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Costing advice for Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by andyt, May 4, 2007.

  1. andyt

    andyt Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    For a couple of years now i have toyed with the idea of getting into snow plowing - not removal. I just love snow and I love machines. I already have a good day job and I wouldnt want to take on more work than I could do in say 4 hours on an evening / early morning. Certainly don't want to take on so much that I cannot keep customers happy.

    I'm planning to take on residential drives and strip malls close to home. I'm trying to crunch some numbers and build a basic business plan. Its early days, like I havnt decided wheather to buy a plow for a truck or buy a skid steer example. Perhaps some of you will have advice on this also. What I really need to do though is get an idea of potential outgoings. I don't know how much fuel a skid steer burns in an hour or how much I should budget for breakdowns. I don't know how much to expect to pay for insurance or the features my policy should include. Obviously over the next few months I'll be digging into it myself, but there is obviously a wealth of information in all the people who use this forum. I thought it might be a good place to start.

    I'm thinking for my first year I'd like to try and clear 4 drives an hour. So 16 in an evening. I know I'm not going to get rich like this but I don't intend to quit my current job. I just want to pay for the equipment and make it worth while. I'd like to start slowly I guess, and build up to bigger things in years to come.

    I don't even know what skidsteer or plow I would buy. Can you clear snow with a 30hp skidsteer for instance or should I buy something bigger?

    At this stage, any advice or views are welcomed. I need to crunch some numbers and see if I think I can make the first season work.

    Thanks in advance.

    Andy. tymusic
  2. murray83

    murray83 Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Hey there fellow tymusic

    Best advise is to keep your route as tight as you possibly can in that I mean not scattered all over town,by doing that you could land 4-5 homes in a neighbourhood or more and get more money for less travel.Now at first you may have to take as much work as possible but over time build your route as close to home as possible.That way you could get say 50 accounts and bang them off in 4-5 hours.The amount of customers and amout of time you wish to put into the operation is entirely up to you.

    At first I would avoid the skidsteer and get a truck,buy a plow with a brand name that is serviced in your local area since if you do have a break down you won't need to wait weeks to get simple parts sent to you.

    With insurance it will depend on what you wish to take on,residential you could get away with $500,000 commercial you may need 3 million in liability but myself have 1 million which covers all my bases.Talk with local insurance agents and get quotes because costs can be across the board.Also another person to speak with is an accountant as he or she can help you out on things such as billing and taxes.

    Have you asked around and got a basic idea of what to charge a driveway in your area yet? per push or seasonal are my 2 options to customers.

    I'm shure I've forgot a few things but feel free to ask and search the site for any questions you have.
  3. andyt

    andyt Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    thanks for the reply. At the moment I'm planning to take on enough to break even. I really want to hang on to my day job for the security of the house etc...

    I have got an idea of prices and was planning to mail shot the local area and signing up contracts for a route before going out and buying a machine.

    I'd been thinking about trying to get 50% of my future 'customers' on a pre push basis and 50% on a per season basis. Just trying to be safe you know. I still have to do some research on how many 2" or 3" falls we get on an average year. I still have to research a lot of things to be honest but you have to start somewhere right?

    So you think a plow is the way to go. A lot less debt right up front I guess. How much do you pay for your insurance (just a ballpark) if you don't mind asking. And I assume you can take insurance on a six month basis yes? In the case of a plow I wont be doing much in Winnipeg in summer. (although we have had the odd monster snow fall in may ! )

    Thanks again for the advice.
  4. murray83

    murray83 Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    No problem.

    Mine is around $2500/year for 1 million since I plow snow in winter and do backhoe work in my off time in summer,yours will be much less if you can get the 6 month deal.

    Seasonal rates here vary as NB is the lower end of the country I ask $200-300/year but no one has taken my offer on as they like per push.Per hour and per cm with me never took off as everytime I agreed the customer always complained I ripped them off or misjudged the snow amounts so I gave up on those 2 and do strictly per push and seasonal.

    Good place to look for average amounts is the weather network's website or environment Canada's and just search.

    I had 25 customers last season and plan on more (hopefully 40-50) this upcomming year with a new to me truck to replace my last one,20+ customers shouldn't be far fatched for a one man operation like myself to be done in 4 hours ,A friend has 40 and does 10 driveways an hour but his route is very tight keeping wasted drive time to a minimum.

    Also if your serious about a start for this fall shop for a truck and blade now since 4x4's and blades go cheap in the off season and around Aug-Oct.
  5. andyt

    andyt Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    thats a good point - I'll keep an eye on the auctions. I think your right on the whole plow vs bobcat thing. I have been doing a lot of reading and seems it is a pain in the ass to haul a bobcat about in the snow.

    One thing suprised me during my reading. I found a few people suggesting a ranger with a plow would be adequate for 20 or so drives. I didnt think I could get away with a good quality plow on a ranger. I would have thought the front end would be over weight.

    I actually own a 99 5spd 4.0ltr 4x4 ranger with a good set of BFGs on it. If I can get away with it perhaps that is the way to go? At least i know this vehicle is relibable. Perhaps I'll start a thread on that. Probably get shot down.
    Its not a great deal of money to pick up a used truck with a plow on it its just that i could put the same money into a new plow and know I have a relibable set up.
  6. murray83

    murray83 Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    You would be better off with say a 1/2 ton than the ranger.Even a truck under 5 grand is decent enough with a plow brand served in your area.
  7. cjcocn

    cjcocn Member
    Messages: 78


    FreddyKruger (username) plows in the 'peg also. Maybe he will come across this post and offer some advice.

    Ditto on the truck over skidsteer advice. Getting around in the city is a lot quicker with a truck and you would not have to spend any time loading and unloading or trying to find a place to park your truck and trailer.

    I just picked up a 2000 F250 SD 4x4 w/ the 7.3L PSD in the city (a week and a half ago) and the price was not too bad at $16K. Check the online autotrader - that's where I found mine.

    The only plow dealer in the city that I know of is Boss (Fort Garry Industries), but there may be others there.

    Other than that, murray83 pretty much covered it. Env Canada is where I was able to find some info on precipitation stats, so you can check out their site for some info. Also, once you find your rig, do as he suggests and contact some insurance agents for some quotes.

    Good luck and let us know how you make out. I plan on getting some work done to the truck (tranny upgrades, tranny cooler and gauge, etc) and then seeing if I can pick up a Boss V in the fall (hoping to get some winter road jobs next year). I won't say what I plowed with this year, but it is low on the totem pole and was very easy on the F150 that I was driving ..... 'nuff said! :D
  8. andyt

    andyt Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Thanks for the response. So Freddy Kruger is not his real name?!

    I found Fort Garry Industries, planning to head down there this week and discuss a few options. At the moment I'm trying to piece together a primative business plan to see if I can make this work. I really need to crunch numbers.

    Env Canada is indeed a useful tool. Lots of good info on there. I don't suppose you or Freddy know an approx price per push in Winnipeg for a 50' double drive? Like I say I'm just trying to crunch numbers at the moment and I don't mind err ing on the side of caution.

    New truck sounds nice.

    Thanks again for the info. So are you in the Peg? I see your in Manioba but I appreciate there are other places in Manitoba.
  9. cjcocn

    cjcocn Member
    Messages: 78

    Hi Andy

    I don't think Freddy Kruger is his real name, but if it was it would explain the lack of sequels coming out of Hollywood. :D

    I am in The Pas, so cannot offer any estimates for snow plowing in Wpg. dodge_dude is also from the city and maybe he can offer something? (I just did a search and found a few of his posts) You can also try the "mystery shopper" way: Go to canada411.ca and do a search on "snow plow" or "snow removal." Then call some of the companies up and ask what they charge. If they seem hesitant to provide the info, tell them you are trying to line up a company to remove snow in your 50' double-wide driveway for next year. I've never actually done this so do not know how well it would work, but I have read about it here a few times. You can use any info you get from them as a ballpark figure to compare against what you come up with.

    Hope this helps.

    PS ... post up once you've talked to FGI. This past winter a local guy (The Pas) picked up a 7.5' Boss straight blade for $5,100 + $700 for installation. I'm curious to see what their prices are like today (after the season).

  10. andyt

    andyt Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Will do - I found another company called Superb Equipment in Headingly (just outside the peg) who sell Snoway plows. Again - I'll have to do some home work as I don't know if snoway are a good piece of equipment or not.

    FGI sell Boss and another companies plows. I carnt remember the name but Fort Garry came up as a disributor for them. Will have check when I get home.

    So what are your thoughts on using the ranger for driveways? Am I barking mad? I'm open to advice. I've read people leaning both ways on a small truck bearing in mind the scale of the operation Im planning for the first year. If I'm being daft just tell me - I wont mind. I have about 600Lbs to go on the front before it will be "over weight". I'm just thinking aloud - I wont be stubborn if people tell me to drop the idea.

    On another note - I found an 'Artic' plow aparently nearly new. Owner wants 3500 for it. Ever heard of ARtic?
    Last edited: May 8, 2007
  11. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,066

    Arctic plows are canadian made plows(I think), if I had to choose between a 1/4 ton vs. a 1/2 ton for plowing, I will take the 1/2 ton hands down, one reason is more weight for pushing heavier snow and also if you wanted to buy a used plow, you will have an easier time finding one for a full size truck, I rarley see anything around here smaller than a half ton plowing snow and when I do see one it usually has a plow from the wal-mart on it.

    This is a good time of year to look for a plow truck, should find a good deal, there is a 99 Chev 2500 with 7.5 meyer on it for $6500 CDN nere me(to bad your so far away), not my brand of plow though. The best plows are Fisher and Boss IMO.
  12. murray83

    murray83 Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Some may disagree but myself I never will buy new,I can't justify dropping big money on a set up when it may or may not snow.My last truck was a 91 Chev with a 7.5' Fisher,blade was $1500 truck was $3000 so for that $4500 investment after 1 season it made me money,I keep a truck for 3-5 years then sell and buy another used truck and or blade since by that time the plowing will have taken its toll and I replace before repairs start adding up.

    As posted a new $5000 + Boss blade would be great but that $3500 Arctic will do the same job and save you $2000 in your pocket towards a used truck and speed up your profit.

    Some people have 50 accounts and run all new equipment every 3 years and some have 50 accounts and run solid axle GM's its entirely up to you and how you wish to run your business.

    Also something I forgot to add in another post was your service area.Try to build your route within a 2-3 mile radius of your home to keep drive time down and congest your accounts into a nice small area so your not getting up earlier than normal to plow someones driveway 9 miles away.
  13. andyt

    andyt Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    I totally agree with you although I don't think there is any chance of no snow in winnipeg!

    I think it may be time to start shopping for a used truck, it dosn t have to be expensive, just reliable. On that note I'm thinking get the truck then find a plow. I'm not sure I want to buy a truck that has already been plowing, probably being sold for a reason and leaving the door open to a load of head aches.

    Thanks for all the info so far. I think I need to do a lot of reading and decide what I'm going to go shopping for. Tis the season though. No point waiting till october.
  14. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,066

    One thing to keep in mind is if you find a truck you like, ask the owner if you can take the truck to a garage and have it put on a hoist so you can get a good look underneath as well as have the mechanic give it the once over. If the owner says no, then there is something wrong with the truck that he dosent want anyone to know about.
  15. HoneyDooYrdWrk

    HoneyDooYrdWrk Junior Member
    Messages: 19

    winnipeger here

    i live in winnipeg,been doing driveways since i was 16, got a plow 2 years ago put it on a 92 chevy 1/2 ton short box reg. cab never had aproblem with it, loved the short wheel base for drives. as for the pricing of driveways... well lets put it this wayi have one account that i charge 45 dollars for (50 long dbl wide) in a good part of town and then i have another acount that i aparently low balled in river heights cause the guy told me that the last company to plow there was charging 75 (same size as other drive way) and he didnt even get out of his truck to clean infront of the garage or the walkway. the market is very flexible in winnipeg and there lots of variations. it depends on what areas you are in if you have any questions feel free to email me


  16. cutnchukcanuk

    cutnchukcanuk Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    I am in similar situation andyt. I am in Winnipeg, and would like to give the snow business a try on the side. I have hauled snow for a local company which is the extent of my experience. I have an 02 dodge 3500 4x4 that I didn't really want to use for snow, so I bought myself a skid steer. I have been bouncing between a plow or blower for it. It seems from what I have read that equipment needs are dependant on each job. For a new guy like myself who will probably be starting on driveways the truck/plow might have been better, we'll see. I big thanks to the experienced folks out there for sharing alot of what they learned the hard way with us cherries. I think research, a realistic plan, and good equipment are key, but the learning curve begins when you jump in the fire and start paying your dues:yow!: