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Shovels only - Snovel :)

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Warren_Ottawa, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. Warren_Ottawa

    Warren_Ottawa Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Where to start...

    I live in a suburb area in Ottawa Canada. Moderate snowfalls.

    I understand that most of you will think this is a completely ridiculous plan but here it goes..

    My Plan:

    I have a business consultation (free) tomorrow, I plan on finding out how much it is to become a licensed snow removal business and get an idea of insurance costs for my type of business.

    My house is surrounded by one and 2 car driveways probably 100 - 200 sq ft. on average, mostly owned by older folk. I would like to offer snow removal services by shoveling only. No plows ect. and I will market myself as eco friendly, safer, no property damage.

    The biggest dilema I am having right now is that I only own a 2003 cavalier... it has gotten me around in the winter for the past 2 years without much of a problem so I guess it will be able to make due. Shovels will fit inside :D but any suggestions for a good roof rack? Trailer hitch and attached storage compartment or anything like that?

    Getting the contracts will be the easy part, I plan on charging PREMIUM prices such as $40 for 2-4 inches $50 for 5-8 and $60 for anything above 8 inches. I only want to have 15-20 clients. I will mark down times and dates for when I show up and invoice them on the 1st of every month.

    I am in outstanding shape as I am a junior A hockey player and avid athlete, 6'5 210lbs. I understand that shoveling is a intense workout and very exerting, I would estimate it will take me 20minutes per driveway on a light-average snowfall.

    Well thats enough ranting, you guys can see what I am trying to do here.

    I tried searching for business like this (shovel only, small client base) but could not find any! (I wonder why haha)

    So I was wondering if anyone has any input, i.e do you see this being profitable?

    another question I had is how fussy are people about having their driveway cleared by certain times? Like are most clients expecting their driveway to be cleared before they even leave for work? How big of a buffer zone is there between the time it has snowed enough to hit your "trigger" (see I did some research :) ) and the time you clear the driveway? 3 hours?
  2. exmark1

    exmark1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,321

    lol good luck! I can't see people paying top dollar to have it shoveled when in most cases it would be cheaper to get a plow or blower guy to come in and do it
  3. DaytonBioLawns

    DaytonBioLawns Banned
    from 45458
    Messages: 347

    If you were near me I'd hire you as the director for my sidewalk crew! No joke my guys are too lazy...they complain about having to push single stage blowers:eek: I started that way...But i think your over-booking to start on your own. start with 5 or 10 and add during the season...charge high prices because it is hard labor and your body needs food. When I did it in junior high and freshman year of highschool I ate 3 to 4 more times what I do when I'm not doing it. You can literally feel the cold suck the energy out of you and you can feel losing strength....It is hazardous to your health too. Get a physical first.
  4. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    You've got a lot of ambition thats for sure. First off being a high level hockey player, are you going to be able to be there when they need you. I played competitive hockey for years and it took me all over the place. Second, look into a Toro single stage blower. We have the larger one (I can't remember the model) but it blows through quite a bit of snow with no problems. I know you want to stay eco friendly but using this blower would cut your time by 1/3 I bet. Plus, it would fit in either your trunk or back seat if need be. Our junior OHL team is just getting started (Erie Otter's). One more thing, everybody is eco friendly or tries to be but when it comes down to spending, you will be surprised how eco unfriendly people can be by saving a few bucks. I would emphasize the fact that a snow blower cleans better than a plow and go from there. Good luck brotha!
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  5. martyman

    martyman Senior Member
    Messages: 281

    I guess its possible...The only problem you might have is if you get hit with a big snow storm...I'm in a mild section for snow here in Ontario and I won't even hand shovel most of my customers walkways. I think the having a small one stage snowblower as a backup is a good idea, you could fit one in your trunk. Put some good snow tires on that Cavalier and you might not get stuck.
  6. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    its seems businesses are remembered for how poorly they did in the big storms and not for how well they do the rest of the year, so limit the amount of clients to something you can handle during 6" + storm, my guess is keep it to around 10.

    carry a couple different types of shovels, the really wide ones for powder and 3" or less snows, and a smaller heavier duty one for the wet and deep snow.

    also keep some sand or salt in the car in case you get stuck.

    older people have +'s and -'s, many times they can't afford premium services, but also they can be more flexible. a buddy of mine had a few that he didn't plow until he got home from work, and that could be 12+ hours after the storm ended, but the customers didn't mind (this was all arranged this way at the start of the season) just as long as it got done.

    I think your going to have conflicts with Hockey, but if you don't think so....

    good luck.
  7. plowatnight

    plowatnight Senior Member
    from Mn
    Messages: 305

    I can't see why it wouldn't work! How can a business w/ no debt and no fixed cost go broke. If thats what you want to do, GO FOR IT! How many guys left their paper route to shovel the little old neighbor lady's drive and turned it into a career business. The only advise I'd give is this,buy a 6.5 hp Toro single stage blower and and a platform into a reciever hitch for your car. This is still "eco-friendly" and much MUCH more efficient. Efficient is pure profit. Remember, you consider this a business, so, BE efficient and make more $$ w/ very little investment.

    MIDTOWNPC PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,556

    There are lots of condos in my area and places like that want all the walks shoveled.
    Im not talking just the entrances. They want their deck, patios, ramps, everything. Some even want their ledges swept off. Also their flagstone walks or detailed brick walks.

    I have one that we have to shovel, the driveway is grantite chips, the walks all flagstone.
    Bed and breakfast place, so they don't want the noise, but want the guests to have a clean walk and be able to sleep in.

    The are people that want that look of a shoveled drive way where every edge is sculpted exactly. They use to do it themselves but cant now.

    Its a niche market. If you even mention that the money is going to help you save for hockey, or for school I think your pretty much in.

    You should make friends with someone that does standard drive ways, so if someone doesnt want your services they just want it plowed, you can refer them and the other guy will refer to you. Or maybe you could be the other guy too.
  9. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    very good point, anytime a kid comes to my door they need to be from my neighborhood or very close, have a good need (not just needing money) and it helps if they have something I want :D
  10. Warren_Ottawa

    Warren_Ottawa Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks for all the support guys!

    I like the idea of getting a single stage blower to help me out at times, someone on here said it will fit in my trunk? Are there certain blowers that are meant to be compact and fold down and stuff? My trunk is quite small... I would estimate 36 inches wide and 20 inches tall at best.. I have a hard time seeing a snow blower fit in there.

    I also am taking the advice of not taking on too many clients. I think 10 will be plenty for my first season, if I need more work I can add more clients as I go.

    I am thinking of just using a pretty general contract, to protect me from liability and state the pricing method I will be using and when I will be shoveling how often ect. Will be just a once paged document attached to my advertising letter. I will go door to door and offer my services, have them sign up right there and thats' that, payment will not be needed until the start of the next month.

    For larger storms I will hire a friend or 2 and pay them 10 bucks an hour to come help me, I already have a couple friends that said they would come help for free!

    As for hockey last year was my final year and I am just playing recreactional (beer league) hockey now so it shouldn't get in the way too much.

    Anyways, Thanks for all the help! Time to put this plan into action!
  11. DaytonBioLawns

    DaytonBioLawns Banned
    from 45458
    Messages: 347

    I'm not saying do anything illegal...just to clear it up before I say it...

    But I doubt that you will have overhead if you shovel...its highly unlikely if you do it as a cash income that anyone will get you for not being licensed.

    It is always better to be licensed and insured...but i wouldn't bother with it unless I was using commercial equipment like a blower. Get a realllllllly small General Liability practice if you are doing this. Just enough to cover the grass if you happen to kill it with ice melt...I doubt you will do property damage....BUT IF YOU ARE NOT LICENSED AND INSURED TO STATE STANDARDS...DO NOT...and i repeat...DO NOT HAVE A CONTRACT. At that point it will just hurt you when something goes wrong. They can track you by the paper. Just have a general service statement. At most make a flyer without any contact or personal info and give it to them and say this is what I do...That way if crap hits the fan because America is so lawsuit trigger happy, you can slip into the wood work.

    I mean come on your shoveling...Would they hold a 12 year old liable for stuff...an 8 year old...I doubt it. but be safe.
  12. cold_and_tired

    cold_and_tired PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,247

    I like the idea. I too think you should start small and work your way up. It's easier to add more accounts in the middle of the season than it is to walk away.

    A single stage blower should fit in the trunk but you will have to leave the trunk lid open.

    If you lived by me, I would pay you to shovel mine. In fact, I think there is a niche market in plowing the plow guys driveway. I know the last thing I want to do when I get done with a 20 hour event is go home and have to plow my own driveway.
  13. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    I would pay big money to have my walks and driveway shoveled as I get home from the storm.

    Serious good niche market.
  14. MileHigh

    MileHigh PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,827

    My neighbor always does mine...he's got a snowblower. :drinkup:
  15. Warren_Ottawa

    Warren_Ottawa Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Business Consultation went very well. $60 to register my business name, $155 to be a licensed residential snow removal business that does not use heavy machinery/ trucks.

    I have started making a letter/ advertisment that I will be giving to potential clients. If anyone cares to look it over and give me some input it would be much appreciated!

    This is more of a test run season just to get the hang of the business side of things, next season I will be taking on more contracts as well as getting more equipment.


    Snow Removal Service

    About Snovel

    Snovel is a single owner business entering it’s first year of operations. It is locally owned and operated in the Fallingbrook area. Snovel does not use or contract plow trucks or heavy equipment of any sort. We strive to be as eco-friendly as possible and as safe as possible, putting your safety and property above everything else.

    For our inaugural season we will be exclusively working for only 13 residential clients located within 1 km proximity of one another. We have chosen to limit the number of contracts we obtain in our first year of operation to ensure customer satisfaction and snow removal in a timely fashion.

    We believe that the safest, cleanest and overall best way to remove snow from a driveway is by using shovels and snow blowers.

    For snowfalls within the range of 1” – 4” all snow removal work will be done using fibreglass snow shovels. For snow falls exceeding 4” a combination of shovels and an eco friendly snow blower will be used.

    Below is a list of reasons you should hire Snovel to do your snow removal:

    • No damage to your driveway from heavy plow blades being dragged across it
    • No damage to your lawn from plow’s pushing snow back
    • Snow is dispersed over your lawn, avoiding large snow bank accumulation at the end of your driveway, which is an eyesore as well as a safety hazard.
    • Shovels and Snow blowers cut much straighter edges than do plows, allowing for a much neater and tidier finished product
    • Your driveway will not “shrink” as snow will be cleared right from one edge of your driveway to the other, keeping a distinct line between your driveway and your lawn.
    • You will not be awaken in the middle of the night by the noise of a plow
    • You will be helping the environment!

    Our Service

    Whether you choose the per visit option or the seasonal option we promise to do the following:

    • Use only fibreglass snow shovels and snow blowers
    • Remove snow from driveway once 1.5” has fallen
    • Remove snow from all walkways and porches in the front of house
    • Remove build up of snow at end of driveway from the city plows
    • Maintain snow banks at a reasonable height and size
    • Remove snow from any vehicles parked in driveway
    • Protect and maintain your property as if it were our own


    We offer 2 Contract options:

    Per Visit (Single and Double driveways only):
    We offer you a price per visit. If accepted we automatically arrive when the snowfall accumulation reaches 1.5 Inches. All visits will be added up and billed to you at the end of each month. Your amount would vary from month to month due to increased or decreased snowfall.

    We will offer you a lump sum total for the season and divide it by 5 months. If accepted we automatically arrive when the snowfall accumulation reaches 1.5 Inches. We will require payment at the end of each month after the service is rendered.

    Price Per Visit

    Snowfall Price
    1.5 – 3.4 Inches $40.00
    3.5 – 5.4 Inches $45.00
    5.5 – 7.4 Inches $55.00
    7.5 – 9.4 Inches $60.00
    9.5 + Inches $70.00

    Seasonal Pricing

    Single Driveway - $150/Month
    Double Driveway - $175/Month
    Triple Driveway - $195/Month
  16. plowatnight

    plowatnight Senior Member
    from Mn
    Messages: 305

    This looks fine for what you want to acccomplish, Another blower option would be like the Toro snow shovel electric and you could use your customers plug in to power the unit. very quit and efficient and fits in the car
  17. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,644

    some thoughts...

    get paid at the beginning of the month, not the end. when the grass is green people have a hard time paying for snow.

    since its just you take the "we" out of your contract.

    i wouldn't bother explaining its your first year, people are a pain and don't care.

    I like that your using a blower over 6"

    go easy on the "eco" talk, those that buy into it are usually nuts, use bio diesel and wear wool :D If you really believe it than thats different, just don't say it if you ain't gonna walk the walk so to speak.

    your heading in the right direction, I hope you make payup
  18. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,257

    Having started in this business doing residential I know that people are cheap. My driveway is 900 sq' and I'm not close to the shape you are in and I can do mine in less the 20 minutes. You might be looking at 10 min. but I bet even less. Having said that I think your prices are quite high. I have read on here that residential in Ottawa go for $300/year. On a 20 snowfall year you will be closer to $800. Also you have to consider coming back to clear the ends of all the drives after the street plow finishes. On a 8" snowfall you will have to make 2 rounds. People will have to pay double. I could see you going 25 times and billing someone $1000. Here that just wouldn't work. Next what happens if you get 3 customers. Are you going to get out of bed to do just 3 places?

    I don't want to be the dark cloud here but it is always better to look at the negative things that might occur.

    I know in Barrie where they get a lot of snow a double wide 50' long goes for $400/year and you will go 35 times. Prices are where the competition sets them. Times are still tough and people are looking for cheap pricing.

    I think your idea is good. I shovel my own drive instead of plowing it because it does a much better job but there is no way I would pay someone between $750-1000 to do it.
  19. Pristine PM ltd

    Pristine PM ltd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,891

    haha, you love being the dark cloud!
  20. Pristine PM ltd

    Pristine PM ltd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,891

    I do agree though, but you never know, some people overpay!