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snow business start up

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Just Cut, May 16, 2002.

  1. Just Cut

    Just Cut Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    I was just wondering if someone here can help, I am considering adding snow plowing to my current lawn maintenance business this coming winter, I have never plowed snow for a living I am trying to educate myself this summer to see if the money is there, Right now I have appx 15 to 18 residentail customers interested for the upcoming season, I do not know pricing structures in snow plowing, also I do not have a 4x4. Some other concerns are what can I expect in the avg number of events, appx numbers in the amount of customers that I should take on to be able to fullfill my oblagations to complete the work in a timely manner. With a guy it seems on every street corner do you feel that a profit can still be made for a legit business
  2. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    Best possible thing you could do is come to St. Louis the first week of June to the SIMA symposium. You'll have access to hundreds of guys who will be able to talk with you at lenght about getting into the business. Many of the educational seminars will answer your questions with more detail than you could hope to get from a couple of quick answers on this site.

    You could look up a SIMA member in your area and ask them some of your questions as well.

    For price structure, you need to know your costs to know what to charge. Each market will be a little different with respect to number of snow falls, so talking pricing might be tough here since it's relevant to only the area you work. You'll find most guys are bidding around $125 to $150 a truck hour. What does that translate to? If the market will only bear $15.00 a driveway, you'll need to focus your marketing efforts to get 10 driveways close enough to produce them in a hour. It may not happen your frist year - but a goal to shoot for.
  3. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    I agree with Lawn Lad. Also, in many areas of Michigan, you need to get a license to plow snow, believe it or not. You can contact MDLA (Metropolitan Detroit Landscapers Association) or visit their web site at www.landscape.org. They have a list of cities that require a license.
    We currently have over 325 SIMA Members registered for the Symposium in St. Louis. There will also be a great trade show as well. For more info on SIMA check out www.sima.org

  4. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    You might want to buy a copy of Chuck's Snowplowing Handbook. It is full with tons of useful information. It really helped me get started in snowplowing business.

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    Well, I had typed a very long response, but then I lost it to the server !

    The mini version-

    - lots of competition in our area. We try to bid in the $125-150/hour range for a truck with front/back blade, and we are almost always the high bid. I have seen in bid sheets for jobs such as Rockford Schools, guys bidding $45/ hr across the board !

    - residentials will typically be in the range of $20 /$25 per push, or seasonal for a standard two car city drive from $165-$200 prepaid. The standard seems to be around a 1.5" trigger depth, but I think you almost need to plow at 1" to fit in the market here.

    - We average about 16 1" snows, 12 2" snows, and maybe 6-8 3" snows. It is so strange with the lake effect here, that one end of your route may need plowed while the other end is dry, all in town. If you can get the "zero-tolerance" jobs, then you will do much better, since as you know we get soo many of those "dustings".

    -there is a huge problem in the area of unreliable plowers, and every season the news will do a "big" expose' on guys who get prepaid and then dont show. They will usually show up at a senior citizens residence with the tv cameras and stand in the unplowed drive talking about the medications they couldn't get out to get filled at the drug store ! Make sure you have a good backup plan, either extra trucks or friends with trucks that commit to backing you up, so you don't make the news !

    - to buy a truck and all necessary equipment, and insurances in the first year and hope to "make" much, it would be tough. However, if you get good used equipment, and keep your total accounts low for the first year to get the hang of it all, you may find it is something you really enjoy. At least you dont worry about losing your summer customers to their plow guy for next mowing season. Then you could use your extra time to sub for another one of us to make some extra money, and learn a little more. Then the next season you would have a better handle on how much you can do in a night, and you could bid accordingly.

    -Typically I think you could plan on an average of about 100 hours per season if you plowed a standard 6 hrs of so per event.

    -You should be able to get $40-$45 per hour as a sub for another company.

    -Using those last two figures, you could probably make about $4500 subbing next season for someone else, and also still get your customers done as well, as long as they are close together.

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    Good thing I lost the long version, eh ?

    - You will need licenses almost everywhere here. Walker, wyoming, kentwood, Grand rapids, Grandville, Jenison, all require individual licenses. Some like Walker and Wyoming are in the $25-$50 range, while those like GR are $350 and up, all per truck.

    -Definately join up with SIMA if possible, it will shorten the learning curve, and put you in touch with other local members.
    I know we are going to St Louis June 6, and so is DJ from DJ's lawn in town, and Mark Oomkes, from Oomkes Landscaping in town.

    -If you want to talk about it over a cup of coffee or on the phone, feel free to PM me with your local number and we could talk more details.
  7. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    Wow. The long version must've been a veritable "Snowplower's Encyclopedia".

    If that was your "Snowplowing 101" term paper I'd give you an "A". :)
  8. Big Todd

    Big Todd Senior Member
    Messages: 126

    Wow, it's been a while since I've posted anything on here... By the way, hi, Tom. I see your boss from time to time when he comes into my (new) store. Guess where I'm working now...

    I agree with what Tom says, there is a lot of compitition in this area, and always some guy willing to lowball just to make a buck.

    On your own, you will get $150 to $200 for a drive (per season). As far as trying to bid work in the $125-$150 per truck hour range, Know that the people who are willing to pay this much are going to expect top notch, grade A service, and want a plower with some experience.

    Like Tom said, do some subcontracting for another company (in addition to your own drives) for a year or two and have some fun and get a little experience under your belt and then go for it on your own.

    I'd be happy to chat with you as well. Like I say, there is a lot of compitition, but there is a lot of comraderie as well. Good luck.
  9. Just Cut

    Just Cut Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Hi PineIsland1 I have decided to commit to snow service this year, I was wondering if the offer of getting together over a cup of coffee is still open

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    Sounds good

    Give me a call, 616-644-0034
  11. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    Are you sure you don't want to take a little longer to deliberate? :)
  12. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Dig, it goes to show you, only three posts, two on this thread, AND he brought it back up. Guess he has been watching us here for a year ;) After reading this site for a year my Grandmother would want to plow snow, LOL. Welcome aboard Just Cut, :waving: Tom will fix you right up :)