Commercial, way less stops, more time working and less time travelling. Plus it seems like residential customers have nothing better to do than look out the window and wait for you to get there. I'm down to 5 res. and as far as I'm concerned it is still 5 to many. It is also easier to send a new driver to a parking lot than explain how to get to Mrs Jones's house in the dark when you cant see her address. I find commercials are less tedious and more profitable, plus they get service at minimal amounts of snow.
What lawnboy said,+ no new guy problems you have with residentials-neighbor buys a truck with plow-you lose a whole street to him,cuz he's doing it for fun at 15 bucks a pop,without insurance,and any clue-but he's 1/2 price.Those guys dont plow commercial,obviously they need insurance-which they dont have,and a business ton commericals you make money with a dusting,they need salt-residentials dont want noe-and at 2-3" 1/2 of them complain you did them,and if you dont the other 1/2 want it done.I hate parkd cars in driveways-hard to plow wit them in the way.
At this point I do 25 residential drives with snow blowers. They are such a pain in the a**! Every person wants there driveway cleared first, they dont want to here about how i have 24 other to do! 98% have 2 or more cars in the drive to go around and most leave newspapers burried under the snow to jam up my snow blowers! I seriously considered buying a used truck and plow (dont want to use my new truck for plowing) wich would cost at least 6,000 for a decent one wasgoing tobe a sub contractor ($60 per hour) and do lots untill I got some experience plowing. I decided forget it... ill just have to suck it up and deal with the crap that goes along with residential. Doing my residentials i average60-90dollars per hour. If i went ahead and bought a nother truck and plow id be spending 6 grand and making 10-30 dollars a hour less!
Can we put in a 3'rd category here, "industrial"? My plowing is "in house", both my workplace and the small shop I rent for my own projects. I just get up early enough to clear my lot, go to work and get it ready before everyone rolls in. No one else is around that time of the morning, so it's pretty "hassle free".
Only thing to make sure of is getting work's lot done by about 6:45 am. From then on, just about everyone else in the industrial park races down the street at 60+ mph so as not to be late! And they're watching their watch/clock, not their driving.
We prefer commercial but we do residential as well. Our residentials understand that commercial come first. We have a couple that we mix in with our commercials (The county Sheriff and a Neurosurgon) when we get 5+" snows. I would like to have about 20 more residentials. But we don't push for them. Commerical provides to opportunity to put down salt. Easy money with high profits.
We do both commercial and residential. It is sometimes a problem with the difference in service levels expected, but we have gotten most of our residentials trained to expect a high level of service. Our residentials that are paved have the option of salt services and these generate us more $ per ton than our commercials even though we do have the higher travel cost. We charge our reidences 25% of there plow charge which sometimes amounts to $640.00/ton, I don't know to many commercial accounts that would pay that much. Our propertys that don't have paved drives are offered the possibility of sand application when the drive becomes icy either from freezing rain or thawing of the packed down snow. Everybody has to do what fits into there operation and what generates the highest return on investment.
I base my route on commercial. then I will add a few res. if they are on the way to my next commercial acct. around here res. dont pay well there is always someone willing to plow for cheap. I would much rather do all commercial.
Looking at all of the comments in this thread it seems to break down like this.
Commercials are better money and easier to service as well as being a showcase for the professional quality of your company's work.
Residentals on the other hand are more time consuming for the operator and don't pay as well but they are a benefit to us by being a very good oportunity for good PR about our business to the general consumer who does not know us in the business sense.
We do both also, HOA's make us the most money. Residental's & commercial's, depending on the site make us around the same.
Residental can be a a pain in the a$$ though, most that we have are great we have 2 that were a pain all season, now one says their going to take me to court for a refund. When I sell them I tell them it takes us 6-8 hrs to complete our route, I can't guarntee a certain time-snow is an act of nature, it doesn't start a certain time. We have only been late twice out of 20 trips(more than 8 hrs), never at her house though. This lady has had her driveway snowblown several times when we've gotten there. She asked me to cancel her contract, and send her a refund on 3/2, her contract price was for 100 inches, after that switches to per trip. I got the newspaper from 3/3, said we had like 96" on 3/2 at 9pm. I sent her a check for that percentage of her contract, with a letter explaining my position. I think it is funny that now that the season is over she thinks she should get a full refund, if it were November or even December I would consider it, but not now, after a season of listening to her. She called back said she's going to the court house on monday. Let her, you can't please everyone, and theres no way I'm just going to write her a full refund after we serviced her driveway all season & listened to even longer. The 6-8 hr thing isn't writen in the contract, it will be next year, as well as several other clauses, including court.
Commercial is definitly the way to go for plowing. I have about 15 or so residential accounts and by the time I get done with comlaints and waking up neighbors and going back because they move a car out of the driveway I'd much rather deal with the insurance and the property managers and the 1/4" thick contracts. Not to mention they pay so much more.
I just cant deal with people calling me 3 times a storm to make sure I'm coming and getting stuck in drifts off of roofs. After this year i wont waste the time to even look at a driveway. I mad about 3000 off the drives in the time it takes to do them I could have made 9000 doing lots.
Someone said residential are good PR, doing sanything for a homeowner you have a 50% chance they will sit and watch you do the entire job. Just by looking at a homeowner I can decide wheather to charge 20% OHP or 45%. The extra is because if they do pick me for the job I'll need the extra to keep me or someone else from killing them.