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charge by the hour

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by mike_09, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. mike_09

    mike_09 Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 74

    How much do oyu guys charge by the hour for plowing snow? Does it change on how much snow is on the ground or not?also how do you go about charging for salt?
  2. jeffw

    jeffw Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    our vender charges us 35.00 per salt spread using our stock of salt and the loader rates and truck rates are low. very low just don;t tell him. over all he does make about 25k a winter so not a bad part time work. p/u is around 50 hour and loader is almost 80 hr. 2 loaders an 2 p/u work every storm. trigger is 2 inches so the hours are long and the work is easy on equipment. 5 parking lots.

  3. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    Plowing w/boss v blade is $100/hr, meyers 8.5 poly is $85/hr, loader is $150/hr. sand is by the ton or yard The deeper the snow the longer it takes.
    Contracts are signed for 3 to 5 years and we have a waiting list of about 20 incase someone does not renew. I keep 2 plows ready for backup incase 1 breaks, also 1 backup sander and an extra loader. Saned is storred in a heated shop.
  4. snodinn

    snodinn Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Wow! Is that what I should charge?

    I am very much a newbie to this forum and to plowing snow . . . so I am looking for advice on pricing, and am astounded by what you are quoting. I live in Northern Ontario and the going rate for graders without having to float them is on average $80 per hour with the operator. This may have gone up a bit due to the extra cost of fuel.

    How could I justify the $100 per hour against the $80 for the grader? Say with extra fuel costs $90?

    I have just started negotiations with one company to do some bush roads, and so was very glad to see that this forum was available. I have already gleaned some great information, and hope I can count on more. Thank you.
  5. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    The first rule is to figure what you need to make considering equipment (and replacement), fuel and labor (don't forget yourself) costs. Add in overhead costs. If you're not left with a decent profit, then why are you even trying for business? Sit home, drink coffee and watch TV. Let somebody else clear your driveway for "nothing". Why be literally paying someone to plow thier driveway with your truck and plow? Or even for $5/hr average? Carry that analogy further and you should be asking yourself why would you beat your truck and have to replace your equipment unless your making enough to be worth it? Why should you get out of a nice, warm bed six hours before everybody else, drive around in hazardous conditions, risk getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, all so they can get out of bed, get into a nice clear driveway and drive away without a worry about the 20" of snow that fell the night before?
  6. kl0an

    kl0an Senior Member
    Messages: 215


    Try stacking snow with a grader. That's where the loader is worth more money. Also, I wouldn't EVEN attempt plowing a parking lot with a grader. Especially if there are islands and curbs in the lot. Just trying to maneuver would be a nightmare. A loader has you beat hands down there.. AND, it will also load dump trucks so the snow can be hauled off. Up here, I worked for a guy running his loader and he charged $90/hr with me operating it. Prices vary all over.
  7. snodinn

    snodinn Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    More Information

    Okay I can see I made my situation as clear as mud!

    I will be quoting on bush roads, and at this point I am not sure if there is a parking area that I would have to plow on the contracts I am considering. This plowing will be done with a Dodge 2500 diesel 4X4, using an 8 ft. Boss V-plow. So I am wondering how to justify a $100 an hour or more price, when graders are working at $90. I guess it could have to do with the truck taking less time to do the plowing, supposedly. The wear and tear on the truck would be significant as compared to the wear and tear on the grader. I guess I am answering my own questions, but confirmation would be good. Most of the time they want the roads plowed when the snow fall is 4" or more. But I am seeing that there is much more to this then what I thought in the beginning.

    What I am looking at is a contract to keep remote roads open for the track employees for the Canadian Pacific Railway. They have contracted with a large equipment company to manage these roads for them. I have asked the contractor that I would be subbing for if I could give them a cost for the plow truck and then if the banks needed to be pushed back I could charge them a different rate for a grader that I would have to arrange.

    For us cell phone usage is spotty so we would need a satellite phone, which is extra expense that most people in the plow business probably don't need to consider.

    Thank you again. I really appreciate the information and am thinking I would probably be best to get a friends family the information on the contracts and just get them to hire me to drive!

    Do you think a 56 year old woman can learn the ropes? LOL I am mechanically inclined and have good common sense engineering abilities.

    Oh another thing. The truck I bought is a 6 speed transmission. A mechanic friend of my son who has done plowing is telling me that I should have an automatic. What do you plowing guru's think? It is kind of late to ask now, but if I know the pros and cons then I will know how to adjust my plowing when using a standard transmission. I have always preferred a standard as I felt they are stronger for work, and give me more control over the vehicle.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2005
  8. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    It is not possible to compare pricing in 2 different areas because of the difference in demographics (sp) The town I live in is the state capital and most of the people here are ether state, federal workers or work in the tourist industry. Non of them know how or want to get there hands dirty.
    Example is when I am on a job doing hard scape for a landscape co. the home owner will ask me to weed there flower bed with my excavator. LOL this really happens 3 or 4 times a year. as for plowing I have had customers call and want a driveway plowed. I quote my minimum as $50.00 and they say do it. I arrive and find it is a small driveway maybe 2 cars wide and 1 1/2 cars long (20' x 30') with no ware to push the snow. so I get out and shovel the drive, takes maybe 15 minutes. I notice this is a $300.000+ home with sheets or blankets for shades in the window. When I go to the door to collect I find 3 or 4 teenagers playing Nintendo or watching TV. They hand me a check written by there parents for the $50 plus 5% tax and all is well. Now this town average income is for 2 people in the family employed by the state having an average yearly income of around $47,500 each or an average income per household of $95,000. Then don't want to do manual labor. As a white collar town they have taken most of the tecnical courses out of the schools as they don't want there kids to do any type of menial labor. They are in the proses of building a new high school at a tune of $64 million for the basics and have cut the auto shop, medal shop, wood shop, etc from there curriculum (sp). There is no playing field for sports at the old high school no outdoor track, There was a pool but has sense been turned over to Parks and Rec. But they have made sure there are 2 computers for every student.
    All this been said you can see the competition for service related jobs is low because of the fact most think the jobs are beneath them and look down on that type of work.
    I run a service oriented CO. (Utility contractor) that will do most anything some one is wiling to pay for. The demand is so high that I am able to name my price on anything I do. That is the way I adjust the amount of work I have lined up. If I get to much work lined up I just raise my price. I have never had to lower my price to get more work in the 23 years I have been in business and don't plan on it in the future. I still have to turn work down now and then. My plowing customers are signed up for anywhere from 3 to 5 years at a time and I have at least 20 commercial customers on a waiting list wanting a spot if someone was to not renew there agreement.

    That all been said it shows that if you live in a well to do area you can charge more then if you was to live in a repressed area. Make sense?

    By the way I do not take vacation between OCT. and April. and have backup for every piece of equipment I own. I supply full service parking lot maintenance from Plowing, sanding, removal, sweeping, and striping. I am reliable as is possible.
    My charge for plowing for example could be broken down to be Plowing $40.00 hr. and reliability $55.00 hour. I do not overload my accounts by taking on to many to handle.
    Our snow fall per year can very from 12" to 90" and we never know what it will be till the fat lady sings.
    When I started in business I knew what my overhead was and set my pricing to make a good living from that and not what the other guy was charging. The only time I use my competitions pricing is when it is higher then mine and then I will adjust mine to be a bit higher then theres. never will I set mine below the competition. When my computation goes away around Christmas I cover there route for them.
    As far as grader pricing? I just got hold of an older 1963 Austin Western supper 300 that need restored and spent the last year rebuilding it. I always wanted to learn to run a grader so I bought one. I will set my price at around $150/hr. and if it gets work great, if not I am having fun rebuilding it and it keeps me out of the bars.

    It all boils down to you have to figure out what you need to support your buissness, and make the profit you want. It will be different then anyone on this site or for that mater different then the co. on the next block.

  9. snodinn

    snodinn Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Area Pricing

    My husband's business for over 50 years was a tourism lodge in Northern Ontario. Lochalsh to be exact. http://snodinn.com 30 of those years we worked it together. I took over management in 1994 and ran it successfully until my husbands death in 2000. My son had come on board as a partner in 1995 and continued with me. 9/11 hit us hard, and the downward spiral just continued due to illness in the family. It would be impossible for me to run the business by myself and my son thought he wanted out. Our story could end up being a book one day. Anyway because of the nature of our business I can fully understand the concept of location determining how much profit you will make. LOL and for sure I do not want to lose money, so really appreciate the advice.

    I am used to putting together construction quotes, and we have never lost money. In good measure because the people wanted our services and were willing to pay, but importantly, I go through the requirements with a fine tooth comb to be sure I charge for everything. With plowing I am just not sure what everything would be, and that is where you guys come in.

    I just spoke with one of the people in charge of the fiber optics sites along the CP railway. These are different plowing contracts from the ones that I spoke about previously. He was very helpful, and talked more about charging by the mile, and how many passes it would take to do certain roads with different equipment. But with the information from this forum I am even better prepared to make some decisions. The road/highway distance from my location to each of these contracts is considerable, so that has to be taken into consideration. But from what I can gather there isn't anyone in close proximity to these other sites that is interested in plowing.

    We live at the end of the road to one of the fiber optic sites. The company that owns the sites hasn't bothered to plow the road in the past couple of years, so last year we didn't stay in Lochalsh. This year, since my son is working at the gold mine that is located to the west of Lochalsh, we decided to try and get the contract to keep our road open! And then decided to try and get other contracts to make getting the plow and truck worthwhile. If we don't get the contract, if my son stays here in Lochalsh he will travel to work by snowmachine.

    Where would you suggest I get a sample contract from? It would be great if I could get several different types to compare just what I need to look out for so I am more aware. Also to know of protection clauses for me and ones from the company that could end up biting me in the butt. Any of the emails where I have found pertinent information I have copied and saved them to one document. Again I am thanking my lucky stars for finding this forum.
  10. mike_09

    mike_09 Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 74

    so should i charge $55.00 man hour or is that to cheap?
  11. hickslawns

    hickslawns Senior Member
    Messages: 627

    I live in Lima and can tell you several things. I pay my subs $45-50 per hour with 7'6" plow. They are required to carry their own liability insurance. Mine covers any damage theirs doesn't in the event of any problems. Bigger plow, bigger pay. I usually use minimum 10 subs plus my own trucks and skidloader. E-mail me at philhicks@bright.net if you have any questions. Chances are I have seen you around. Lima isn't that big.
    If you are deadset on going it on your own. Charge minimum $65/hour. Seems to be the average around here. Problem is most guys pad their hours. Salting you are looking at $0.35/pound minimum. That is for rock salt. Charge more for ice melt, meltdown or similar products. Don't under price yourself, there will be work if it snows.
    Keep in mind we only average about 5 snows 2" or more. That doesn't include dustings around an inch or so, or icy days. Problem is most people around here think 1" is 2-3". Doesn't matter to me, I plow when my customer wants it. Learn your customer's needs, and deliver. Make yourself completely reliable so they don't have to shop and you can keep your customers for a long time. Best of luck and feel free to contact me. I will help as much as possible. Wouldn't want a new guy putting himself out of business or worse yet, driving the local prices down.
  12. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,257


    $65/hr. for plowing would seem a little low but if you can get $700/ton for salt I would amost plow for free to get the salt. Thats great!
  13. mike_09

    mike_09 Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 74

    Thanks hickslawns for the info. If i have anymore need for help i asked you thanks alot see ya around