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Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by derekbroerse, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Guys, I'm having a real problem here. I'm not really one to complain but I'm running out of ideas and options, let alone money. I'm sure there are a lot of us that got really hammered this past week by the constant snow, but I just can't seem to get anywhere. The problem is the stress is killing me--I'm a step and a half away from a nervous breakdown.

    Here is the biggest problem. Some of you know my S15 lost its tranny. You may also know I had a spare sitting in the garage rebuilt and ready to go. The last piece of the puzzle is that I paid someone to swap it in, only to have it fry in a matter of days. This truck is not only a plow truck, its also my salter truck. So not only do I not have enough capacity to plow my route without it, I also have no salt, a requirement on four of my larger commercial properties.

    My brother is fairly familiar with 700R4 trannys, and has been diligently working on rebuilding it for me. We spent today getting it installed, repairing the exhaust, etc since the truck wanted to fight the whole way... finally it was ready, took it for a test drive and had nothing but 1st gear!

    Tomorrow we're back on it again--not sure what we're gonna do but I guess the goal is to get it back out so he can open it up and try again. Meanwhile, I'm running out of time to get this going again--yet because of a mountain of expenses being piled on to old debt that I've been diligently trying to rid myself of (not bigscreen tvs, this was how I started the biz)... I'm running out of money too. A few more days till my December bills go out, and then return time means I'm running very lean for a while again still.

    Did I mention my V-box spreader tore out its chain, and possibly its gearbox as well?

    Oh and if my poor old '78 truck goes down, I'm finished. We never had a chance to finish the '82, it still needs its interior assembled, new exhaust, and new brake lines.

    And this is starting to really affect my health. I cant sleep properly, wake up in panic attacks running for the window to check the weather every two hours or so. Severe depression when awake. During the storm, couldn't eat or use the bathroom right. And on top of all that, while digging out a large drift here at the house managed to nearly wipe out on some ice--but was holding a shovel in my right hand and the added weight caused me to pull something in that shoulder--hurts bad--not to mention killing productivity and giving me more sleeping trouble.

    If I can't do something soon, I'm a dead man financially. The debt I was referring to above from building the biz, plus the last few monthes of fuel and supplies ($10k) could not only kill my business but also personal bankruptcy. Yes, its really that bad. The December billing cycle will be huge if I make it that far... but who knows how long it will take them to pay up.

    I had another contractor for backup, but guess what--his salter is busted badly too, and his backup guys salter truck died as well!!

    I'm not sure where to go from here. Taking a deep breath and thinking gives me a few ideas....

    -continue with my current tranny and hope we can make it work--the guts are fully rebuilt again but we're having hydraulic issues.... maybe we dont know enough to fix it? Meanwhile we waste a ton of time.

    -find another tranny, new or used... but theres so little money left, and if it goes south to.... then what?

    -Move salter to another truck, even temporarily... not easy and only have the truss mount for the ProFlo2....

    -locate another V-box, again the money issue.

    Does anyone nearby have a spare V-Box they can loan/rent/sell me reasonably??? I'm getting desperate here. I don't know what else to do. Money is becoming a real problem, but the lack of time may be worse. Maybe something I can pay off as money comes in? Or can buy on credit card (yikes)?

    Not sure how everything went to he ll so quickly on me--everything was going smoothly up til I tried to expand a little this year, but now I'm trying to rely on others and everything is falling apart--I was great working on my own the past few years.

    Can anyone help me? I'm really coming unglued here. :cry: :cry: Not kidding, either.
  2. Dirtboy953B

    Dirtboy953B Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    Man I wish i was closer I would gladly help you out i've got a spreader just sitting here ,I know how it is and i've been were you are before and it sucks.the worst part about the work we do is you never know when you will get paid.I had one lot that owed me for two pushes last year and they called two weeks ago wanting salt,I told them I would do it but they better have a check waiting for me when I get there.I hope your luck turns around and if you were not so far you would be welcome to my spreader.With snow you have a small window to make money and I hate to see someone loose out,I always carry my welder on my truck in snow storms and have stoped to weld on someone elses plow before even if they were the compition because what gose around come around.
  3. snowman55

    snowman55 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,071

    often times running older equipment costs more than reliable newer stuff. I dont mess around with major repairs anymore the $1000 you saved doing the tranny has cost you time, pain and sleep. Take a deep breath and forge on. call venders and creditors explain situation they may give you a grace period. being a couple months late does not constitute bankrupcy. I suggest you learn from this and focuse on what you do well (hopfully its plowing) and not on vehicle restoration and repair.

    I've been there myself. if december is "huge" why isn"t it billed? bill it early and often! you may be surprised how many pay it.often with comercials it starts the payment process early.

    I have to believe you can get a sub for the next few weeks. call around someone will help you out. get some recievables in and fix the truck. or take the next step and get a new one (my last truck I bought was a 2008 dodge 2500 xcab. I rolled a plow and spreader into the loan put no money down got a 3.9% finance. alot cheaper than your credit cards. monthly payment of $700.) what do you spend on repairs and restoration a month? how about your time? your stress level , spend your time getting accounts and serviceing accounts. and if you cant afford a new truck you are not charging enough.
  4. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Derek, Believe it or not I as well as many of others on here I have been in your shoes. Some of us know what it's like to be hanging from the end of the rope, facing what would seem to be the impossible. I'm having some flash backs as I write this. YOU CAN GET THROUGH THIS! First off, you need to relax and regroup.

    Few questions:

    What condition are your lots in now? What's the forecast for the next few days? What equipment do you have (if any) that still works? How many hours have you been awake? How many truck hours are there to make a single run on your route? Have you eaten and are you staying hydrated? Do you have any one beside yourself that can help you?

    Stay tough Derek it's times like these that separate the men from the boys...you will get through this, there are plenty of people here that I'm sure will try and help.
  5. KCB

    KCB Senior Member
    Messages: 153

    I can certainly relate to alot of that. Hope things turn around soon.
  6. heather lawn spray

    heather lawn spray PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,206

    On the bills

    Call the customers today and Monday/Tuesday and explain the cash situation and the snow fall amounts in the Peninsula this month, let them know the general amount of the bills this month. See if you can get the bills written out in time for a hand delivery on Jan 1st, 2nd and ask if a check or a deposit can be made at the time of delivery.

    On Equipment

    Get over to the Canadian Weather+++++Snow thread and see if the boys can extend any help over there. The only surplus hardware we've got in the yard is an derelict Sno-way plow, but you're welcome to it.
  7. In2toys

    In2toys Senior Member
    Messages: 319

    Hang in there derek. I'm just a couple of leaps ahead of the wolves myself. On the repair, I used to work on copiers & when I had a problem I couldn't fix I'd just walk away for an hour & hit it with a fresh mind. Does your brother know someone else that knows the tranny? Is there a scrap yard that would have a tranny that works?

    Anywho, Derek, Hang in there, try & think positive & have faith & it will get better. Positive thinking will get you through this.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  8. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 275

    The first thing you need to do is get to a Doctor and get that Depression and Anxiety under control. Lack of sleep can lead to Depression. Severe Depression can lead to terrible Anxiety and panic attacks. This is a Medical condition and not some form of weakness.
    When you get the above under control then your problems probably won't be as bad as they seem. You will be thinking more clearly and be better at problem solving
    Options if you then see you can't make it:
    credit card--quickly paid off
    small business loan
    equity line of credit

    If you are waking up depressed then you have a serious medical problem that needs to be dealt with before you can realistically evaluate your financial situation
  9. Scott's

    Scott's Senior Member
    Messages: 416

    If its this bad on your health I think the 1st thing you need to do is find another line of work ,the snow removal buiss is very high stress even when everything is running smooth. I dont mean to sound like a di#% but man if you are having these problems for real you need to be talking to a Dr. not on a plow forum.

    This is a dog eat dog buiss and if you dont keep your equipment up to date and in tip top shape you will bet the next guy will. If you had a trany sitting there ready to go in you must of known your trany in the truck had problems. I also have ASE friends that can fix my trucks cheap and they do but if I loose a trany it will go straight to the tranny shop to be fixed by the people that work on them everyday. Sometimes saving money cost more than spending it.

    Good Luck hope things work out for you.
  10. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    if you were to get the dec bills out quick most companys i deal with want all the bills by years end for the tax write off for the expense. if it's a big bill like you say, then maybe you will get paid sooner, it may depend on when their fiscal year starts and stops. someone mentioned talking to creditors, that's a great idea..
    good luck...
  11. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    Charles and Scott's are right. See a doctor......you have little if you don't have your physical and mental health, no matter your line of work.

    This is a very tough, costly and demanding biz. It's not the end of the world if it doesn't work out for you. If it's what you want, don't lose faith and do not get overwhelmed. A house is built one brick at a time. Do the same with your challenges and the sense of accomplishment will return.

    Good luck to you sir. :salute:
  12. Lifted4x4Astro

    Lifted4x4Astro Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    I gotta agree with snowman55...sounds like it is time to part with the old junk and buy 1 new truck. There are awesome deals out there on new ones and like was said it will be cheaper than the credit card payment to bail you out on the old stuff. I know the new truck will cost you every month but if you are waist deep in snow and the old truck dies...you are screwed like now.

    I also agree, get to a Dr. and get some help!
  13. carl b

    carl b PlowSite.com Addict
    from Ohio
    Messages: 1,330

    I also have older trucks exc. when things go bad I feel the same way . that dosen't mean you have to buy a new truck ! I had a new truck with 500 miles that broke !! it was down a day the dealer didn't give me a plow truck to use when my truck was down . So don't think that's the fix . now you first off should see a doc . !!!! don't let you competitors know when your down .thats like dragging the sheep to the wolf .

    Than start fixing the most needed truck . If it snows put some one that can't fix the next truck . fix the next truck until your done .

    Money this is the hardest !! It don't matter how you got here your here . do you have family ,friends , that would loan you money ? if not than you have to know your customers( at least 2 or 3 that you could hand a bill to ) say I was in the area and if you would like i can wait so you don't have to wast a stamp and such . YOU WORKED FOR IT ITS YOUR MONEY . if they say I'm in a hurry than I'm sorry to bother you . go to the next . This has a down side you may be their a half hour .

  14. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    im was/ am kinda in a same boat, lots sof broken stuff, no time, no sleep , cash getting low

    heres what you need to realize, if your current working truck goes down ur screwed

    hire a sub, yeah it sucks and we all need the money, but look at it this way, pay him 65 per hr, and u still make some, then put a tailgate spreader on ur truck and run with it for salting, dont plow with ur truck unless u have to
  15. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    After reading your post my first impression is that you need to talk to friend, mother, father, priest, or doctor just to get a different perspective on things. I have been self employed for over 20 years and I can tell you that I have had many up's and downs. I have had lots of money and I have had my credit cards shut off. This type of stuff is part of the game, feasts or famine is common, if it was easy everyone would do it. Your health and others around is what matters not money, the older I get the more I see people that are important to me get sick and die, so the problems you think you have today are nothing, just growing pains that will test you, how you get through them will determine if you will be successful at being self employed. Even if you get past these problems next month could bring a whole different set of problems to solve. Step back, reevaluate what you do have and keep plugging but never think it is ever going to be easy and always appreciate what you do have, and It doesn't necessarily have to be how much stuff, money you have. As for your current problem sub it out for now until you get your stuff put back together.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  16. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Thanks for the replies, guys, I appreciate the supportive words. We're still working on the tranny--being the weekend we couldn't get anyone else anyways.

    The old '78 plow truck is still going strong, fortunately, though since the last major storm the Boss V seems to have a lot of rot problems along the cutting edge that I knew were starting, just not nearly this bad. We're still good to plow.

    I've been in this business basically alone for years now, this is the first year I took on more and got someone to drive another truck for me. Usually I have everything ready before the snow and may have a breakdown or two thru the season (who doesn't?) and the joy of the old stuff is you can repair everything at home. The body is starting to fall to @$@$ and we didn't have the time over the summer to get it redone. Same on the S15... but both were mechanically good to excellent.

    I had the tranny on the shelf because it was built for a project truck several years ago that never materialized. It was built specifically for heavy duty use with HD clutches, bands, and a shift kit. I knew it was a direct bolt in when the S truck died, so thats what we did, but the whole thing failed and its far to long to go after the builder. Maybe sitting in the garage did it bad, I really don't know.

    I'm just getting so frustrated, cuz its one step forward and two back. Right now I'm dealing with a broken O2 sensor that got whacked by a stray wrench while going after pressure taps on the side of the tranny. If course, even with heat, it managed to rip the threads out of the bung... which of course the parts store is sold out of and won't have any for god only knows how long. Things like this. I'm at the house looking for a large nut and a tap at this point. Don't have the right tap, figures. Gonna try and get it close enough now.

    I need to get back to the shop now, I'll post more later if I can. Just eating quickly and grabbing a drink. My brother is still at it. Actually he's swapping to a spare valve body to see if we can eliminate that. Air testing shows the clutch pack should apply but its not. We got 1/2/R out of it this morning with a sticky valve--one that was perfectly free when assembled. Frustrating!

    I don't know if I can continue in this work or not. I've never felt this weak before and it blows me away.

    As for the old equipment... the oldest truck is the single most reliable piece I've ever owned!

    Still hangin' in there, just by a thread tho.... :S

  17. russ130

    russ130 Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    Sorry to hear its so bad for you. Just keep plugging along and things will change for you. Scrap some metal for extra cash and a change of pace for a day. Send out the bills early its ok to do that. As far as the tranny it does sound like its in the valve body to me too. One sticky valve usually means there is a good chance for more. And oh by the way GOOD LUCK
  18. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    A quick update before I head to bed, we decided to try another valve body as a test figuring if we had the exact same problem it was somewhere in the build of the tranny itself... BUT we now have 1-4 and R. Gotta fix a leak, 02 Sensor, and some minor reassembly tomorrow but I think we've got it. Things are looking up. We quit early tonight and both want to get some solid sleep in!

    Thanks for the support guys. I still need some new backup plans but at least we're back in the game... I hope. We'll know tomorrow. :D
  19. KGRlandscapeing

    KGRlandscapeing 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,660

    Coming from a guy that has a medical history that scares most doctors no joke. I have had a few call personally call me and say i cant help you. There is no controlling of it for me on a good day i leave the house to go to the store and maybe stop and grab lunch to take home. On a bad u look at sharp objects in a a whole diffrent way. The act of plowing helps me cope because i love it. Dealing with customers drives me nuts its horrible on my own. My family helps. I can fix things which helps but if its a major fix its it goes to ford if not i have a shop. In this line of work your in mortal combat with mother nature and **** happens people understand that creditors and banks they dont. Cause there in the same bind u r. Hang in there music helps food sometimes or writing or a friend or even a walk down the drive in the cold. Heres a kicker GET EVERYBODY out of the house and take a bath
  20. Superior L & L

    Superior L & L PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,041

    Things are turning around already !!!!! It can only get better.

    For what its worth here is what i would do tomorrow.
    1. Get your brother everything he needs to work on the truck and hopefully he can deal with it himself
    2. You need to do all billing. Have it all ready to go.
    3. Either write a letter or call (depending on how many you have) customers and tell them whats going on in a few sentences.
    Mr customer due to the large amount of service and truck breakdowns we have incurred this month, cash flow has become a concern of mine. If possible could you please mail out a check or call me to pick one up within the next couple of days. Prompt payment will ensure i am able to continue to provide the great service you deserve and have come to expect of me (im not a letter writer but you get the point.)
    1. Send or hand deliver your bills
    2. Get a appointment with your doc.

    Im sure most your customers will have no problem getting you a check within a couple of days or even the same day. You provided the service so it is your money. I would look at bi-weekly billing if you have a large amount of plows/salts per month that way your not carrying work that you did at the first of the month till the middle or end of the next month.

    My friend i bet 75% of the people on here have been in your situation at some point or another. People think that getting tons of pushes in one month is great, but you have to be able to cover all your cost on each push. Bigger months would be better in the middle of the season because the income from earlier months help cover your cost.

    PS If the salter dies push spreaders will do the trick. Its cold annd time consuming but will get the job done
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008