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Giving estimates.. sidewalks? New to forum, Not a lowballer =)

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by bigjeeping, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    I am 20 years old and this will be my first year plowing.. I have a '00 v10 SuperDuty with a 7.5 Western plow. I'll be purchasing another plow truck within the next few months.
    I've been doing snow removal (with snow throwers) for 2 winters, and have had up to 40 accounts. I've done lawn care for 2 summers and this summer we went big with 60 accounts. There's no doubt in my mind I will have atleast 100 residential plowing accounts. I have decided NOT to do anything commerical since this is my first year plowing. Good decision? My "brother-company", 21-year old, has been doing business the same years as me, but this is also his first year plowing and he has already placed bids on over 4 commerical lots.... i think he's an idiot for doing this because he's never used a plow in his life and I told him he doesn't know how to quote the labor!!!!!!!! Anyway... I'm sticking to residential until I get the basics down.

    These questions refer to city size lots with 2 car width driveways, maybe 30-40 feet long.
    My question... when giving an estimate, do you or can you charge extra for walkway/sidewalk clearing? How much extra do you charge for salting?

    Is this a good idea....
    having 2 guys in a seperate truck come by all the houses I've plowed and clear the sidewalks/walkways so that I can just plow, plow, plow! With no distractions or down time?

    I am going to be running 2 plow trucks of my own, subbing a buddy who has a plow on his bronco, and possibly running a 2 man team with snow throwers (for extremely small drives), OR maybe having a team to do the sidewalks

    IM A PRO AT LAWN CARE, but plowing... (nervous)

    my "brother company" however... haha.... he's making all these commerical proposals and he doesn't even have insurance.... all he's got is a 2500 Chev with a 7.5 western... haha, I seriously chuckle over this all the time.
  2. Mick

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


    Yes, it's a good idea to plan your shoveling so it doesn't take time from plowing. That would be one way, unless you're using a truck with a plow to transport the shovelers. Yes, you would charge extra for shoveling walks
    & sidewalks.

    Lets look at what you're planning... One hundred accounts of 2 car wide and 30-40 ft long. You apparently have three trucks with reliable drivers. So, you have an average of 33 driveways per truck. Supposing 15 minutes per drive, that's an eight hour route for each truck. Plus drive time. Plus break time. Plus refueling time. Have you figured how much time will be taken driving from each account to the other? What about breakdowns? Do you have backup equipment and drivers? Or do you plan on just "taking up the slack"? between the two other trucks? What about when you have to clear them more than once per storm? You have effectively designed three routes of about 20 - 24 hours each.

    You say "fully insured" but insured for what? Your policy will specify exactly what you are covered for - Residential, Commercial, Municipal plowing.

    You say you've never plowed before? My advice - start with 8-10 of these and use only one truck with another as a backup with only yourself as a driver. If you're having others driving your truck, be aware that they are employees and subject to Workmens Comp.

    Snow plowing and Lawn care are very different animals. You will need to start early and it can't be put off for inclement weather. You need to plan your route carefully and travel them several times before snow season. You need to mark all driveway entrances and edges of all driving and parking areas. Nothing looks the same after it snows, not even an inch. Mark all bushes, hazards and anything that could get damaged by a truck, plow or snow pile. Mark all depressions and ditches. Mark any wires - like guy wires to telephone poles. Plan where you're going to push and pile the snow and push way back the first few snows to allow room for subsequent snowfalls. Carry a cell phone to call for help when you get stuck. One thing I found out - no tow trucks are available at 4:00AM. Figure - if you got into the jam, you have to figure how to get out.

    The bottom line - Plan, plan and plan some more. Think of every possible thing that can go wrong - because it will and some you didn't think about.

    Good Luck.
  3. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    thank you mick

    Great post mick, definitely put me on my toes.

    Should I buy markers and mark drives myself? Or is this up to the client to do? Do I charge them for the markers/keep them at the end of the season?
    Where can I get the markers for cheap?

    As I said I've never plowed.. so I don't know much about plow maintenance.
    My western 7.5 looks like it's in great shape, it moves around good... how should I maintain it and when?
  4. Mick

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

    Driveway markers come in all types of styles - some are expensive (to me, anyway - $5.00 ea) others are cheap (around 100 for $40 or $45). I got mine from Angelo's last year - 100 markers 4' high for $40. I see they're up to $45 this year: http://www.angelos-supplies.com/plowparts/catresults.pg?cat='Driveway%20Stakes' . Do yourself and favor and get the 48" ones. By the time you shove them in the ground, you'll lose 12", leaving 36". I've seen the 36" ones (24" above ground) get lost (buried) with an early snowstorm. By the 3rd or 4th push, you should have your boundaries pretty well established, but until then you need to be careful not to damage lawns, shrubs etc.

    I put them up myself so I know where they're where they're supposed to be. At the end of the season, I just leave them for the customer to do with what he wants. At forty cents apiece, they're not worth the gas and time to collect them. Then the following year, I may get them back or the customer may put them back up. Or some just stay up all year. Some disappear, but then I'll just replace them when I drive the route before the first storm (usually I go around in October).

    As far as plow maintenance, check out the web site for your brand of plow (Western for you). If you don't find what you're looking for, ask on here and you'll find as much help and advice as you want.

    (The link isn't working - I tried it again. Anyway, you should be able to "cut and paste" it.) If not, try doing a search for "Angelo's".
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2005
  5. Killswitch

    Killswitch Senior Member
    Messages: 246

    New member here but Micks already cleared me up on a few things.

    Thanks for all the great information Mick.

    Im from Southeast Mi too Jeep. Ann Arbor area.
  6. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    I'm also in A2. Born and raised. Well I spent 5 years in the U.P. where I developed my tolerance for snow. Do you run a business or just plow for personal? I'm always looking for networking.
  7. Killswitch

    Killswitch Senior Member
    Messages: 246

    Well its a long story but Im just starting a business. Ill be doing removals this year and complete Lawn and Tree care in season as well.

    Maybe we could chat sometime as Im into networking with some locals as well. Who knows.....maybe we can help each other out in a jam.

    Id PM you but cant yet which reminds me; how many posts do I need before that option works or do I have to check an option box. Im not unfamiliar with forums or this platform.
  8. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    From what I'm hearing on here, it sounds like it's good to have someone to call if you run into trouble. I'll have 2 plow trucks of my own (plus one sub), so if something did go wrong... knock on wood... hopefully I'd be able to cover my A** until things level out.

    I am looking for someone dependable who I can sub if I get swampped with business. I hear that turning down "good business" can hurt your name. So I'd be willing to sub out at 100% $$$$ just to get the work done and keep my name flowing until I can expand my capital to meet my company's demand.
    I have this bad feeling I am going to be swampped, all the time (yellowbook ad, and tons of flyers, plus 100 people I've serviced)
  9. Killswitch

    Killswitch Senior Member
    Messages: 246

    Well being as Im just starting out and only have a few jobs lined up so far I may be interested in subbing at least this year.

    We should definately hook up at any rate.

    Pm me your number.
  10. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping Senior Member
    Messages: 678

  11. Killswitch

    Killswitch Senior Member
    Messages: 246


    Ill email you tomorrow or soon and we can touch base.

    Heres a pic of my truck.

    99 1500 :eek: lol, and a 7.5 blade.