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New to site -- Think I am plowing next yr

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by celltech, Feb 1, 2004.

  1. celltech

    celltech Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Hi everyone,
    I am going to be a newbie next year to plowing, I think. I just want to start this by saying this is a great site. I have a couple of other hobbies that I watch threads on, and none of them are like this one. From scouring over the threads, it seems that most people agree on most the subjects, just might have a different way of looking at it. Some of my other hobbies---everyone has a different opinion. But here it seems like everyone is basically on the same sheet and it makes it easy to learn about things. Yeah, I understand there will always be a Ford, Chevy, Dodge, ECT debate ragardless of the subject. But just by reading through all of the posts, I have learned, or mabye I should say - picked up on a lot of things, because when it comes to actually plowing, everyone here seems to think very similiarly.
    Man I am excited (I think):) About a month ago I decided that I was going to buy a truck and plow and plow next winter. I am mostly excited because I REALLY want to run my own business part-time(for now) and I know I would love plowing! But of coarse, I still have some questions, some may be trivial.
    For starters let me say that next year, my first year, I want a VERY small customer base and plan on being in the red or MAYBE break even (insurance, gas, ect). One reason for this is that I am a very busy person as it is, and just want to get my feet wet the first year and maybe start a customer base. Build on that the next year and the following year, up to what my life can handle.
    Now for the "sad news". My first truck will be a beater. OH well. My father-in-law is a retired mechanic from the city of Grand Rapids and he is really good. He can work on the truck and the plows for me. Probably only charge me parts (but I always throw him extra for my vehicles now). And he won't even want the money until I have the money (he also always thinks I am broke---that has never really been the case). So he can work on the beater for me and nurse it through the first year if needed. Anyway, would like to get a truck in the $4,000 range---any sugestions on what I would need would be great. ANd what are my chances of getting the truck for that price with the plow already on it!??!
    The cell phone company that I work for has 6 towers in my semi immediate area that I service (for my regular job--actually not the towers themselves, but the radio equipment at them). Anyway, I believe they will let me plow those through a contractor, so that will be my biggest client.
    But I would like to pick up a couple of others and start building that base. One problem I have is that I have NO CLUE what they charge around here for plowing - residential or commercial. If anyone lives in NW Michigan and would like to give me a heads up, I would appreciate it. I really don't want to be known as the low-baller, but also I don't want to charge the over-the-top premium price-----not yet at least.
    I was reading a post that most of you seem to have regular jobs and plow on the side. This is encouraging. I was wondering how customers would react to not being able to plow from 7am until 6pm. Do any of your prices reflect that fact that you can not neccissarily be there right when they want you, or when there is only 2 or 3 inces?
    I have no problem with little amounts of sleep, everything I have almost ever done requires little sleep--my job now (on call 24/7 but rarely called in the winter)--8 years of the Army, and the fact that I funtion great with just a couple of hours of sleep.
    I plan on putting up flyers in SEPT probably specifically stating that I am only going to except a few customers. Also, I will be very upfront about my availabilty.
    Well here I am trying to watch the super bowl and type this---that is how excited I am about giving this a shot. So I am sure that I have more questions, but can't reeally think of them right now. New England is about to score again right before the half.
    One more quickie. How bad of and idea -------uh-oh----new england just scored again--------would it be to maybe put a plow on my 97 Jeep Grand Cherrokee Loredo just for the first year. I know this looks kind of silly--maybe-- but it may be overall cheaper than buying the truck and a plow if I can not get them as a package deal to begin with. Keep in mind that I am sort of a CHEAP SOB and have already told the wife that we WILL NOT have anymore car payments---we can upgrade with money saved every year or two. So it would be pretty hipacritical to go out and get a loan on a truck and plow :)
    Ok, I will end this now. Sorry so long, I am just kind of excited about this and I am sure I have a ton of questions to still run through all of you.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this book,
  2. Mick

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

    Is that Jeep a Unibody model? If so, it won't a plow that uses a mount (which is most models).
  3. celltech

    celltech Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Commercial, I got to be quick...
    I was half joking about the Jeep. Well, not really joking, more like throwing it out there just to see what came back, maybe had hopes of a positve. I understand the Jeep is probably to light and not sufficient to do the job(s) well enough. I really want a truck anyway, so I am sure that is the route I will go regardless.

    Thanks for the reply!!!,
  4. Mick

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

    Sounds like you're on a good track. Regarding not being available at certain times - I'd say talk to your customers and let them know what the deal is. When I was working a full time job, I'd get up early and complete the route. First one was a lady who needed plowed out to get to work. I had an arrangement where I could just take as much time as I needed and come to work late. I know that wouldn't work for everybody. Maybe you've got some people around there who don't need plowed at certain times. One problem will be snowfalls of say 10" where they just can't get out until you plow them. I had a couple of places where I'd keep it plowed for people who actually lived in another state. So I could go by any time and get them. Maybe there are some like that around there.

    Bottom line - you're going to be pretty limited in what you can take on unless you can make arrangements with your boss. But there should be some out there. Maybe just take customers as they call you without having any route.
  5. celltech

    celltech Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Hey Mick,
    Thanks for the replies. Here we are at a commercial again for the big game.
    I think we are on the same sheet with the customers. If I can blow my cell sites, I can do those ANYTIME.....I am the only one that benefits from them being plowed (for my regular job) besides maybe the meter man for the electric company. So if I only had a couple of other customers to start with that understood my time schedule, I would be set for the first year. Here's another plus about my job.....I am suppose to leave the house by 8 am and head to my cell sites to basically do preventive maintenance or fix stuff. But, in reality nobody really has a clue what time all the different tech leave the house (we have our trucks with us 24/7--no motorpool, ect and the boss is about 150 miles away in an office. Now, I am not going to do anything to loose my regular job (or screw themover), but there is nothing saying I can not take my lunch break from 8-9am. So, If need be to get out early and run a little late, there is no problem. And if need be, everything is pretty relaxed for me at the regular job, unless of course a cell site is down.!!!! On top of that I have 10 sick days a year and 3 weeks of vacation that can be taken in half days!! Even quarter day I believe.
    I am all about customer service and being honest. I will definetly lay out everything honestly for the customer. If they do not like it, my feelings will not be hurt if they go elswhere. I completely understand.

  6. MickiRig1

    MickiRig1 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,617

    Well for the most part we plow at night. Atleast 3/4's of the time.
    Most start times are around 2AM, because it had quit snowing before that.
    Try not to buy an old plow truck, I could go on and on about why the wife calls my truck "The Big Red Drain".
    Buy a good used heavy duty / plow package truck, add an older plow to it. ( buy truck trader magizine)
    Read stuff posted on this site, we will help you all we can.
    Think about working as a subcontractor plowing, no worries, work when you can, paid to learn the tricks of the obsession, I mean trade.
    Last, but not least, learn to like the taste of old / bad coffee, it's all the BP Gas Station has at 4 AM.
  7. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Plowing for the company you work for? That can be risky.
  8. bcf

    bcf Senior Member
    Messages: 206

    You don't work for Nextel do you? Them b*stards can't keep my reception good for over 3 hours.:gunsfiring: :gunsfiring:
    But seriously, you'd be better getting a used p/u without a plow on it, then you know it hasn't been so abused. Subbing would be a great starting point as you're only trying to part-time it. I don't know about pricing in your area, but in the 'burbs of Philly the lowest price I'd do a drive for is $30. And I think that's still low. I would think about plowing for your company as well; they may be more lenient about paying an employee a fair rate. Also, chances are they would want salt, and getting a salter this year probably would be worth it, IMO. Good luck, the search feature here has tons of useful info, but don't be afraid to ask questions.
  9. celltech

    celltech Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Mickirig1 and bcf,
    I would not be plowing directly for my company, but through a contrator--so I would be a sub. Also, no salt or anything. Just plowing the driveway, all dirt, back to the cell towers (some are really back there---have one the is about 1/2 mile I think....going back into the woods, actually a pretty cool site). Nothing real special. Like I stated earlier, The techs, like myself, are the only ones that really benefit from having these drives plowed so that we can get to the tower and fix the radios or do PM's. So, my company pays the contractor, the contractor pays me. I charge what ever I want. I have run into issues before where my boss does not like the bill and tells the contractor to find someone else. The contractor just tacks on X amount to my bill. A certain percentage. But my company only goes through this company (Contractors Unlimited) to get things like plowing done and only goes through them. I could come up with a company and my boss would never know it is me, but I tend to be on the honest side of things and usually lay everything out and see where it falls. He may or may not have a problem with this....we'll see.

    HELL no I do not work for Nextel. BUT when I got out of the Army, ALL the cell companies got my resume and app. including Nextel. My company now has the "walkie talkie" feature like Nextel...which a lot of people seem to like.

    And yes, I have been thinking about subbing. Sounds like a great way to get your foot in the door.

    Thanks for the replies and the ideas,