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Plowing for free.... (long read)

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Dogplow Dodge, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    This year, I got my insurance bill, and my GL went to just under $6k, fully earned, payable in full, and non cancelable..... and never having a single claim... ... Well, that was enough for me to say.... not plowing this year, or maybe never again, at least as long as I live here, in NJ, anyways.

    for the life of me, I just can't see spending $6k on an insurance policy to cover my personal assets, and if we get no snow, make nothing at all and be in the hole for that kind of money. I only do "per push" so there is no "seasonal advantage" for me, here. It is what it is, I guess. Not making a dime for a month or so, no matter how many storms we get (if we get snow), I'll be irritated that I'm in the truck, using fuel, clearing driveways and the few commercials I have (or should I say had), and counting the days, weeks hours or whatever until I actually break even and start making a few $$$..

    So... I'm disappointed..to say the least... Wife is disappointed (she would come with me and shovel, while I plowed) as it's a family thing for us. I think she's taking it more personally than I am, but then again, what the hell did we work so hard for all these years to gain the client base we have, just to lose it all in the form of a bill, eh ? I still will be working doing my regular contracting business, but since the winter weather puts a damper on the need to repair one's homes, I've used the spare hours, at this time of the year, to fill those gaps. I guess I'll have to try to find more work this winter making those repairs, eh?

    So far, About 5% of my customers have been told that I'm "out of biz", and the rest will start calling soon as the weather forecast turns. I'm sure that i'll be fielding more calls as the weeks go by. I haven't called anyone, as I've been searching for options, hoping for an answer. So far, no other companies are willing to be reasonable with regards to policy costs. This limited market here, has made it so there is no competition, and the insurance companies are not giving in, or making it affordable for independent contractors do work here, so I'm just out of luck.

    Customers ? So far, I've just been completely up front and honest with them. I've told them the truth. I asked them "what would you do if I came to you and said..... I'm charging 3 times what I charged you last year. so that $100 driveway will cost you $300.... how would you react ?" They all said the same thing.... that they would tell me to take a hike.. as no one can justify that up-charge in cost. I guess that's why it hurts so much to deal with this to begin with.

    so... now that I have a vehicle that I just dumped $5k into for the upcoming plowing season, and I'm not going to clear any snow.... What's a guy to do? Sit home and pout ?

    No.... my thoughts were, since I can't plow without insurance and charge anything... how about plowing for free ? What can it hurt ? Can I be sued for doing something for nothing ? I'm sure I can, but are the courts likely to hold it against me ? Maybe ? maybe not ? I really don't know...but I guess I'll find out soon enough.

    I figured, I could give back to the community by helping those in need. Does this sound ******** ? does this sound idiotic ? Am I nuts for wanting to do this ? Is it really worth driving around and being mr. nice guy plow ********* ? Bailing out the old ladies with the shovel ? Haven't made up my mind yet, but I thought this would be a good way of giving to others, since I've been relatively fortunate in life, while satisfying my snow pushing needs, and feeling that all that prep work, and years of experience went somewhere productive. Maybe I'm just smoking too much crack lately....

    Truth be known, is that I really, really love plowing snow. Granted, I don't want to lose everything I've ever worked for because some J-0 wants to sue everyone and everybody because of the inane mindset here that "we're not hurting anyone.... we're just suing the insurance company" bologna that exists here. It wasn't like this years back, and I really miss the days of old. Sounds like a song that needs to be written.. (or has been already a thousand times)

    So....I guess my route will be significantly smaller this year, as I figured I'd go around helping those locally who need it most. those who cannot afford to pay someone to clear their driveways. I figured I'd block my license plate, and put on a black mask just like the Lone Ranger. This way, no one's security cameras would know who I was. Maybe a rubber halloween mask of Richard Nixon ? Scooby Doo ? Popeye ?

    Am I just being an arse as usual? Am I taking money out of the mouths of other "legitimately insured" contractors? The groups of pedestrian Mexicans with shovels that are all over the place when it snows?, or am I just beating the "fly by night uninsured dude with a truck", out of a few (on the side) bucks. if I get there first and clear the locals drives before they can? Guess I'm going to really be pissing some people off, eh? I think I'll attach a smoke generating machine under the truck so that when I need to make a getaway from all you legitimate guys I'm beating up, you won't be able to follow me home...

    So, I may be able to just help a few people out and still get my "plowing fix"... and feeling though I did some good for someone else that didn't even expect it... My first stop will be to try to hook up with the local VFW and get a list of all the local veterans and see if they'd like their drives cleaned out for free. Next will be the churches and see who has coverage and who doesn't. At least if I do this, I'll feel as though I have some purpose this winter, other than sit around and watch the world pass by. Who knows, maybe I can find out where Christie lives and clear out his driveway so that he can get his fat ass out of bed and go walk a few miles around town before he begins his day pushing his road to the Whitehouse....

    Flame away.....
  2. kimber750

    kimber750 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,681

    Get out of The People's Republic of New Jersey. :drinkup:

    PS Where you been hiding?
  3. rjigto4oje

    rjigto4oje PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,380

    What about working for someone else so you can recoup some of the money you put out be a sub Making a little bit may help good luck
  4. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,783

    This business has become hard for a lot of small contractors. I'm down 8 sites this year over last. Nothing to do with job or service, just out bid on price by 15-20%.
    My GL doesn't go down because I'm doing less, it's based off last years numbers and it is significantly higher than your bill, ( I too am a 1 man operation) I'm told I do well, my bills are paid, I have no debt but I've been doing this for 27 years and watched the bills for doing it climb while the rates for service go down.
    I have an old mentor who over winters in Cuba and I don't see that as my lifestyle, I like to work.
    I am hoping you're just in a funk and need some cheering up. We all go through that. The great thing about being small is you can do what you want and deal with who you want. I know some guys with operations 10 times the size of mine that are just spinning their equipment and turning money over, at the end of the season they pay themselves less than I pay myself. Get up and go to work it's snowing...
  5. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    I would but I'd have to hire a divorce lawyer to do so. Know any good ones ?

    Mom got sick

    I took care of her

    Mom died

    Family sued me for what I did not do, for what she did not actually posess

    Acquitted by courts while accumulating $15k in debt to "lawyers" just to defend myself.

    Lots of other goodies which made my life as difficult as possible over the last 2 years

    How about you?

    They want me to have my own insurance.

    I'd make less per hour working for them, than I would working for my existing customers.

    In all honesty, I can't see myself ever working for anyone else ever again. I think they'll put me in the box with my hands on my tool pouch...
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  6. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    Amen Brother.... I'm sure next year the standalone GL policy will match or beat your rate.. :p

    Nothing else makes me as happy as doing something productive

    Not here.. not yet. Maybe soon.

    Nothing more satisfying than being your own boss. Me? Going on 12 years now, and I wouldn't trade it for anything..... well, maybe being a huge mega lottery winner Thumbs Upor successful well known porn star... ;)

    That might be fun too :eek:
  7. peteo1

    peteo1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,660

    This thread pisses me off for no other reason than I'm sick and tired of seeing the small guy lose. It happens every year to someone and sooner or later I'm sure it'll be my turn but as far as I can tell you've always been a pretty decent guy and straight forward about everything. I sincerely hope there are brighter days ahead for you sir
  8. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699


    Shouldn't get so pissed in the morning. Not at least before your first coffee...or beer ???:drinkup:

    I look at it this way.... If I can't make money by doing what I love to do, than at minimum, I can make other people's lives a bit easier by doing something completely unexpected, and helpful for them.

    Either way, I win.....Thumbs Up
  9. kimber750

    kimber750 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,681

    No I don't know any divorce lawyers, but my brother should. :rolleyes:

    Sorry to hear about your mom. :( And I understand what you had to go through with family. Nothing like death to turn everyone into butthats.

    I am doing pretty good. Wifey still yells at me, so I know she still cares. :dizzy:
  10. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    Thanks. I was able to provide her the respectful passing that she deserved. If I didn't get involved, she would have passed away in NC in some unnamed state facility by herself, with no one around. We were able to let the past go before she left, so I'm thankful for what I did, regardless of the aftermath that I faced, or turmoil I experienced. Some families go NUTS (like mine) after the patriarch or matriarch passes. Truly a shame, but happens more than not. Another one of life's learning experiences, I guess.:cool:

    My wife yells at me all the time. I had no idea this was an indicator of how much. WOW.... I never knew I was so loved...:eek:
  11. Ben/Insurance

    Ben/Insurance Sponsor
    Messages: 166

    Dogplow, FWIW, our minimum premium is significantly lower than $6K for our snow GL program.
  12. McG_Landscaping

    McG_Landscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    Why not shop insurance companies?
  13. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    I sent you an email on 9/28, but received no response. Didn't think you were still providing these polices. Since I haven't been on this website for a while, I hadn't yet noticed your presence here. I'll resend it today.

    I did

    Everything from $5k to $20k for one truck with a plow. Crazy numbers.

    A few moments ago, after I got back to my office from doing a few estimates, I received an email from another company which gave me a $3825 quote for a 6 month policy. Better, but still a lot of seat time with no real income.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  14. quigleysiding

    quigleysiding PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,129

    Sorry to here about your Mom.
    Sub for your local town or state . You dont need GL for state and town roads. They cant sue the town or state .At least you can"t in my state. We just need a truck policy . I only need GL for my siding business,
  15. slc12345

    slc12345 Member
    from CT
    Messages: 54

    don't feel bad. we are a med. sized company in ct. our snow plow GL went from 7K six years ago to 15k last year to 28k this year. I just want to sell everything and say F-it all!!! We have been shopping since August and this is the best we can find. And it is %100 payable on date of start of insurance so will have to take a loan out just for that. 'Once you add summer insurance, truck, workers comp it is over 1K per week, whole thing makes me sick
  16. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,943

    Dog!!! Crap I can't believe I missed this thread last night, I got opinions, you got my email or atleast did, email or pm me your phone # so we can chat. I REALLY hope you can stay plowing since you enjoy it & we all should do what we enjoy if we can. Take care bud & hope to hear from you soon!!
  17. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    YOU OKAY ?

    Hope I didn't startle you, big guy. Don't want to get into any trouble with customs, you know.:D
  18. Chineau

    Chineau Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    The injustice of it guy wants to work and the insurance industry screwing him under, that sucks road apples. It sounds like they are not agents working on your behalf to find a policy at a price point that works for you. I don't know if this would work but I have seen people post on here that work in the insurance industry do they have to be from New Jersey or could you get insurance out of state? I don't know how your laws work, good luck.
  19. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    So what other fields of work are you in ?
  20. kolwnmstr

    kolwnmstr Senior Member
    Messages: 223

    Try Merchants Insurance