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Looking forward to getting cold and wet!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Chem, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. Chem

    Chem Junior Member
    from SW Ohio
    Messages: 5

    Well let me introduce myself, my name is Aaron and I been snooping through the forums for a few months now! :bluebounc

    I plan on starting a snow removal business this winter, I'm not looking to get rich, but further my education in the business field with some hands on experience.

    Right now I'm in the stage of pricing everything, I plan on buying a snowblower(http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_07188755000P) and doing the local newer neighborhoods(one has ~50 homes, other has ~100 homes). I plan on pricing the homes at $25-$45 per driveway, sidewalk leading up to their door, as well as their sidewalk.

    A few questions I have are the following:

    1. How much is insurance going to cost me? A rough estimate would be okay.

    2. How much gas does a snow blower use?

    If you have any tips or information for me, post away!

  2. 06HD BOSS

    06HD BOSS 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,611

    what kind of insurance? Depending on what kind, prices vary so much its impossible to say. My general liability with property and inland marine is almost $1000. Thats a 1&3 million policy.
    As for the gas question, i have no clue.
    How many out of those 150 new homes do you plan on doing? You better buy a couple blowers and hire a couple guys that dont mind the excersise.
  3. red07gsxr

    red07gsxr Senior Member
    from meriden
    Messages: 256

    i wouldnt even get insurance, u cant tear up or hit anything snowblowing, plus do u realize how long its gonna take to snow blow all of those houses. goodluck on that one. ur gonna need a fleet of snowblowers to do it. get a small tuck with a 6 1/2 foot plow and make use of it. save ur back and legs from walking and pushing. prime example, dodge dakota v8 4x4 short bed reg cab. fits in tight spots and had a v8 to push the heavy stuff. then plow insurance would be worth it. no snowblowing 150 houses.
  4. 06HD BOSS

    06HD BOSS 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,611

    Thats a great way to run a professional business...:rolleyes:
    I can attest to seeing a guy put rocks through a window before...anything is possible
  5. Chem

    Chem Junior Member
    from SW Ohio
    Messages: 5

    Thank you for the response!

    I drew up an excel sheet, and so far my expenses are $2,068.97 going off of your insurance. I'm assuming my insurance will be a bit more due to my age(21) as well as being a new business. My credit is fair, it looks great but it's all small things such as little credit cards with small limits, cell phone, ect..

    Using my excel sheet, I figured out that doing 25 homes per snow storm, and having three a year I'll pull in a big profit of $181.03. Although I'd prefer to make a few more dollars then that, but I'm willing to settle for that.

    Out of the ~150 homes, I feel I can sell myself to 25 of them easy. I'm young and i'm not too bad at sales. I recently was a debt collector, and if you can manage to get some people into paying your pretty good. I was the best debt collector in the company! xysport

    I also plan on removing snow from my mom's, girlfriend's parents, grandma's, as well as an older lady I used to work with for free. My mom and grandma live in normal neighborhoods, so maybe some people will see the magnetic signs on my cars. My girlfriend's parents live in the newer housing neighborhood(~50). All the homes are $150,000+ and up(that's our rich homes in this city). The older lady I used to work with lives in a newer housing neighborhood(~150) as well. I figure these rich old bags:p will see how perfectly their drive ways look I'll get flagged down to do theirs.

    Thanks for the advice as well as to any future advice you give as well as others,
  6. ScnicExcellence

    ScnicExcellence Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    three times per year you would go out?

    I charge a minimum of 2 times per month from nov 1st to april 1st

    I also collect this minimum before the season starts it will cover my expenses for the year and i expect there to be about 30 to 35 plowable events this year in my area. but i can live off of just the minimums per month provided i get 30 contracts.

    just for conversation not arguement.
    $150000 is the rich area and those are nice houses?

    I wish i could find any house in my area for $150 000 lol i would be all over it especially if they were considered rich houses.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2008
  7. Chem

    Chem Junior Member
    from SW Ohio
    Messages: 5

    I'm debating whether or not to set up contracts or not, actually sort of confused. Do you charge them a seasonal fee or do you set up a contract that you'll come whenever there has been a snowfall of 3"? I think the seasonal fee would kill me.

    Is there really 30-35 plowable events a year? I was expecting 5 at the most! What do you consider a plowable event? I figured a plowable event is when school is canceled due to snow(3-8 times a year here).

    Also, do you think this would be a good way to get customers: The day after the first LIGHT snow fall I would go to every house around 6pm handing out my business card and introducing myself as well as my business or should I go after school lets out and hand a flyer out to whomever is home, whether it be the kids or the home owners. Handing out my business card after 6pm I feel would be more benefical because they'll be able to put a smile with my business card rather then joe 'drunky' schmo. But, on the other hand, leaving my flyer, who knows how many of them will actually make it to the home owner?

    Another question(as well as a few more after this :) ),Will I need to have commercial insurance on my car? I plan on putting a hitch on it and pulling a trailer(MORE EXPENSES FOR ME TO ADD!!! GRRR) that will have my snow blower on the back.

    After reading hours and hours on this forum, I have come to realize, you guys hate getting out of your trucks to shovel. Do you guys contract the shoveling out? What I was thinking, I could pick up some commercial snow blowing from the guys that don't want to.

    If I was to hire a worker(shoveler), how would I pay him/her? w2? 1099? How do you pay them? Do you pay them for the hours they don't work but are with you? Let's say, you spend 5 hours working, and 3 hours driving for the whole day. Do you pay them 8 hours worth?

    Any idea on the weather for Ohio this winter? Will I break even or will I be pulling in a nice income?

    Also, the town I live in has a crappy economy. There are 5 nice neighborhoods in our city, the rest are normal houses. It's a small town also, less then 20,000 people. I believe there was around 10,000 in 2000. We finally got a wal-mart 2-3 years ago.

  8. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Especially for your first year I would go on a pre snow basis to charge customers. You KNOW what you will be getting paid and the KNOW what they will be paying. Welcome to the site too.
  9. ServiceOnSite

    ServiceOnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 950

    welcome to the site.

    now is the time to start looking for customers. i think its a little far feched to do all of this work with just a snow blower. if i were you looking to get into this business id have to say go and work for someone else your first year and learn, ask a lot of questions and then try your own thing. good luck:)
  10. Chem

    Chem Junior Member
    from SW Ohio
    Messages: 5

    So I did some thinking, a truck is a MUCH better idea. At the end of the season I should be able to break even no problem if I can find a cheap used truck! The main problem I have is that I'm pretty much broke! I spend all the money I make on school right now. I also am unemployed, and currently fighting legal issues with the company(they owe me ~$3000, but that's another story).

    I have looked on autotrader, I can't find any cheap trucks in my area. I live right off of 70, ten minutes from Indiana border. I did find one truck that has a plow on it. I'm wondering if it is worth driving down there to check it out.


    KBB values it at $4750 in EXCELLENT condition. The trade in value is $1,155 - $2,025. So I'm assuming if they bought it at the end in price, they could let it go for $3,500 at the least.

    Any ideas? Any want to give me a loan? :help:


    Thanks guys,
  11. ScnicExcellence

    ScnicExcellence Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    a plowable event is when there is more then 2" of snow, School doesn't have to be cancelled to go snow clearing there just has to be 2" of snow.
  12. d8on27@msn.com

    d8on27@msn.com Junior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 21

    Don't buy anything you don't need. Buy one new good snowblower (high end Toro) and one used one as a back up, and a light plastic scoop. Make up flyers, dosen't have to be anything special. I would put a place on the flyer where you can actually write their price. Write prices in before you go out so you don't waste time while your out. You'll be able to hand out 60ish an hour. Wait till the first snow storm has been forcasted and put them out a couple days in advance (for best response). Make up a contract that spells out everything you can think of so they know exactly what to expect. Charge more for corner lots and ice melt application. Think of what you want to do if there is an ice storm. Have a plan in effect for large 6+ inch storms (got any friends?).Preprint the bills and take them with you and put them on the door when you are done. A good trigger for residential is 2", but ask if they want you to come out at 1 inch. Ask if they want you to come out the next day to clean the apron and mailbox after the city plow goes by (for an additional charge). Get a feel for the people that "need" to have their drive clean when they leave for work and schedule your route accordingly. You will be able to do 2.5 accounts an hour by yourself if they are standard 2 stall, small walks/stoop/step lots, assuming you are staying in the small area you referred to. 4 an hour if you bring a helper If you can work all night that means you could do 20 or so by yourself but don't take on so many that you are giving bad service. If you want more accounts hit up your customers for referrals and knock on doors during the day on homes that haven't been scooped. Don't worry about experience, this is no brain stuff. Go grass to grass and make it look good. Wave at everyone that drives by and greet your customers with a smile and act like your having fun if then come out to greet you. Just show up on time and do a good job and you'll have more biz than you want.
  13. Chem

    Chem Junior Member
    from SW Ohio
    Messages: 5

    Thank you for the advice!

    When you say high end Toro do you mean the $1,000+ models? If so, I don't think I can afford them! I did some math measuring sidewalks and driveways.

    My 2 car driveway is ~204inches wide. So I figured 28inch clearing width would take me 8 sweeps. So someone with a one car driveway would take 4 sweeps. My pricing on a 2 car garage in a wealthy neighborhood would be $40 including shoveling their sidewalk to their house. In a normal neighborhood I'd charge $30-$35.

    A 1 car driveway is ~102 inches wide, with a 28 inch snowblower I'd be able to do it in 4 sweeps. I would charge $30 in the wealthy neighborhoods as well as $30 in the normal neighborhoods.

    I figure a sweep would take me roughly 3mins, so a house with a 2 car driveway would take less then 30minutes with the sidewalk leading up to their house. A 1 car driveway would take less then 20minutes. If I had a helper I could do a 2 car driveway in 20minutes and a 1 car driveway in 15mins.

    By the way, I have a BAD habit of over analyzing data if you haven't noticed!

    Anyways, my concern now is hiring someone. What cautions do I have to take with an employee? Insurance? Workman's comp? What if they slip and fall? ect...

    Anyways, keep posting and keep me thinking!

  14. 042500hd

    042500hd Senior Member
    Messages: 251

    So you've figured out how long it will take you to do one driveway, 20 minutes. You are hoping to get 25? So based on your estimates you can do three driveways an hour, with a truck and a plow you can do three driveways in ten minutes if they are in the same neighborhood of course. I like to go out for about 4 hours per event. My first couple of years I had 30 accounts and depending on the snowfall I was out anywhere from 4-6 hours. Now my accounts were not in the same neighborhood like you are hoping for on any given day it would take me 30 -45 minutes to drive my route. What I'm trying to say is you could make more money with a truck and plow. There are some questions you should ask yourself. How will you handle a large storm? In the event of a heavy snowfall your time per drive could double, then your not getting to your last customer for 10 hours. The same thing can happen in a truck, but it's easier in my opinion to stay with the storm in a truck. I wish you the best of luck which ever way you go. The truck you linked to doesn't look bad, but not much information in the description. You could get some money back by selling the spreader if you don't need it. I've seen a couple of good deals on ebay recently. What are you planning to do in spring? Maybe you could think of a way to put the truck to work for all year round.payup