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Snowblower thread for the rookies !

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by WarriorLandscapingCan, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. WarriorLandscapingCan

    WarriorLandscapingCan Senior Member
    Messages: 124

    Hey guys!

    I'm new to the snow game as I have been a lawn / garden guy for the past 8 years.

    On topics of snowblowers I have been reading on this site and getting some great suggestions.

    I'm thinking of getting ramps, and maybe 2 single stage Toro Power Clear's, what are your thoughts on this?

    In terms of ramps, would metal ramps freeze in the winter and get icy?

    I live in Toronto Canada, the winters are all over the place.

    I also have to get snow tires this year for the truck, Buff was saying Duratracs, any suggestions?
  2. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,797

    Try doing some searches. Thumbs Up

    Most of those topics have been beat to death on this site. :hammerhead:
  3. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

    Get a plow for the truck.
    As for tires get the round ones, without a continuous center rib.
    Tell & skinney is the way to go.

    All ramps can get slickery.
    Just use a strap to hold them in place they like to move and fall when your half way down.

    SHAWZER PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,287

    Toro single stage blowers do not drive by the wheels , most guys just pick them up and set in back of truck .
    kawasaki guy likes this.
  5. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,565

    I'm buying a set of duratracs this year to try. Tires are a very personal choice and have been beaten to death in other threads. Like sno says get ones without a continuous center rib and have plenty siping to them. I would also suggest buying a plow as I'm not sure how you can make any money only doing residential with blowers. You will need to get some commercial walks mixed in if you want to make money instead of doing it for free which is what will happen because it takes sooooooo long.
  6. JMHConstruction

    JMHConstruction PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,722

    In your other thread I made a comment about having a few guys and making it work. I need to correct this. I got out of residential because it wasn't worth the hassle, with what I was making. Commercial walks (at least around here) is where the money is. Subcontract for a big local company, they're always looking for good RELIABLE sidewalk guys. Each area and company are different, but depending on equipment and workere you can make good money with sidewalks. Just make sure your insurance matches what you're doing, make sure slip and falls are covered, if you have employees you need work comp (I assume, not familiar with laws up there), make sure you're insurance knows you're doing commercial walks, but that you aren't using a plow.

    We probably don't get the amount of snow you get, but I've never had an issue with my all terrain tires if they have good tread. If I slip, I throw it in 4wd.

    Don't even bother with ramps unless you're using a 2 stage. The Toros are light enough to just lift in. Believe me, ramps are a pain. Avoid them if you can. When I do have to use ramps I use 2x8 lumber with those ramp attachment things (if you don't know I'll find a link). I have nailed 1x3 blocks up every 8" or so for traction. I build decks, so this was basically free for me. I've never used the metal ones, so I can't tell you about them. I also never walked up the ramps myself. I stayed on the ground while I let the blower roll up the ramps.
  7. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,565

    I was thinking of you when I suggested he do the commercial walks. Figured you would be able to answer better than me so I made it short and sweet hoping you could set em straight.Thumbs Up
  8. WarriorLandscapingCan

    WarriorLandscapingCan Senior Member
    Messages: 124

    Okay, so your saying it would be a waste of time to do snow removal without a plow in a nutshell?

    Would two guys with 2 blowers do some damage on small residential driveways?
  9. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,797

    Check your other thread...

    You can make money doing what you do... it is how you chose to scale it that makes it or breaks it. As I said in the other thread, overhead is a huge factor that you will not have much of.

    I think you need to sit down and crunch some numbers to see what makes money for YOU and change things from there.

    There is a company in my area that does nothing but the public walks with 463 bobcats... they have been doing it for years... I am guessing that if that company has been doing nothing but those walks for this many years, they must be making money doing their "niche" market work. You need to do what works for you and not try to change the world overnight by yourself. You will end up out of business...
    BUFF and ktfbgb like this.
  10. WarriorLandscapingCan

    WarriorLandscapingCan Senior Member
    Messages: 124

    I'm thinking 2 guys with 2 snowblowers as a start, maybe 15 - 20 minutes per driveway? 20 minutes travel time between homes.

    Maybe take on only 5 - 8 clients this season perhaps.

    In terms of charging people I know that's a whole other issue, what are some basics I can start with?

    A Flat monthly rate ?
    Per cleaning service?
    Hourly rate ? ( 80 $ per hour )
  11. ktfbgb

    ktfbgb 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,565

    With hourly you want to charge a minimum anyway so look at staying away from telling them the hourly price and do a per trip price instead. Plus what Philbilly said. I think if you have two blowers and two guys you can do more drives than 8. Maybe start with 8 per guy depending on size too
  12. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,797

    I would take on more than that. I would not try to do 100 drives, but if you have good equipment and good help, as long as your bottom line adds up to profit, I would think you can get more accounts than 8.

    Honestly, your bottom line would have be be close to nothing for 8 drives to cover 2 blowers as you would have an employee you have to pay in addition to yourself...
  13. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,797

    Ha!!! Looks like we are on the same page here...
    ktfbgb likes this.
  14. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,797

    Oh, and go flat rate clearing rate on residential. Hourly is not a money maker on a driveway.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  15. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,797

    From the other side of the fence...

    You have to let the young bucks start somewhere... He will find his niche as you did... heck as we all have! You have some good advice here for him, but you also have to remember how you got to where you are now.

    I know that at 20, I was not able to afford the equipment and insurance to even do commercial work... hell, I had enough trouble keeping my house...
  16. WarriorLandscapingCan

    WarriorLandscapingCan Senior Member
    Messages: 124

    I'm 28 now, so not that young anymore, lol !

    Wow you had a home at 20? Times have changed indeed.

    So for example,

    Would a 50 - 80$ flat rate be a pretty accurate price for a 15 x 30 ft driveway? In terms of "Per service"

    Or perhaps, 200$ per month unlimited? ( I can see how this could be good or BAD though living in Toronto )

    The driveway's I will be doing are not large, 2 car garages, 2000 - 2400 square foot homes.

    When cutting grass I charge 80$ per hour, 20 - 30 mins is the average time for an average home if I take my time. ( I don't tell them the rate )
  17. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 9,092

    I have a cluster of resi's in a subdivision, driveways are 16x30 they have aboot 40' of walk. Each takes aboot 5-7minutes each and I get $35 for 1-6", $45 for 6-12" using a plow and shovel.
    There a group of Mexicans (4) the shovel the same size driveways in the same amount of time as me.
    At the end of the day we sell time and time is money.
  18. WarriorLandscapingCan

    WarriorLandscapingCan Senior Member
    Messages: 124

    What would you think in terms of snow blower time for those driveway sizes Buff?
  19. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 9,092

    I have found you can shovel up to aboot 7-8" faster than it takes to unload a blower blow and load the blower. In my situation I use a SS Honda for walks for snows over 8".
    If I had to put a time on the driveways ewe've talking aboot using a SS blower 2 guys should be able to do them in aboot 6-7 minutes and I'd be less if they shoveled with lower accumulations. I also use a BP blower for fluffy /dry snows up to aboot 3"
  20. JMHConstruction

    JMHConstruction PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,722

    You'll have to come up with numbers on your own. We are all in a different area, so we can't help you there. Most people think we're just being an a$$, but what I get here will not be accurate where you live. You'll have to crunch you own numbers and find what you have to charge to make money.

    I'll throw out the insurance card. If you have an employee you'll need added insurance. That will make your overhead and job costs go up. Make sure you charge (or can charge) enough to do this.

    As Phil suggested, everyone starts somewhere. Some stay with it, others change. It's what works for you personally. The first time I did think I had only myself and did 10 drives. It took me anywhere from 10-30 minutes a driveway. I did it while working full time, so I didn't want to overwhelm myself (I was working as a carpenter and didn't work when it snowed, so it wasn't a big deal working around that.). It took me about 5 hours, but only because the drive times killed me. Because of what I did and most people around here shovel their own drive I might have a 20 minute drive between places. It just didn't work for me personally. It doesn't mean it won't work for you.

    Like I said above I do commercial walks for other companies. It's mainly drive time. I can make 3 times as much in one location before driving to the next. I have 2-3 crews now, and add something every year. This year is a plow, so I can stay warmThumbs Up. It is MUCH cheaper adding blowers and shovels. For the numbers I've added, with the added insurance, repair costs, and plow costs, in my area a small 2-3 man crew will make more on walks than a plow will bring in (subcontracting both). I have brought in $14k usd a year per crew on some years. We only average about 20ish inches per year here. And since overhead is pretty nonexistent (adds less than $1k usd for insurance for my company, with only sidewalks) most is profit, and without beating expensive equipment up. As far as dollar amounts snow is not a make it or break it part of my business, but it allows me to shut down shop and not deal with "winter deal shoppers" for the winter months and still pay bills and give guys hours to work. Again though, these are all MY location and yours will be different.

    Start where you need to, be it just yourself and a blower, or a few guys knocking it out quicker. Remember snow is FAST money, not big money. The faster and more efficient the more you make. If you can get each job done a little faster you can add more accounts, and that is how to make money in snow. Most guys think it's just $$$ falling from the sky, but you have to bust your ass doing it.

    Let me know if I can answer your questions, because good or bad, if it has to do with removing snow without using big equipment I'm sure my dumbass has done it :hammerhead:. Best of luck to ya.
    SnoFarmer and ktfbgb like this.