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plowing rates

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Scenic Lawnscape, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. Scenic Lawnscape

    Scenic Lawnscape Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    I am just now getting in to this, I have been pondering it for a few years. What is the rule of thumb for charging commercial customers.. On a per push basis 1" to 2" 2" to 4" and so on.. and also why are so many snow removal company's anti-residential?? any help please email me at Rjemmers@wideopenwest.com:confused:
  2. SnowProGRES

    SnowProGRES Member
    Messages: 34

  3. Snoworks

    Snoworks Senior Member
    Messages: 466

    Is there one correct answer to your question, no. But I will try to break it down for you. Charge enough to cover all plowing expenses(ie. drivers pay, truck payment, plow costs, material, etc.) and the rest of your business overhead for starters. Now you have to add $'s for profit.

    Most of contractors on this site, who own there own snowplowing business are probably in the ballpark of $90.00 to $150.00 and hour, per truck. You can price accounts several ways, per push, seasonal, by the 1", etc, but all these prices can be achieved using an hourly rate to start with. Get your $ per hour rate calculated, then plug into each individual bid. This should get you started. If your not sure how long it will take to plow certain lots, you might need some seat time plowing commercial accounts. If this is the case, maybe you sub for anouther contractor for a year, to get the feel of how much you can do per hour.

    As far as residential plowing - My experience is that their is more money per hour to be made plowing residential driveways than plowing commercially. No debate in my book. My trucks have made as little as $235.00 and hour during a heavy snow season, up to $450.00 an hour when we have a lite snow season. This is based on a seasonal contract with avr. driveway pricing at $310.00. Typical plowing avr. of 10 plows a season.

    Where things change is when commercial customers request salting!!!! Right away, no mater where you are located, you can count on 4 times your original estimated revenue, due to salt. Not to metion you can apply the salt in about 1/4 of the time that you plowed the lot, if not faster. And you can assume the salting application is typically close to the price that the plowing is being done for. You should find that salt profit margins will far exceeding the snowplowing profit margins, for most situations. Dont get me wrong, to get set up for salting, and to apply it correctly, does not happen over nite. You have to educate yourself on this art, and I think think it is an art if done correctly.

    Once you taste the fruits of salts labor, its hard to look back to the residential side with much favor. Residential plowing is not easy work, way to many variables for most to deal with in the long term.

    Hope this helps.

    Chuck B.
  4. Scenic Lawnscape

    Scenic Lawnscape Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    thanks that helps
  5. micah79

    micah79 Senior Member
    Messages: 303

    I live in the Detroit Suburbs as well. Here is an example of what Chuck is saying. I have a factory that pays $250/plow. It takes 1 truck about 2 hours, and another half hour with the ATV plow(sidewalks). Salting is my bank on this job. I get $200 to salt. I buy 1 1/2 ton 2 miles down the road for about $65. It takes me 45 min max to salt the whole lot and walks. Thats $135 profit for 45 min. vs. $250 for 2 1/2 hours of plowing. Salting is also more fun than plowing in my opinion. (Plowing is fun too). Then there are all of the snows that are below the 2" plowing trigger. I do a salt application at least once each of these storms. Sometimes 2 apps. the same day.(depending on their request.) Just don't rip commercials off. Chances are that they have been ripped off in the past, fired the old contractor, and that is why they are hiring you. There is a large margin of profit to be made, just don't lie and tell them that you are using 3 tons, when 1 1/2 tons will do. Many of them know the difference and are paranoid because many dishonest plowing contractors give the rest of us a bad name.
  6. CPSS

    CPSS Senior Member
    Messages: 334

    Be honest! Thats for sure, I have gotten many commercial accounts because the previous guy was not honest. IE: saying he plowed twice in the night, or saying he applied 3 tons of salt rather than 1. Commercial accounts don't mind spending the money if they can see a benefit to them or their customers.:drinkup:
  7. whitetail

    whitetail Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    I found these rates in a cost guide and would like to know what people think.
    snow removal with a pick-up truck
    2-4 inches $2.21 per 1000s.f.
    4-10 inches $2.97 per 1000s.f.
    10-15 inches $5.15 per 1000s.f.
    snow removal with a skid steer and 1cy bucket
    $7.40 per 1000s.f.
    $5.35 per 1000s.f. (includes material)
    sidewalk snow removal with a 24" blower
    $0.31 per cubic foot of snow
  8. micah79

    micah79 Senior Member
    Messages: 303

    I agree wuth CPSS!!!!! Be more honest people. We have a bad enough name already!
  9. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    So, if I have a 10' wide driveway, 100 feet long, that'd be $2.21? Something doesn't seem right.... :confused:

    (The above example is to illustrate why site specific circumstances make each case special. )

    Seriously though, you'll often see the figure of 40,000 sq, feet per hour as the rule of thumb for a plow truck. At $2.21, that's still only $88.40/hr. That's certainly lower than what most of our members shoot for as an hourly rate for their trucks. The $2.97 figure is a little better, but only if it's at the *extreme* low end of that range (4"). No way 10" is worth that little.

    Just out of curiousity, what "cost guide" were you looking at?
  10. Snoworks

    Snoworks Senior Member
    Messages: 466

    Digger is right, all those numbers seem way to low, for any area.

    Chuck B.
  11. Mick

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

    As an example, I have one driveway that is 1 car wide and 50' long. So that's about 500 sq ft. Now according to that guide, I should charge $1.10. Considering also that it's a one mile drive to get to it... See the problem?

    Check the copyright. Maybe it was published in 1951.
  12. Jake00

    Jake00 Junior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 19

    Hi Mick,

    Some new business I'm drumming up down here is on the tails of unreliable plowers in the past. I'm finding a vast difference in pricing. I looked at 1 driveway that the fella paid $30 last year ... should be $20 (maybe). ($20 is my lowest). Another one paid $20 to a different person, and should have paid 25 or 30 due to the complexity of it.

    My angle is that as I take on new accounts, I try to level the playing field by looking at the driveway first ... think about it ... then give a price. I don't want to price gouge, but I need to make ends meet too.

    So I guess my point is that I don't go strictly by the square footage rule ... I apply the rule of common sense and "How quickly can I get in and get the job done, and move on to the next?" Simple driveways obviously get the lower price.

  13. whitetail

    whitetail Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    Those rates were from the 2003 R.S.Means Landscaping and Site Works cost guide. They did have rates for driveways that I did not take down. If I remember them correctly it was about $45.00 for a single car driveway. They defined that as 10ft. wide by 50ft. long, I think. I agree that these rates seem to be low. You also have to take into account the fact that the have a geographic conversion factor. For example, in the Baltimore area, the conversion factor is .91 thus lowering the rates even more. In some other areas the conversion rate was higher than 1.0 but not much. I agree that site specific estimeting is an absolute neccessity if you intend on making a profit and remaining in business. At these rates I could not remain in business and make a profit that would be worth the problems that come up every winter.

    WOOFSPLOW Member
    Messages: 76

    Hello all, this is my first post. First I would like to say that I love to plow and plow well. Some guys I see race around a parking lot and are gone in 5 mins. but the lot looks like hell. I did the commercial end for a while - too many hassles. This year I am doing 90% residential and going after a few commercial lots. I am charging a flat rate of $20 for any driveway. Question: I am required to carry $500,000 in lialibility to plow gas stations in this area, is this pretty much standard? This is a great site. Look for my truck pictures I am going to post next week. Thanks, Jim
  15. Santo

    Santo Banned
    Messages: 255

    I am the customer and it snows 10"
    Are you willing to accept the 4-10 price rate?
  16. JustUsDe

    JustUsDe Senior Member
    Messages: 181

    I mostly plow subdivisions and find them my most profitable and the most to pay in a timely fashion. They all require me to have a 1Mill gl Insurance policy. The price for it is not much more than for 500,000. In my opinion if it doesn't cost you much more get the 1Mill. There is alot of walking by pedestrians at gas stations, makes for a better chance of a slip and fall case. I would rather spend a little more upfront then alot later. Just my 2cents.

  17. micah79

    micah79 Senior Member
    Messages: 303


    How can you charge a flat rate for any driveway. $20 would be way to low for many drives (in any market) How could it be worth it to only charge $20 for a big u drive that holds like 30 cars? $20 is the least I will charge for any drive. I don't consider it to be very effecient to charge $20 for a drive that takes 5 min and also charge $20 for a drive that takes 15 min. I know drive time is a big factor but still..... The same price for 3 times the work?
    Maybe all of your drives are approx the same size....but mine sure aren't so it doesn't make sense to me.
  18. Mick

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

    Hi, Jim. Glad to see you back on PlowSite. Are you going to replace that cutting edge this year? :nod: :drinkup:
  19. PetalsandPines

    PetalsandPines Senior Member
    Messages: 260

    Factoring in contracts

    Now everyone is focused on per plow rates, But here in Buffalo where we can go out on the average of 20-30 times per year, and that is not including the time you got to go back and hit what the municipal plows throw at you! So where do you guys stand on that ? 25 x 20$ = $500 plus sidewalks for the average driveway will get you laughed at from now to next week, although this is what I think the pricing should be at, there are too many people doing this on the side (even big companies too) to make good money around here! I would love if Buffalonians would chime in on this one. I wish we could all get together and come up with reasonable rates...There IS enough work to go around, but everyone has to be on the same page.....I know-IMPOSSIBLE:cry: :cry: