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First Paying Job

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by mayhem, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. mayhem

    mayhem PlowSite.com Addict
    from Peru MA
    Messages: 1,016

    I am not a professional, nor am I planning on making aliving out of this. That said, I am taking on my first commercial job this year.

    My wife spent the summer as assistant director for a local summer camp, owned by a church a few towns over. I spent a fiar bit of time there and they're pretty nice people. One thing I heard alot was they really didn't like their plow guy...he was unresponsive and tended to bring his bucket loader to clear the place at the last minute instead of maintaining it and was charging them up the wazoo for it. Of course the flip side is its at least partially their fault for telling the guy to only come when they called or when it was really bad as they didn't want to get a big bill for him clearing the place when there is "only" 5-6" on the ground.

    I'm going into this with my eyes open and did my best to tell them what I will and will not do. I tried to make sure my pricing is very fair and I'm making a real effort to be generous as they really don't have a gold mine worth of money and I jsut want to be a nice guy and help a place out that can really use it.

    That said, below is a google map image of the place. Blue is what I need to keep clear, green is where I can put the snow. The driveway is probably about 800-1000' long overall, the big rectangle is a basketball court and is fenced in, circle is where they put a big tent up during the summer, but there is a big sign and a small ridge across the top edge. Blue triangle is a turnaround and dumpster...need to clarify if it needs to be kept clear or if I cna bury it.

    The place is unoccupied from about Halloween till mid to late April. Needs to be kept clear for propane deliveries and so the waterhouse/pumphouse is accessible (building with the blue strip going at it near the bottom center of the pic).

    Deal is I get $50 a push with a storm cap of $100. 3-4" trigger, which will be when I do my own driveway basiclaly. They want it to go longer, but I refused...the first long stretch of the road is down a small hill and we're in a windy area right on the lake and I'm afraid the snow will drift too deep for my truck to get through. In the unlikely event we have a severe storm that I can't keep up with and I need to rent something to clear it out with, they will cover the cost.

    I'll spot sand icy spots. Full sanding counts as a full pass and is not subject to storm total, so if we get a bad storm and I go there 5 times to clear it and twice to sand it, its a $200 storm.

    Minimum 24 hour advance notice of pending deliveries or property visits. I have a full time job and as such my service is "as available" around my work schedule.

    Shoveling is not included, but negotiable...if its a single entrance I'lljust throw it in.

    I have a Ariens ST824 commercial-rated snowblower to help if I get some heavy accumulation in some areas. They complained alot about the town plow filling in the driveway, but that happens to everybody's driveway...hit it a few times and its not a big deal to keep it open...the guy I'm replacing cited this as the reason why he had to use his loader so often.

    They are responsible for meeting before the ground freezes so we can stake out any specifics and obstacles like the well cap thts right in the lawn near the waterhouse. I've been told I can stack on the lawn and make a good sized turnaround. Once we get past the initial hard ground freeze it'll be ok, but I expect I'll have some trouble with scalping. I offered to perform labor only repairs for damaged areas, but they need to provide supplies (topsoil, seed, etc).

    This is a done handshake deal at this point, but looking for a critique from the experts. I'll be putting it in writing and asking them to sign off on it before I put steel to snow. I tried to set it up so I can cover the additional wear and tear on my equipment, yet still be generous to them as they are a non-profit. If it were a little parking lot I'd do it for free, but its not.

    Thoughts overall? How did I do? Is my pricing structure fair to both parties? Big storms are a crapshoot, but I'd say there are probably 3 events an average year where I have to do my driveway more than 2-3x in one storm.


    REAPER 2000 Club Member
    from 60050
    Messages: 2,230

    If this place is a few towns over I believe by the time you are done you are going to spend at least $50 in gas. Wear and tear on your blade over gravel is going to have you asking yourself if you broke anything with that long of a drive.

    I can see why the other guy used a loader. You may want to check out the "Yard Guard".
    Around here that place would go for a ton more per push but I don't know what your market is. Good luck.
  3. ss502gmc

    ss502gmc Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    Im in Mass also and I will say that I do a few cheap places like that and a generous price I would say is about $125 a push especially if its gravel your dealing with at all. If you break something on the plow or truck its probably gonna cost you more money than you make. I think bare minimum should be $100 reguardless. I highly doubt that any contractor would even consider doing that for less than $150. I know your not trying to make money off it but you need to make sure your covered for when something breaks because it will happen. Something as simple as blowing a hydraulic line is gonna cost you $50. So what ever you do be smart and dont screw yourself.
  4. NickT

    NickT Senior Member
    Messages: 707

    Holy cow I can see why they used a loader, reaper is right in saying the gravel road let's just call it that its not a drive,will be hard on your truck and plow and in my opinion even with your circumstances I think that price is a little low, you have to remember that yeah its 5 or 6 inches of snow may not seem like much but when you stretch that over 1000 feet its a helluva lot of snow to clear can't tell if its hilly but that would also factor in with drifts, good luck
  5. mayhem

    mayhem PlowSite.com Addict
    from Peru MA
    Messages: 1,016

    It is a gravel roadway, the consistency is about the same as my driveway so I'm familiar with the feel of the terrain.

    The place is less than a mile from my house and I drive right past it on the way to and from work.

    My neighbor runs a legit (read insured) plow business and used to do my gravel driveway for $25 a push. 400' long, 2 car turnaround and 4 car parking area at the top.

    Well I've made the offer for the work, they accepted and I'm a man of my word so a deal is a deal. Guess I was more generous than I thought i was being. Hopefully it'll work out for me and not wipe out my equipment...time will tell if I've screwed myself or not...hopefully not.
  6. snocrete

    snocrete Banned
    Messages: 2,862

    Good luck.
  7. mayhem

    mayhem PlowSite.com Addict
    from Peru MA
    Messages: 1,016

    ^^ Sarcasm noted. Duly ignored, thank you.

    Not trying to be a ****** here, but why are you?
  8. MatthewG

    MatthewG PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,400

    You asked for feedback, you got it. Problem is, the members on this website are not big fans of low ballers, and basically what you just did was cut the guy out who was doing the work for a much higher price.

    You said it yourself, the camp was unhappy with his work, but at least partially their fault for telling the guy to only come when they called or when it was really bad as they didn't want to get a big bill for him clearing the place when there is "only" 5-6" on the ground.

  9. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    Dude, you are going to end up paying them to plow. It's one thing to be nice and it's another to completely rip yourself off. The only driveways I ever plowed for free were my parents and my girlfriends at the time. Everybody else paid.

    You are going to touch a nerve or two on here with a scenario like that. I don't need to repeat what MattG said.

    I wouldn't do that for less than $250 or $300 a storm and that's just from looking at the picture, so it's a guess. It looks like a dirt drive and unless it's frozen solid...it could be a huge PITA.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  10. cold_and_tired

    cold_and_tired PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,247

    Mayhem, how much do you pay for your general liability insurance? You are insured, right? You're going to claim this extra income on your taxes, right?

    I think you are going to find that this new venture of yours is actually going to cost you money rather than putting money in your pocket.
  11. mayhem

    mayhem PlowSite.com Addict
    from Peru MA
    Messages: 1,016

    Looks like I've unintentionally become what I dislike. A lowballer. I actually thought this was a fair per push price in my area based on past experience as a plow customer and that I was being generous on the storm cap. Seems I'm probably mistaken.

    As I said, I do not own a plowing business, therefore I have no plowing insurance...I'm just a guy trying to do a nice thing for a nearby non profit and it looks as though I stand a good chance of having shot myself in the foot on this one. No good deed goes unpunished and I suppose I will get whatever I deserve out of the deal.

    The camp has agreed in writing to add me to their property insurance policy and I have made it clear that if something does happen that its going to be on their dime.

    If the camp issues me a tax form then I will be claiming it as income.

    Agreed the camp was leaving dumb instructions. Maybe the other guy was dumb for letting them, I somehow doubt many of you guys would have done what he was doing...odds are good he knows something I don't...lots of people do.

    Apologies to all that I've pissed off. It was unintentional.
  12. Brad3403

    Brad3403 Senior Member
    from Alberta
    Messages: 392

    Just curious how someone with no plow experience (or very little) accumulates over 900 posts on a forum supposedly designed for the snow removal industry. I don't mean to be an a$$ but there seems to be a lot of advice and comments coming from people with little or no experience in this field.
  13. Pennings Garden

    Pennings Garden Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 242

  14. mayhem

    mayhem PlowSite.com Addict
    from Peru MA
    Messages: 1,016

    Plenty of homeowner types here too, the forums cater to both pros and homeowners. I plow my own driveway and thats just about it for me and I'll be the first to admit that I am no expert, nor a professional plowman. Thats why I came to this particular group to ask for advice and criticism...and I got exactly what I asked for and deserve.

    I have virtually no postings in the commercial areas as I have little of value to contribute there, most of what I participate in is off topic, vehicle specific q&a and the homeowner areas.
  15. northernsweeper

    northernsweeper Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    I agree with everyone else, you're priced way to low. Congrats on your first PAY JOB though. I worked for Nationals last year, so I am also looking for my first PAY JOB this year.
  16. cold_and_tired

    cold_and_tired PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,247

    I think we've gotten our point across.

    With all of that being said, could you do their drive for free and claim it as a donation on your taxes? You might end up coming out better on the deal.
  17. NickT

    NickT Senior Member
    Messages: 707

    Anyway good luck mayhem I hope this works out for you, some people try to be a little harsh, but sometimes its hard to tell from just typing. Lots of keyboard tough guys out there. Hope you have a good plowing season.
  18. snocrete

    snocrete Banned
    Messages: 2,862

    Not trying to be a ******...just some harmless sarcasm, that was meant to be comical, but yet get my point across. As I read other posts after this one^^, I see others making the same/similar points(minus the sarcasm), and you starting to realize it. Hopefully you have learned something, and continue to learn so that you dont make the same mistake twice......Again, good luck.
  19. MickiRig1

    MickiRig1 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,617

    Your being used. That much gravel plowing should be at a premium price. Your tripping your plow constantly with gravel.That stresses your trip springs, other parts / mounts/ bolts/ connections/ shocks. You can't make anytime pushing. You have to go slow and play the up / down plow switch. If you do it "When they want it" You have issues with melted/refroze snow. Which makes more plow tripping issues.Plow shoes may help. But you still leave some 1 inch or so on the surface. I got in the habit of angled back dragging gravel drives the whole way. The blade bounces up but does not trip.I have piles 4 foot from where I need the snow. But 4 foot is an easy push on gravel. Vers 100's of feet forward.