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Breaking into the market

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Kunker, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. Kunker

    Kunker Member
    Messages: 96

    I've been thinking about plowing residentials in my area thanks to the lousy service I've been getting from my current plow guy and the lack of competition in the area. The more I thought about it, the more I thought "who would switch?" and started to talk myself out of it. Today I was talking to some people down the street and found out that the same guy does their neighbourhood and everyone there is as disappointed as I am at the service and looking for a change.

    At the risk of ruffling some feathers, does anyone have advice on how to basically take his customers on him? I know I have to be competitive with pricing (and he's low to begin with), offer better service (I hope to keep the route small to keep response time down) and maybe offer more options (shovelling, salting, etc). Any other tips?
  2. qualitycut

    qualitycut PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,231

    Make sure you can make money on it. If hes already to cheap then it may be awhile for you to get it to the right price again. The reason hes probably doing a crappy job is because he realized he wasn't making any money at the prices he charged. JMO Also for the resis see if you can get people to prepay for the winter, it will help you get started.
  3. redman6565

    redman6565 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,411

    depends on if he has a contract in place and if he doesn't draft one up for your customers to sign
  4. Kunker

    Kunker Member
    Messages: 96

    Making money isn't as important to me as a good job is. I have worked out the numbers and I will make a little bit of money at the rates he charges, and that includes paying for the plow (I already have commercial insurance on the truck and some general liability).

    And yeah, the plan is pre-pay for the season for as many people as I can.
  5. Kunker

    Kunker Member
    Messages: 96

    No contract in place (at least not for us), but no plow on the truck yet either. I'd prefer to get my ducks in a row for next year and hit up all the neighbours in the fall. I'm already working on a contract and hoping I can get everyone on a seasonal instead of a per-push/per-event basis (easier billing).
  6. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    I only do per push and I make good money. Only bill once a month and it's easy.
    Start small the first year, do good work and the following years will be easy to expand and get into good customers and good money.
  7. BigDave12768

    BigDave12768 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,446

    Well if you know the houses put a flyer in the door and post on craigslist. Also if buy a truck put a magnet sign on truck or letter the rear windows
  8. redman6565

    redman6565 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,411

    insurance makes you legit. but good marketing and good customer service will take you the farthest
  9. Kunker

    Kunker Member
    Messages: 96

    Thanks everyone for the advice!
  10. terrapro

    terrapro PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,912

    waiting until next fall is a good move. start slow, ive seen many business come and go through out the years and the things i noticed in common were they grew way to fast stopped marketing then collapsed in on themselves. so whatever you do take your time, even the smallest steps can be big ones if done wrong.
  11. Blazin

    Blazin Senior Member
    Messages: 185

    All good advice above, but personally I wouldn't wait until fall. That gives someone else all spring and summer to horn in. I would get the plow now and start doing your own. When people ask why you do your own explain that you were not happy with the last guy. Don't mention his name. Then in the spring pick up the ones you know are unhappy with him as well. Then over the summer and next fall if you want more run an add in the paper, craigslist, bulletin boards etc. I do a cold contact letter to a house that has recently been bought. Look around for new residents and type up a letter introducing your self, what you have to offer, etc. I always start saying something to the effect that I would like to welcome you to the neighbor hood, or town. I grew up where I live so I touch on that subject as well.
  12. Sno4U

    Sno4U Senior Member
    Messages: 480

    I think this is the best advice of all. If I where "the other guy", I would be pretty pissed if someone where targeting my accounts. Use a "shotgun" approach. I'm sure there is plenty of work out there for everyone-its just a matter of HOW MUCH you wanna make doin' it. No need to lowball. Has this contractor done u wrong? Don't let his poor service be the only reason you want to get into the biz. After long hours this reason surely won't be as important anymore.