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Marketing sanding/salting service

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Mick, Jul 27, 2004.

  1. Mick

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

    I hesitated some before posting this, but there have been several inquiries lately regarding selling salting/sanding service so I wanted to put this out there to see if anyone else thinks it might work for them.

    First, I've decided to retire my 1/2 ton and use my 3500 as a primary vehicle for plowing. The reasons are several, but the final factor was when I did an analysis and concluded that a diesel 3500 with a 9' plow was more efficient than a half ton with a 7 1/2'. Not only is the plow more efficient, but the 6.5 diesel burns less fuel per hour while plowing than the 1/2 ton while plowing and diesel costs less per gallon than than gasoline. More power, more effecient and less fuel consumption at less per gallon. I didn't strain my brain too much over that one.

    Now I was left with the problem of getting more sanding business. I charge $70 a ton with a minimum of $40 for sanding and several customers would want sanding at times, but the additional $40 would scare them off. Most of them had driveways that would only take around 100 - 200 pounds of sand. What was happening was that I was using the 1/2 ton to plow, then going to get the one ton with the sander for anyone who asked for it. Finally I hit on an idea. I was at a customer's house plowing and just happened to have the 3500. He was one of those who occasionally called for sanding, but only took a small amount. He was willing to pay the $40 occasionally so it worked out ok. But it was nothing steady and not income I could project. He wanted it sanded then, so I made him an offer. If he'd have it sanded each time I plowed, I'd only charge an extra $5 for the sand which amounted to a strip about 50 feet from his garage to the road. He jumped on it. He'd have his driveway sanded all the time for about the same or less than one regular sanding. I made the same offer to some more people. They all took me up on it. My sand supplier is centrally located so travel isn't even a factor - I just swing in and get reloaded and back on the route in ten minutes. I can plan the work so I'm going by the supplier occasionally when I'd be getting empty. And it's working out to more than $70/ton. Everybody's happy, I increased my bottom line and I get more customers by word of mouth.

    I'm sure it wouldn't work for everybody and I'm sure some would be critical of selling a service so cheap. You can adjust the figures for your situation - actually I'm not sure those prices are current for me. But you get the idea. I couldn't even begin to do sanding for that price for sanding alone since most of the expense was in travel to and from the site. But I keep sand in the sander for ballast to the plow anyway, why not make money with it?
  2. trukoutftr

    trukoutftr Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Myself and the contractor I sub with have been seriously looking into offering salt and sand down here in NC for our customers. The biggest problem we see is pricing major shopping centers and how to price using hitch spreaders and bed spreaders. Any help on that would be appreciated. Last year I used a SnowEx and charged by the bag of calcium chloride we used and no one had any complaints about that but this year we are planning on buying bulk and figure we would be more profitable charging by the sq/ft rather than the hour but not sure what is best.

    We figure that with the amount of ice we get, more money would be made salting than pushing since you cant' push ice. The size we are going to use is a Hiniker 6 1/2' spreader because we have mostly short bed trucks.

    Hope you guys might be able to give us some advice.

  3. sonjaab

    sonjaab PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,425

    TRUK.............I lived in Ralieghwood for a couple of years before I
    came back to NY. Still have family there !!!!!!!!!!!

    For you....ya could prob. make a bundle of $$$$$ just salting
    and never dropping a blade !

    I was there for 2 "winters". There was more BLACK ICE in the
    am everywhere ! Never seen a flake of snow !

    As far as pricing........Down there $$$$$$$$ because of so little
    snow/ice. It surely would cost more than in my area.
    Another guy in your area can give you a good idea on what to charge or at least ballpark.