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A pricing question from a newbie

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by SWC, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. SWC

    SWC Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 134

    I've been pouring over post after post on the board trying to put a finger on this pricing thing.

    I do quite a lot of residential work, and have customers that want their drive ways pushed this winter.

    I've done quite a bit of work for them in the past, so I have something to gauge my prices with.

    The area that has me stumped is commercial work. Some lots are fairly small, some are huge, and some just have poles and curbs and things of that nature growing out of them, so it makes it harder figure out how long it's going to take.

    I think I could probably figure it out if I could answer just one question.

    How fast can you push snow, 10 mph, 20, 25 mph????

    I quess it depends on how deep & heavy it is to some extent.

    I've never really had an oppertunity to watch anyone push a lot, most of the time I see them sitting at one end waiting for it to quit snowing so they can start, and once they do it's 2 or 3 am, so I'm not around to watch.

    Is their a square footage/yardage formula you can use to get a close questimation of what to charge for pushing lots?

    I've pushed a lot of stuff in my day with dozers and loaders, mostly dirt, coal, rock, and cleared haul roads of snow with a dozer, but never pushed snow with a truck & plow, so I don't know how time consuming it is.

    Just how long does it take to push a lot, say something like a Wal-Mart, their usually about the same size everywhere, around 5 football fields laid side by side.

    How long does it take to push something like that with the light poles and buggy returns and stuff in the way?

    How much should I charge to push something like that with an average snow depth of 4 to 8 inches?

    I bet that'd take a lot of salt.:help:
  2. CPSS

    CPSS Senior Member
    Messages: 334

    I hope you are not considering plowing a WallMart as a new guy with one truck. Start out small, a local 7-11, or a gas station. We charge $100 minimum for a commercial lot. Start there and try to get a couple of small ones for the first year. Don't over extend yourself. Make sure they are all close together, within 5 miles. Give good service to a couple of commercial lots and you will have referrals in the future. Do a half assed job because you have too many lots, and you not only won't get any referrals, but you probably won't have them next year.
  3. SWC

    SWC Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 134

    Lol I guess that would be a little ambitious, although I did see a couple of trucks working a Wal-Mart once. I think they were just touching it up though.

    The smaller stuff is what I'm look at for now, since I'm already running one business I don't need to get every business in town, just the ones I do work for already, plus my residentials.

    Thanks for the info CPSS, I'll apply my geographical allowances and go with it.

    Just out of curiousity; How many trucks does it take to plow a Wal-Mart with 8" to 12" of wet snow on it?
  4. JMR

    JMR Senior Member
    Messages: 567

    We have two very large commercial accounts, both lots I'm guessing twice the size of a Wal Mart Super Center. I checked my records on the last 9"-11" snow one lot was billed for 4 trucks, 4.25 hours each truck, @ $110.00 per hour per truck. Add to that sand & salt, snow blowing crew for walks & loading docks and you have a very profitable contract. No islands on either lot, just some light poles, very few vehicles in the lots at the times we push. The secret is to plow with the storm not after on a large storms. Easier on equipment & takes less actual time. The great thing about large accounts is no lost income due to drive time. Get them on inch increment contracts is even better. All our commercial accounts have a 1" trigger. Liability is too great if you don't. Carry good insurance. Fortunately haven't needed it yet.
  5. SWC

    SWC Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 134

    Sounds Very profitable.

    How does the inch increment thing work when you plow the lot multiple times in a big storm, do you add up the total inches?

    How much is a liability policy for snow plowing?

    Where do you get your weather information?

    I hear everybody talking about their trigger depth; Do you always start plowing when the snow reaches the trigger depth, or do you wait until it stops if you know it's not going to be a large storm?
  6. gpin

    gpin Senior Member
    Messages: 390

    As for the trigger depth, we start at 3 inches and plow every 2-3 after. Even if the customer balks at the number of pushes and you have to negotiate, it's is more economical than taking out a transmission, a clutch or an axle. For 20 years I have been plowing early and often. It's easier on the equipment and easier on you. Do the best possible job for your clients, throw in a little value added service, such as shovel a walk and earn your customers business and they won't be as likely to lowball you.
  7. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    When I get 1 inch I go to 2 accounts. When I get 2 inches, I go to the rest. I always plow with the storm.:D