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Are you really charging enough?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by steveair, Dec 11, 2000.

  1. steveair

    steveair Senior Member
    Messages: 176


    Well, I ask this question after attending a seminar giving this week. The speaker was Charles Vander Kooi, from Vander Koi Assoc., which is a very well known contractor consulting firm.

    What he had to say was VERY interesting. He was giving a run down of how to prepare bids, and in the process he broke down the section on how to include equipment into our bidding/estimating process.

    What he said, straight out, was that a person, with a basic pickup/plow set up, should be charging $90-95 dollars a hour for that truck to be out plowing.

    At first, I said to myself that it just can't be. However, he then proceeded to break down every single aspect of what that truck costs your company to be out there, and you know what.....Dam if he wasn't right.

    I just thought this was interesting. He mentioned areas, especially Colorado, where contractors ARE getting this as the going rate. I was wondering what are some of the other feelings on this subject, as I am sure there are a lot of people out there who are no where near this number.

    I am not a 100% believer in everything that was said, but I will say, that with other estimating/bidding formulas used out there, that still, to not be able to get numbers close to $90 would make me think about whether or not I really should go into the snow plowing business.


    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    We don't do any charging by the hour, but we do figure everything at $125 per hour here. It is still fairly rough, since you're guessing at an average amount of time to do the job, then estimating an average number of visits per year, to get your bid. Some come out much higher, and a few fall short. But that is the target I shoot for.

    I must admit I seem to most often come out higher than almost everyone else here.

    Still get lots of bids awarded to us though, more than enough for a job thats supposed to be my "2cnd" job.
  3. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I find that from start to finish, including pee stops, refueling, coffee breaks, breakfast, etc. we run in the lower $80/hr range. Actual work time is coming in close to the $90 figure.
  4. RB

    RB Senior Member
    Messages: 197

    I'm around $85/hr. Pittsburgh, PA.
  5. TLS

    TLS PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,425

    I've been around the $100 to $125 per hour mark now for the last 10 years. Its what you have to make to actually make money successfully in this business. I'm in the Philly suburbs.
  6. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I don't think out market will stand the $100 figure at this time. Something about snow not being a panic situation up here yet. As more flatlanders move in that may change though.
  7. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Same here in Maine Alan. If I average everything we are right around 95. However the private roads really push that figure up. In the end sometimes it best not to know the hour figure, as long as I am running in the red and not the black I am happy. I mean some storms are easy to deal with some are hard, in the end it all averages out.

    The 95 dollar figure includes it all the typical biz expenses plus food, coffee, soda for the crew, and their paid breaks.


    [Edited by GeoffDiamond on 12-12-2000 at 02:05 AM]
  8. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    We bid our lots to make 150 per hour per truck. Seasonals of course depend on total hours spent servicing the account.
  9. landscaper3

    landscaper3 Senior Member
    Messages: 309

    For instance One of our commercial contracts takes 1 truck 1 person, plow, sand and walkways just under 1hour $380.00 per storm then we got residentials which sometimes we can do 2-3 homes an hour with travel so our pay vary. On sub-contracting we get $80.00 plus materials (sanding) our average is probly around $100.00 to $125.00 per hr
  10. Psyclopse

    Psyclopse Member
    Messages: 94

    Private roads? We don't see many of them here- only two that I know of. Some of the farmers have long paths to a few of their barns, but farmers generally don't need outside help keeping snow cleared off.

    How long are these roads?
  11. landscaper3

    landscaper3 Senior Member
    Messages: 309

    We live in the Sebego Lake Region in Maine we have over 400 Private roads in our town alone not including the surrounding 4 or 5 towns. Next year we will be bidding on at least 6 roads im unclear what to charge but have all year to figure a profitable price.
  12. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    We figure our 'per push' accounts at $165 per hour. Often we can get more if we schedule it right.

    $90 seems low - although, as Alan says, sometimes the market dictates.

    We have guys quoting considerably lower than that on 'per hour' accounts, but that's why we only have two customers on a 'per hour' basis.

    As most of you know, I could go on for hours about pricing plowing services. Last months Landsculptor has quite a nice article (if I do say so myself) on pricing plowing services. I don't know how to get to it online, but someone on this forum should know how to get there. Chuck does as he too has an article in that issue.
  13. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    I average ~$100/hour per storm, combined res/comm. If I did not need the residentials as lawn customers, I could raise that number but do not want to lose year-round customers to lower-priced "plow jockeys".
  14. Hemipower

    Hemipower Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    I would be very interested to read this article.
    Does anyone know how to get there or could
    somebody kindly send me a copy.
  15. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Mone work out to be around 100-110,including drive-time and not including salting/sanding time.I try to bid at 150 hr a truck,but after expenses and travel time its really around 110.
  16. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    The Landsculptor

    The Landsculptor is a magazine published by The Metropolitan Detroit Landscapers Association (MDLA).

    If you are in the Detroit area, you might consider joining.

    The magazine is online every month. They have some great articles, all year round. The Issue John is talking about is offline now, as they keep the current month's issue up. This month, they happen to have another of my articles in the issue, and will be publishing yet another of mine next month too.

    They don't have back issues online. I might e mail them about that, as they have had some great articles in the past. It's a shame they are not available online. Last winter, they had a great "Snowfighters" series...

    You can read the current month's issue of The Lansculptor online at http://www.landscape.org

    Look for the link to The Landsculptor in the menu bar at the top of the page.

  17. Hemipower

    Hemipower Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Re: The Landsculptor

    Thanks for the link Chuck. I was really interested in the
    pricing and billing article. I will definately check out
    this site as I am always interested in improving my
    sevices and custome relations.

    P.S I am located in Cleveland, Ohio.
  18. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Hemipower -

    I have the article archived and will email it to you. It will be slightly different than what is in Landsculptor as they 'edited' it slightly for their market. Landsculptor actually reprinted it from the Illinois Landscape Contractor Assoc magazine several months ago.

    I'm not in the office right now, but when I get in tomorrow morning I'll try to remember to email that to you.