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residential plowers

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by bob ny, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. bob ny

    bob ny Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Do many of you offer shoveling of walks,stairs, decks and ramps.how do you do it Do you have a helper to do it while you plow? how much do you charge? bob w.
  2. snowplowpro

    snowplowpro Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 926

    I try not to but unless its absolutely necessary I hate doing sidewalks if I see the neighborhood kids ill throw them twenty bucks to shovel it I don't do it unless they ask.
  3. Wilnip

    Wilnip Senior Member
    Messages: 592

    I don't promote shoveling but will if a customer wants it done with their drive. I charge a few bucks to shovel and a few to apply calcium. The ones I do only takes a few minutes to shovel.
  4. ScubaSteve728

    ScubaSteve728 Senior Member
    Messages: 499

    i shovel
    i use the snowblower for the big storms
    sometimes ill ask my neighbor to come along with me to shovel
  5. blazer2plower

    blazer2plower Senior Member
    Messages: 544

    I don't like to do it. If they the customer wants it done ill do it for a fee. Just like salt if they want it it's $$$$$$$$$
  6. jhall22guitar

    jhall22guitar PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,056

    I run a blower for heavy wet snow at a building my family owns, otherwise I just shovel it quick. its easy, and I like to move my legs every now and then, plus I got the Carhartt for a reason!

    Some of the drives I do have a small walkway so Ill do that for a few bucks or free if the persons never complained! It helps keep customers is what I am hoping.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  7. Earthscapes

    Earthscapes Senior Member
    from WNY
    Messages: 577

    We do a couple. The price is double the cost of the driveway for the season.
    Why ?
    Cause we have to get out of the truck, which means the truck is sitting, wasting fuel when it could be plowing other driveways. It would be even more if I had to send my sidewalk crew over...
  8. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    We do offer residential shoveling. I have it set up so that at the conclusion of a storm, a shoveling crew will hit the road. They will run on an 8 hour shift at maximum capacity, and the reason I say "will" is because as of today we do not yet have an entire 8 hour route scheduled for this crew. Doing it at the conclusion of the storm, the customer is only billed once for the shoveling and it minimizes during storm operations (which is often more hectic). It is a completely separate charge from the driveway.

    As far as pricing goes, like it is talked about thousands of times on this forum, you can't just pull numbers out of the air, or go and ask other guys "hey what do you charge". I understand its easy to do that, I've been there, but it won't get you anywhere in the long run. Do some research on here about determining pricing based on expenses and overhead.

    But as far as pricing shoveling specifically, without getting into a long winded discussion about proper overhead recovery and all that, you need to create a repeatable formula, otherwise your pricing will be all over the place, winning on some jobs and loosing on the others. I've created a system to price all shoveling jobs that would allow me, you, and anyone else on this forum to come to the exact price as each other would for the job. I thought of this concept when I was sitting in a breakfast place and noticed that the menu was $2 for the eggs and toast, and everything else was little $1 - $3 upcharges to build a breakfast. It looked cheap, but when you added up to a substancial breakfast, you were at a normal price for what you got. Creating a shoveling "order form" system clicked for me in my head at that moment.

    It starts with a minimum truck/travel charge. This is the price that covers driving there. Then each item to shovel has a price set for it, based on the size of that item. None of the prices I'm providing below are my real prices as I've put way to much work into this to just lay it "all" out like that.

    So FOR EXAMPLE it could look something like this..

    Truck Charge: $10.

    Walkway up to 25' - $2
    Walkway up to 50' - $5
    Walkway up to 75' - $8

    Steps up to 5 - $2
    Steps up to 10 - $4
    Steps up to 15 - $6

    Garage Doors - $1 each

    City Sidewalk up to 25' - $7

    etc, etc.... Until you get through all the size catagories of all the items to shovel that you may run across.

    I make this into an order form type of format, add quantity to each applicable section, and then add it all up, and we will all come to the exact same number. Looking at each item, you may think that it looks really cheap. But when you add up all the items that you would need to shovel, you will come to a substancial number that is reasonable for the work to be done.

    But if you want to keep shoveling on a smaller scale (I wouldn't blame you), then having a helper do it is best. If you do it, then your truck, that can easily be producing well over $130 an hour in revenue, is sitting while you shovel, loosing revenue. If you figure it takes 15 mins to plow a drive, and 10 mins to shovel, and you have a 4 hour route cycle time then you can only complete around 9.5 driveways w/ shoveling during your route. Now add a shoveler to the truck who is doing the 10 mins of shoveling while you are doing the 15 mins of plowing. Now you can do 16 driveways during your route cycle. If your getting $50 per service, without help your capacity would have you stuck at $475 per route cycle. With the addition of a shoveler, you would be at $800 in revenue per route cycle, simply based on theoretical numbers for purposes of example.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  9. peteo1

    peteo1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,660

    So for my sidewalk, garage door, and right of way walks it would be $22, in theory. That's a nifty little idea you have there.
  10. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    Yes, and of course the actual numbers will need to first be built around the company's expenses and overhead, and then fine tuned to what the local market rates will accept.

    When I was first designing my residential pricing matrix I found myself getting so detail oriented that I realized any salesman would need to have years of plow and shoveling experience to even approach it. Thats fine now since I still do most of the sales, but that was not my long term goal. My goal was to create a system that can be repeated over and over, on a much larger scale than just myself. When anything as simple as residential shoveling gains volume, the law of averages begins to come into play more and more.

    For instance, the same price would be given for a 25' walkway that is 2 feet wide, as a 25' walkway that is 6' wide. Theres not as much money in the 6' wide walkway, but there is a surplus of profit above and beyond the anticipated budget in the 2' wide walkway because the system design is based on average walkway widths (or production rates) that I encounter in my market, which is between the two.

    Its really all about knowing the business metrics that you need to track, and then designing spreadsheets, databases, and systems to track this info. Once production metrics are benchmarked and a database is built from it all, that information becomes incredibly powerful for a company to have. I never realized how important it was, until I tracked everything and had the data sitting in front of me. What I learned from that experience wowed me.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  11. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,943

    I offer it, & make quit a bit off it, even do all driveways in gated communities by hand/shovel. if they pay, I'll do it. But like others said I try to avoid it.
  12. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    I already had back surgery once and they want me to have it again so I DO NOT shovel.(period)

    PS by not shoveling my truck (Jeeps) make a minimum of $175/hour usually closer to $300/hr
  13. wondo

    wondo Senior Member
    Messages: 146

    Most of my residential drives just have a walkway which I shovel it doesn't take long. For my year round, well paying customers, I'll throw it in. The customers I only push for get charged another 5-10 bucks. I sell the salt too but that's $$. With the exception of one driveway that is also the neighborhood bus stop for the elementary aged kids, I have always thought good work and doing a little extra makes happy paying customers... and the moms that wait for their kids at the bus stop are cute.
  14. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    Doing residential walks is a part of the snow service I offer, its no different then cleaning a Dr.office lot and there sidewalks
    My sidewalk crew of 2 guys will do most of the driveways
  15. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    If you price a 2'x25' say $8.00 then a 6'x25' will be 3x$8.00 = $24
  16. ponyboy

    ponyboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,104

    Residential drive and walk get done same time 2 guys per truck
    Commerical we keep main walk open with a driver and a shoveler in each truck
    As dorm nears I have 7 hours to omelette walks my shovel crew goes out 4 guys with blowers and calcium
    I charge $45 a man hour for shoveling and $50 a bag of calcium my places request zero tolerance on walks and they pay for it
  17. birddseedd

    birddseedd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,516

    for residential I charge 10 bucks if i have to do the walk. probably about half of what it is worth. they typicialy say do it if its heavier snowfall. this year iv only got one.

    tho i also have my church. pastor wanted me to start doing the walks aswell. im not really trying to make a bunch of money off of my church, but he gave me a minimum charge, after hte lot came to 10 bucks. im charging 10 for shoveling and 10 for calcium. its probably worth 40 bucks total. probably 70 ish feet. half a slope half steps.

    borrowing a buddies back pack blower so if its not wet i should be able to clear it in about a minute and a half.
  18. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,362

    I actually promote sidewalk shoveling- we do it for probably 95% of my residential clients- here's my rationale: my business model basically is to be everyone's "one stop shop" for everything they need for their property/estate maintenance- we are a landscape contracting company- do everything from design to construction to maintenance (mostly maintenance these days though with the down-economy). Now, of the clientele I have, 90% of them are what I like to call "just make it happen" client.... meaning that they don't want to be bothered with having to hire a different contractor to fix the irrigation in the summer, apply the pesticides, etc- so, if it's not something I'm able to do, I work as the GC and "just make it happen"- charging accordingly of course for my logistics time (mark-up).

    Now, shoveling is probably my #1 selling point for this same reason- 90% of my clients either; a) don't want to have to touch a snow shovel (actually have a few who probably don't even own one!) or b) aren't able to shovel (physically). So, when I get a call for a new client (I'm very heavily referral based- very little marketing, and that's the way I like it- no better advertising than word of mouth), I'm usually able to sell myself on the fact that we DO shovel the front walk/clear out the garage doors- and yes, my price is higher than the "last plow guy" they had, but to date, I haven't ever lost a snow client to another contractor. Why- superior service and doing what other guys "don't want to be bothered" to deal with- i.e. snow shoveling.

    So (after that long dissertation), as long as you're able to cover your time from the shoveling, OFFER IT! Especially if you service high end clientele- it'll come back to you in spades when they comment to their friends about how "yeah, my plowing contractor takes care of EVERYTHING"- being able to drive out of their warm garage each morning to a clear driveway on the way to work, and a clean drive and sidewalk on their way home is well worth the $$ to these people.

    Oh and for logistics purposes- we shovel (or use snowblowers if it's a large storm) at the last "cleanup" round of plowing- saves time during the storm, allowing us to keep all the drives opened up through the storm (another thing that sets us apart from other plowers).

    Good luck! :salute:
  19. birddseedd

    birddseedd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,516

    basically what i do. one stop shop and all, accept people in michigan caint afford to pay a good price for shoveling. i do have a customer that would, accept he doesn't use the front door.
  20. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,943

    Wow, well said! cause thats what I think almost word for word. Like I said I make a good amount on shoveling, I too would say I shovel for almost all my customers(resi or com.) I even go so far as to brush off the snow for there cars if they want. This is one of the reasons I've been as successful as I am. I say re-read mkwl post again & really absorb what is said, cause(for me anyway) it has been a recipe for success!