Plowing Big Commercial lots


Junior Member
West Virginia
I'm getting the opportunity to bid a Lowes Home Improvement store for this winter. I haven't taken measurements on the lot to get the footage yet, but if you could imagine it is a big parking lot. We've got two pickup plows meyer and a Swenson spreader a big one that rides in the back of a Ford F250. A John Deere backhoe and a bobcat. On a job like this are you guys doing this by the hour or are you or are you doing it as a set price for a certain snowfall amount. For example 1-8" and 9-13" and so on with salt included in that price. I would appreciate any input on this thanx!


Senior Member
OK. There have to be a thousand different ways to charge for your services. For a property such as that, this is what I do.

I'd charge $100-$125 per acre for each plowing. They may have someone willing to plow for $60 an hour, though. If that is the case, bid it, do your best to follow up and show yourself to be a pro who will deliver prompt, quality service.

Salting should be priced seperately IMO. Either price it per ton, or per application if you already have a handle on application rates under various conditions.

If they take a lowball bid, they may have that come back to bite them. If you bid a lowball price, it will certainly come back to bit you!

Also, one truck full time and a second truck plowing a few accounts in the same area for backup would probably cover that account unless you can afford a pusher, then you could probably just use the backhoe and pusher with your "backup" coming thru as time allows for cleanup.

By the way, if you price hourly plan on having to service almost twice as many accounts to make the same $$$! Most reputable companies do not price by the hour, regardless of what the customer may tell you.

I have a very large account that insists on hourly plowing. They are getting a per plow bid from me, regardless. They can take it or leave it. I'd rather make money than have bragging rights.
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karl klein

Senior Member
i bid jobs like that as a per push rate and do include salting of just the main drags. we don't salt the hole lot unless we have a ice storm wich there is a price for those services. also you must beware that as the snow gets deeper it will cost you alot more and must figure for that.


2000 Club Member
well you could do it by the hour but just make it enought to cover your equipment for example $80 for a dump/pick up,$100 for a loader and just have a min like 4 hours and charge for all equipment that will be needed to do job .Or do it by the inch and have a loader there at all times to service them but let them know that it is there for them only and get the mony for it weather it snows or not.I may not have said it right but i'm sure some one can hepl clearify it.

nsmilligan Veteran
Nova Scotia
I look at about 30 to 35 services per season in my climate, and I look in the range of about 15 cents/per sq ft per season. See how those numbers crunch in your area. Don't be afraid of be underbid I've had it happen to me over the years, but every contract I've had that was underbid I got back because they didn't provide the same level of service. #1 You've got to make a profit. # 2 We are a service industry, just like restrauants, the customer is always right!

PS Most commerical lots will state in the bid specifications how they want the conctrct per push, annually, per hour etc
My experience is that big corps want an annual price so they know what to budget regardless of what happens that winter.
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Lawn Lad

Senior Member
Per hour bidding means you'll never make more than $xx/hour and there is no incentive for you to use more efficient equipment like a snow pusher on a backhoe or skid which would be equivalent to two or three trucks. Since the owner won't give you $300/hr for that pusher box - you'll have to fudge your numbers to make up for it if you do use it. Bid it per push or seasonal.

Look at SIMA's Consumer TIps page on their website. They have a four color brochure you can send with your bids that includes similar informaiton.

Dan Schulte

Junior Member
SE Michigan
Lowes Bid

Just read your thread on Lowes. I do 4 Lowes stores in Michigan. If you didnt get it in 2002 and want it in 2003 or 2004 heres what I did. First we went and got the lawn contracts (if you do lawns). Spent the whole spring and summer pushing the snow on the managers and admin clerks. Meet the didtrict manager. While many managers make their own decisions alot of them go through district first. Remember every negative or unhappy comment they make about previous contractors. Stay on them every month for selling your services. The managers are trained sales animals and respect a good follow through on sales. Tailor your bid and presentation to their needs and especially towards correcting their past problems no matter how minor. The district here just signed 5 year deals with me on 4 stores for lawns and salt. I buy the salt from them at cost and bill them back at the same price plus labor and vehicle use charges per hour. This way the manager gets sales numbers for the salt and you have salt stored at the site for your use. No transporting salt and you pay no mark up. I get salt at $2.50 per 50lb bag. They pay per push and by snow increments. I go at 1-5/ 6-9/ 10-13 and then the sky over 13 inches. I am hoping to get 3-5 more stores this spring. Remeber though, sell the snow in summer and the lawns in winter. Long reply but you can make some decent money off Lowes if you tkae care of them. They HAVE to look good.