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First year plowing questions

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by michigan Joe, Nov 1, 2004.

  1. michigan Joe

    michigan Joe Junior Member
    Messages: 18

    Hey guys, it's my first year and I've got 2 dozen residental driveways. Plus 3 acounts are small neighborhood associations with private drives to clear. I'm pretty excitied to get started, any week now, but I'm still a little nervous for the first snowfall. I feel a little unprepared just because I've never plowed before, with anything besides a bobcat, and I want to do a good job for my costumers and not make it look like I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I guess what I really don't know is when the snow starts falling when do I go start plowing. I mean should I stand in my driveway with a ruler and wait for the magic number or is there an optimal time to start plowing and a time to not plow. Should I stick to a set number of inches and go or go at certain times of the day and night. Also one of the drives is a dirt road, is there anything different I need to do to plow it properly. I'd appreciate any help guys, forcast is for snow showers this weekend. :confused:
  2. progmc

    progmc Member
    Messages: 51

    I think that you already made your first mistake. Just for the fact that you jumped into so many accounts for your first year. You should start small and see how it goes. I guess everyones different but thats how I see it. This will be my third year and Im just now going to get a few more accounts now after just doing 5-6 the past two years, and am thinking about a back truck also.
  3. crazymike

    crazymike Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 639

    no offence, but do you have another job? They must be fair size contracts to make a living and come out on top.
  4. progmc

    progmc Member
    Messages: 51

    None taken :drinkup: But all im saying if the guy has never plowed before other then with a bobcat mabe he is getting in over his head. Thats alot to get the hang of all at once and still make your accounts happy. Hey mabe its just me. Yes I do have a job but if all goes well with yard care and plowing I may do that full time. Like I said I just wanted to start slow.
  5. Mick

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

    Get to know what your customers expect. I wouldn't even start out until the trigger is there. With driveways, they'll usually want to be plowed so they can get out for work, so start your route early enough so you're done by whatever time for the last one. Mine are staggered in time leaving for work from 4:30 to 9:30 and some not at all. A few have 4x4's and can get out without it being plowed, so they can be done later in the day. Get to know their schedules. Then plan your route combining efficiency and effectiveness - being to each one as near their time as possible, but not so your "crossing your own path". When to plow will usually depend on local custom. Here, we generally wait till the storm is over to plow - even if it's 12". Other parts of the country wouldn't tolerate a couple of inches.

    Dirt roads - Be careful not to "bulldoze" the dirt. This will be a problem until you get your first hard freeze and maybe even after that. Mark all boundaries - including each side of the entrance. Mark any hazard such as drop offs or ditches. Drive it a couple of times, looking for places you can "push off" a load of snow. You'll probably be angled and plowing to each side of the road, but you'll still want to dump the load as much as possible. Be careful of curves - it's easy to misjudge if you're trying to "push back the bank" and get too far over and drive off the road. A wing can help a lot in this situation. Try to plan which side you're pushing to paying attention to runoff from melting. Avoid having the melting snow running across the road - it'll cause a washout.

    Are there any other driveways/homes on this road? Pay attention not to push snow into their driveway. Or even into their yard - it may melt and run into their house. Always think about what's going to happen when this snow you pushed starts melting.
  6. michigan Joe

    michigan Joe Junior Member
    Messages: 18

    Thanks for the reply's. I thought I was starting slow I turned down 5 commercial lots in my town so I could concentrate on the residental acounts. I guess I am different. But I think I'm a little more comfterable with my 2 dozen jobs over your 5-6 seeing as how I have to pay my bills. There are other homes on the dirt drive but they're all summer cottages and they will be empty all winter. Any tips on how not to "Bulldoze" the dirt, My drive is dirt as well. Thanks again and keep keem coming.
  7. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    Put shoes on your plow till the ground freezes. If the ground is soft under the snow run over it a few times with the blade up to pack down some of the snow then if the blade still digs in try backblading the driveway the first time. then if it still digs in just leave it till the next day and try it allover again.
  8. Mick

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

    Also, to keep from bulldozing, you can "bump" the plow up an inch or so off the ground. Be aware that angling it will put the "low" side back into the ground - so keep it straight as much as possible. The trouble is that the first couple of snows, usually the ground isn't frozen and the snow is wet and heavy. Good planning here will go a long ways. Plan short pushes, keeping the plow straight if possible. Another possibility is putting a urethane edge on it. That will keep it from digging in. Check with a urethane dealer, you may need to wear your existing edge down a little before you can put another cutting edge on it.
  9. michigan Joe

    michigan Joe Junior Member
    Messages: 18

    Thanks for the advise. I went around to all my accounts today and put reflector stakes in the ground to mark stumps and rocks and driveway edges. I also cleared some spots to stack some snow. I cant really think of much else I have to do now except get my insurance, but I cant find a company to insure me for less than 3000 a year because its my first year. Does anybody have a good insurance company I should try.
  10. PremierLand

    PremierLand PlowSite.com Addict
    from detroit
    Messages: 1,572

    allstate is $120 a month for a mill $ policy. check em out!
  11. mole

    mole Senior Member
    Messages: 182

    Also If there is a big storm run with the storm don't wait till it's over. There will be way to much snow to move. I have been doing it for 10yrs and have 40 accounts with one truck. In buffalo NY we get snow and lots of it. Just go slow and do the best you can. Your not going to make everyone happy. Just take care of them.
  12. lawnmedic

    lawnmedic Senior Member
    Messages: 703

    As far as insurance look into Erie Insurance,,, there are several guys around me that use them... I use State Farm but I think they will only write a policy to an established customer... Rate goes by payroll. 1,000,000 liability costs 56.00 per month with payroll under 150,000...
  13. superiorlawns

    superiorlawns Junior Member
    Messages: 1

    Insurance costs

    Hello. I have farmers insurance and my million dollar liab. and 10000 insurance on my equipment and my bill is only 90 a month. email me if you want my agents number.

  14. michigan Joe

    michigan Joe Junior Member
    Messages: 18

    Thanks alot for recomending Farmers insurance, they gave 1mill snowplowing and general services coverage for $450 a year. That beats the hell out of $5500 I got from State farm. Thats also a weight off my shoulders, I can afford to be covered afterall. Thanks again, I owe you one. :drinkup:
  15. DeereGuy

    DeereGuy Senior Member
    Messages: 346

    M. Joe,

    make sure that your policy covers you after completion. I don't think all policies are written this way. It's important to be covered for the term of your contract even if you have not plowed the acct. that is suing you for a couple of weeks because of lack of snow trigger depth etc.

    $450 per season is half what I pay so I hope your policy is all that it should be. Of course, everything is more money in the Northeast so you may have even better coverage than I for half the cost.

    Good luck