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Feeling a Bit Srewed

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Rat_Power_78, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. Rat_Power_78

    Rat_Power_78 Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    Ok first off, if you dont want to read about someone complaining about loosing work, stop reading now. My family has owned a landscaping company for over 30 years, but my dad has never wanted to do any powing. I have been doing snow removal for several years either working for someone or subbing with our skid loader. Last year I decided it was time to try doing my own work (seperate from my regular job), aiming for both residential and commercial. My year started slow, and by the first snow I had only one driveway to do, as well as keeping our own property clean. Things picked up for me at the end of December when I got a call from a local lawncare guy who said he had more work than he could handle. I ended up with a dozen more driveways to do, all within a few blocks of each other. It was a pretty good route to have, especially for someone just starting out. Everything went smoothly last year, with all but one customer paying immediately after recieving my bill.

    This year, I wanted to go after some commercial accounts, as well as my residential clients. I was hoping to pick up enough work to justify putting a new plow on one of my pickups, keeping my old truck and blade around as a backup. Unfortunately, when I called my residentials to confirm working for them again this year, only two said yes. It seems the lawncare guy that couldn't handle them last year has decided that this year, he wants them back. I serviced these people as well as possible, they were all happy with the service, I didnt charge them any higher rate than they were already paying, and yet, they still went back to their old service.

    As I sit right now, I have two driveways for sure, and Im waiting to hear from 5 others, all but one of which were customers of the lawncare service. I had one guy that works for us landscaping in the summer helping me as needed last year and both he and another guy want to work this winter. So far, none of my commercial bids have been accepted. What is my best option? Sub again this year and still fit in my residentials? Im open for any ideas on this.
  2. northernsweeper

    northernsweeper Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    I feel for ya bud. All you can do is keep plugging away. If you are after commercial work, go after it, and keep going after it. Know your costs, and keep bidding. Good Luck...Hang in there!!
  3. RLM

    RLM PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,270

    Check the SIMA website for a contractor on your area, they may be looking for subs. Its tough right now, the bid season is pretty much wrapped up for commercials. Try an add in local papers (shopping bag, etc), put add up on any bulitian boards for residentials. This season has been tough for everyone, bids are getting WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY to competive, All I'm doing is hoping we get alot of snow. Percentage wise my per trip stuff is up, so a good winter will help me:nod:....and kill off the guys that lowballed the seasonals.
  4. FordFisherman

    FordFisherman PlowSite.com Addict
    from 06611
    Messages: 1,613

    Its everywhere not just snow removal. Everyone is taking two steps back, downsizing, cutting overhead. Business owners are coming out of the office into the field, budgets are tight. You have to do what you need to do to survive; sub-contract and do your own stuff but no one is getting rich in this biz unless we get a ton of snow. Even then you still have to earn it.
  5. iceyman

    iceyman 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,925

    be a sub and work year round to get new accts next year
  6. nate456789

    nate456789 Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 194

    Sub work is usually less hassle anyway.
    Plow what they tell you to plow and get your hours in.
    Make sure you work for someone that will pay you and keep your trucks ready.
    They call on you to plow and your trucks are broke and they will stop calling you.

    As a sub you don't have to deal with collecting, attitudes and worrying about how your going to cover everything when the big one hits.
  7. PPP

    PPP Member
    Messages: 95

    Northernsweeper has it right. Just keep going after it. Commercial is usually all locked up by now. As for lawn work commercially March is usually the deadline at least in my neck of the woods. Keep asking who you have to see and make sure you look professional. For now just keep plugging along looking. Newspapers work wonders for residential work and most give you a free on-line listing. When I'm looking to pick up residential work the Newspaper ads give me the biggest return on investment. The Supermarket fly-er route gets you older clientele for the most part. But you've got to start somewhere. Small commercial lots like Dr's offices and Professional buildings have worked best for me personally. You don't need to be a HUGE company to handle them and they seem to have some loyalty and not put things up for bid every year. There great repeat customers.
  8. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    do sub work and your own accounts again.
    hope for more customers next year
  9. Rat_Power_78

    Rat_Power_78 Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    The only problem I've found around here subbing is hardly anybody around here uses subs. A lot of people around here seem to be waiting for the last minute to make a decision on who is going to be servicing their property. I might try to get a few more residentials, but competition is tough around here, especially when people start advertising doing driveways for 5 or 10 dollars.
  10. northernsweeper

    northernsweeper Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    If driveways are getting done that cheap, why would you want to do them? Use your imagination. Call the larger const. companies around you, and ask if they use subs. Mabey try to get a line on phone boxes, say for Quest or whoever is in your area. Phone, cable, pipeline, storage facilities, whatever you can think of. Mabey the city or county use subs, or local townships. Do subbing if you have to, to survive. Just keep reaching, thinking and moving toward your goal. Its all any of us can do. Good luck:drinkup:
  11. 01lariat

    01lariat Member
    Messages: 96

    I'm subbing again this year. Seems to work for me. I'd suggest to anyone looking to get in the game to try and do the same for the simple fact, less stress. What might help is making yourself available, and have something valuable to the contractor. For instance; the contractor I work under doesn't have a single Vplow. Many of his accounts really could benefit with a V. I can make him money. I in turn will be busy. Good for me and good for him. I know for a fact many guys around here have to sub for ice control. Some years when there isn't much for snow, them ice guys are the only ones making money.
    Take a look around you. What might make you stand out? Find that and get the business. Do it without breaking the bank, and your golden.
  12. wmik55

    wmik55 Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    if you have little or no commercial experience, jobs will be harder to get. subbing may be the best way to get some experience. also don't be afraid to approach accounts that look like they get poor service. you may not make any friends in the business but you may make some extra money. we have plowed for over ten years and every year we get calls from people who want to change,so if you know someone doing commercial let them know you have extra capacity.you might get a call.
  13. RCSIndiana

    RCSIndiana Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    Just keep moving and get your name out. Keep making calls and doing walk ins even when you know its to late. Like stated above, People make the switch after a few snow falls due to poor service. Commercial can be hard to crack but being in Lawn care you will realize sometimes it takes years to land the accounts you want. Sometimes you get lucky the first time around. Personally I try to bid 4 times what I actually want to take on. If you want 10 commercials then bid on 40. Move your prices around some and hopefully you can meet your goals. Best of luck
  14. Rat_Power_78

    Rat_Power_78 Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    I have plenty of experience doing the work, its the bidding I struggle with. I have a few places I bid on that I havent heard from, so Im going to go back and if nothing else try to learn something for next year. Also, I have a few options for work I havent tried yet. At this point, Id be willing to consider jobs I normally wouldnt want just to keep myself and my workers busy, just as long as Im not lowballing and loosing my ass just to stay busy. Looks like I have some calls to make Monday morning...