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Newbie To the Snow Plow Game

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by coppertec, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. coppertec

    coppertec Member
    from calgary
    Messages: 52


    first i wanted to say hello! this is my first post, but I have been a long time stalker to this forum. and i wanna say thanks- ive gleaned a lot of info from you guys on this site.

    this is my first real stint into the snow plow game, but i have played around with it for a little while. I first tried getting int it into it back in 2010ish when i was 23-23 and i had my my truck(06 super cab f150), a backpack blower, a craftsman snowthrower, and a hand shovel. young and niave, I took on some residential properties in my area, all the while selling fitness equipment and going to university. with my luck, that year we had one of the worst winters in recent memory. all my contracts were seasonal or month to month, and without any cap clause. I lost my shirt and broke my back that season, but still managed to see the jobs through.

    the last 2 winters turned out to be pretty mild, but i chose not to continue until i was better equipped for the task.

    this year, i have a new job selling luxury german cars, ive moved back home with my mom, and my f150 is about 3 k from being paid off. i feel i am in a better position financially to do things properly.

    just this last week, i decided to talk with my boss about buying a truck for plowing. he helped me with his industry hook ups and i basically got a $25k car loan through my work and we bid on a 2011 silverado 2500HD. reg cab, long box,gas, 55,000km. truck was as bare as they come, but it has a tow package and plow package. $17,500 plus taxes.

    with the remaining amount, i planned on getting a blizzard straight blade installed, which i priced out at $6800 installed. i figured a straight was cheaper than a V so i never grabbed a quote for one. im committed to the truck, but me and my boss are on the look out for a cheaper option for a plow(without the compromise).

    for the time being, my focus does still have to be on my day job, which tends to be pretty demanding, even in the winter time. given the nature of this work, i feel that it would be foolish for me to take on the kind of jobs that would take more than 5-6 hours to push after a blizzard if i can only do it late hours/early mornings (i still gotta show up in a suit during the day)

    ideally, my 2nd truck would be as self sustaining as possible. im not sure how hard that would be given my tight time constraints but i figure if we have 5-6 months of decent plowing season here in calgary, that equates to $4-5,000 a month to pay it off in the shortest term possible. not including gas/insurance/wear&tear.
    if it were to snow an average of 7 times a month, i would have to make roughly $600 a snowfall/event to achieve this.

    once my ford is paid for, i only have to pay about $500/month for the chevy, which my day job can carry, but i would rather be able to have the truck make it.

    i still have to do more reading here on quoting customers, plus do my own leg work to see what the market rates might be per push but does my logic seem sound+doable? (i know what you put is is what you get out, but any insight you have would be great!)
    i feel like small commercial strip malls/businesses and resturants would be the way to go if im trying to plow from 9pm-1pm or 4am-8am, since lots would be empty, no one cares about the noise, and the hours would work for me.
    residential seems like a bit of a hassle, but $50 a push for 5-10 min of work sounds tempting is the numbers vs time stack

    i feel a little uneasy after reading some things on this site;
    the fact that i am financing my work truck which seems like a :nono: to some of you
    and the fact that i do not have a back up truck. ( i do sorta know one big shot in the biz, but not sure if he would lend a hand)

    i also need to get the right insurance for this( don even know who would cover me with this?)
    and i gotta advertise(probably kijiji and decals)

    sorry for the long rant, but now you know where im at. i want to make this work so i can help my mom get her first house, and then eventually my own down the road. any helpful critiquing to poke holes in my ideas are appreciated!

  2. FurFishGame

    FurFishGame Member
    Messages: 35

    i don't know much about the business end of plowing but the only thing i can say is get a job plowing for a company, they will teach you how to plow, how not to plow, how to not destroy the truck, and if you ask, they will teach ya a bit of the business end, when (notice i didn't say if) you work for a professional company, ASK ASK ASK, tell them you want to learn everything you can! every time you go out, ask questions, look at when the best man on the crew is doing. you odnt have to be tied down to a company for years and years, do it this winter, and you will learn more than you will in 5 years of doing it for your self.
  3. coppertec

    coppertec Member
    from calgary
    Messages: 52

    yea i have thought about subbing/ hiring on to another company to get my feet wet. my only concern is that if im working for someone else, i cant really determine the hours i can put in, so they may not really want someone who cant be there 24/7 based on THEIR demands, and to train someone who will inevitably be competition, since im 100% committed to the work truck i scooped.
  4. FurFishGame

    FurFishGame Member
    Messages: 35

    haha welcome to plowing buddy, you have to be there 24/7 at anybody demands, weather your subbing or doing it as your own business.. i doubt they would have a problem with it. they expect little birdys to spread their wings and fly
  5. CashinH&P

    CashinH&P Senior Member
    Messages: 448

    In my personal opinion, If your going to be a snow removal contractor you HAVE to be ready to plow 24/7. Plowing is my source of income in the winter so I have some fairly large accounts, that even during business hours need to be plowed/salted to keep the lot safe for the patrons of the busiiness you are plowing. That being said, if you cant give your customers the commitment of 24/7 snow removal you shouldnt try to get commercial work.
  6. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,943

    yes, no commercial if you cant commit to 24/7, it for your own good as reputation means so much, the insurance thing is a bit diff then down in the states, talk to your local broker, they get you going. As for truck loan, dont worry. You got a job so you should be able to handle the payments as long as your working steady. I'd recommend starting off with resi accounts, easier to do around your sched.
  7. fordmstng66

    fordmstng66 Senior Member
    Messages: 527

    Good Luck. I plowed as a sub for many years. I was one of the most reliable drivers/trucks he had. We worked out a good schedule so when i was at work and it snowed he would have my lots covered. Then after work i was off to the do cleanups, and also make up for other broken down subs. He even loaded me up with work when i was laid off for a winter. With work and school now i just don't have the time.
  8. coppertec

    coppertec Member
    from calgary
    Messages: 52

    yea the fact that I have a pretty steady job is sort of my saving grace, so I want to be able to make the most amount of money plowing while eating up the least amount of time towards my day job.

    eventually I would start to slide in the other direction(next year maybe)
  9. coppertec

    coppertec Member
    from calgary
    Messages: 52

    this is reassuring. I am not the type to settle for 2nd best and have always eventually excelled at anything I put my head to.

    I am just trying to mentally figure out if it is possible to pay my truck off (+$25k) this season in the 5-6 months of work.

    picking an arbitrary number to sub my self out @ $80/hour, i'd have to work 315 hours or 13 days to reach that goal. for someone who has no idea what it takes I cant say if that's a reasonable goal or not :confused:
  10. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,943

    better start praying for snow, lol 315hrs is doable if mother nature cooperates
  11. Chineau

    Chineau Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    Line up residential.

    Have some leaflets printed and do a drop in a neighbourhood you want to work. The problem you will run up against in the commercial work is storms don't follow the clock and if you have a strip mall as a customer they expect to be open for business even if the storm ends at 10 am get here now. Do you have some one solid to put in the seat when you can't, if you do maybe you can make it work. Be mindful when it is a **** show out there customers want to see wheels spinning and snow flying that builds your reputation. If you want commercial work start out with minimum 2 million insurance look hard for a good broker if you are making a business they are a strategic partner. 315 hours easy if you build your reputation right.peace.tymusic
  12. coppertec

    coppertec Member
    from calgary
    Messages: 52

    yea I am thinking that I will not be able to commit to the commercial stuff quite yet. I have 1-2 people who MIGHT be able to back me up by driving my truck if I cant be there. I think I would need a commercial lot that prefers work done between 7pm and 8am the way my schedule would accommodate. then again maybe im dreaming.

    the alternative is having 20-25 residential properties with 2" triggers with somewhere between $40-$60 rates; then I'd be making $1000+ a snowfall, assuming my mathz is correct
  13. Jim74

    Jim74 Member
    Messages: 50

    Not trying to be a downer but 315 hours times $80 an hour would break you even but let's not forget fuel, you will piss through some money on junk food and drinks with the crazy hours, insurance cost, and if you plow for 300 hours and nothing breaks consider yourself lucky. Having a day job you have a few scenarios, if your going to sub you have to let someone drive your truck when your working or try to work something out with your boss to work extra hours on non snow days to make up for the snow days that you slide out early or come in late. Anyone really buying luxury cars when the weathers awful anyways.
  14. coppertec

    coppertec Member
    from calgary
    Messages: 52

    yea I have been considering the extra costs like gas insurance etc. with my day job those are not extra costs per say, as I am currently am paying for that on my 1st truck (soon to be fully paid off, so that frees up some extra cash)

    ive got one buddy who works construction during the summer months, so assuming he doesn't move to vic like he has been talking about, I would trust him with it; but then it brings in the extra cost of labour :S.

    I think it'll come down to trial by fire, like always for me.

    PS, lots of people by BMW's in the winter, it just changes to SUV's instead of rear wheel sporties:laughing:
  15. Jguck25

    Jguck25 Senior Member
    Messages: 594

    Another problem you will run into is most people want their driveways plowed when they have to leave in the morning, which it sounds like you have that covered, but they also need them cleared again for when they get back from work, which you won't be able to do with your schedule... I hate to say it but if its snowing you need to be able to plow, the whole time. The only option I see is that you take off the whole day every time it snows