determine my production times before doing any production? As I mentioned before, I am very new at this (no past experience at all) and in order to get the number of accounts we need to make a profit this year, I need to be able to start selling as soon as possible! But how do I estimate times to determine my bids w/ no experience? Could someone help me out with this? As a young, profitable, and professional landscape design/build company, we refuse to be the 'low-ball snow guy'. I want to approach this in a professional way or not do it at all. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  5. hickslawns

    hickslawns Senior Member
    Messages: 627

    Late in the season, no experience? My advice is this: Find a nice used blade for the Silverado. Get your feet wet, pick up some accounts, and then get the big truck geared up. You claim you are professional and profitable and don't want to lowball. Sounds great, you are willing to listen to other opinions from those who have done this before and want to start off on the right foot. You want profit, keep your overhead low. You want success, then do as you say and don't lowball. Grow it steadily and deliver the service you are going to go out to sell. This will grow a strong customer base. Don't over promise and under deliver. If you find this isn't for you, then you sell off the blade or keep it to do your own drive. If you find out this is for you, then after landing some accounts this year and learning your capabilities you will be able to bid next year with confidence and not undersell yourself. You will also learn if it will be profitable to put a $5-6k plow on the F450.

    No offense Big Human, but you are setting this guy up. Let him get his feet wet before he spends $10-15k on equipment. With nothing lined up and winter coming, I wouldn't be spending the winter nest egg of a 2 year old business on hope of picking up accounts, and hopefully it snows. But, I don't know his finances either. Maybe C.Leman is rolling in it.

    As for tires it depends. 2wd or 4wd? A nice set of BF Goodrich all=terrains will work well on the silverado. The 450 depends on if you decide to use it or not, 4 or 6 tires depends on 2wd or 4wd.

    As for bidding, you can figure around 5-7 drives (approximate average of 2 cars wide maybe 60ft long) per hour if they are relatively close. Commercial lots are going to vary. Search on here and that should help.
  6. westwind

    westwind Member
    Messages: 79

    Put a nice used 8ft. on the chevy, tires should be tall and skinny. Calculate time vs. cost for your estimating, each area is different. Do not put a lot of money into snow your first year, i can not stress this enough. Make sure that you can produce revenue in your first season, before you "invest" in the service. It sounds like your an individual who is proud of your business, make sure you keep it. Good Luck!
  7. Big Human

    Big Human Junior Member
    Messages: 11


    I take no offense in what you stated. As I stated when I started it off this is just my opinion. I did set him up with the proper equipment. Which I believe in doing it right/not skimping. I do agree with WESTWIND about getting your feet wet. With throwing on a blade on the silverado. But I do not agree with the lenght. But, again that is my opinion. I gave the information to him with the assumption that he will do more research into cost as well as rethink if he wants to really do this, because of the investment.payup I would rather set someone up with the right equipment and have them say, "man that guy knows what he is talking about". Rather, then set them up with a less than ideal setup. And have them say, "man that guy doesn't know Sh!t from apple butter". :realmad:

    I have only be on this site for a short time but, have been in the business for over ten years. With each year being different then the rest. Which you learn from. We each have our own thoughts about what is right and what is wrong. Regardless of our thoughts, all of us have the same problems, be it equipment, employees, equipment, customers, or :gunsfiring: low ballers. (That is what has happened in my area).

    I find it this site very helpful. Everyone is open to exchange all aspects of their business as well as their experinces. And they do that for everyone. I planning on doing the same. Again, I take no offense in your comments, I just wanted to share my thoughts about this. Now less get back the to snow dance. :bluebounc
  8. C.Leman

    C.Leman Junior Member
    Messages: 8


    Thank you guys for all of your responses. I'm wondering if it wouldn't be best to just get one used plow and start with 30-40 drives rather than two new plows and two new sanders. I talked to a Western plow dealer who mentioned he has a used but nice 8.5' plow that he could install for $1,900. He mentioned that he wouldn't hesitate to put it on the 1/2 ton Chevy if it has 3/4 springs. That's not what Big Human said, so is he just trying to sell the plow or would it really work out ok? Would it be smarter to put it on the F-450, dually w/ no 4x4? Also, if we are going to be doing just residential, would it be intellegent to get a tailgate spreader as well? I'm sure it varies, but is there a large demand by residential customers to have their drives salted?
    Thank you again for all of your help.
  9. Mick

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

    Not much call for residential sanding in my area. I'm not even going to go to the trouble of putting it on till someone calls for sanding.

    If you're not sure about plowing as a career, I'd just get the used one. You could still use it yourself if you decide not to do any more.

    As far as that plow, you might want to look into it more. There are a couple different grades of 8.5' and you'd want the lighter one. You can figure out which one he has by the blade height - the lighter Pro model is 29" and has seven ribs - the heavier Pro Plus is 31.5", has eight ribs and is about 100 pounds heavier.

    Finally, I wouldn't put a plow on a vehicle without 4wd. But in some situations it might work out. Like if what you're plowing is flat with no inclines and you have good snow tires and plenty of ballast. And a cell phone to call for a tow.
  10. C.Leman

    C.Leman Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    How about determing how much snow we will get?

    Thanks for the thoughts Mick. I've spent a number of hours on the site and have read quite a few comments from you. You seem to have a good idea of what you're doing and seem to be very willing to offer advice. I've also noticed a number of others who are the same way. You're helpfulness is much appreciated.
    I've found on a weather site that we get an average of 40" of snow per year in Sioux Falls, SD, which is about 35 mins NW of us and our target area. How do I determine approximately how many snow events we will have? Do I divide 40 by 2" if I am going to have a 2" trigger? Would I divide 40" by 3 if I'm going to have a 3" trigger?
    Thanks again for the help.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2005
  11. Mick

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

    That's a problem if you don't have historical data to use. I know for my area, we get an average of 77". I average seven snowfalls that get plowed with a 3" trigger. I base my charges on 3-6", over 6-9", over 9-12" etc. I have found that if I charge a seasonal rate of the 3-6" amount times 12, it will equal the average income for that site. If I divided my average of 77" by the trigger of 3", the result is 25.67 - more than twice the "seasonal rate". So, to answer your question - No, you really need that historical data.
  12. Big Human

    Big Human Junior Member
    Messages: 11


    Do a search from our sponsers for the correct plow for your truck. I just went to western's site and for an 1986 k1500 they only have 7'6" plows listed. See my other post about the difference in the trucks. There are reseasons behind all limitations. Also which engine do you have in the 1/2? 305/350?

    If you are looking at doing nothing but residential, look at just putting a blade on the silverado. Don't was your money on the F450. This will allow you to get you feet wet. Plus, the F-450 with a dump box is a little big for residentials. I'm not saying you can't but it takes extra care=times and money.
  13. C.Leman

    C.Leman Junior Member
    Messages: 8


    Where do I find the weather history for the number of storms and size of storms that we get in our area?
    I agree with you Big Human that the Silverado seems to be the better choice for doing residential drive-ways, but I worry that the Silverado is not nearly as dependable as the F-450. It was our "starter truck" and had the engine rebuilt by a couple of guys who weren't professional mechanics before I bought it. They mentioned to me that they hadn't gotten the timing correct on how the pistons fire, so it usually sounds like it's running on 5 1/2 cylinders instead of 6 cylinders. That being said, it has worked like a horse for us (many days spent pulling a dump trailer loaded w/ 3 to 4 tons of rock for 100 miles or so). The only thing I've noticed is that when we hit the hills pulling that much weight, the old truck really starts to bog down. So, is the Silverado still the best choice?
    I've been asking a lot of questions and I trully appreciate all of the input.
  14. Big Human

    Big Human Junior Member
    Messages: 11


    Take the truck to a Qualified service Center. Have them time the truck, as well as give it a good once over. There is nothing more fustrating to you as well as your customers then your truck going down in the middle of the night.

    I still believe that the silverado is the way to go, after you have it checked out for the "timing" problem. That, or look for another 3/4 ton truck to put a blade on. :cool:
  15. hickslawns

    hickslawns Senior Member
    Messages: 627

    Good advice by all to get C Leman rolling. Driveways will be much easier with a pickup truck rather than a dump truck. Increased visability and maneuverability. Definately get the truck checked out just to make sure you are ready to roll. THe price sounds okay for Nov and including install on the plow. The plow may be a little much for the truck, but given the time of year it may be tuff to find used plows at a decent price. The truck mentioned sounds like a 6 cyl from your description. I would think it might struggle with a dump trailer loaded in the hills. For driveways it should be fine. Most guys have way more power than they need. There are a lot of Rangers and S-10's or dakota's with plows that seem to do okay with a 6 cyl but have smaller plows. It has more to do with gearing than power. Used to have a C-60 dumptruck with a 350 but it was geared to pull a house down. Best of luck, and I hope the advice gets you making some green when the snow flies.
    As for weather, good luck. I have been doing this for 9 years and on plowsite for a couple with no luck finding local history records. Even our local meteorologist couldn't help. He gave some other sources which also couldn't help. This is why I am doing storm tracking on my own, and keeping the data for future reference for myself. You might do the same. Basically just write down every event. How much snow, wet or dry snow, dates of snow, start and stop times of snow, when you went out, number of times each lot was cleared, how much salt was spread and when, even log the dustings. This will help with future storms, and in the event of lawsuits you will have a recorded data sheet of when you were there. This will also tell you what to expect next year. If it helps, our area get 35-40" of snow, and we average 5 plows per season with a 2" trigger.
  16. C.Leman

    C.Leman Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Need To Make A Decision ASAP

    Thanks BigHuman and Hickslawn.
    I really need to decide for certain whether or not to move forward. I've gotten in contact w/ a couple of other snow removal companies in the area who are willing to pass some work along to me for a small fee (we haven't discussed in detail what the work or the fees would be yet so I'm not certain I'll go that route). What I really want to know is if it would be worth getting into this winter. If I know my average amount of snow per winter is 40", how many approximate hours of snow removal could I bill out? Of course it would be an average and all dependant on the weather, but I need to know the chances of this being profitable this winter or not.
    If anyone has thoughts on how to determine the approximate number of hours I could bill out this winter, please let me know asap.
    Thank you,
  17. Big Human

    Big Human Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Here is a thought, go drive for one of the "other" snow removal companies to get a feel for the business. Gain some experince throught another company this year. this way you are not having the wear and tear on your trucks. Then rethink your position for next year being that you will have a year of experince under your belt.

    You will have a hard time being profittable the first year or even two. Do to the costs (Plow, Gas, Insurance, and Break downs).

    It is now up to you to decide.:dizzy: