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Concerns for starting a new S. Removal operation!!!

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Hawkz, Dec 1, 2002.

  1. Hawkz

    Hawkz Member
    Messages: 41

    HI everyone,
    I have plowed before for others and now I have my own truck, plow and s.blower. I will be sub contracting for a local business this year- only doing business accounts. And wanting to do only small residential accounts on my own- family, friends & locals. Here is my concerns/ I want to send out business cards to people but do I need a separate address as opposed to my home address on it. Maybe a post office box address?? And do I need business insurance to do my residential accounts? I should be covered under the local business for when I do my work for him.
    I do have full auto coverage that covers the truck and plow, but is there more needed to operate on my own. I want to keep small and worthy accounts on my own so I don't get ahead of myself. The business card address is in question because I heard that I may need to a seperate one?? I want to print sweatshirts with my last name and snow removal behind it, that is considered business advertising right?? Do you guys have any thoughts on all this, I would greatly appreciate it!! I will be putting out some pics soon of my truck, plow and J. Deere blower. Keep an eye out! Thanks much, HawkzI would greatly appreciate it!!!
  2. Got Grass?

    Got Grass? Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    As long as you dont have a large operation or a storefront you sould be fine using your home adress. A P.O. box is a bad idea as a lot of people will think you are fly-by-nighter. lol, well we all fly at night but thats a dirrent story. Dont want people thinking your only a temp. co.. If you are still unsure contact your local Zoning Dept.

    You will NEED seperate insurance if your plowing. Most inchurance co's will NOT cover you when your plow is on. Check and make sure.
    You will also NEED A General Liability policy seperate from your auto policy. The general liability you have on your policy now ONLY covers you when you get into an accident with your truck. Not required for res. contracts. But it will cover everything NOT directly involving your truck. Like when the old lady slips & sues you. She could take everything you own, your truck, your house, your wife, kids & even the family dog(or so it will feel) if your a sole. prop. & wins.
    You will NOT be coverd under the loal buisness inchurance when doing work for them & dont let them tell you otherwise.

    I dont quite understand the shirt thing.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2002
  3. Hawkz

    Hawkz Member
    Messages: 41

    The sweatshirt deal is to me business advertising- meaning do I need a certain business permit for me to advertise by card and/ or printed sweatshirt. Just curious, and my auto insurance company told me as long as I have full coverage then it will cover the plow. But do I need business insurance to cover myself since I am advertising and making profit. The more insurance coverage I have, probably the better off I am. Give me any thoughts as to what you use for yourself or anyone for that matter!! Thanks man- Hawkz
  4. Mick

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

    Second to Got Grass?'s answer on the insurance. You will need your own General Liability as a sub. Make sure the policy lists "snowplowing". It's been brought up before that snowplowing is covered on a regular vehicle policy. I think they found out later that it was not. Most insurance policies for your vehicle are called "Commercial Vehicle Insurance". If you don't know what this and GL are, do a search and there are many threads discussing this.

    You should be fine using your home address, most small operators do until you expand to the point you need a separate location for your business.

    On the shirts, it seems like this would be a business expense. Check with your tax preparer. To me, this would seem like a totally unnecessary expense at this point. For advertising, you would get more bang for the buck with magnetic signs on the side of your truck. Or an ad in the local paper.

    Just read your second post. Be very careful of agents who say they'll cover the plow if you have full coverage. This might mean they will cover damage to the plow, but will it cover damage to a customer's property while engaged in commercial activities (plowing snow for money)?
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2002
  5. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    The answers to most of the questions you ask will vary in different locals, I'd check with your town or city clerk's office on the issues concerning your home operation. You may also need a license or permit to do business in your area, the fines are heavy if you get caught operating without, check into this too.

    Your truck insurance won't cover your snowplowing as the guys have stated, you'll need business liability as well. I have mine through Traveler's.
  6. Hawkz

    Hawkz Member
    Messages: 41

    Thanks guys for replying, it will help me! I am going into this with my eyes wide open and want to make dam sure that I have covered everything before I get into this deeper. Any other thoughts and personal opinions will not go unnoticed!! Thanks- Hawkz
  7. chris k

    chris k Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    Give you insurance agent a call...they will be able to pint you in the right direction. As for the sweatshirts...spend the money on a newspaper ad or magnetic signs for the truck. If you are in the truck no one will see the sweatshirt....if you are out of the truck then you will have a jacket on, so what's the point.
    As for the P.O. box... my company has a P.O. box...who wants there customers knowing where they live. Actually, most of the landscape contractors in my area have a P.O. unless they have a seperate shop and office. Good Luck.
  8. Hawkz

    Hawkz Member
    Messages: 41

    Yeah I know the sweatshirts are a little questionable at this point in time, but I have the $ and I am not losing anything on the deal. My friends want some and girlfriend, so I figure it can't hurt. IT is not that big of a deal to print a dozen or so, and I know the guy printing them!! I am also thinking about a couple of magnetic signs for each side, same guy will do both sw.shirt and sign. I did call my insurance company and they said all I need is a commercial auto policy and general liability to cover my end. Up to $300,000 K, so things are in the right path. Also since this (small business) is only operational for about 4 months max, that will help me in the long run of cost numbers.
    The P.O. Box address is the part I am kicking around now- should I or should I not!? I see pro's and con's w/ each way. My girlfriend says that I should b/cuz she does not want some freak at our door, looking for the plowman. We live out in the country and not too many people get out here-- but if anybody does I think that I am quite able to take care of things.... Thanks for all the replies fellow plowmen!! Hawkz
  9. procare1

    procare1 Junior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 5

    magnetic signs

    Just be careful with the mag signs as i have heard of them causing problems. The paint will not fade evenly as if you leave the signs on all the time because that spot is covered from the sun anyway as hard as that was to say hope that is some what understandable. I am not sure this happens and i am not saying not to do it but i would be careful.

    Messages: 63

    I agree with Chris on this one. I run my small business out of my home and there really is no reason for anyone to know where I live. Not that I'm secretive, but there really is no reason. I don't list an address on my cards. My commercial customers of course all have my address for payments, and I am happy to give it to any of my regular customers if they need or request it. Just don't see any reason to advertise it. (Again though my lawn service is pretty small-under 30 customers)
  11. mike9497

    mike9497 Senior Member
    Messages: 466

    only give your address out to commercial.i had a friend of mine that gave out his address to everybody and guess what.went on vacation and came home to an empty garage.one of his res customers came to his house with his buddies and cleaned house.they sold off his mowers & trailer.i store everything in a few self storage garages about 2 blocks from my house i have elect and a security system in them for free no charge. there 4 15X20.i made half of one into a small office with computers.one of the others i use as a repair shop.snow equip in one and mowers in the other.i park my trucks and trailers outside of them.not a bad setup for 350 a month plus 100 for outside storage.

    i use a p.o box for everyone to send there payments.works out well that way.

    now i would get signs on your truck.i had the mag signs but they would stick to the truck on a hot day and the doors on some of my trucks rusted.the vinly letters have worked out better.its cheaper to replace one letter than it is to replace a mag sign.my mags were 212 each 12X24.i have vinyl on my bug gard on the front of my trucks.on the doors and on the pickup beds and dump beds.don`t waste your time with shirts.tried dosen`t work that well.but they do look nice
  12. sschario

    sschario Member
    Messages: 44

    I just got 2 12x24 mag signs made for $30 w/ S&H from accent-graphic.com. A national sign shop wanted $75 for the same thing. I told him what I wanted, he sent me a proof for approval and turned them around in just a few days. I have no connection, just found him on eBay.


  13. JohnnyU

    JohnnyU 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,040

    Do you guys feel that you get sufficent business from mag signs to justify the money, or does word of mouth usually bring the customers? The signs seem like a good idea, i just want to be sure that people see them and call because of them, thanks for any suggestions/opinions!
  14. Doctordo

    Doctordo Member
    Messages: 50

    Now my big question to you snowybowtie is are you plowing or doing snow removeal . Because as you know plowing is doing excacty what it says , but if you are going to do snow removeal you will need some heavy equipment for that.
  15. JohnnyU

    JohnnyU 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,040

    I guess I dont understand the question. I am plowing snow, as a snow removal contractor. Is that what you asked?
  16. Mick

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

    What Doctordo is referring to is an issue that comes up now and then. Snow plowing is using a plow to clear snow from a given area like a driveway and pushing it to the side. The snow will remain on the property or adjacent to it. Snow removal is relocating the snow from the property. This will usually involve using a loader to put the snow on trucks and hauling the load to another site which you have arranged as a snow repository. Many guys with a plow will contract with a construction company when the drives and lots they're doing need to be widened or cleared due to excessive snowfall or poor planning.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2002
  17. Hawkz

    I have to keep my expenses down and use my home address and I also use my home phone number. I have never had a problem and have nothing to hide from anyone.If I felt that I had customers knocking on my doors to get me to plow them quicker or to complain, then I would think twice about using my home address and get a PO Box to advoid the hassles. But they have my home phone to do that.

    Hawkz and Snowybowtie

    I spent $40.00 each on 3 15x22 magnetic signs about 4 years ago. I can't remember anyone saying they had seen the sign on the truck and called. But just yesterday while at the local plow parts dealer, a new plow guy said maybe he too should buy some signs and asked if it was worth it. I told him not to waste his money, that as far as residential, I had better luck with small reader ads in the local paper and leaving cards at the coffee shops.He looked at me like I was pulling his leg. I'll bet he went down and ordered some.

    Paint fade has not been a problem, but I pull mine off for the warmer season since I have a small farm and plow to help with the cash flow in the slower months as do alot of farmers in the rural areas.

    It all depends on your location, if i was in the city (Rochester or Buffalo) I would almost tend to think just the opposite.

    Hope this helped. Bob V :)
  18. Mick

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

    As for signs, I agree completely with Bob V. I got large mag signs for the one ton and a sign for the end of the driveway. Cost over $200. In the two years they've been up and on, I have zero response from them. All business has been from word of mouth, ad in local shopper, posting a card at the local convenience store and Snowplow Contractor's Network. This year, I didn't put an ad in the paper as I wanted to slow and control growth. Still grew by 100% as I don't want to turn away any business. Weeded out one piece of dead wood and lost one good one due to the bidding process, but didn't want to down potentially good accounts.

    Maybe signs would be better in a more metropolitan area.

    As for home address and phone #, I put my home address and phone # on my cards and encourage my customers to call me. Like this last storm, they understand that I will get there when I can and that's not an issue. Again, that's the difference between a small operator in a rural setting and a large company in the city.
    For me, that level of service is really paying off.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2002
  19. JohnnyU

    JohnnyU 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,040

    I now understand te question. In our area we seldom get enough snow to remove it from the property. so thats not really n issue. It seems that peoria is kinda behind the times, i cant even imagine anyone around here getting on the internet to look for a local plow contractor...

    As far as numbers and addresses on bus. papers goes, I too encourage my customers so call if they need anything or if they want to complain. If they have a complaint, id rather hear it from them than from someone else tht just heard about it. I like to be confident that my services are exactly what they expect, leaving little or no room for complaints. A satisfied customer is my goal, that customer seems to tell their friends, thus boosting business, and a reputation..... thanks for the response on the signs fellas.
  20. Hawkz,

    I almost forgot. As far as "she does not want some freak at our door, looking for the plowman. " simple, Keep the shotgun near the door just for that special ocasion, we do.

    That's country life!