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Alternate Winter Business

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by procut, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. procut

    procut Senior Member
    Messages: 903

    As many of us on here, I landscape in the summer. I have concluded that you cannot get any decent help when you can't keep them on payroll year round. I set it up legit, where they can draw unemployment in the winter, which is usually December through March and then plow or salt when it snows. For some reason, this isn't good enough and they usually just end up getting other jobs. This year has been especially bad, we had one push on November 30th.

    So what I'm thinking is does anyone have any other businesses where they can give guys 30-40 hours a week during the winter and fill in between snows?

    A few ideas I've been kicking around are firewood, but it would be kind of a loosing proposition. By the time I bought the semi loads of logs and all the labor and fuel to cut, split, stack and deliver, I would be doing GOOD to break even. Not to mention I'm not sure how much of a volume I could really sell nor do I really have the space to do this.

    A few years ago I had an employee want to do interior painting in the winter. IDK, not something I really had a desire to get into, but maybe wouldn't be half bad. Definatly something you could get into with almost no investment.

    There is always tree work, but other than a chainsaw and pole saw I really don't have any equipment or the right insurance for it. Not to mention there is already a hand full of tree service guys / companies established around here. Plus I think tree work is kind of hit or miss in the winter anyways.

    So thats that. What I'm wondering is for small to mid size landscapers do you have anything else in the winter. Not looking to get rich off it, but basically just to keep a few people sticking around until the spring, and keep them from bailing when your counting on them for when it does snow.
  2. Red Bull Junkie

    Red Bull Junkie Senior Member
    Messages: 159

  3. V_Scapes

    V_Scapes PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,072

    What idiots wouldnt want unemployment? most people make bank on unemployment because they go out and get cash jobs. They end up making more UNemployed than they did when they where employed!

    I also have a landscape business, this time of year is rough. if you had any landscape construction work youd want to do it since its not snowing but then you never know when the temps will plummet or when itll snow! plus most people dont really give a crap about what their yards look like during the winter so its hard to sell people on installing wood chips or winter pruning. although i feel that if people get to stare at their yards this year without snow cover they might see things they want to change around in the spring...just my thinking.
    Sorry if im rambling but i feel your pain. ive had problems with labor this year as well, nobody wants to break a sweat to earn money. good luck though...pray for the white stuff.
  4. BPS#1

    BPS#1 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,421

    An acquaintance of mine does firewood and freely admits that he only breaks even with little to no profit. BUT it keeps the employees busy and him too if he wants.

    And keeps the employees around thru the slow season.

    What is your priority??? Keep employees around in a difficult industry to provide full time work? or make a killing at every thing.

    I've decided that I don't want to do firewood because after I've run the numbers I believe I'd be making LESS than even. Not all situations are the same.
  5. all ferris

    all ferris Senior Member
    Messages: 123

    I have been asking myself this question for the past 10 years. If I could find something to earn an income in the winter I would have it made. Snow is so sporadic. I would love to have something where I could just go out and work in my shop and make some money. It seems like every idea I have would require some capital investment and I really don't have or want to put out a whole bunch of money.
  6. 496 BB

    496 BB Senior Member
    Messages: 789

    First course of action should be vote all these idiots out of Congress who are ******* this country up.

    As for a second income.... do what everyone else does.... become a contractor for 5 months and screw the actual contractors out there.

    All joking aside its a tough call. Every industry is hurting one way or another and now is not the time to start a new business. Id say screw the employees. I understand they are alot to a business but first and foremost is your well being...not theirs. Do something yourself to make it and hire new help or offer them back in the spring. Im not into landscaping but if its anything like construction unless your lucky as hell most people you hire are duds. Running a small business is too much of a headache these days with the current workforce and BS regulations.
  7. csi.northcoast

    csi.northcoast Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    496 BB AMEN

    although it would be nice to get some of that "obama money" ..... but due to circumstances beyaond my control that aint happening
  8. procut

    procut Senior Member
    Messages: 903

    Were not really talking about "extra money" I know threads like this are all over the forum, but they are mostly solos and others who cannot make it on winter income and need more money to basically survive the winter. For me, it's gotten to the point where money is practically tighter in the summer than winter.

    My problem is I can't seem to find an employee who is worth his weight in dog sh!t who only wants to work 8-9 months a year, regarless if you offer unemployment or not.

    Like someone said, screw the employees, there are plenty of others out their looking for a job; but it's such a major PITA to have to find new employees every spring when you already had some that were trained, that you could trust and who knew what to do and what was expected.

    Lets try to keep the ideas coming, maybe someone can come up with someting good. I'm not opposed to trying to start up another business non-green industry or constrcution realated. Just keep in mind it would have to be something landcape company empoyees would be willing and able to do. Not to mention winter is a slow time for most things.
  9. 496 BB

    496 BB Senior Member
    Messages: 789

    Seems the only thing banging these days is welfare and street pharmaceuticals.
  10. skywalker

    skywalker Member
    from NW PA
    Messages: 44

    I own a landscaping co and half of a tree service, things are tight in the winter thats why we plow and things are real tight this winter.

    as for firewood, we get paid to take trees down, and there isnt much money in putting it to firewood, were getting 200.00 to 225.00 depending on travel and who you know, the wood is free and its still a slim profit margin

    we only do 50 to 70 cords a year, beer and gun money

    as for winter work, im a jack of all, i own some rental properties, have a blown in insulation machine, drink alot, pound some nails, my girlfriend is a teacher

    i havnt found anything steady yet, but im trying
  11. Turf Commando

    Turf Commando Senior Member
    Messages: 567

    I strip & wax floors. Auto detail, also clean carpeting... I'm multi talented individual...
  12. FuturePilot4u

    FuturePilot4u Member
    Messages: 72

    where my free obama money at when i need it
  13. maelawncare

    maelawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    Last year I gad 2 guys on unemployment. This year I have none. They both found new jobs, but both are coming back next year. I pay more than anything they can find in my area.

    It would be nice to find for my employees. But there isnt anything decent that can be done for only Dec thru March without draining your checking account.
  14. NickT

    NickT Senior Member
    Messages: 707

  15. plowfever

    plowfever Senior Member
    Messages: 234

    I'm thinking I may start making moonshine! Well crap I guess I shouldn't have told everyone now they know where to look to throw me in the pokie! Lol
  16. sectlandscaping

    sectlandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    If you had the space. You could sell salt. Now that only works if its snowing. Whatever is left over, you would just use.

    If your not excavating already thats another one you can do in the winter. Again we're at mercy of declining home sales.

    I though of the painting, handyman stuff myself but dont see it helping much. My buddy does it and says spring is his busy season.
  17. Fisher II

    Fisher II Senior Member
    Messages: 102

    ...if your mechanically inclined...try buying a couple of older(need work) plow&dump trucks. Fix and sell for profit! If they don't sell, use them until they do in your business. Everybody in the Spring will be looking for trucks to work with as the landscape season opens, then everybody in the Fall will be looking for plow trucks so timing might be key. I also keep going back and four:dizzy:th with firewood here. I can get the wood free, but im still thinking employees will not do that type of work in the cold. Basically they have all been trained to be lazy, and collect. The freakin Gov. is training people to be dependant on them for basic needs. Imagine if it was like the old days when ....if you needed to work for money to feed your family, you actually had to do the manuel labors jobs that everybody seems to turn their noses up too!

    SNOWLORD Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 610

    Firewood is a tough gig at least thats what I have heard. I do see a company around my area putting up christmas lights at peoples homes and business's they seem busy for a month or so around christmas, they do use lifts and things.
  19. Flawless440

    Flawless440 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,543

    We have a bucket truck/ chipper, i haven't had a tree job in a couple weeks. We sell firewood, i use it to fill a day here and there. I have been keeping 2 guys 30 hours a week. I have a large rehab job that is suppose to keep us busy all winter but haven't got the go ahead. Then i have two tree at my my apartment complexes that are huge jobs, i guess it's time to start pushing them with no snow. I have been asking the same question for ten years with no answer.

    Great thread, good to hear i'm not the only one coming up with the same crap

    Some guys around here go door to door for tree jobs, i guess i could stoop to that level
  20. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH PlowSite.com Addict
    from pa
    Messages: 1,143

    I help a friend doing custom painting. The problem with that is you're "suppose" to be bonded and insured. Of course you have the illegal guys doing that type of work and lowballing the jobs. On top of all that. Most if not all consumers don't want their home all tore up to get painted. They already have the holiday decor all set out and looking nice. The last thing they want is to move it all to get the place painted. So, from Nov. until close to March, the work load is thin, very thin. When he starts to get busy, so do I with lawn care. Once I get my big jobs out of the way, I'll come in and help him a couple days a week when I can but that's in the spring/summer. The winter is rough for painting. We haven't worked in over a month! I'm lucky enough that I have a few accounts that pay monthly through the winter.