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Help me get my feet wet..

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by TSG, Oct 24, 2001.

  1. TSG

    TSG Member
    Messages: 76

    Glad the site is back up :)

    I think I'm going to offer snow plowing to my residential lawn customers (approx. 20-25). I have done some searching through the archives and found it helpful. If you could help with some specifics.. I would appreciate it.
    FYI... Most of the drives are approximately 75' x 8-9' with the end opening up wide enough for a 2 car garage. They are all asphalt.

    I set up my pricing based on 2-7" accumulations and 7-12" accumulations.

    Are these good inervals?

    What kind of a price jump for the 7-12" accumulations? If 2-7" is priced at $35 then 7-12" is...?

    What about over 12"? Price increments per inch over that? I have been working on a contract for the last couple of days and this is what I put in for accumulations over 12"...

    In the event of accumulations over 12 inches (due to circumstances beyond our control), TSG... reserves the right to bill accordingly at $75.00 per hour (one hour minimum charge). Good or bad?
    FYI... Truck is '95 Dodge 1500 SLT 5.2L with 114,000 miles & a trans cooler. I will be getting a newer 3/4-1 ton next year.

    From what I've read a Sno-Way plow may be best for me because of it's lighter weight. The closest dealer is about 50 minutes. I have a Meyer dealer less than 5 minutes which I visited today. She (very nice lady) told me to go with a STP-7.5 (7-1/2' 660lb. poly blade) based on the info above. She quoted me a price of $3270 + tax installed. She said she liked the toggle control over the control pad and that it would be cheaper as far as repairs.. comments? Am I going to need to modify the front end to accommodate the weight? How much weight will I need in the back?

    Should I check out the Sno-Way plows... is 50 minutes too far?
    Sanding & Salting residential asphalt driveways... Do I want to do this? I would be using a walk behind speader. Will the salt eat up the drive?
    Holidays... Do you work X-mas eve/day, New Years eve/day and charge extra? Why or why not?

    That's all for now... any help will be appreciated!!!
  2. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    Welcome to the nutty side of Lawnsite! I'll go for a couple of these & hopefully others will help with some of them.
    If you go with the Meyer & you're concerned about weight, the steel version is actually a little lighter. Not knowing much about plows & their repairs, it might be better to stick to the closer dealer, maybe its not really a concern. A couple of people here run Snow Ways & they've had good things to say about them. We plow snow when it snows, doesn't matter if its a holiday or not, it needs to be moved. Salting is a good add on money making service. The salt will do more damage to the surrounding vegetation than the asphalt, and there are deicing products available that are less corrosive for use on concrete surfaces. All snow or ice events are beyond your control LOL If not, you could make a whole lot more money from us at this forum by sending snow into our markets when we desire it! Good luck!
  3. BOSS Adam

    BOSS Adam Senior Member
    Messages: 122

    Timbren Load booster for the weight in front. Work excellent easy to install.

  4. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    One nice thing about a SnowWay if you have to do a lot of backblading - their plows can be equipped with a "downpressure" system. This is a double acting cylinder for lift/lowering the blade so you can apply weight to the cutting edge, making backblading more effective.

    The reason ploy plows tend to be heavier than their steel counterparts is they require a more robust framework to bolt the poly moldboard to. The steel plow gets some of it's strength from the steel moldboard - kind of like comparing "body-on-frame" to "unibody" construction.

    Have the transmission checked out, serviced and any repairs done as required now so it doesn't "go south" on you sometime in January! Not saying there's anything wrong with your trans now - just have it checked before snow starts flying!

    In the event of either your truck or yourself being down for a day or two, having someone available as backup is a good idea.

    Snow work is a "service" industry - like BRL said - it snows, we plow!

    Welcome to the wacky world of snow!
  5. TSG

    TSG Member
    Messages: 76


    Thanks.. Yeah 54lbs. lighter. The kind lady pointed that out. With plans of a new truck next season she advised me to go with poly.

    I know snow falling from the sky is beyond our control :)... but the amount that accumulates on the drive can be controlled to some extent...

    Anyone else with more specifics...?

    Thanks BOSS..
  6. Shady Brook

    Shady Brook Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 75

    I would get a CCR 2000, or a 2450 by Toro, and call it good. If you hustle, you can clear alot of snow with a good Toro fast. It is way cheaper then a plow, especially when you are going to get a new truck, more designed for plowing next year. You may not get all 20-25 customers for snow. I do about 40-50 percent of my lawn customers snow. Some have blowers, or friends to do it. You may have 10 customers, and a shiny new plow that you could have easily handled with a blower. I know many guys plow with half tons, but I would not dare to do it. 3/4 or better in my book to handle that 700 pounds hanging out front. Just my opinion, but really consider the blower, and look to a plow next year.

    Have fun

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    Well, I'm one of those who's had two 1/2 tons with western proplows mounted, and would do it again in a minute. (In fact, we are next week with a 1500 Dodge).

    I love 1/2 tons short boxes for residential work!

    No way am I using a blower if I have a 4 wd already. Even if you get a new truck next year, maybe you will want to keep the 1/2 ton for a backup, or for an employee to drive some day.

    Remember though, the 7 1/2 foot plow you put on this truck wont be big enough for the 3/4 ton next year.
  8. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Well, a 1/2 ton Dodge can handle a Meyer steel 7.5' plow no problem. My brother has had one on his 95 Ram 1500 since the day he brought it home. It handles it fine, and he abuses the truck pretty bad when plowing, and just plain bad the rest of the time.

    He never had a truck problem due to the plow. He wanted the truck to handle the plow better, so he got a 2" Superlift lift kit for it. (New coils up front, add a leafs in the rear, and new shocks.)

    In your position, I wouldn't have any concerns about getting a Meyer, as long as the dealer will give you the support when you need it, not if, but WHEN. Also, I would run the 7.5 ' ST model. I too like the toggle switches with the older E-47 pump, and with the E-60, the touchpad works well.

    Like BRL said, no real worry of salt damage to the asphalt. Most residentials will not go for salt, some that have steep drives will, and some high end clients. Sand I would not use, but that is a whole other arguement.

    The residential customers like to see the increments the way you have them, especially if everyone else breaks it out as 1 - 4", over 4" - 8", etc.

    How close together these are to each other would influence my pricing. If they are all in a one mile radius, as opposed to a 10 mile radius, it would be different. Especially since you are only running one truck. The faster you can get them done, the better. If they are all on the same street, then it is a dream to plow them.
    If there is room next to the garage for a snow pile, even better. Backdragging driveways is not fun as we all know.

    Also, on many driveways, even downpressure wouldn't help scrape to blacktop. The fact is, most driveways just aren't that flat. Steel won't conform to the surface. There are other materials used for plow edges, with Urethane being the best for backdragging IMO. But Urethane is a whole other topic.

    Welcome to Plowsite.

  9. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    "Also, on many driveways, even downpressure wouldn't help scrape to blacktop. The fact is, most driveways just aren't that flat. Steel won't conform to the surface. There are other materials used for plow edges, with Urethane being the best for backdragging IMO."

    Good point. Unless the driveway is a year or two old, there will most likely be depressions where the tires roll every day that wont come clean, even with Uthane. You will soon discover how much of these snow valleys the customers will tolerate. Try to anticipate beforehand if you will need some hand work on the drives and price accordingly.
  10. TSG

    TSG Member
    Messages: 76

    Shady Brook.. Thanks for the suggestion but I'd rather sit in my warm truck and plow.

    PINEISLAND.. Why wouldn't the plow go on the newer truck.. the woman said it would. She said all I need to replace is the mount.

    Chuck Smith.. Thanks for the welcome and the info. I've been a lurker for quite some time. A couple of questions... How do I get assurance of dealer support? Why would you run the ST over the STP?

    Most of these will be within a 5 mile radius with many being groups of 3. I will have plenty of room for snow piles. The rest will be as far as 10 miles... Any help on pricing... from increment to increment?

    Why is backdragging not fun?

    Bill.. Thanks

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    Most people would probably agree I think that a 7.5 ' on a 3/4 ton full size truck is too short to cover your turning radius, at least on my Fords it would seem to be.

    DYNA PLOW Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    pineisland, i agree with your point that a 7'6" is just a tad to short for a full size truck when having to plow while turning. i had one on my old truck and experienced the same thing.
    however if you are only doing straight drives that are narrower then a 7'6" will work just fine.
  13. Dockboy

    Dockboy Guest
    Messages: 0


    If you price it at 2-7" and 7-12", on a 6-7" storm you will probably have to go there twice:mad:

    I do 2-4" for $X(1 trip), 4-8" for 1.5 x $X(2 trips), 8-12" for 2 x $X(3 trips), and 12"+ for 2 x $X plus(3+ trips).

    Just my $.02
  14. TSG

    TSG Member
    Messages: 76


    If I have to go there twice then they will be charged for 2 trips... what's wrong with that?

    More qusetions...

    Approximately how long should it take to clear a 90' x 9' driveway?

    At what height does snow become a problem to push? Is there a big difference between pushing say 6" and 12"?

    From what I've seen the Maryland - DC area averages maybe 20" per year... is this right? Doesn't seem like enough to make decent money.. especially on residential. Should I rethink this?

    This morning I asked one of my customers what they did about snow removal... She said.. "We have someone do it. Why.. what would you charge?" I said.. "I'm still working (researching) on pricing." She said.. "Well he charges $25." I said with eyes wide open and jaw dropped... "Really?" Blah Blah Blah Blah...

    I was in too much of a hurry to bust out the measuring wheel but I did hit the tripometer on way out... not including the large parking pad (maybe 40' x 50') it was 1/10 of a mile to the road. How many feet is that?

    I had visions of $35-40... Am I thinking too high?
  15. wolfie

    wolfie Senior Member
    Messages: 174

    I wouldn't do a driveway that big for $25.. I think $35-$40 is more inline... There will always be someone out ther that will work cheap though... and then again I would imagine it makes a big difference in the market where you live.

    As far as the difference between 6" and 12" that depends... if it's a light fluffy snow there wouldn't be much difference at all but if it's wet and heavy there will be a very big differnce in how it plows!!
  16. Dockboy

    Dockboy Guest
    Messages: 0


    It's not a problem charging for the second trip as long as it's in the contract. The way I took your breakdown was $35 for a 2-7" storm. If that is $35 per push, make sure the customer understands that.

    I have found that it's much easier to deal with 2-4" accumulations than 6"+ accumulations. That's why I break my contracts down the way I do. The minute I know there will be 2" on the ground, I start plowing. If we get 7", by the time I make it around for the second push, there will only be a max of 5".

  17. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Many people will say they can get a better price in hopes that you will match, or beat it. Maybe he does charge $25...... but maybe she is pulling your leg.

    There are 5280 feet in a mile. One tenth would be 528 feet. (a tripometer is not very accurate for that short of a distance)

    Is the drive only about twice as long as the parking pad?

    Shady Brook: I can't imagine going up and down 75' drives with a snow blower. How long do you estimate it would take with a snow blower? With a plow, you have two passes and then clean up at the ends.

    By the way, how do you guys that clear drives with snow blowers eat your donuts, drink coffee (or hot chocolate) and listen to your CDs without slowing you down?
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2001
  18. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    "Many people will say they can get a better price in hopes that you will match, or beat it. Maybe he does charge $25...... but maybe she is pulling your leg. "

    Apparently she is not happy with her $25 job or she wouldnt be soliciting new contractors.

    You wont get it if you dont ask for it.