I agree with JD. It's best to have a friend to watch your back, in case your equipment breaks. In return, you can watch his back. Less overhead, yes, but it also is a good idea, even if you have back up equipment. Even a guy with a snowblower can be helpful in case you need help with residentials. For parking lots, obviously, you need trucks for back up.
Well this is in conection with buying that 78 chevy i have been talking about. This snow plowing just has been all confused....It doesnt snow much here but it does snow...and when it does it needes cleared...I guess I am worried about all the what ifs???? Lawns can be mowed the next day, snow can not be removed the next day. However Buy offering snow removel with just the idea of breaking even will open up doors for the lawn season...but now I am kinda wondering two trucks??? I am going to buy a new plow so that isnt bothering me as much as the truck itself. Ohh well i guess now is the time to get it worked out not in october....
Eggy - I'm basically in the same boat as you, next winter is going to be the first time I'll be plowing "for hire". For the last 4 years I have looked after keeping the lot clear at my workplace & the shop I rent for my own projects.
I already have the truck & plow, and looking at the cost of insurance etc vs possible revenue, buying another truck/plow as a backup just doesn't work from a financial point of view.
As Chuck mentioned, I will have a friend(s) to work the "cover me just in case" routine - and that goes both ways, I'd certainly be ready to help them as much as possible. (Last year one of my friends found out that 4x4 doesn't guarantee NOT getting stuck! My winch + dead end to convenient tree = problem solved!)
As well, through my full-time job in the welding trade I have been able to get to know several of the snow removal contractors in my area, which will provide a few more numbers to call "just in case". And that can also apply both ways as well.
Something else that you can do for reasonable $$$ is to buy a used plow for a backup - no truck, just the moldboard/A-frame itself. Modify it if necessary to fit your mount/lift arrangement and if your blade or A-frame gets bent you can swap plows & get by until your "main plow" is repaired. (We try our best at work to fix 'em as fast as we can but you can only repair so many plows in a day!)
And, often it's the smaller things that break & keep you from plowing. Things like hydraulic hoses/fittings, plow pins, solenoid(s) for your powerpack, switches for the control box and even hydraulic cylinders are all things you can stock up on NOW and keep in your truck. If something breaks during a storm, replace it & keep going and don't forget to get another spare for the inventory as soon as possible.
i to am a one man show, so i use the buddy back up system.
i have a good friend that got me started in snow removal and we just cover each other... break downs or weekend off. we generally don't charge each other unless its an all day afair. having two trucks would cut into the profits, insurance, maintenance, gas and so on.
one guy can do it with quality equipment!
i keep a spare truck in the wings but as mentioned earlier it has been my experience that it will not be a vehicle problem that usually arises it will be with the plow or pump ....you can buy an extra pump and blade cheaply to have as a spare most vehicle problems can be taken care of with preventative maintenance
I would like the buddy back up system however most snow removel contractors are also lawn contractors. I also plan on being aggresive in selling in snow removel, so this might step on some contactors feet.....
For the 30 + or - plows that we have out during a given storm we have 3 back ups.
A 1993 Ford F 250 HD 8' Fisher Plow (plows the shop during a storm)
1 1990 F 350 Dump body 9' Plow and Sander, used to sand the shop.
We haven't had to use the back up trucks yet. However my yard guy/ mechanic is at the shop during every storm, to get a truck back on the road fast.
We have no back ups for our loaders and big trucks. However we are setting up an old F 800 with a plow and sander to back up our big trucks. Our big trucks are playing an important role in our game plan now, and a back up should be avaible.
I think having a backup truck, even a cheap junky one, is important. For the past 5 years I have only been doing 1 parking lot and a couple of drives. Every year it would stress me wondering what I would do if I broke down. I do not know anyone personally that plows. If you do, and can form a trusting "back each other up" plan that will probably work. Stuff will happen though thats why this year the family vehicle (S-10 Blazer) will be getting a Snoway on it so I can secure some real work.
Trinity - in your situation, not knowing (well) anyone else that plows AND already having the Blazer, putting the Sno-Way on it is a good idea.
In my case, the other vehicle choices are my '78 Mercury Capri (which gets parked & covered up in the winter anyway) and my motorcycle.
Buying another truck for backup purposes would tie up a lot of $ for me, especially since it would have to be licensed/insured all the time whether it was in use or not. For some reason, around here certain people in white cars with red lights on the roof don't approve of slamming the plates off one truck onto another.......................... (Actually I did buy a "junky" 4x4 a few years ago with the intention of getting it roadworthy to push a plow. Problem was, I didn't check it over very well beforehand & found out it was TOO junky for me to consider worth fixing up. I wasn't interested in the "hot safety" approach so I scrapped it. Learned THAT one the hard way but I did put some parts on the shelf)
Since I do know a number of people who plow and have been able to develop a good working relationship with them through my regular job (fixin' their plows when the snow is flying is good way to earn points! ) the "buddy back up system" should work out fine.
Bottom line: Having backup of some sort is important. How that backup is provided depends a lot on your own situation and conditions.
The buddy system can work well. I used to do that with a good friend. He came to me several times with legit problems, and we helped him out. Then we talked about our respective PM programs (because I saw older and older equipment not maintained), and his consisted of basically keeping my cell number handy.
We have the backhoe as a backup to the two trucks, and we know many others in town, but none formally as backups. Our initial experience taught us to more or less rely upon ourselves. When you are in day 2 of a 3 day storm, nobody's going to come for you anyway - they are either plowing, sleeping or hauling snow.
The buddy system can work, but you have to make sure it is a 50/50 arrangement in terms of both committment and availability.