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Help me get started!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by mzarlenga, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. mzarlenga

    mzarlenga Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 3

    Hey guys, new to the forum and plowing. I'm 16 and am in high school and I have a lot of questions that need answers before the snow starts coming down. I have been doing driveways in my neighborhood with a buddy of mine with our two snowblowers for probably 3 or 4 years now. Over that time we've done probably around 75% of the driveways within a quarter mile radius of my house, and that's a lot of houses. Every time we had a storm and were off from school or whatever we would just go around door to door asking people if they wanted their driveway done and it worked great since I already knew some of the people and got to know a lot more through doing it. With that being said, it helped a lot with my lawn care business as well so I already have some customers asking about snow removal for the winter since they know I recently got a truck with a plow. Well, that truck is sold due to a blown tranny, and I'm looking at getting a new truck tomorrow, but it doesnt come with a plow. So my first question is regarding the truck: It's a 99 f350 7.3 diesel... do I need to find an entire plow setup that was specifically designed for this truck? And if not what components of the plow are designed to only fit this model truck? I was also wondering how to go about plowing in general since I am still a high school student. What happens when it keeps snowing and I'm still in school? Do a lot of people hire someone to plow if they are not insured if their prices are cheaper? How should I go about charging and payment? and do most plowing contractors only do one push or do they keep coming back and doing more until the snow stops? Sorry for the long post and all the questions. If anyone can help I really appreciate it in advance. Thanks,

  2. BossPlow2010

    BossPlow2010 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,069

    When i was in high school and had to plow or salt, I either woke up extra early, or worked after school. for the bigger storms that we got and school wasn't canceled the net day, I either went to school really tired or skipped it. I also skipped my 7th hour a lot senior year (it was an business class or computer class I believe.) You should get insurance no matter what. As for the how many plows each client gets, it depends. my residential usually only got 1 and it was at about before 8 am. commercial however, got 2-3 usually plus salting.

    hope this helps!

  3. peteo1

    peteo1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,660

    Yeah great advice for a young entrepreneur, skip your business classes.

    To the OP, first get insurance for any business venture you go into. If anything were to happen, and anything can, you need to be covered. If you aren't you could seriously put yourself behind the eight ball. You could be financially hurt not to mention your credit could take an enormous hit and being as young as you are that would be tough. Second, as far as the truck goes, you've got yourself a good plow truck to start with. I would start talking to other guys in your area about which dealer offers the best combination of pricing, parts availability, and support. You can put any plow on that truck but you will need specific wiring and mounts for the truck itself. Third, it would be a good idea if you could find someone you trust to plow for you while you're in school. Maybe an older friend or relative preferrably with plowing experience so they aren't tearing up your equipment or your customers property. As far as charging payments, its usually done on a monthly billing cycle and the amount charged is up to you. The number of pushes depends in a few things like the customers needs, amount of snow, etc.. For residential driveways we plow at 3" depending on the snow storm. If they only call for 4" then plow it once but if you're getting 6" or more them plow as needed. You'll never please everyone but its always better to have your customers mad because you plowed too often than not plowed enough. Hope that helps, good luck!
  4. nnusskern

    nnusskern Member
    Messages: 42

    I would approach everyone and have a set plan of what to do when it snows. Just be upfront that during midday events response time will be slower, but typically its ok cause most are out work. Im 15 i will be 16 in a few weeks and have 5 lawn customers and 8 snow. My plan is to have a procedure such as your drive will be cleared by 8 or 5 unless its a very large event such as multiple feet.
  5. R.G.PEEL

    R.G.PEEL 2000 Club Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 2,196

    First, congrats on being ambitious at a younge age.

    Do not go the "cheaper but uninsured" route. Its very dangerous to open yourself up to lawsuits. Pay the insurance and market yourself as "fully insured".

    How many times to return depends on how you structure your charges, whether its per push or per season. If its per season, just do it and keep your service top notch. If its per push, then discuss on signing, and ask how the customer would like to deal with that scenario. Also, make sure they know they can call anytime if they want another servicing.

    If you're going to make a business out of this, take the snow days off school and do the job perfect. As important as school is, a couple days won't hurt/make you stupid. Lets face it, most of us skipped quite a bit for less responsible reasons. I sure did. If you tell your parents/teachers/principle that you skipped in order to work hard, none of them will fault you for it.

    Good luck in the upcoming season.
  6. Flawless440

    Flawless440 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,543


    I started working for a one man show when i was 14. Turned 16 and got my own truck, this is bad advice but what i did was skip school all the time to plow and landscape. Dropped out of school, never finished and the summer job turned into my business. Now at 31 years of age this is it. There is no looking back now. Would i do it different? Yes, stay in school, go to college... Sure i make great money, I have all the toys, wife drives a nice Audi, but i only got another good 20-30 years of work in me. I have no retirement plan. The way gas is going this is the worst place to be. Not to mention everyone and their mom has a truck and trailer.
  7. Flawless440

    Flawless440 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,543

    Boss V is the way to go........ 4 years on mine, never even replaced a hydro line

    Going to do a flush and lines this year
  8. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    Can't stress enough what other's have said..


    You not only put your own credit / future in jeopardy, but because you're under the age of 21, and still living under your parents roof, you also put their financial well being in line for damage as well.. When you get sued, because of your age, your parents will get sued as well. Although every state has different rules about this, in general, your parents are your legal guardians as long as you're in their home, up to the age of 21... and longer if you're in college, and can be written off of their taxes

    Regular auto insurance doesn't cover snow plowing.... so don't be confused by thinking you have "insurance" . Snow removal / plowing / slip and fall insurance is different, and in addition to your regular truck insurance policy. Your regular insurance carrier must be notified that you're plowing as well, so they can insure the plow itself, and any damage caused by it's use.

    2. Read lots of threads here

    Lots of good information here, as well as some not so good info. It's up to you to do your research and to figure out what the good vs not good is. If I were you, I would start by finding someone who plows already and tag along with them. No better learning experience than watching another do the job right.

    Good luck.

    I wish when I was your age I was took the steps you're trying to make.
  9. BPS#1

    BPS#1 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,421

    Ambition is to be admired in this day and age of so many able bodied folks on welfare when their main and/or only disability is that they are lazy.

    How ever like has been said already......... only a fool would drop out of school and only a fool would try to go without insurance because its cheaper.
    Sure it may be cheaper today or tomorrow, but when you get sued or cause a wreck and your regular auto policy will not cover any of the bills because of having a plow on the truck........... come back and let us know how that goes for you.

    I can assure you it will not be even slightly pleasant.
  10. peteo1

    peteo1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,660

    Forgot to mention, as Dogplow said, there is a ton of good info on this site. The "search" button is your friend
  11. born2farm

    born2farm 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,310

    As others have said. Get insurance, do not cheap out. It is hard to be completely legal before your 18. Trust me, been there done that. As far as plowing in high school, get up early and get what you can before school and hit the rest after. Your pretty much stuck doing residential this way but commercial will come with time. I plowed all four years of high school and on my second year plowing while going to college full time. If you have any more questions feel free to email me goodman_snow@hotmail.com. I was in your shoes just a couple years ago and would be happy to help you.
  12. Nearbywork

    Nearbywork Banned
    from Boston
    Messages: 25

    ^ Getting insurance, like everyone has recommended, is Step 1. Shop around. Remember, you're buying a product, just like you would be buying equipment. Only in this case the "product" is a promise of the insurance carrier to pay should x happen. So don't be afraid to ask tons of questions--find out x...and y and z--and get quotes from several vendors.

    Also, tell the agent that you want to learn specifically about (general) liability insurance, not just commercial auto. The latter may cover damage to property from your vehicle, but you want to be covered for bodily injury, e.g. slip and fall.

    It sounds like a lot to think about, but don't be discouraged. You want to cover your bases. Kudos to you. At your age, you're well on your way. Do things the right way, don't skim on learning, and you'll kick some major ass.
  13. mzarlenga

    mzarlenga Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 3

    Thanks a lot guys I really appreciate all the help. So today I met up with a guy who runs a well known local landscaping business and will be working for him starting in a few weeks. He was real cool and said he'd be more than happy to have me come along on his plow routes during the winter to see what its about. So, I'm deciding not to go out on my own this winter since my dad wont let me plow without insurance anyway (and I havent gotten around to looking into getting insured) and I think the best way to go about it is to go along with him. So to plan for the future, what can I expect to be paying for insurance? Thanks again
  14. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    You met one nice dude to take you under his wing, so you can undercut him a year or two down the line. They don't make guys like that any longer...

    Insurance is based upon coverage, years in the business, location, location, and location.... Oh, yeah... Location. I pay about $1200 a year for just slip and fall....
  15. mzarlenga

    mzarlenga Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 3

    What if I dont have a registered business does the insurance go on the auto policy? And everyone talks about how you need liability insurance... What is slip and fall?
  16. Nearbywork

    Nearbywork Banned
    from Boston
    Messages: 25

    Slip and fall is a negligence case brought against you based on, well, someone slipping and falling. Negligence is a legal (tort) doctrine which basically means you had a duty of care in doing something (in this case snow removal), you breached that duty (e.g. you didn't sand when you were supposed to) and someone got hurt.

    You can't "contract away" negligence. As an example, say you're on a ski-lift and the lift fails and you get hurt. You can sue the ski owner/operator for negligence, and their contract with you (e.g. on the back of your ticket) isn't going to be a defense for them (assuming you can prove negligence).

    Similarly, your contract with your customers isn't going to defend you if, say, someone comes out and falls on a patch of ice (again, assuming they can prove you were negligent). But here's the real deal-breaker, i.e. why you should have liability insurance: Even if their case is frivolous--and there are folks out there that are lawsuit happy, especially when they see a commercial vehicle--if you don't have the proper insurance, you're still going to pay to defend yourself. With liability insurance, your insurance carrier pays those defense costs. It's expensive at times, but worth the risk if you want to be legit and scale your business.