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Advice on startting?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Glesjw, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. Glesjw

    Glesjw Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Hey everyone.

    I've done snow removal for the past two years now, for two different employers, and I will be staying with my current employer as a manager, though I would like to start snow removal on my own for the Winter of 2008-2009.

    I haven't got much money in the bank, and I don't have any equipment. I do not have any experiance driving/ operating a plow.

    I am wondering where to get startted, seeing as how this Winter is nearly over, I have most of the rest of the year to plan this all out, and hopefully be able to get this started. I don't want this to grow much/ if at all. I would like to keep it just me, myself, and, with a few contracts.

    What should I do first?

    Are there any legal situations that I need to be aware of?

    What about licence, permits for anything?

    I know that I need a truck, and a plow, and I would need a loan for that for sure, where can I get that from?

    What kind of truck, what size? Preferably Chevy, or GMC, but what does everyone else prefer, and why?

    What kind of plow? I know the different types, and think the V-Plow would be a good choice, but does it really make a difference?

    How much should I charge?

    I live in a village of around 1,350 population, and would like to just keep contracts around here, the two nearrest town's are five miles both East, and West, with around the same population, so it's not like I live in the city of Madison, where people have money growwing on trees.

    I have read through the forums, and skimmed a few of the threads that stood out to me, but I am looking for some more/ dirrect advice.

    I'm sure I will have more questions, sooner, or later, but these are a few at the top of my head.

    Thank you for your time.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  2. JK828

    JK828 Junior Member
    Messages: 18

    Since you live in an area with such a low population and it seems that you only want work in that area,I would suggest that you make sure you can generate enough business to cover your costs before making any investment in equipment and insurance.
  3. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    What kind of snow removal did you do for your former employer?
  4. Glesjw

    Glesjw Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Where there is snow, it's got to be plowed/ removed, I know that I can get a few accounts around here. There is one company that I know of around here, and a few people doing it on there own.
  5. Glesjw

    Glesjw Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    As for my former employers.

    The Bruce Company, I was on foot for the Winter of 2006-2007, shovelling, snow blowwing, and salting.

    Then this past Winter, 2007-2008, Property Services of Madison, I am the manager of a snow removal sidewalk crew for the accounts on the West side of Madison, did the same thing this Winter, as I did last Winter, how ever I also operated an ATV this Winter, and that was a blast.

    I will continue to work for Property Services of Madison as a manger year round now, though it's a small time company, and I am lucky to be making $12.50 an hour this Winter, when everyone else is making less, the only reason is because I came from The Bruce Company. I should stay at that same wage year round, but when Winter comes, hours go down alot, and I would like something to keep me occupied, and I enjoy snow removal.
  6. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Most of the questions you asked have been covered on the site. use the search feature to find the answers you are looking for though some are personal choices.
  7. just plow it

    just plow it Senior Member
    Messages: 131

    Hey there, I'm from Wisconsin also so if you want to get together and talk about it let me know. The biggest thing is have the correct insurance, It will cost a pretty penny and make sure you have a back up plan if your truck goes down, especially if there contracts that need to be done at a certin time. I have been plowing snow for about 10 years now and learned a lot as the years went on. Keith
  8. Glesjw

    Glesjw Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Your about 153 miles North East of me, but yeah, we could possibly get together sometime.
  9. jimaug87

    jimaug87 Senior Member
    Messages: 179

    it sounds like you have no experience or knowlege on the plowing buisness. See if you can talk to your employer, and find out from him what it takes. You may not be ready to plow profitably next year, spend a lot of time here. There are a lot of hours of experience here.
  10. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    A few more years with a company watching how they run things can go a long way. To make a profit after purchasing a truck, plow, insurance and a blower/shovels would work better if you went after accounts in the Madison area.
    Also, the pay rate of $12.50 hr. seems cheap. In Milwaukee I pay $20. per hr. for labor and truck drivers.
    Good luck and read other post for some great advice.
  11. ducatirider944

    ducatirider944 Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 469

    You just don't hop in and start plowing with no experience. You need to run a truck for someone first or have someone that can show you what you need to do. There is a lot you need to know.

    Where are you going to pile snow?
    Where are the drains?
    How much are you going to charge?
    You're going to do it that cheap?
    How much are you leaving on the table?
    Are you going to be using this vehicle year round or just for snow?

    Screw up just once and it might just cost you your profit for the whole season. You will have a real hard time of paying for a truck and plow if snow is the only thing that it is getting used for. I'm not trying to beat you down or telling you not to do it because than I have to compete against you. Just want you to be aware of things you should think about. Most guys that plow use their trucks year round so it is making them money off season. IE: landscape and yard, construction, towing just to name a few. Some guys don't use them on the off season other than getting them to their 8-5 jobs but they probably already had the truck and just had to buy the plow.
  12. KGRlandscapeing

    KGRlandscapeing 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,660

    if u go out on ur own u wont have ur job with the company. cause when ur having to work for them. u will have ur stuff todo. if ur gonna have a side job it has to be of a diffrent venture then ur current one.
  13. sublime68charge

    sublime68charge PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,090

    as other's have said due lot's of reading on this site, Start Small due a good job at what your doing and word of mouth will spread and help you grow.

    Maybe get an ATV with a Blade and a Snow Blower for next year and get about 6-14 Driveway's to due,
    that way if one breaks you still have the other to fall back on. or for the 6" under snow falls the ATV with Blade rules with the bigger ones use the Blower. Have a way of moving the Blower from place to place, Pretty sure in Black Earth you can get by with driving the ATV around town. Heck I'll send ya a pm with info on a atv set up I have for sale.

    If you just have a truck and a plow something goes wrong with either one your down with account's to still service. or talk to other people in town who plow and have a buddy system set up. also get the going rates for intown and bid the same or pretty close if you undercut everybody then when you really need help nobody's gonna help you out.
    I had a friend this year started off with 6 drive's he did by shovel or his Areins ST850 blower then in late December he put a used plow on his truck, 95 Ford f250,
    this is in Dodgeville, FYI anyway by Mid January he had picked up 13 more drive's from a guy who had blew the engine up in his plow truck, then another guy had the tranny go out on his 10 more.

    and he's been busy as all get out every strom this year, any way he has a fall back plan of if his truck goes down the guy he bought the plow from will let him use his truck and plow. They trade labor and such all the time and are joint ventures in a tractor pulling operation so they work well together.

    for what it's worth, though I'm pretty much a Noob myself

    sublime out.
  14. Krieger91

    Krieger91 Senior Member
    Messages: 353

    First, let me again say I am no pro.

    If I were you, I'd either stay with your company, or start extremely small.

    Shovel and snowblower, or maybe an ATV rig at first. Talk to some friends, friend-of-a-friend type people. Do a great job and let that word spread.

    Next thing ya know, in theory, you have people who're happy with your work and willing to hire you.

    That's what I would do anyway...merely my $.02. I wish I could start with a company, but there's nobody around here, that I know of, that would willingly hire a 16-year old to help clear lots, shovel, plow, any of that...
  15. ducatirider944

    ducatirider944 Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 469

    Lansing has a lot of ground to cover. I bet if you go around and talk to a few lawn care companies you will be able to find some work. The guy that I sub to would jump all over a 16-17 yr old kid that was willing to work. I doubt he would throw you in a truck but all snow removal companies are always looking for sidewalk guys. Get in doing sidewalks and show you are willing to work hard, next you will be in a tractor. Show you can do a good job at that and you will be in a truck plowing. Get a few years in a truck so you understand how to plow, where, how, and what not. Than if you still love doing it get your own truck and sub out to the same guy.

    Get that all figured out and decide if you want to go out on your own. I don't. I'm happy with subbing and can't see ever going out on my own as long as I'm still subbing for the guy I am. I get paid on a regular basis. I don't have to wait weeks or months to get paid. I don't have to sit around and watch weather. He gives me a call when I need to go start clearing my lots. Yeah, he makes money off me and I could make more if I went out on my own, but he gets the head aches and the pain in his a$$. I deal with that stuff year round with my regular/real job. I enjoy seating back and collecting the payup with out the responsibility. Just my $.02 and I don't even feel like this is Hijacking since I give this advice to the original poster of this thread. I wish all the best with their adventures!

    Messages: 56

    plan on everything going wrong, that way it should go better than expected. I wouldnt get a loan at least not a big one. You need insurance and a backup plan (truck) and backup cash if your equipment temporrarily fails. You can figure it all out though one man operations aint rocket science.
  17. AbsoluteH&L

    AbsoluteH&L Senior Member
    Messages: 573

    Hey! welcome to plowsite newby! HAHA Take everything I am about to say as constructive criticism. A lot of your questions have WAY to many variables to give a strait up answer.
  18. Glesjw

    Glesjw Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Who do I ask, or where do I go to find out about licence, permits, and legal items?

    I'd like to get a used truck, from a dealership, I would trust it more, than a private party, and would prefer a Chevy/ GMC.

    I bought my car/ 2003 Oldsmobile Alero GL, from a dealership, used, it's not like I can take it back, and say I want to trade it for a truck. I owe a little bit less than the car is actually worth now, so I woulden't really be making much off of it as a trade in, I don't think.

    "How much should I charge? Varies, demografics." In other words, call around, and see what others say, and act like i want thier service.

  19. jjklongisland

    jjklongisland Senior Member
    Messages: 470

    Thats your first problem, never trust a truck from a dealer... Their goal is to do one thing, sell trucks and there is an ass for every seat, never trust a car salesman, they are worse than lawyers...

    After reading peoples advice they have given you, I would suggest going another route... Buy a dependable Chevy with fuel injection, get a plow thats dependable (preferably one that has a dealer rep in the area so parts are readily available) or buy a truck with a plow on it and start working as a sub for a contractor... Gain the experience of removing snow first with a plow before you start a business... If I am a potential customer, the first question out of my mouth to you would be, How many years of PLOW experience do you have? If you said well, none, I would say, call me in a couple of years, bye bye... Its like me opening a Finish Carpentry Company and I never cut a piece of moulding before let alone crown moulding... You can make some money as a sub and gain actual plowing experience which is going to be the basis of your business... That would be my first step if I were otherwise you might fall flat on your face or might not even like plowing. Its long hours and pretty demanding...
  20. KGRlandscapeing

    KGRlandscapeing 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,660

    that right there says alot going out on ur own u havew to deal with alot of people. thou beuing a sub isnt always that easy either. ur contracter tells u what u have to do and goes on there way. but then the company people stop and tell u no u gotta do more and blah blah. and residental plow these people r nuts ull get alot who thank you to death and others wouldnt be happy even if u put heat under there driveway or a giant canopy