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How the H*** did you do it???

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by wannabeplowing, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. wannabeplowing

    wannabeplowing Senior Member
    Messages: 209

    I wasn't sure where to post this so I figured this would work. What I'm wondering is how the heck did you guys start out?? I have been looking at starting to do my own snow work but I just don't know where to start, between having to register the company, the insurance, contracts, the money for equipment my head is about to explode!!!:realmad::realmad:

    What I'm wondering is how do I get into this business, I'm looking at getting a truck with a plow and going that route but should I start on a smaller scale? I am 21 and in my last year of college and have been doing snow work for a couple years for a company and really want to branch off on my own. Guys please help me out and point me in the right position!!

    Any advice would be much appreciated!
  2. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,756

    Well, you gotta be all in. All your money gets sucked into it, all your time and all your sweat as well. If you really want to do it, you just kinda gotta dive in. It may pay off or it may not. That's how it is with pretty much any business, but snowplowing is especially hard, because you can't really depend on an amount of money coming in from it. Unless you do seasonal pricing, but that's not very common in my area except with the really big companies. If your gonna do it, start looking for jobs and trucks now.

  3. creativedesigns

    creativedesigns PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,929

    Couldn't tell ya? I've been a Millionaire ever since I can remember, so I don't have any worries. BUT theres three people I know that can help you who come into mind, JD Dave, Triple L, or Grandview. :D tymusic
  4. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    What type of college degree are you getting?
    Whatever the answer is...do that instead of plowing! There's too many people doing it now.
  5. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,756

    Yeah, that too. Forgot to put this in my post.
  6. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    x3. I spent 9 years in a climate controlled office with a pretty comfy chair. Not once at that job did i find myself in a blizzard at 2AM wondering why the passenger side pin on the plow didn't get connected properly, or how I was going to get the plow back on the truck by myself. But at that job I didn't get to spend all my time yacking with these cowboys. So there's a tradeoff with everything.

    To answer your question. The quick answer is most of us learned the business by subbing out, and started taking on our own customers. Do some searching on the site, this has been discussed tens, thousands, even hundreds of times.
  7. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    That could be said about going to college.
  8. wannabeplowing

    wannabeplowing Senior Member
    Messages: 209

    I am a business management degree and don't get my first post wrong I will get that degree no matter what, I'm this close and there is no way I'm not getting it!!

    From the first time I was in that plow truck I was in love, for some reason I'm just like the rest of you crazy guys and really enjoy doing this stuff!!

    And yes I know this topic has been brought up before and I knew someone would throw out the whole "use the search button" comment but I feel like the majority of the guys that ask aren't serious about it and are just wanting to make some beer money. THAT IS NOT ME!! I am 100% into this and I just need to take that plunge and do it. That is why I started this thread I want some serious input from the guys who have done it because it was truly what they wanted to do
  9. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Well in that case, you're one of the gang. Or gaggle. I don't know. Hated school, skipped that day.

    To start, you need a truck and insurance. Like any business, there's a startup risk factor. Hopefully you have time to start landing some jobs. Maybe the company you worked for before will take you on as a sub. That makes it a little easier. Then it's just baby steps.

    Remember What About Bob?
  10. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    Didn't mean to trivialize your post. Make no mistake about it I hate doing snow removal. It came along with landscaping which I used to enjoy ( it has killed my body ). The best advice I can offer is start small and do a great job. Don't take to much work and not be able to deliver. Word of mouth is big in this business ( reliability mainly ). Remember, do great work and your name will get around.
  11. wannabeplowing

    wannabeplowing Senior Member
    Messages: 209

    I need to just take the plunge and go for it, how will someone ever know if it will work if ya don't try!!

    And I wouldn't be able to sub for the guy I work for now, he is the biggest company in the Fargo/Moorhead area and does all work in house being we have a bunch of equipment!! But maybe there are other companies around that I could sub for.

    Any other advice from buys would be greatly appreciated!! And thanks for all the responses already.
  12. AiRhed

    AiRhed Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    I pretty much just went down the exact road you're traveling. I'm 23 and finishing out a degree in Construction Management while trying to work my way through.

    Have you taken a look at what it takes to start a business? It's not hard, but it's not easy...if you know what I mean. Actually starting the business is pretty simple, not failing is the hard part. The main reason most small businesses fail within the first year is simply because they run out of money, not work.

    What I did was choose a name to operate under. I chose MCM Outfitters. (Mikes Central Minnesota Outfitters) After you choose a DBA(doing business as) name you can chose a business structure. Corporation, Limited Liability Corp(LLC), Partnership, Sole Proprietorship etc. I would suggest you start as a Sole proprietorship under an Assumed/DBA name. To each their own, but this is the simplest structure and a good place to start. You can always file as something else next year when you are more familiar and comfortable with the system.

    Once you've registered your business name and acquired a tax ID number you should visit with your insurance company about General Liability Coverage or GL for short. I am with State Farm and I have GL coverage for SNOW REMOVAL and SNOW REMOVAL only. My cost is $60 a month. If you do anything other than snow removal that is considered your MAIN employment you can get GL for that and it will cover SNOW REMOVAL as well. GL coverage follows you everywhere, as long as you disclose your various business activities. For me GL coverage for finish carpenter/general contracting is OBSCENE. So I have signed a piece of paper stating I will not be covered by my GL policy if I am conducting finish carpentry/general contracting work. I only did this because I know I wont for a while and I want to keep my costs down.

    After you've done this basic legwork it's time to find work and create some marketing material. I would suggest you create or have created a nice business card. You can buy pre-corrugated paper for printing business cards on your home computer. After that you can make up some flyers, get some truck graphics, and possibly some yard signs. I have been quoted $60 for digital/diecut color graphics on my truck, both doors. $30 for 500 business cards (printed and cut, I created them) from Digital Sollutions in St Cloud. And I paid $20 for 100 color copied flyers.

    As for finding work, post up that you're looking for subwork here, Craigslist, newspaper, Coborns, Cub foods, etc. Take what you can get.
  13. gd8boltman

    gd8boltman Senior Member
    Messages: 328

    If you are truly serious, look at trade

    publications, sites like this and others and ask questions. First things first, talk to a good accountant, and your insurance people to make sure you start out of the gate legally and knowing your expenses and exposures. Run it like a business, not a hobby, remember it's not the dollars you invoice, but what goes back into the business after the bills are paid and the slice that hits your rear pocket. Do not be ashamed of making money, after all, as a small business owner you take all the risk, and should be awarded for it. Good luck.
  14. AiRhed

    AiRhed Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    I didn't do that whole talking to an accountant thing. But I probably should have, and probably will before the snow flies. I'd say that's some sound advice.
  15. nicksplowing

    nicksplowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,226

    I started out with a 1976 full convertible blazer 17 years ago doing driveways only ;)and by word of mouth now i run 12 trucks and do 47 commercial locations the best advice i can give you would be to try it out on your own doing driveways,setting up some type of corp.,llc or s-corp, getting a business insurance policy for snow removal services and know that your gonna have to spend money to make money. Then with time,qaulity,dependable service will come bigger and better things plus using your knowledge in business management as well as degree will be a great stepping stone when you start trying to get into the commercial end of snow removal:salute:best of luck to you and i hope my long rant helps you:drinkup:

  16. wannabeplowing

    wannabeplowing Senior Member
    Messages: 209

    Thanks for all of the great advice, this thread has been more helpful then the ones I have found using the search function. Please keep the advice coming it really has been a huge help so far and the thread hasn't been around that long!!!

    THANKS AGAIN:drinkup:
  17. Tommy10plows

    Tommy10plows Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    Started out with a shovel, then runnng behind a Sears snow blower with metal wheels and one speed, graduated to a Gravely with a 42 inch plow then I really moved up, Got a 1946 Willys cj2a with a hydraulic pump between the seats that you pump by hand with your right arm to raise the plow. No heater, vacuum wiper that stopped when the engine was under load, That was over 40 years ago.

    Over the years the equipment got better, the route grew, and I met lots of good customers- average people, captains of industry, rich, poor,widows, widowers and in between. If I ran into them over the summer months I got a great amount of personal satisfaction in knowing that my winter job helped them to do their job.

    There is nothing so beautiful as my town, (or your own town for that matter) under the cover of a fres blanket of snow.
  18. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Jump in,the water is ice cold!

    Big question is do have a truck to plow with?

    Do a quick DBA on yourself this way you can get a business account opened up .Call an insurance broker and get 2 quotes one for just plowing and one for a landscaping business with snowplowing.Depending on what you want to plow (driveways/lots) gear your advertising towards that but you need to hurry contracts are all ready going out now. If it's just drives you still have a little time thought.
  19. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,935

    I believe in living life with no regrets, but if I could do it all over i would have gone for the pension.

    A good friend of mine came over one night with his lifted Ford pickup and plow and convinced me to get into plowing as a sub for the company he worked for. I started fresh out of college, as a sub, could barely make truck payments the first winter, but loved trucks and the freedom, and quickly figured the business out the hard way-no PS or internet back then. The only real advice I could give you is to ask questions and never stop learning. Don't know if I would do it all over again.
  20. Dubliner

    Dubliner Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    I started plowing years ago with a John Deere B tractor with a loader and a plow, no cab, no heater, but I loved it, but there are times when you are out in a blizzard and you can't keep the snow off your mirrors, and your wipers keep icing over, you wonder...what the hell am I doing here...Then you get that 3 to 4 inch storm, sun shining picture perfect day and things come back into perspective.....LOL