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how much to get started and is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by stevesmowing, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. stevesmowing

    stevesmowing Member
    Messages: 78

    This year was my 2nd major year in the landscaping business and I have been thinking whether or not next winter I want to get into snow plowing or blowering. This is just a side business for me as I am a full time student. Right now I only have a f150 2wd truck. If I wanted to be able to plow I think I would need to find another truck to plow with or just get a snow blower. It would just be on residential drives about 15-20 feet by 80-100 feet. What are the going rates for a residential drive this big? How much would it cost to get either a commercial grade snow blower or a used truck and plow that will be half way decent. How many of you guys are glad you got into plowing and how many wish u wern't.
  2. qualitylawncare

    qualitylawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 501

    In Webster, expect to get about $6-10 per driveway, unless you can find some really good customers who are willing to pay more for quality service.

    I have an $18.00 minimum and really limit the amount of customers I take even at that rate..

    Just don't let people talk down your price..

    Good luck! :waving:
  3. Mick

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

    I guess, like anything else - "it depends". You'll find people who'll dispute this, but I've found that, just to start out, you'll need:

    Decent 4wd truck (at least one - two would be better to have a backup): $10,000

    New plow: $3500

    Commercial Vehicle Insurance: $1500

    General Liability Insurance: (varies greatly - for NY, probably about $1,000)

    Advertising: $100 (minimum for local shopper and cards)

    Sander/salter (optional): two-stage tailgate model about $2,000

    You can expect very little income the first couple of years: maybe $3,000 to $5,000. My first full year was less than $1,000.

    How does this compare with anybody else's experience?
  4. kl0an

    kl0an Senior Member
    Messages: 215

    For $6-10, I won't even start my truck.. For $18, I won't even drop my blade.. You guys need to organize up there..

    Someone once posted something on here about how the local guys will see a newbie and invite him to breakfast and kinda let him know what's happening. Pass referrals back and forth and all that..

    Double driveway, 80-100 should be at LEAST $30... And that's if they give you a couple of referrals for other jobs.. If 6-10 is all you're getting for a driveway, my vote is a NO for getting into the business there..
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2004
  5. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    Mick summed it up the best. :nod:
    For $6-10 a drive, everyone in this area would have a snow covered driveway. Bare minimum around here is $25.00 and that's for the smallest drive.
  6. johntwist

    johntwist Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    I'm with you brother. I'm surprised at that low of a price too. Shocked even.
    When I used to pay a guy to do my driveway which is 2 1/2 cars long by 2 cars wide, the minimum I paid was $25.00 and the max $45.00 one time when my regular guy got tied up and I couldn't wait for him. And like I said, I have a small, flat, newer blacktop driveway with no obstacles whatsoever. There's no way I'd invest nearly $4,000.00 on a new setup if I was looking at earning chump change like that. Talking about low balling! It'd take you 5 years just to make back your initial investment. No thanks!
    If someone offered me 6 to 10 bucks, I'd smile, reach into the back of my truck and as I handed it to them say, "You just bought yourself a new shovel!" :yow!:
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2004
  7. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    Mick, my first year I think I made about $1500.00 :( It snowed a whole 3 times that year but I KNEW I was not going to break even. It was a whole new ballgame being out on my own. But now I've established myself around town and have gotten my name out. Last year was my best year so far. I plowed 17 times and pulled in almost $21,000.00 :nod: :redbounce Hopefully this year will be better.
  8. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176


    Your dead on again. That is why they come and they go and you see in april lots of nice rigs with plows for sale. They gotta learn the hard way instead of reading here and taking heed. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2004
  9. qualitylawncare

    qualitylawncare Senior Member
    Messages: 501

    My route should bring in almost $95,000 so I wouldn't call every business around here "chump change".. I said, you need to find the right customers and get into commercial plowing and private drives.. Where if you don't have REAL insurance, and REAL equipment you don't get the job.

    There is good money around here, with commercial lots being plowed 30-40 times per season. Just need to do some searching!
  10. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    If you were to ask most of the plowers here that have done it for a few years I think they would say they plowed mostly for the enjoyment plus a little return on there investment. Thoes that do it only for a living would tell you to start with $50,000 and go up from there because you need that much in equipment, advertising, insurance, shop, and other related overhead just to be competive.
    I think that is ware subing for someone else comes in to play. that way your only investment is a plow and insurance.
    You must reserch your local market and see if it is a wise choice. It is not only the cost of your equipment that is involved but how much demand there is in your area and also the local market pricing.

    ask yourself,
    can you charge enough to make a profet after expences?
    How do you feel about unpredictable hours?
    Is there enough snow in your area compaired to plowers for you to have a share?
    Do you need the income?
    Can you cover your dept from some other income if there is no snow? if so how much?
    How would you fee if you had to close down in 2 years? (75% of new plowers fold in the first 4 years.)

    This is a little food for thought!
  11. snoluvr

    snoluvr Senior Member
    from RI
    Messages: 266

    Glad I do not live where you are! In RI, we average $25-35 per driveway.In our big storm last December, I was getting $50 minimum.People were calling like crazy to get the 3 foot drifts off the driveways. My first year plowing for myself I made over 15k, and have grown since then. I NEVER plow for family, friends, etc..They all expect something for nothing, but they dont figure you $700/month payment, plus insurance,fuel and such. I scout out commercials during the summer, hit them in Sept. and follow up in Oct..works for me.
  12. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    I plowed 37 driveways in my first year, a few were friends who i did for free, the rest paid me. For the driveways i do during the average storm i make about $1,100 maybe one or two flag downs in small storms so add $40. Big storms, i make up to $2,000 from my regulars, up to $500 from friends that call in a panic because they can't shovel 27" and will give me just about anything to plow their drive. Then falg downs which get me about $200 in a big storm. First year, plenty of snow, made back the money for the plow + a few grand... great right. Yea. subtract gas, insurence, repairs, etc. and overall i must have made about $1500. I was elated and real lucky to make that much my first year, the only experience i had before that was in my driveway. Last year it felt like I made more money, it always seems like alot after the storm. I ended up with over 10 grand in my bank account at the end of last winter (not all from plowing but some) and alot of that went toward, the truck and insurence. You will make money, it will just take a while. I think i make alot, but iam only 17 and if i make $1,500 in 3 months iam very happy.