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Help bidding large plowing job ( PLEASE!)

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by gtstang8706, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. gtstang8706

    gtstang8706 Member
    from MA
    Messages: 36

    Ok, So Im submitting a bid for my first big job. Im very excited, but a bit overwhelmed. Ill list the details below, any help would be great. Id like to try to come in on the lower end of the spectrum, as I really want to win the bid!

    The road that needs to be plowed is approx six-tenths (6/10) of a mile. Paved asphault.

    There are 32 double wide driveways

    There are 6 triple wide driveways.

    Two small parking pads, large enough to fit 3-4 vehicles

    3 Mail huts that need to be shoveled out, and 5 fire hydrants to be shoveled out.

    I also need to submit a seperate bid to snowblow or shovel 38 paved walkways, all varying lengths from 10'-25'

    Any help would be really great. I also have to bid on the lawn and grounds maintenance, anyone have any ideas for that? Thanks so much!:salute:
  2. PTSolutions

    PTSolutions PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,537

    sounds just like my HOA.

    what i did was come up with my charge per hour for the equip in there, trucks, machines, snowblowers

    then estimate how long it will take then multiply by our total hourly charge for equip.

    then come up with a hourly rate for labor for shoveling and do the same.

    as for salting, mine is also 6/10ths of a mile and I came up with about 1400lbs of salt per app x 60 apps for the season = total salt needed, cover that cost then also do 60 apps x your app rate for labor.

    mine is:
    6/10 mile road
    62 homes with double drives
    3 parking areas like yours
    1 mail hut
    all walkways at homes and garage doors need to be cleared as well.

    i estimated ours to take 4 hrs and it actually takes 2-3 hrs depending on snow. thats with 1 machine and 1 truck and 1 guy snowblowing. if its a lighter snowfall i just use 2 trucks and 1 guy.
  3. gtstang8706

    gtstang8706 Member
    from MA
    Messages: 36

    Thanks for the input. That definately gives me a start. Ive been plowing for years, both commercially and residentially, but never anything like this. I honestly dont even know how much to charge for plowing that many driveways and roadway in one package deal. They are asking for a flat rate for the entire season, which really puzzles me. Any other opinions on how to price this bad boy with a flat rate? I want to be fair to them, but also make sure i dont get burned. Thanks again for all your help.
  4. bgingras

    bgingras Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    one seasonal price huh? gotta go back and look at the average number of storms, what a worst case winter? figure what the cost per average storm would be, etc...I assume this is for next winter? What happened to the guy for this winter? the following story is why I'm asking:

    I plowed an apartment complex(5 lots, about 600 spaces and 3 roads) a few weeks ago that called because "their truck lost the transmission". I quoted an hourly rate per truck to handle the storm since it was a one hit deal. They agreed and I put 2 trucks on the site. Near the end of the storm a tenant mentioned to me that each storm this winter a different contractor had been plowing the place, different trucks, etc. I then remembered getting a call the first storm for 5 lots but didn't have time. Come to find out these guys just don't pay anyone and keep calling new people. I called a few times for a check, finally got another number and informed the gentleman that hired me that I'd be suing him personally as he guaranteed me the payment, the condo association that owned one building, and the listed property owners of the other 4 AND the management company that he worked for. He was shocked, said no one ever tried to collect like this, and I got a check 2 days later...be careful of bids in the middle of winter, make me more nervous now than ever before.
  5. procut1

    procut1 Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    I remember back in the day when you had to be experienced and qualified to bid a large property.
  6. blizzardsnow

    blizzardsnow Member
    Messages: 83

    How exactly does one become experienced if he never does anything? Remember we all, at some point, had to take a chance to grow our businesses.
  7. got-h2o

    got-h2o 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,440

    Amen. Gotta love the badmouthing in the Bidding and Estimating forum. That's what it's here for......to help. I actually strolled in here for ideas too. I'm going to have the opportunity to bid something similar. I do 2 larger seasonal accounts next door to it combo'ing over 14 acres plowable, but I've never bid drives. I've done drives, but never bid drives. I have a nice fleet, enough employees, lots of connections and 12 years commercial plowing experience. I have been in business for 9 years myself. Am I also inexperienced?
  8. gtstang8706

    gtstang8706 Member
    from MA
    Messages: 36

    Wow, that sucks! Cant really get any scummier than that! Yes, the bid is for next year. The job goes out for bid every 3 years and it expires the end of this winter. I need to give a flat rate per season, and need to bid on all three seasons seperately. Im guessing I should slightly increase the price on the 2nd and 3rd seasons? I cant predict the future, but Im sure that costs will go up within the next 2 years. Sound right?
  9. bgingras

    bgingras Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    a 3 year bid can be scary, what if fuel goes to $6/gallon or something crazy? This type of thing requires a solid history of plowing and snow management IMHO and some rolling of the dice. You could go broke for 3 years or you could make some good money. I'd be tempted to make sure I covered myself for increased costs for the next 3 years. Who plows them now and have they been doing it longer than this one 3 year contract?
  10. bgingras

    bgingras Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    I only see this kind of sniping and negativity when the economy gets bad and everyone wants all that they can get, they attack the little guys, and anyone who may try for a piece of the pie. Helping is always a good thing...Karma man, karma.
  11. gtstang8706

    gtstang8706 Member
    from MA
    Messages: 36

    The landscape company that plows now has only had it for the last 3 year term. And Ive been told several times how the HOA is not happy with them. Theyre a larger company, So I think they are looking for a smaller company. So Im hoping this is my shot!
  12. gtstang8706

    gtstang8706 Member
    from MA
    Messages: 36

    I know, Jeez. Thanks for sticking up for me!
  13. PTSolutions

    PTSolutions PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,537

    when you do 2+ year contracts you have to include a clause that allows you to increase price due to increases in fuel and salt costs.

    i keep my labor the same but if salt or fuel increase substantially they know i can increase the price for before that season.

    say if im paying 68 a ton for salt and make my 3 year contract at that price, but come the second winter i need to pay 75 or more per ton, there will be an increase just for the salt.

    fuel is trickier b/c its hard to track an avg. increase. but if you cant swallow a .50-.75 cent increase then your margins are too narrow. once you get to a dollar more avg. then its easier to get them to pay the diff. its a give and take, if you offer them excellent service then there should be no objections, they can understand the fuel and salt costs as you have no control over those.
  14. bgingras

    bgingras Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    For me quality equals personal touch. I have 2 trucks currently but I am in touch with the second truck all through a storm if it's out, and I still check my accounts myself.

    Question is what about the company are they not happy with? ?Some complaints are always understandable, others can be s sure sign of a problem client.

    Definitely include a clause for fuel and salt/chemical increases. I'd even have a benchmark in there to use for an increase, like a published average fuel price from a reputable source, etc. something that all parties can agree on and is easily documented in the event they contest an increase.
  15. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    While I understand how you feel, we are on a thread to help this guy.

    Gtstang, it's your job to figure out the costs of operating equipment & trucks.
    You describe the property but didn't list what you'd use to clear the snow.
    Give us some more details please.
    To offer you an idea on how I would handle this type of property: One L8000 plow truck with 11ft. front blade and 9 ft. side wing. Plow the road first, then come in with a blower on a tractor (something of size) and finally the shoveling crew would follow behind.
    Road: 10 min. tops
    drives & lots: 1 hour
    shoveling: three man crew about 2 hours
  16. x.system

    x.system Senior Member
    Messages: 368

    Just because they are not happy with them doesn't mean they will let them go, been there done that. I've got a couple I go after every year where they are unhappy with their current contractor but they hire them back every year. Good luck with your bid.
  17. gtstang8706

    gtstang8706 Member
    from MA
    Messages: 36

    Ok, well as of right now, I have an 01 f350 v10 w/ 8'mm

    I just bought an 08 f350 powerstroke dump. Havent decided on a plow for it yet Any suggestions on a good plow and sander for this truck?

    Obvs a couple snowblowers and quite a few laborers to shovel.

    Ive seen the company that does it now and all they have is an old ford f350 that does all the driveways and the road. I havent seen them sand/salt.
  18. LHK2

    LHK2 Senior Member
    Messages: 205

    Ah. The bigger must be better. Just watch what you get into. Remember, there is always a big storm just around the corner. Can you handle a big storm, 2 to 3 inch hr. The bigger the property, the bigger and more trucks and equipment needed. I like small lots, in and out even with heavy snow, you can still get them done. Also, correct spelling is Asphalt
  19. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    Most guys think: "I'll add a extra truck" to complete bigger jobs. Have you tried to think outside the box?
    One of the easier and cheaper things: if you don't own a skid loader, with big enough projects you could find a guy to sub the driveway part and just plow the roads and over see a bunch of shovelers.
    Since you pay subs by the hour (shovelers included) as a business owner look for better and faster ways to clear the snow. Maybe a 8 ft. pusher with a pull back blade? Monster snow bucket, 100" plus on a decent skid loader?
    My typical snarky answer would be use a blower, but as you try to grow, the way I just described is easier.
    Why do I not like trucks? Because then you'll land this account and next year put up a post about how the piles from plowing are too big and advice is needed on what should be charged to move them.
  20. PTSolutions

    PTSolutions PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,537

    blower man is right. I use an 85" blower on my ASV, everyone loves the fact that they dont have big piles taking up part of their driveways come end of Jan-Feb.

    he was part of the reason i decided to go with this setup. I even blow back the piles we make from clearing the roads, this saves us tons of time later in the season by not having to make new piles.