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First Commercial Bid HELP!

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by northernnewbie, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. northernnewbie

    northernnewbie Member
    Messages: 31

    I live right by this place so its a no brainer that I have to get this job. payup

    I outlined the whole apartment complex as well as the storage buildings. I have to plow the parking lots as well as around the storage buildings and clear the paths with a snowthrower. Total distance on the paths 500-600 yds.

    I have to turn in separate bids for the plowing and the snowthrowing. He won't have me plow for less than 3" but I'm going to include a blizzard clause for the first 10" and every 8" after that. So I do one pass 3" to 9". Two passes for 10" to 18" and 3 passes for 19" to 26" etc. This is how the guy wants the bid done. I tried to talk him into an hourly rate and he wouldn't go for it. I think $300 is reasonable for each pass. What do you guys think?

    As far as the snowthrowing is concerned I have no idea what to charge. Hell, I have to buy a snowthrower now. What kind should I get? 2 stage for sure, but how many HP and how big of a clearance?


    SNOWLORD Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 610

    I do larger commercial accounts so Im not as familiar with this apartment stuff but $300 sounds awfully cheap to me but again this is not my specialty I know I would not consider this at $300 per plow
  3. Mick

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

    You're going to wait till there's maybe 9" to start plowing? $300 for that? You are walking into an impossible trap. Believe me, he saw you coming. That photo says "Maine" - if you around Augusta to Belfast area, I'd come and walk it over and talk it through, if you'd like. I've done consulting like this the customers said they were happy with the results. I do charge to cover my costs plus nomimal amount.

    To start - by "pass" - what do you mean? I've seen the term used to mean clearing of an entire area and to mean one trip from one end to the opposite end of an area.
  4. Dakotaplowboy

    Dakotaplowboy Member
    Messages: 68

    $300 is to cheap.
    This guy wants a 3 inch trigger on the lot and the walks? Think about how long it would take you to plow. I would figure atleast 5 hours to be safe. Figure that at what ever you charge by the hour. I personally will not do bids like that. You should try to give the guy an estimate based on your hourly rate, and how long it will take. As for snow blowers I have an Ariens 926 pro, cost me $1,400.00 Works real good. All my walks have an 1/2" trigger so I prefer my Toro Snow commanders over anything else.
  5. JeepPlow18

    JeepPlow18 Senior Member
    Messages: 658

    Yes $300 is really cheap. I have a commercial apartment lot that I charge close to your amount and its half the size, hope this helps. Definitly see how long it takes and go from there. Im in the same boat I need a snowblower too lol:rolleyes:
  6. ford6.9

    ford6.9 Senior Member
    Messages: 452

    please dont give that number....you will hate yourself the first time you start plowing it, and the rest of the season, commercial try keeping your numbers at 125 an hour. keep in mind commercial will need more insurance, cars moving around the lots, and just more random stuff will happen you would have never thought of. just some advice. best to you on the bid and hope you get it. would be wonderful having something so close to home

    REAPER 2000 Club Member
    from 60050
    Messages: 2,230

    I think that lot is going to take you the better part of 4 to 5 hours and I have also never seen a trigger of 3-9 inches. Is that his idea or yours? 3-5 maybe with a step increase above that and have you explained to him how deep 3 inches really is?

    Is he the type that is going to call you after a 2inch fall and complain it is not done only to argue with you about that 3 inch trigger when it is time to get paid?

    Google Earth is so deceiving in size when looking at it like this but.

    That sure is a lot of sidewalks or paths to do with a snowblower. Any way to take the truck over the same paths?

    Not sure I would do that for $300 bucks even when I was a newb.

    It is almost like it is 3 separate accounts as there is no access from one lot to the other you will have to pull out to the street and re-enter each lot. One even going around the corner a block down to get to the drive.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2007
  8. JeepPlow18

    JeepPlow18 Senior Member
    Messages: 658

    Its funny that you say that. It would be nice to plow that so close to home. My largest account is this apartment complex and go figure I LIVE THERE haha. Its really convienent:D
  9. JpLawn

    JpLawn Senior Member
    Messages: 208

    I like plowing far away. It gets me away from the wife.:realmad: :dizzy:
  10. Dakotaplowboy

    Dakotaplowboy Member
    Messages: 68

    Close can be great, but far away can be better. It all depends on the MONEY. There is a lot of work to be had out there, and people are willing to pay if you are good and dependable. Let the cheap skate get what he deserves, Nothing. If he insists on $300.00 with the 3 to 9 trigger, buy him a shovel and tell him to have a nice winter! You would be better off sitting at home watching someone else do it for three hundred.
  11. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,236

    I'd guess $300 will get you the job, no-brainer. You're probably also going to go broke, no-brainer.

    An apartment complex with a trigger of 3"? :confused: So all those people are going to pack it down, then you're going to have to go through and try to scrape off the hardpack? Do you realize that that will only increase the amount of time it takes to plow it?

    As for the walks, 500-600 yds is a huge difference, which one is it?

    You don't want an hourly rate, either. You'll never make more than that, whether it takes you an hour or 4, it will always be the same. You'll never get compensated for becoming efficient as you learn or if you get a better plow.
  12. Mick

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

    BUT, you will make LESS for the SAME area as you become more proficient. Pretty soon, you will be making half as much as you did the first day and doing a better overall job. Working by the hour is a losing propoposition. Although it does benefit the employer.

    I just read through your first post again and I'm seeing you headed for real trouble. Just some: I just realized you are only going to plow no less than nine inches except for the last (cleanup) run. Are you expecting people to drive on that until it reaches 9"? No way it's going to happen. You will need a loader - a plow will not handle 9" of snow in a parking lot. On a road, yes, but not in a parking lot.

    Do you know what a "Blizzard Clause" is? It doesn't sound like it. It means that the pricing stategy changes over a certain amount of snowfall. For instance, I may charge "$500 plus $10 an inch for any snowfall over 12" in a 24 hour period" for a certain area.

    Get back with that property manager to clarify his expectations. I can't believe any apartment/condo manager would specify a 3" trigger and only one plowing for every 9". That's totally irresponsible. You couldn't drive a car through that or an emergency vehicle (ambulance/fire truck). If he insists - pass. The potential liability is too great.

    My offer still holds.
  13. northernnewbie

    northernnewbie Member
    Messages: 31

    To clarify, 3" is the trigger not 9". A pass is meant to mean one clearing of the whole lot. For now lets forget the walkways as I don't even have a snowthrower yet:dizzy:

    This property manager is a bit on the shady side, I'll admit. I don't want to contract with this guy, I'd prefer an hourly rate. I offered an hourly rate right off the bat but he refused. This guy has people flake on him from what I hear. I might just insist on an hourly rate and say, call me when you need me. Cause I know he will when his usual lowballers no-show.

    Good advice, keep it coming guys!
  14. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,236

    Whether you are doing it by the hour or per push, you are contracting with him. Might want to work on your terms.

    You say he's shady and you still want to work for him? Why?

    If he'll screw you on a per push billing, why would he not screw you on an hourly rate, which is about 10X more likely to be challenged unless you check in and out with a manager on-site or have a GPS which proves you were there when you were.

    We are giving you advice, you're just not listening, so let me say it more clearly:

    RUN AWAY, you are going to lose money on this job.
  15. Mick

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

    Ok, we'll forget the 9" trigger. When would you start plowing and how many times would you plow if the site got 8" of snow in one storm? Then - how much would he pay relative to a 4" snowfall? For that matter, how many times would you plow this site if it got 4" of snow? How about freezing rain, followed by 6" of snow? What about the ice under the snow? You're not going to shovel the sidewalks? How are they going to get shoveled? And if someone else shovels, why wouldn't they also plow the parking lot? When would you start plowing and how often for a projected snowfall of 18"? Let's say the "lowballer" doesn't show up and the manager calls you. Let's say you and he agree on $15/hr. Now, you just said he's shady, so who is going to record the hours? How are you being assured of getting paid? Do you really want to plow only the really deep snowfalls that the lowballer doesn't show up for? How do you know you won't run into this situation: He contracted/hired the "lowballer". Lowballer doesn't show so he calls you. You plow the parking lot (but not the sidewalk). By contract, the manager pays the lowballer (or may have already paid - if it's a seasonal contract) for the parking lot getting plowed (WHO plows it is not relevant, only that it DID get plowed). Manager pays lowballer who refuses to pay you (the lowballer didn't hire you).

    My opinion - hire on with someone and plow for them this winter. You'll be way better off and learn while earning.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2007
  16. cjasonbr

    cjasonbr Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 635

    If i lived down the street from that account and contracted for $300, i'd probably have to move the next year. After i lost my shirt plowing it, i would be reminded every day how stupid i was when i drive by it.

    Yup, that's the type of account that can ruin your life........

    edit: what if you contracted for $300 and the shady manager stiffs you?!!! Talk about screwed! HA!
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2007
  17. northernnewbie

    northernnewbie Member
    Messages: 31

    I never wrote that there was a 9" trigger, where are you getting this from. I appreciate all the time you've spent on this Mick, I do. But it seems like some things I wrote are getting taken way out of context
  18. northernnewbie

    northernnewbie Member
    Messages: 31

    I am listening. I am just REALLY busy right now and don't have a whole lot of time to respond to everyones comments. I'm just reading them and taking it all in.

    What I am asking in no uncertain terms: What is a fair market price for the plowing on this site? Hourly, contract, per push, blizzard rate, by the inch however you guys would do it. I am listening.
  19. Mick

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

    I was paraphrasing your last post about the trigger NOT being 9". I must have misread, because I thought you said "forget about the trigger being 9" or something like that. Like you said, got out of context. My point was and still is that in a parking lot, you usually will not be able to push 9" like you could on a road. On a road, you can usually windrow every pass, where on a parking lot you'll either "carry" the snow to the end of the run or have some very big windrows trying to get it all to the sides. For a lot, you usually need to carefully form a plan of attack including when to start pushing and how you'll get the snow off the traveled area (Snow Response Plan).
  20. northernnewbie

    northernnewbie Member
    Messages: 31

    I've been trying to form a plan of attack for this lot, 'cause its shaped just like a bowl. No matter how you attack it you end up plowing up and out:cry:

    I'm going to look for sub work in the greater Bangor Area. This lot is going to give me nightmares, its out of my league for now. I'll be starting another thread on sub work:help:

    Thanks to all who chipped in with advice. I'd have probably ended getting stiffed and/or broken down this winter.