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New guy

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Angelo, Sep 6, 2002.

  1. Angelo

    Angelo Junior Member
    Messages: 16

    I am sure these things have been asked before, but I like to post. I am from lawnsite and am thinking about getting into the plow industry as all of my customers are asking. But for those up in New England last winter was not to great for plowing unless you had some good contracts setup. Anyway my question is:
    I will be doing mostly residential driveways, so does anyone ever get out of the truck and shovel walkways, or use sweepers to clean walkways: Does anyone use sanders on residential? What to charge: I know it varies by area but is it comparable to lawns: so say I charge the person $40 for the mow, could I charge the same for a plowing? Is that high or low?
  2. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384


    Welcome. With mowing, you expect to mow 3-4 times per month. You don't list your location, but I would bet you won't be plowing 3-4 times per month. Therefore, your hourly rate must be considerably higher.

    You cannot base your rate on mowing because someone could have a 2 space driveway with a 20 acre field behind their house. (exaggeration, but you get my point, hopefully) I don't do residential, but plowing is plowing when it comes to how much you need to make to stay in business and be profitable.

    From what others have said, res driveways go for $25 per two car drive on up. For some reason, I don't like residential drives. Most in this area are subdivisions full of 2-4 space drives which are a pain because they are backdragged unless you have a rear plow. Driveways that are "country lanes" would be easier and more profitable if such an area exists in your market.
  3. Angelo

    Angelo Junior Member
    Messages: 16

    90% of my accounts would be 1 lane driveways about 40-100 feet long. So I am guessing it would take 20 minutes a driveway at most. I don't have a rear mount plow which wouldn't be a bad idea, but no money for that yet. I think I'll stick to what I want to make an hour and considering like you said costs of equipment/wear and tear, and see what the customers say. Thanks.
  4. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    I would shoot for $150 plus per hour (although you did not ask). Most guys who do residential only make more money hourly than those of us who do commercial work. I know that sound like a tremendous amount of money, but the higher hourly rate helps to pay for the risks (light winters or winters when it doesn't snow until February) you are taking.

    Also, if you are not a member of SIMA, I strongly suggest you join and network with the other members.

    Also, it might be a good idea to try to avoid the driveways where they require sidewalk shoveling. You will get a better hourly return if the truck is plowing more. Hand work is only worth so much, but not everyone owns a snowplow. It is at least food for thought. You can do the walks, too, but if you can find a way to avoid it, it seems you would be warmer and better paid at the end of an event.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2002
  5. A.L. Inc.

    A.L. Inc. Member
    Messages: 97

    Angelo-I am also in the landscape business, and do snow removal for our landscape clients, which are mostly residential and a few small commercial. I usually have one of my men with me to use a Toro snowblower to clear sidewalks, in front of garages, and between cars. I price the work on a per push basis, and there is an additional charge for the snowblowing. The prices range from $35 to $75 per push. I really don't get involved with sanding any driveways, so I can't help you there. Mike
  6. Angelo

    Angelo Junior Member
    Messages: 16

    I really didn't want to sand, but wasn't sure what the general census was on that. I was worried about liability issues (i.e. people falling and lawsuits arising), but maybe that would fall under there homeowners insurance? I don't want to do walkways and the like, so I was thinking that if I keep the price high on that end perhaps that would push people away or if they do opt for it, it will be worth my while. $150 sounds like a good rate, I was going to shoot for $125 but your right if the snow doesn't fall, I loose out. Now a follow up question:
    Would you recemmend doing an early plowing before they go to work and then 1 before they come home if needed, or go by the snowfall accumulation? I know there are a lot of variables here, but was trying to figure out what the norm is. We usually don't get snow falls in the 5" plus range but there are those times.
  7. Mick

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

    Welcome to PlowSite, Angelo. From your posts, I'd say you'll be better off finding someone you can make an arrangement for them to plow your customers driveways. However - since you asked - I figure a 100% markup to spread sand or salt (in this area it's sand). You can make more money faster sanding than plowing, however you probably won't get as many sanding jobs. In other words, I can sand an area in five minutes that takes 20-30 minutes to plow but I have very few customers who want sanding. My customer base is 90% residential and the other 10% are similiar in layout to residential. In charging the customer, I quote a specific amount for the area to be done, not by the volume (yard). Others who do Industrial/Commercial I think quote so much per yard, then keep track of yards used and bill monthly etc. You'll do more sanding/salting if you concentrate on industrial and commercial. But they come with their own problems - higher insurance rates, dealing with property managers is harder than dealing with owners, more likelihood for lawsuits etc.

    Insurance - Homeowner's insurance protects the owner, not you. You'll need additional vehicle insurance that specifies plowing. You'll also need General Liability that again specifies plowing. If there is a slip/fall lawsuit, both the homeowner and you will be held liable. Both need their own insurance.

    I had thought about a quick plowing like you're talking about and come back to finish up. I wouldn't recommend it, just takes too much time and really not that much more to just finish up a driveway the first time.
  8. snowplowjay

    snowplowjay Banned
    Messages: 890

    Hey Angelo

    Hey Angelo welcome i am from Meriden what is the name of your company. I am curious as to maybe i know of you or your company

  9. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 823

    welcome angelo. Im from glastonbury, i used to plow the exxon in north haven on washington ave.
  10. Hoopsfan

    Hoopsfan Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    I have several questions for you guys:

    1. Do you charge per push or do you have the customers sign a seasonal contract so that you get paid whether is snows or not?

    2. If seasonal, how much do you charge for the season? I've talked to guys in my area that charge $300 on up. One guy got $500 for the season and only had to plow the customers lot 3 times due to a mild winter.

    3. If per push, do you guys wait for the customer to call or do you have an agreement that if it snows X" amount that you will automatically come out an plow?

    4. Is there a web site that I could find a sample snow plowing contract?

    5. Anyone have experience with the Western Poly Pro? I'm thinking about hanging one on my truck.

    Thanks, Hoopsfan
  11. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    :waving: Oooh. Oooh....My turn to tell a new guy about the "search" function!!

    Hoopsfan, use the "search" function of this board and you'll find answers to all of those questions and more. So much information that it'll make your eyes bulge.... Once you've read it all come back and you can join the discussion about whether it's going to snow or not--that's the only one that nobody ever seems to have a handle on.... :)
  12. Hoopsfan

    Hoopsfan Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    Digger, I know all about the search function. I don't have time to sit and sift through the hundreds of posts that come up with each search. I think the search feature is great, but very time consuming. I don't have the time!

    Thanks for your informative reply though. :rolleyes:
  13. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672


    I can read faster than I can type though, and my time is limited too...
  14. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    A reason to use the search feature is that you can look at the old post and get replies from trusted and experienced plowers. Some people on this board have been plowing for 30 years or more. They may not repeat the lengthy post they may have already talk about a year ago.

    If you find an old post that is close to what you are talking about respond to it with your question. This is a good way to help members remember how they responded and maybe see some new ideas. Occassionaly a moderator may link a new question with an old post anyway.

    Think about it if you searched before asking a same question then when someone does search it is less posts that come up for a topic. Be courteous guys. We are all trying to help each other. New members are welcome but you should try to adjust to the "will of the board". This way everyone is happy and we can continue to share information.
  15. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    If you don't take the time to read the posts from the search function, I doubt many here will be very helpful.

    Once you have read previous posts, many questions will be answered and many new questions will be created. That would be a good time to ask questions to get further explanations, ideas, or plans for your operation. Good luck with your season.

    Edit: I was posting at the same time as last post. My post is the short version. ;)
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2002
  16. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Since I "don't have time" I will quickly give you answers to your questions..

    1. In your area, Seasonal Contracts are more common than per push.

    2. Can't help you, I am in NJ, if you do a search you will find many replies on how to figure the pricing in .... (ran out of time)

    3. Never wait for a customer to call.

    4. Click on the Snowplowing-Contractors.com link at the top of this page.

    5. Poly or steel is a matter of personal preference. Both have good and bad points. This goes for Western or any other brand.

    Time's up ;)

  17. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Do you realize that sometimes it takes a person 30 minutes or more to give an educated detailed reply to just a single question?

    When using the search feature, try using as many words as possible.

    Instead of "poly plow" or "poly" try "Western poly plow"

    Instead of "seasonal pricing" try "figuring seasonal pricing" or "seasonal pricing formula" "calculate seasonal pricing"

    If you were a SIMA Member, all the questions you asked could be answered with a phone call or two to other members in your state. Be forwarned, those calls could last an hour or two each.

    I may sound a little rude, but, if you read Sno and CT's posts again, you will understand.

  18. karl klein

    karl klein Senior Member
    Messages: 557

    1. i do salting on drives during ice storms with a push behind spreader.
    2. my contracts are per accurance for snow and we dont plow residential until the storm is over unless requested.
    3. i also feel that a poly would not be worth the extra money or weight on residential because you will not be moving fast enough to gane full advantage.
    4. yes i do shovel the walks myself accept for one acount of town homes wich includes over 100 drives there i bring a helper to do steps and walks
  19. Hoopsfan

    Hoopsfan Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    Chuck, I didn't realize post originality was a prerequisite. After reading Angelo's post it brought up several questions of my own, so I posted them. I do use the search function from time to time and find it very useful and informative. The questions I asked were (I thought) very simple questions that could have been answered fairly quickly by someone experienced in this field.

    Sorry to bother you and taking your time. I'll try to be more original in my future post.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2002
  20. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I somehow doubt the sarcasm in that post was really necessary. And I know I don't much care for the attitude it suggests. I don't know a whole lot, but I'm really reluctant to share any of it with anyone who figures their time is more valuable than mine.