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I've searched, and I'm confused

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Kends, Sep 20, 2001.

  1. Kends

    Kends Junior Member
    Messages: 6

    Okay, I know to use the search first. BUT, there are so many post it gets to be impossible to find an answer.

    This will be my first year plowing. I have a few questions.

    I have been looking at the Hinniker 'C' plow. Since it's my first year, I figured most of my customers will be residential. What do you think?

    I have been doing lawn service for a couple of builders in my area (South of Chicago, Joliet area). I do all thier model homes and town homes. I need to put bids on 15 driveways all double wide and about 30' long (3 different subdivisions within 5 miles of eachother). With them being model homes they are all together. They need the sidewalks done and the walk to the front door as well. Also need to salt them. How do you price?

    I know you need to know the cost of my time first. I've got that nailed down. So, how long does it take to do a driveway?

    I've heard...That you can normally charge the amount of money you charge per cut. But, does that cover the walks? I don't know.

    Let me know if you can help.

  2. Mick

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

    For that size of drive with sidewalk, you should consider an 8hp snowblower. Besides, you need to consider maneuverability and cost of plow vs cost of snowblower. What type of truck do you have?
  3. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    I heard some pretty poor report on Hiniker plows over the last few years. These problems my have been fixed but I am not sure. I would do a search on Hiniker I think you will find some interesting info.
  4. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,031

    I too have heard some not-so-desireable things about Hiniker. If backdragging is a concern, consider a SnoWay plow with the Down-Pressure. It has worked great for me. No problems what-so-ever.

  5. 66Construction

    66Construction Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    Just a thought.....have the builders deeded the roads over to the city yet. I know some of them around here have problems with pump stations, rain water problems etc. and can't deed the roads to the city but can build and sell houses but have the burden of being responsible for sweeping the roads, plowing etc. You could make a quick buck plowing the roads to a subdivision, they're easy to plow and you're already there, the downside is it's only a temporary thing but it's easy money.
  6. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    It kind of depends on your location. (Go to your profile and fill that in). A double wide drive 30' long is small. A full size car is close to 15'. With just an average 8' straight blade you should be able to knock that out in about 5 minutes (give or take a couple minutes depending on your experience/skill) Add about 5 to 10 more minutes if you will be shoveling the walk.

    Around here, mid-Michigan, a drive that size would br priced from $25 to $35. Some guys do the walk to the front door included in the price, some charge extra. I think everybody would charge extra for the sidewalk along the road.

    I worked for a guy last year that has about 200 drives that size. And a few comercial (apts. and banks) With three trucks we knocked them out in about 6-8 hours. We shoveled walkway to front door and also did the streets in one of the subs. Didn't salt any of the residential, just the comm.

  7. Mick

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

    While I agree that filling in the profile helps, to his credit he did say he's from South of Chicago near Joliet. He's got 15 drives in 3 locations of model homes. He would have to buy a plow, but didn't say what kind of truck he has. All the drives are 2-car width and 30 feet (30'x15' approx), plus sidewalks and walkways that he can't use a plow on. I still think his best bet would be a snowblower. Lower initial cost, more manuverable and can be used on all surfaces. Alternatively, he could use a pull-plow which attaches to the rear of the truck with the front-mounted plow. Unless, you're going to be doing more plowing than these, I don't think the cost of any plow would be justified. For salting, you could use a lawn seed/fert spreader with an adjustable spread pattern. Pricing? For something like that, maybe triple cost of material? Mostly depends on what your market will bear. Some people charge per application so it will vary based on the amount of material used (heavier with thicker ice etc). I charge a uniform price regardless of amount used and plan to average over applications. That method seems to be most common in this area, but we use mostly sand/salt mix.
  8. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    A snow blower??!! I wouldn't do 5 drives with a snow blower let alone 15. Using a plow, figuring 8 minutes per drive, would take 2 hours. They are going to pay the same $ amt. to have the drive cleared regardless of how he clears it. With a snow blower, it is gonna take at least 30 minutes, and 30 minutes x 15 = 7.5 hours (out in the cold), not counting the time to load and unload. That is 5.5 hours difference.

    Sure the cost of the plow will consume a large portion of your profits, but you also have at least 5 extra hours, so why not line up some more customers.

    I am just guessing at the amount of time it would take with a snow blower, since the last time I used one was 15 years ago. But I could plow a drive that size and be gone before you unload and start the snow blower. I can gaurantee that it would take at least twice as long. So your $/hr is cut in half or more. I have found that in most cases, the easiest way is the most cost effective.

    Another point to consider is the life of the snow blower vs. the life of the plow. As well as the cost to maintain either.

  9. Mick

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

    DaveK - How are you going to do the sidewalks and walkways?
  10. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    Kends - Just want to make sure that you know that if you get a snowplow, you will also need additional insurances. Commercial vehicle and commercial liability insurances is what you will need. If you get a snowblower, commercial liability insurance is all you need.
  11. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    I would suggest at least a 10hp snowblower for this job. 15'X30' is a small space and I would say that it would be difficult to plow and more likely to leave the driveway messy. Snowblower should be easier to be manuverable and will clean the driveway nicely. Your customers would be more likely to keep you for many years. For this job, I recommend John Deere 1332DDE snowblower. It is a Tecumseh 13hp snowblower with a width of 32". It is a HEAVY DUTY snowblower and should last for years. It also comes with heated hand grips. To learn more about John Deere snowblowers, go to this link:


    I do not mean to start a brand war but I have used John Deere snowblower last winter and they did a great job. It is known that John Deere makes high quality equipments. It may cost little more than other brands, but really, it will be worth the money.

    With those sidewalks, you will be tired out pretty quickly if you use the shovel. What if there is a big snowstorm that bring a foot or two of snow? You will be glad that you have a snowblower. If you use the John Deere 1332DDE snowblower for 15'X30' driveways, it would take about 6 passes along the 30' length. That would take an estimate of about 10 minutes for a 6" snowstorm. Since you have three subdivision, you would only have to load and unload the snowblower on your truck only a few times.
  12. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    While I agree that JD MAKES good stuff, they also buy from vendors who make crap and put green paint on it. Not sure now, but JD blowers used to be made by a company called Noma. Quality is comparable to MTD, which isn't much. If they're not still Noma they may be something they got in the Green Machine buyout a few years ago. That line is now Sabre with the little tag "made by John Deere" stuck on them, same junk that the Depot sells as Scotts. With all the buyouts and rebadged stuff out there it's best to look closely at any machine, and buy on how it impresses you, rather than buy on brand loyalty.
  13. AtlasFBG2

    AtlasFBG2 Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 62

    I really cant believe you guys are telling him to buy a snowblower.Whats he gona do later in the year or the following year when he has a option to do a bank,grocery store,etc..Say sorry i cant do it plowsite.com talked me into buying a snowblower instead of a plow.And as others said its gona take twice as long if not more to do them with a blower.
  14. Mick

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

    He would still have the snowblower for sidewalks, etc. Then he would have the business to justify a plow. Most major plow contractors have a sidewalk crew with blowers and stick plows etc. Plus, he can now bid jobs that others would pass because they would need snowblowers for entry ways and sidewalks.

    But that's based on speculation, actually. It seems this is another "One-post Wonder". A lot of posts back and forth with maybe this and maybe that, but no more input to clarify his situation which would help us to help him.
  15. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Mick, I'd do the sidewalks the same as always. An assistant with a stick plow.
    But 15 drives does not make him a major plow contractor. Last year I worked for a guy that did have sidewalk crews. Until I showed him the benefit of having one sidewalk person per truck. He used to have about six guys walk through the sub and shovel all the walks. They would get tired and cold. Now when the truck pulls into the drive, one guy hops out and starts shoveling, by the time the drive is done, he is done. This cut his "sidewalk" crew from 6 guys to 3. And now they work faster because they aren't as cold and tired. They get a minute or two of rest (in a warm truck) between houses.

    AtlasFBG2, I agree. If he buys the plow now, he can add customers without a problem. And can still use a shovel for the sidewalks. The extra income from new customers could then buy a snowblower. Or pay an "assistant" to shovel it. With a drive that small, I can't imagine the sidewalks are that big. If you do get a big storm, you can always shovel twice (during and after) since you would probably plow twice anyways.

    WXMN6, What would be so difficult about plowing a 15x30 drive? it couldn't get much easier. Are you sure you aren't a John Deere dealer? ;)

  16. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    DaveK - I don't know exactly what kind of 15'X30' driveways you are thinking about. Some can be easy, some can be hard. This kind of driveways more likely have garage in front of them. So that mean you would have to pile up the snow somewhere than in front of garage door. What if there is obstacles on one side or both sides? Like fences, garden beds, basketball hoop, trees, bushes, etc. How would you do that? That would involve alot of backdragging and that do not always do a neat job.

    No, but I do know pretty good about John Deere equipments. They never let me down and I am always satisfied with them. So that is why I am so strong about them. :)
  17. Kends

    Kends Junior Member
    Messages: 6

    Thanks for the help so far. Here's a couple of answers/questions to your replies.

    2000 Ford F250 Super Duty.

    I have a 10hp snow blower, self propelled, 22" cut. (good for walks)

    There's no way I'm going to do 15 drives with a blower.

    These 15 drives are not the only thing I'm working on. I just wanted to understand how to bid these 15 b/4 I start pushing my services any farther.

    I've been having a pretty good year so far, and will be able to purchase a plow.

    I'm not a "One Post Wonder". Sorry, I had other obligations this weekend, and couldn't sit in front of the computer. I really apreciate all the responses, and the help. You guys have helped me with many other things, and you continue...

    Thanks for the advise on the insurance. Being in the Lawn care business, I would hope the insurance that I have is enough, but I will check with Insurance guy. Thanks!

    The subdivision streets are being plowed by the village, no chance for me to get that...I've tried.

    Once again, thanks for the help, and I'll work on my profile!!

    Take care,
  18. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    If you're already involved with lawncare, I believe you will still require a snowplowing "rider" (terminology?) on your policy, but you shouldn't have to start from scratch.

    Did you try a search under "Hiniker"? There shouldn't be t-o-o many posts to read through, from what I have read you might be better off with either a V-plow or straight blade up front and a rear plow as well, to cut down on the backdragging.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2001
  19. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    A garden tractor with a plow and a tow spreader would work alright if thats all he was going to be doing
  20. plowjockey

    plowjockey PlowSite.com Sponsor
    Messages: 622

    Two years ago when I first started I only had an 18hp tractor with blade for driveways and an Agir-Fab 125lb pull spreader. I did the salting for a 109 home private plat with this set up being followed by a pick-up with safety lights and the salt. It only took aobut an hour to salt the whole plat. (about 1,250lbs)
    I look back to those days and am sure glad that I have moved up from there but it did a good job on a very limited budget. The plow on the tractor did a good job on the driveways.