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Getting driveways done on time

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by CK82, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. CK82

    CK82 Senior Member
    Messages: 189

    Ok I have a scenario. Snowstorm began in the afternoon around 5pm, snow was to continue until around 3am. I started to plow around 2am since we were only going to get about 4 inches. I have 22 residentail driveways and 3 smaller commercial lots myself using a 3/4ton chevy with a western 8.6. I didnt get to some of the residentials until around 1pm (10hrs. after the storm ended). Ok i guess my question is how to I go about getting to the residentials in a reasonable amount of time? In my contracts I have in my contracts that more than one visit may occur and customer will be charge X amount for any visit after the intial visit in a 24hr. period. So i can plow them more than once but I didnt feel that was right since we only were getting 4inches of snow, I'm going to be in trouble if we get over 6inches. It took me 15hrs. straight to get the drive/walkways cleared. Should I hire another person, or should I have started earlier? Also do you think that I could get away with plowing the driveway only then returning then returning to clear the walkways? I feel customers would get angry if i began plowing at say 2inches and then again for the final 2inches. Sorry so long please help
  2. me1223

    me1223 Member
    Messages: 70

    as far as the residential lots go I would think you would be ok as long as you had them done within 12hrs of the storm ending.
  3. Ken1zk

    Ken1zk Senior Member
    Messages: 192

    I would look at the route carefully, look for the shortest commute between each job site. Sometimes on a second look you can see where you can save some time. Since you are new I will also say that with time comes speed. Over time you will get used to the various properties and you will get things cleared out faster as you work the route over the course of the season. I recently had to "Start Over" in a new area with new customers, and I know I will be able to do my entire route in 6 hours once I get used to the various locations. Last snow fall, about 10 inches took me 8 hours.:dizzy:
  4. douglasl330

    douglasl330 Senior Member
    Messages: 356

    Are the lots bussiness's that open early, or something you need to be done by 9 A.M. like a sub/ pizza shop or something like that?---- It sounds like you will jam yourself up with a large storm. You may want to see if you can get a helper truck for bigger storms. Do you salt or sand. You could bang the lots out an hour earlier 1 A.M. and then go back and sand? While sanding drive and push the little remaining around. Can you restructure your route that you do about 6-8 driveways before the storm finishes and then do your lots then finish up the rest of the driveways? Just thinking out loud-- with out knowing what you are exactly doing and the distance your travelling-- it's hard to give you sound advice, do you have clients that are less fussy? Maybe you could start them early?

    Good Luck!
  5. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    I understand your problem. I think waiting on the shoveling is a good idea, a must if you are to save time. I dont mind shoveling walks and steaps for people but they are told that it wont be until after I finish all the driveways and in big storms, that could be days. For that exact senario you gave, I would get out at 2-3" (more like 3") and plow all the residentials as quickly as possible, forget the shoveling or hire someone that can jump out and do it while you plow. It depends on how close your drives are togather as to how fast you can get them done. For a 4" snowfall, I figure about 4 hours absolute max to do my 37 drives that are all relatively close togather. If iam in a rush to finish by a certain time, i will do a fast job (enough so its semi acceptable) on all the drives so they can get out then come back later and clean up. I dont charge extra in this case as I did it be cause I was pressed for time.

    No offense intended at all, wish I had some better ideas for ya but it really should not take you 11 hrs to do a 4" snowfall with 22 drives and 3 "small commercial lots" as you describe them. Something is wrong. Come up with some times next time it snows and write them down! How much time are you spending shoveling? How Much time do the commercials take up?, and how much time does it take to complete the driveways?. How much time are you spending driving between accounts? Is traffic a factor? Should you try and plan your route so accounts are closer togather in the future or is this not a factor. Once you have the numbers, people can compare them to their times and give you a much more accurate answer. You will also be able to see where you are going wrong and iam sure people will have ideas for you to improve it.
  6. 06HD BOSS

    06HD BOSS 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,611

    Between myself and another guy we have 40 residential and about 5 smaller commercial accounts. On an average storm (less than 6inches) what we do is go out about an hour before the snows ends and hit all the really important ones that we know people will have a tough time getting around on. After the first 10 important ones are finished i can take my time and go around cleaning up the others. What makes it alot easier and time saving is to have the other guy hop out and bang out all the walks while i plow the driveways or lots...by the time im done plowing ill jump out and help clean up whats left on the walks and we're done. Under 6inches the whole route can be done in about 6-7hours.
  7. MikePH

    MikePH Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Hire a helper

    I preface all my reply's with the notice that I too am new to the industry.

    My plan would be to hire a helper. You sound like you are right at your threshold of maxing out your productivity. i.e. the only way to can make more money is put in more hours. If you are already putting in 15hrs, I'd say you are maxed out. If you employ a helper who splits your time clearing walkways, stairs, spreading icemelt etc... you could actually increase your account base. For my residential accounts I bill $45/hr for a laborer and I pay anywhere from $10 to $20 an hour to my helper.
    Therefore, In my case, I make anywhere from $25 to $35 an hour more with a laborer than if I work alone, plus I can double my work load. Of course, this only works if you have the billings/accounts and it's effectiveness will depend on how you have your rates/billings set up. For myself, when it all washes out, I expect I'll net about 30% more if I am able to keep a helper busy than if I work alone.
  8. CK82

    CK82 Senior Member
    Messages: 189

    I know that my drive time between jobs is too much, for instance one place takes 20/25min. to get to from the nearest job. I know compacting your route is the way to go but, I wanted these jobs and figured for the first year I would just deal with it as long as I could get things done on time it wouldnt be a problem. I was having trouble with the plow backdragging driveways, it was leaving a 1/4inch hard pack on certain areas of the driveways especially near the end and where the sidewalk crosses the driveway. I think I need to remove my shoes to keep this from happening, so basically what im saying is that it was taking a lot of extra time to get things cleaned up nicely. I include sidewalks and fron walkways in my quotes, so that is the mos time consuming and probably will hire a friend to help to those areas. Also being new to all these jobs, I will increase my productivity as I go along, at least I would hope so. I do salt some jobs also, and some jobs are more important than others, the businesses have to be done early so I'll make sure those get done well for the most part and return later to salt. Also I will have to open the drives up first then come back and clean things up for the heavy snows.
  9. JElmWin

    JElmWin Senior Member
    Messages: 232

    CJ:waving: summed it up pretty good. I used to do alot of walks when I first started. I even did an entire village! Money's not there though. Way I look at it, every time you get out of your truck it's $$$ lost. I wouldn't offer to do sidewalks unless someone asks you to do it. Leave that to the neighborhood kids. If your traveling 15mins. or more to do 1 job then you're wasting your time (unless it's a $100 job). Unless you have several jobs in that area. Tighten your route up, lose the people who call you and make you disrupt your route. Lose the deadbeats, complainers, slow payers. Try to set an average time per driveway. Lets say you're getting $30 for a drive and it takes you 10mins. If you do a different drive for $30 and it takes you twice as long, then say goodbye. Try to picture the most direct way to finish a drive in least pushes. Then don't waste time trying to get it "just right". Push in, back up, push into turn, back up, push out. The owners will clean up any little pile you might have left next to garage/sidewalk. If you're lucky enough to get a helper then God Bless you. I had one, he grew up, got married and moved away. You might also want to raise your prices some. You might lose a few. But you'll save an hour or two and will be taking home the same money. Plus there will always be more customers. I always pick up the same (or more) as I lose every year. And I always get done quicker and make more $$$.
    Hope this helps. Don't worry things will definitely get better.:drinkup:
  10. NoFearDeere

    NoFearDeere PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,724

    I had that problem also. I would take a hard look at what accounts you want to keep. If your just a 1 truck operation, just back off. This year I backed off and dropped a few accounts that were more of a pain than they were worth. Just think of this: I would rather have 15 happy customers than 30 unhappy customers. :nod: Just the other night it started snowing at 3pm and stopped at 10pm. I hit all my commercial lots that were open around 5pm to get them clearednand went out at 12:30am till 6:30am. So basically it took me 6.5 hours or so and that was 16 residentials, all with sidewalks, and 5 commercial lots. I spent a little over an hour on 1 lot too, so I am happy with my route this year. Just pick and choose what you want and you'll be fine.payup
  11. CK82

    CK82 Senior Member
    Messages: 189

    You guys are definetely right! Its just hard to turn down accounts because when your starting out they can be hard to get, also when there at $80 push plus salting thats well over $1000 that I wouldnt have in my pocket. I know that I need to tighten things up for the future and definetely will do so, there's more money if there close together, but for this year just have to get things done and keep people happy I guess, which I should be able to do.

  12. ???

    "Push in, back up, push into turn, back up, push out"

    I don't anything about plowing...still waiting on my first ATV plow, however...

    Why would you want to "Push in,...."

    Seems dumb to push snow into the driveway towards the garage.

    I'd say go in with blade raised, drag as much out as possible, then turn and try to push out. Drives are narrow here, trying to turn to push out is about impossible, plus, pushing snow into the street, even if you're going to push it along side the street when you come out, gets the City all excited.

    Overall, from what I've read on this site the last year or so, seems like plowing is a "making wages-supplemental job" at best. Long hours, night, no sleep, for a little extra pocket money unless you have the driveways all in one subdivided neighborhood and at $35+ ea.
  13. JElmWin

    JElmWin Senior Member
    Messages: 232

    Like you said you don't know anything about plowing.:salute:
  14. Mowerpan

    Mowerpan Senior Member
    Messages: 305

    What he said. You want to push in so you get the snow from the entrance of the driveway and where the sidewalk crosses the driveway. Then backdrag from the garage untill the snow meets the "push in pile" Then I back up and push this pile off to the side of the driveway, or corner of the grass by the driveway. As far as your driveways are concerned I'd really ditch the shoes, doesn't scrape as good. I tried my shoes and like others said, they suck for scraping. Ditch em.
  15. Snow-B-Gone

    Snow-B-Gone Junior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 14

    WOW:dizzy: 11 hours for a 4" storm. I have 16 accounts and that includes a small commercial one. A 6"-8" storm takes me about 5 hours and I still have folks complaining "where were you:confused: ".

    I've learned like most others that have been in the busniess for some time, stay in your truck if you can. I have even turned away customers because they said in order for me to get the plow job I would have to shovel. Don't be afraid to say no and turn down some jobs.....you'll make more in the end.

    It sounds as though your route is way too long......don't get greedy....the customers will come. I can't imagine my customers waiting 12 hours to be plowed out:eek: ....I would be on the way out!

    In years past I have only sanded/salted my commercial account. This is done by shovelling into the truck bed and shovelling and spreading by hand.

    This year though, I'm semi-retired in the winter so I am offering this to my residential accounts. They won't need to be sanded every storm.

    Well, I've gone on long enough......good luck:)
  16. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    First you say its dumb to push in then you say how you cant push out because its either 1)illegal or 2)impossible. So I think you answered your own question, your going to have to choose the "dumb" option.

    Plowing is NOT a "making wages-supplemental job" or translated into english I think that means "a job to supplement your income". Its many peoples primary source of income in the winter months when other aspects of their business are slower or stopped. If you do it right you can make alot more then "a little extra pocket money".