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How Much Can One Truck Handle?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Avery07, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. Avery07

    Avery07 Junior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 19

    Hello everyone. I have spent several years in lawn maintenance and am now offering commercial and residential snow removal services. I am starting to worry that I may have too much on my plate but at the same time, I may be very well under what I can handle.

    Commercial List: 4 McDonalds, 1 24/7 gas station, 1 bank, 1 storage facility, and 4 other relatively small commercial properties.

    Residential List: 15 homes and counting.

    I am running an 04' F-250 Diesel with a 7.5" Western plow. I also have a worker riding with me all the time with a Toro 621 QZE blower in the bed. The truck is also equipped with a small Western salt spreader.

    Anyways, If someone could help me out to see where I stand with my current clients. With my residentials, I will have up to 24 hours to clear them after the snow is finished. I'm just worried about keeping the McDonalds and gas station going. I plan to start super early in the morning but understand I don't always get to decide that.

    Think this is too much, not enough, or just right?
  2. bristolturf

    bristolturf Senior Member
    Messages: 435

    Id say your in over your head. Youve got commercial places to get opened up in the morning probably by 7 am id venture to say. Most companies start at the 1am 2 am mark. And with out doing bulk, Id say that thats going to cause problems. Mainly becasue as you salt you should be passing by and viewing your previously salted account so you can see if it needs to get some more or whatever. Id strongly suggest looking for a sub to take on a few accounts that can help you otherwise i think you will be hurting.

    the company i work for does 14 accounts and we run 8 pieces of equipment 5 of which are dedicated on site machines at 3 different locations. But still we have 3 pieces running to do 11 accounts plus then a sidewalk crew and thats gets a little trickey on a bigger snow fall.
  3. gwhalen3

    gwhalen3 Member
    Messages: 99

    You will be very busy!! But THAT'S the point right. Good job. Good luck
  4. Italiano67

    Italiano67 Senior Member
    Messages: 645

    Put some wings on that plow.
  5. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 9,090

    I see yourself struggling with this many accounts and one truck, if it was me I'd find a sub or add another truck and have your helper run it.
    You'll find McD's, the Gas Station and Bank will keep you busy (depending on the contract). Then you have the storage units, 4 small commercials and finally the 15 rezi's to deal with. Even if your rezi's are cool with you hitting them after the storm you'll find yourself spent before you get to them. After spending 8-10hrs you'll be fatigued and then you're opening up the door for mistakes, possibly causing property damage and all the money you just busted your hump for just went up in smoke. We all think we can take on anything thrown in front of us, we're guys and it's the way we're wired, but the truth is we do have limitations.
    Another thing to consider is what kind of back up plan do you have in case of a breakdown. Having a sub or another truck really comes in handy when you're troubleshooting/fixing the truck.
    I'm a one man/truck show, my route takes 5hrs and I also sub for a friend which adds another 2hrs. I do a mix of commercial and rezi's and I wouldn't want to take on anymore. My buddy is my back up and I'm his, this year I had a pump issue and ended up being down for about 2hrs. It sure was nice to be able to call my buddy to pick up the slack.
  6. 04tundra

    04tundra Senior Member
    Messages: 153

    let me first say that im no professional but here are my thoughts. take it for what its worth.

    what kinda of triggers do you have on these accounts? if you have a 1 inch trigger for all 4 mcdonalds then you basically need a dedicated machine and operator for all 4 sites..

    MIDTOWNPC PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,554

    It's all about the times
    Make a spread sheet with the times u have to have them open by and how long they take
    Leave a space between each one and put the travel time to the next on
    Total the times up.
    Figure out a few scenarios. Eg u don't want to plow McDonalds at noon but I would say it needs to be done at say 6am, 10:30 and 4:30
    That way it's before the Rush. Get to the gas station before morning traffic. timing is key.
    I would get wings it will save you alot of time at gas stations. When u salt that gas station put lots at the entrance an cars will carry it in
    Around the pumps alot cause cars are warm and dripping off slush.

    Your resi accts have lots of time as u have said
    I think your fine and well I use to do 56 commercials
    With 2 trucks and a bobcat but timing was key. You will be fine. Plot a few options and draw it out
    Think about backup. Make a friend.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011
  8. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    What a 7.5 plow you got to be crazy and have the work load thats crazy Good luck
  9. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    I think you're in WAY over your head. Why would you take all that with one truck?
  10. Avery07

    Avery07 Junior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 19

    The McDonald's properties need to be clean and open by 6:00am. I haven't hammered out details with the owner as to how much service they need but it was my understanding it wasn't going to be 24/7. In Kansas, we really don't get a whole lot. Maybe 5 storms a year ranging from 3-7 inches. I think they are assuming the snow will be done falling by 6 and if not, I will come back every few inches. I mow for them as well and they basically let me call shots as I see them. McDonald's is responsible for another 3 commercial and 2 residential properties on my list.

    My gas station needs 24/7 service. I figure every inch or two will be fine.

    The bank (adjacent to the gas station) needs to be clear by 8:00am.

    The rest of my commercial properties are non-critical but need to be taken care of in reasonable time.

    My plan was to start at 1:00am at the gas station. Then move to the four McDonald's 2:00-7:00a, returning to the gas station and then the bank at 7:00am, having it cleared by 8:00am.

    I can then begin tackling my non-critical commercial lots while continually making passes at McDonald's and the gas station as needed. After the snow has finished, I will do a final cleaning of the commercials and then continue on to residentials.

    When I write it out like that, I really don't see the problem. Also, I am currently working on the back up plan. I have a friend who plows and can have a couple contractors on call as well. Additionally, I am looking to purchase a crappy plow truck as back up.
  11. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    You really dive right in there don't you. I agree that you're in over your head and If you don't get a sub you are in some trouble in my opinion. I'm assuming the Mac Donald's aren't right next door to each other, although in some places it may seem like they are. So drive time is going to factor in to this quite a bit as well. I think you need a second truck and it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a third as a back up truck just sitting unused in case of an equipment failure or to put your helper in on those big storms.

    If you don't get some help you are going to have some very upset customers unless every storm you have is only 2-3 inches.

    Furthermore I think even though you told your customers that you would service them within 24 hours, they thought you meant 2.4 hours. When it comes time to go to work and they can't leave their driveway most of them will be upset. Some customers don't mind it, but they are tough to come by.

    You need help or you will regret entering the snow plowing industry.
  12. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    Its almost impossible for us to give you a solid answer. To me it seems like you have too much going on. A lot will depend on the locations of the accounts. You have to almost plan on worst case scenario storms. Huge storms, people tend to understand a bit more but around here anything under a 12" storm is kind of no big deal as long as you made a few passes just to keep them open then clean it up nice when the storm is over. A few things that would bother me if I were in your shoes, you only have one truck, hopefully you have a friend who can back you up if needed. Second would be that your commercial accounts are demanding ones, the least would be the storage place. The problem with these types of accounts is they all need attention at the same time basically, they all expect to be open by a certain time. As far as the rest, they shouldn't be treated any different. Third, you need to either get some wings or just a bigger plow, I would go for wings for this year. Even if wings or a larger plow can save you 3 minutes of work on each lot it's money well spent. Very few people understand, they just want plowed with no excuses. To be completely honest with you, and I've been in your shoes and have been doing this since 2003 but my PROFESSIONAL OPINION is you have too much for one truck. This is what I would do, take what you can comfortably handle in 4-5 hours and either look for a sub or look to sub out the rest to another company. Ive made some good connections/friends hiring their company for things I couldn't do or handle. Build slowly! I hope this helps you and kudos for being aggressive, it reminds me of when I first started.
  13. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    Brian, there is a difference between being aggressive and being stupid. This to me is stupid. The "Build slowly" is right on.
  14. Avery07

    Avery07 Junior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 19

    This isn't my first rodeo. I have played in the shallow end in the past. Last year I worked 10 residentials with a blower. The previous year, I maintained 2 subways and a handful of rezis. This is my first true year diving in. I can add another truck if needed. My reason for posting was to see if one truck can handle this as during my previous year, I have never came close to reaching capacity, often finishing by noon.. with a blower at that. My subways were done before 8:00am, starting at 6:00.
  15. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    Well the answer to your main question is a resounding "no."

    Take the advice, or don't. But you asked if one truck could handle all of the work and everyone said that it can't.

    If you get 2-3 inch storms that start at 10PM and end at 1AM you'll be fine... Hell all of our lives would be much easier, but unfortunately it doesn't work like that.

    Furthermore in snow plowing you must abide by Murphy's Law or else!
  16. Avery07

    Avery07 Junior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 19

    Thanks for the advise everyone.
  17. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    Listen, don't take this all the wrong way, we're not trying to be a**holes, we're honestly trying to help you.

    Best advice is to find a sub, split the work up and hope for the best. If you can find a good deal on that beater back up truck you spoke of then jump on it. It won't hurt and a cheap plow truck doesn't go down in value. If you find that your sub isn't necessary and everything is going smoothly, then drop him, no harm done.

    You don't want to burn your bridges, especially if these are existing customers that you service in the summer as well.
  18. clark lawn

    clark lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    from NE ohio
    Messages: 1,233

    If you don't know how long each of these lots is going to take how the hell were you able to price them properly?
    That being said around here the Micky d's are not a high service location neither are most gas stations. I've stopped at Micky d's for breakfast before and had the manager ask me if I could plow them because their guy probably wouldn't be there til some time after noon. It all really depends on the level of service they all expect.
  19. mnglocker

    mnglocker Senior Member
    Messages: 923

    Ditto that. Get some wings ASAP.

    You'll be fine, just busy as all hell and if you get a big storm you'll probably need to get a buddy with another truck out.

    N/M I just caught the 15 ressis. Get a sub ASAP. Stick them on the simple commercial jobs or on all the houses.
  20. MGV

    MGV Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    The plan sounds like it may work at best if the snow stops during the morning. What about a heavy snow storm during the day ? you have to figure travel time will be longer. All the commercials will want you there to keep the place open. I don't think you will be able to do it with one truck and a straight blade no less