Beer Money ?

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by scottL, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. scottL

    scottL Addict
    Messages: 1,631

    I've done plowing for a long, long time. First plowed for someone else - learned. Started my own company, did well and sold it. Then went and plowed for someone else again.

    I think at one point I did it because it was a little exciting, little cool, liked to be outside in the weather. Then I thought there was some money to be earned. Eventually I did it as a hobby and hoped it would cover it's own expenses.

    As I'm looking at it today. For someone looking at the car lot seeing that shiny new truck at 45k-80k, lights 500, plow at 8k, insurance at 600-1k, yearly additional maintenance from 200 plus, then repairs, then gas ....... You make maybe 80/hr as a sub but maybe you don't get called out enough or can't because of your day job so, you miss a storm ......

    That is a massive investment into equipment for the average sub getting 2-6k a season, before tax.

    So ...... is it beer money, lunacy, expensive hobby.......... Why would someone knowing this do it let alone considering the risk of an accident, property damage, law suit vehicle damage, etc.

    ( I've been on the owner side and it has it's own costs too ).
  2. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,211

    Sawboy likes this.
  3. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 33,525

    From the owner's side...

    m_ice and EWSplow like this.

    SHAWZER PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,857

  5. cwren2472

    cwren2472 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,853

    Well, I'd hope that someone dropping 80k on a truck was planning on doing more with it than plowing....
  6. Hydromaster

    Hydromaster PlowSite Veteran
    from 406
    Messages: 3,736

    Like going to the liquor store or da brewery?
  7. Hydromaster

    Hydromaster PlowSite Veteran
    from 406
    Messages: 3,736

    I just question anybody dropping 30k to 80 K on a truck just to go plow with it.

    Then to have a second truck for a back up

    Even if it has a warranty can you afford it being in the shop for 2 to 3 weeks ?
  8. cwren2472

    cwren2472 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,853

    BUFF, Philbilly2 and Hydromaster like this.
  9. Hydromaster

    Hydromaster PlowSite Veteran
    from 406
    Messages: 3,736

    Isn’t that why you’re plowing in the first place, For beer money.

    My goal is to make enough money so I can drink for free
  10. BossPlow2010

    BossPlow2010 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,850

    I’m in the business because I love the stress of dealing with Kohler and dealing with employees who can’t cut it, I also have an attraction to the long hours, dusty conditions and consistently dealing with customers who have nothing better to do than sit and watch us mow.
  11. jonniesmooth

    jonniesmooth Addict
    Messages: 1,880

    My first professional background is ( was) as a baker, I left the bakery when I went to college for a job with more flexible hours. That was a large family, chain restaurant where I worked my way up to kitchen manager. After 12 years in the restaurant business. Working 10-12 up to 15 hours a day. ( When people didn't show up for work) every holiday and not just nearly every weekend but every weekend till 8 pm at the earliest if I had a mid day shift or till 2-3 am when the bar rush was over. The bakery looked pretty good again, so I went back.
    I much prefered the 2- 10 am, every other weekend off.
    The whole time I was working these jobs I always had mowing and snow blowing on the side.
    Here's my point, your life experience is different then mine.
    When my days suck, today kinda did, I look at what my alternatives are and remember why I don't do them anymore. Not that I couldn't do something else but those jobs wouldn't pay any better either, or have any better hours.
    The other thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a cop. I finished school, took my state standards testing and passed, but never pursued employment with a dept.
    I know I would have been good at it, but I also know that I'm way too tender hearted for it. It would have killed me from the inside, emotionally and mentally. There's no way I'm pursuing a career at 48 in policing.
    I could do a whole 'nother post on why nobody needs a $40,000 truck to do snow removal. But what do I know? There's plenty of guys here who have it all figured out with way more skin in the game then me.
    But why do I do it? Nothing else gives me the sense of pride and accomplishment, of getting my routes done, fixing my own equipment, or seeing my guys grow and learn, with me. IMG_20190424_174503886.jpg
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  12. iceyman

    iceyman PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,362

    I have 2 40k trucks that plow.. but i make the real money the other 8 months of the year.. just figure hey i have trucks already mine as well make money in the winter
    Aprobleptos and HadiCoop like this.
  13. FourDiamond

    FourDiamond Senior Member
    Messages: 197

    It's all about volume, just like McDonalds. The general liability insurance doesn't change much if you have one truck or ten. You don't buy 80K trucks just for snowplowing, you buy 15K trucks, buy a used plow, and fix them yourself. You don't sub for $80.00/hr, you hire subs for 80.00/hr. The industry is full of beer money operators, and guys who think they can get rich with one 3/4 ton pick-up and a 5 bag salt spreader.
    HadiCoop likes this.
  14. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,851

    Close description of myself.

    I've never done it for the money, nor the glory.

    It's a sickness.

    Now I use a machine if I'm in town.....doing it for a quarter of my old hourly rate.

    I've always said the first snowflake cost me a 1000.00 and the rest was beer money.....but I might drink a case a year nowadays.

    Couple extra thousand a month, well I'm not complaining (with truck). Some years I've made high teens over a season.
  15. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,851

    I should add, when I was plowing for myself, I found it odd that people thought it was free, or the other headaches that goes with being a owner.

    Two sides to the snow game.
    Hydromaster, Sawboy and m_ice like this.
  16. m_ice

    m_ice 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,191

    Amen to have to bw a special breed to enjoy doing this!
    I'm not going to blow smoke and say it isnt lucrative but there's something about...

    Constant lack of sleep, endless phone calls and messages, unreasonable customers, and employees and/or subs that when you think you've seen it all they go suprising you.

    Call it insanity, stupidity, or both but I've got IT!
    HadiCoop likes this.
  17. OP

    scottL Addict
    Messages: 1,631

    Interesting responses. I first started off curious of motivation especially for newbie's. Economical suicide to enter for the thought of profit alone.

    There is another side because I have a different day job is that the perception of snow plowers by now plowers is that of idiots and uni-brow. Which sure, there is no GQ calendar for this trade however, if you exclude the real idiots .... there is more business insights and real experience from books, time management, people, situations, logistics, dedication, operations, etc. than 95% of any white collar who has never gone sleep deprived and owned all the responsibilities of success or failure. if only they knew ... Where is mike rowe for a plowers special????
  18. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,851

    I heard that.....

    Mr Rowe could follow Mark that would be something!

    Some of us need SPA (snow plowers anonymous)( during summer only cause I'm busy thinking about snow all winter long and don't have spare time).
    Mark Oomkes likes this.
  19. HadiCoop

    HadiCoop Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 259

    We don’t expect to make a killing in the winter...basically just pay the bills and enjoy the downtime, do some snowmobiling, fix equipment, get organized and ready for the spring rush and the craziness of the year to come etc.

    We do not have a $40k or even an $80k truck, with a $10k plow hanging off it, and only $20k worth of work for the season. Lots of guys around here like that. Not sure why they take on so much risk for such little reward.

    We have 2 trucks, a half ton POS plow truck that just won’t die (knock on wood) and is probably only worth $5k including the plow lol. The other truck is new 3/4 ton that will never ever have a plow attached to it. We only service small residential so it works fine for us.

    I used to really enjoy the snow removal gig when I first started. Now I look at it as a PITA. Some days are good, some are bad. Just part of business I guess.
    Aprobleptos likes this.
  20. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,627

    Here its not unreasonable to clear $100k a season with a truck and a back up truck.
    Extrapolating your costs on the equipment over several seasons when you take care of it helps to see the numbers correctly.
    I get 12 years from a new truck and plow before i buy another new one. It is not funny to watch the betwcost discrepancyeen those years though...
    Ie. The first truck i bought as a gasser chasis was $35k, 12 years later the next chasis was diesel, $48k. This fall im looking at $85k for a new one.Competition has flatlined prices but im still happy with what i make regardless of salt increases, insurance woes etc.
    My work moods differ. I still have more days i enjoy than days i dont...
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