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New to commercial plowing and need input

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by D&FServices, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. D&FServices

    D&FServices Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    I want to start off by saying I'm not sure if I should have put this here or in the "Elements Of Business" forum but since I'm new I'll give it a whirl. Back in the spring I started thinking about doing some plowing this winter. I am doing some lawn mowing and yard work on the side from my "real" job and thought plowing would be a good idea for the winter time. I've got some experience as I plow the lots and sidewalks at my "real" job. Here's my question.

    I've run the gauntlet over the summer getting a "EIN" number from the feds, a local business license, a business checking account, Registering the business with the state, getting some over priced general liability insurance that includes "Completed Operations" which is what I had to have to cover slips and falls which turned out to big a slight mess as well as a shock when I got the price tag for that. Anyhow I believe I've covered the most of the paperwork end of things and just need to get some spare parts for the western plow I have. Other than a good bid sheet format to use when submitting bids have I missed anything on the "office" end?

    I also want to add that my "real" job is very lienient with taking time off so I will have no problem being off when the snows come. I wanted to just be a sub for a couple of years however I'm not in a good location for that. I live in Mo and I'm 75 miles from any large city of 30,000+ people. There are only a few plows companies around here and they're not the friendliest about new plowers if ya know what I mean. The one outfit I bought my plow from has 5-6 trucks and said he could maybe use me depending on whether or not he gets one of the big nationals again, but this guy seems goofy as a pet coon and is always broke. I've decided I just want to get a few small commercial accounts to test the waters and if all goes well then in the spring after plow season I'd like to buy another truck and plow so I have the piece of mind in having a spare rig.

    I know a few business owners in the area and have some fliers to deliver to try and pick up a couple small lots. Just a little nervous about only having one truck.

    I know there is alot of experienced plowers on here and all of you started somewhere so obviously you know the ropes. Does it sound like I'm on the right path? Have I missed things along the way that I shouldn't have? Is there any advice that anyone would like to share? I can be stubborn at times when I get an idea in my head and this plowing idea has been stuck since spring and I'm not going to back out of it until I've succeeded or failed whether it's right or wrong that's just the mentality I have about it and at this point success is my only option and failure is not acceptable. I know I'm not going to get rich and don't expect to, I just want to make a little money and hopefully over the next few years keep building until I can go full time to lawn service and snow removal.

    Sorry to drag it out so long. Thanks for any and all comments, concerns, advice you have to offer.
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Don't worry about those other plow jockeys, put a good bid even if it high ,better to lose it and get experience bidding, then getting it by under bidding everyone.
  3. D&FServices

    D&FServices Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    Thanks Grand. That's kind of how I feel. I'm not looking to undercut anybody as I've got some overhead that's gotta be paid. I think I've got a pretty good idea of what it takes per hour to make profit and that's what I've got to stick with. I will get outbid by alot of the non-insured and non-licensed plowers but I feel that with outstanding customer service I can draw a few good accounts and retain them year after year. I know I'll be undercut but that's fine as I'm not looking for growth right now I just want to sustain a small operation until I'm experienced and feel comfortable expanding. Thanks
  4. thelettuceman

    thelettuceman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,218

    You are thinking logically. There was a thread on here last week started by someone new to the business who wanted to have 100 residential and many commercial accounts to begin his first season.Keep it small. Do not bury yourself.
  5. D&FServices

    D&FServices Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    Thanks Lettuce. I think you and grandview are both right. The last thing I want to do is get to many accounts and not be able to service all of them to the best of my abilities. I just want 2 or 3 small commercial accounts then maybe next year start to build on it a little bit after I get another truck. I've seen on other threads here that some say it's foolish to try and make a go at it with only 1 truck but I really have to other choice. I have a friend with a skid who will service the accounts if I have a break down but at this time I'd really rather not borrow money for another truck or additional equipment until I get at least 1 year under my belt. Feel like I'm on the right track but I'm a little nervous about how it's going to play out. It seems like after I got hung up on the plowing idea I see old trucks setting everywhere with plows or plow mounts on the front of them. Lot of uninsured so called "cut-throats" in the area and just hope I can get a couple of accounts with all of them running around. Getting a couple of flyers ready to take to business owners that I'm acquainted with to try and land the first contract to plow and maybe that'll take the pressure off of me and ease my mind a little until the first snow. Thanks for confirming that I should go nice and slow as that is what my business plan was based on. Any other comments or advice from anyone is appreciated as well as criticism but is better be constructive LOL.
  6. mpgall26

    mpgall26 Senior Member
    Messages: 228

    D&F, what equipment are you planning on using. I have doing all the same legal legwork for just a single truck and 2 big walk behind snowblowers and thought I was overdoing it since all the other guys can easily outbid me. I'm glad some other newbies are trying to start out correctly also.
  7. D&FServices

    D&FServices Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    I'll just be running a older F250 ford with a Western straight plow. Looking into a good walk behind spreader for now and lots of spare plow parts since I'm nearly 100 miles away from any dealer. I don't have a blower and have contemplated getting one however I am target advertising and just trying to pick up a couple local businesses that I know the owners of and there isn't much for sidewalk at either of the main 2 I'm shooting for so I think a couple of shovels will make do for this year. Yes the insurance and legal paperwork is a hassle. I have several dozen hours invested in just paperwork but I don't intend to be an illegal cut throat. I want to run a legitimate business and intend to be in this line of work for years to come, so I want to do it right. I expect to be outbid but if I can land a couple I'm sure I can provide the highest quality service and retain those accounts. I'm just convinced that I'm doing it the right way even if I can't put out the lowest bid due to overhead and I don't expect to lower my rate to compete with cutthroats either. I either win the job or I don't and if the business owner has to call me in the middle of a storm because his uninsured plower didnt show or couldn't clean the lot properly, I would think that should stand out in the business owners mind and be chalked up to the old "You get what you pay for" theory. I don't think either of us are over doing it I think we're aligning our priorities correct to ensure our businesses are successful. Thanks
  8. mpgall26

    mpgall26 Senior Member
    Messages: 228

    Good luck. Hope you make enough to move out of the woods...lol