Switching to blowing service

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by PTSolutions, Nov 25, 2010.

  1. White_Gold11

    White_Gold11 Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    Turns out accumulator was turned off.. wow our roads don’t like inverted blowers I guess day 1 snap top link. It should be fine now I imagine.
  2. boutch

    boutch Senior Member
    Messages: 251

    Wow. Hopefully the charge is good in it too. I got my flow controller open about 2.5 turn. Opened to much and it continuously bounces
  3. Landgreen

    Landgreen Senior Member
    Messages: 516

    Anyone using gps in their tractors? If so what brand?

    I have it in my trucks but is only for obd vehicle port.
  4. Herm Witte

    Herm Witte Senior Member
    Messages: 793

    Just in our salt trucks
  5. HadiCoop

    HadiCoop Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 259

    what do you plan on using it for land green?
    I was thinking about mounting my garmin Oregon 450 in the cab to see all the stats for my route.
  6. Landgreen

    Landgreen Senior Member
    Messages: 516

    I have Hum from Verizon for our trucks. I really like it so far. I can find where every truck is at a glance. I know when they start, finish and how long it took. Also reads obd info like battery voltage etc.

    It was inexpensive. I think $5/ truck/month?
  7. Landgreen

    Landgreen Senior Member
    Messages: 516

    This screenshot is from today for one of our trucks. Had to go back out after plowing and salt so ended being a long run.

    HadiCoop likes this.
  8. DeVries

    DeVries 2000 Club Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 2,501

    Landgreen likes this.
  9. HadiCoop

    HadiCoop Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 259

    Does anybody know where to buy rear fenders for a B2650? Side doors and rear windows are getting caked when it’s sloppy on the roads.
  10. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,213

    I was looking over the early part of this thread and realized that this was started 10 years ago this fall.

    I though it would be interesting to see how things have gone for each one of us since starting in the tractor/blower service. Also looking back what would you have done differently. Not too mention those who decided it wasn't for them and why.

    As for myself, I started in 2015 (so this is my 5th season). I purchased a 7 month month old JD 6105D with a new Normand 92" inverted. With help from Paul Vanderzon in getting the driveway advertising markers I started out the first season with 13 driveways!!! lol maybe an unlucky number. Most of them were already clients that were plowed out for years with my plow truck. I expected things to pickup somewhat but the phone didn't ring. My area was 100% new to this and being the only one offering driveway snow removal people just weren't interested. After all about 80% of homes already had a walk behind snow blower and that didn't help matters.

    After the second season I managed to end that winter with 30 driveways, I expected a lot more but it wasn't to be. The driveway markers people just didn't pay attention to them, when I did pick up new clients it was always word of mouth and at the same time I noticed some driveways that home owners were clearing themselves and then over time they hired someone to do it and even with the advertising markers they never bothered to call. Even those who were right beside a driveway I was clearing.

    By the end of the third season I was over 60 drives but had become spread out more than I wanted, the tractor I had was slow road speed and I didn't have close to enough to take on a second unit so I traded the 6D for a 6115M with 600 hours and a 24 speed transmission.

    Going into last season things started to pick up more, I had managed to move up to 100 driveways and with a fairly snowy winter I ended the season with about 120 driveways, which I about doubled in a year. I had one street that I was able to get up to about 20 driveways on and that area was taking notice of the advertising markers. The faster road speed of the 6115M was a big plus and turned out to be worth the extra money.

    Going into this winter I decided to invest into a new Normand Hybrid N100 blower, that blower alone has been a game changer compared to the old Normand 92". On top of that I started the season with a second tractor that was around 2300 hours, but have since traded it for a low hour 6125M with warranty.

    So after 5 years I finally have one tractor with a route of 150 driveways that takes 5 hours to run.

    And the second unit route with the old Normand is only over 30 driveways, but I hope over the next year or two I'll have that one close to what the other is doing.

    But I have to say that I'm proud of how far I've come with it even though in the first three winters it was looking like a waste of time. One thing I did near the end of last season once I was around 120 driveways with my old pull blower was taking off the rear back blade. The time I saved NOT having that anymore was eye opening. I've come to learn why Neige as well as other large snow removal companies do not use them. They do slow you down and at the same time I noticed even with the back blade many clients were pushing the snow away from the garage doors so the back blade wasn't missed.

    One thing I've since learned is that most of my clients I have came from word of mouth and my Facebook business page. Most have told me that when the first saw the markers that they felt it would be too expensive so they never bothered looking into it.

    Now, the downside of all this. I started 5 years ago and I was the only one in my service area. As of this winter there is about 8 to 10 compact tractors that I compete with, all individually owned. I have had some clients get approached by one fella that offers to do them for cash as where I'm seasonal contract. When I meet him on the road he smiles and waves. I've come to realize that the small compact tractors have become the new plow truck. It is what it is, and I'm sure that Neige will agree that the cash operators are gonna hurt business.

    As far as where I want this to go, I don't want it to be more than what I have right now equipment wise. My goal at the beginning was to have two tractor/blower setups. And I have that now, with just wanting to add a second Normand Hybrid.

    The reason for not wanting it becoming bigger than it is, I'll be 40 in March, single no kids and in the end no one to take it over when I want to get out of it. I've been moving snow now for 20 years and really do not want to still be doing it 20 years from now. I see many guys that I know very well that have a lot more years in than me doing commercial and they clearly do not enjoy it anymore.

    My fleet. IMG_20191124_115836.jpg IMG_20200128_163756.jpg

    Whose next to tell their experience LOL
    FredG, Herm Witte, Klaibs27 and 5 others like this.
  11. Kinport

    Kinport Senior Member
    Messages: 108

    Very insightful, thank you for posting. Interested in hearing every bodies experiences.
  12. HadiCoop

    HadiCoop Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 259

    That was very inspirational. 150 drives? Must be a dense route and a lot of horsepower! I’ve been doing snow removal for about 4-5yrs now with a plow truck, and recently just switched to a small compact tractor blowing service. I only had about 12 clients with the truck and the route was so spread out it took forever to do and it did a crappy job compared to this new tractor. I’m also new to tractors.

    I dropped about 8 of those clients as they were in another town and it just wouldn’t be possible to service them with the tractor. I then gained back the 8 clients I had to drop plus an additional 12 so it puts the client list up to 24 for this year. On average It takes me about 3hrs to do my route and the clients are still spread out and not as dense as I would like. Next year I plan to at least double the client list and make the route more dense.

    I will most likely be maxed out with my current setup at 50-60 clients. Then, the following year I plan on upgrading to a larger tractor that can handle double the clients again. So 100-120 is my goal in the next 2 years which should be attainable. There is a ton of competition in our area from plow trucks, tractors, and guys driving around on their lawn tractors or towing them around. Having said that, I got a lot of clients this year that weren’t happy with their previous guy.

    I also have a FB & IG page, people very rarely go to websites anymore. People usually just use social media, and it works! Word of mouth is also very good for us. I love the snow and I always have, and I believe you have to love it if you want to keep doing it. There’s nothing better than being out in the middle of the night in a snow storm when everyone is sleeping, it’s daytime runs that can suck and make me lose my patience very quickly. But I still enjoy it. This winter has sucked for snow here, it’s good because you still get paid but does it ever make for a long winter!

    I wish I had made the switch to a tractor sooner.
  13. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,213

    The route is not dense, to give you an idea Neige's tractors if I remember right service 150 drives in a 4 hour period and that is spread over 10 streets. So the tractor he uses have a top speed of 30 kilometers (we are Canadian remember lol) so he doesn't need one with a faster road speed.

    As for me, the 150 drives are spread out over about 25 streets. There is no way I could do this with a slower machine, my 6M's will get up to 43 kilometers an hour (26-27 mph), also the new 100" blower vs the old 92" is also a big factor. With the old 92" at the end of last season I was doing 120 drives in that same 5 hour time frame. The wider blower as well as being a Normand Hybrid was able to cut down the number of passes I was making on several drives, so I had some drives I was having to make 3 passes with the old 92" now with the 100" I only had to make two on top of that the new Hybrid left almost nothing on the street where the old one still had a fair amount that wasn't reaching the impeller.

    The 6105D I had was just a bigger version of a 5E, same control layout. I hated the twin stick setup, in a pretty tight route it wouldn't have been bad but compared to the 24 speed powerquad there is no comparison.

    The powerquad has a clutch button at the top, just need to clutch going through the ranges as for the gears it's push button 1 to 4 no clutching. IMG_20180930_183139.jpg IMG_20200129_111321.jpg

    Take note how spread out everything is on the 5E and 6E vs the 6M 24 speed powerquad. For what Deere wants for a new 5100E I'll take a used 6M or 6R instead no question. But that's just me.

    Landgreen likes this.
  14. Herm Witte

    Herm Witte Senior Member
    Messages: 793

    Much like CAT 245ME we started with our first inverted blower 10 years ago. Both JD Dave and Paul Vanderzon were instrumental in our move to tractors and inverted blowers. Thank you to you both.

    Our growth has largely been word of mouth and we are up to four full routes and two smaller routes. We have turned away numerous inquiries due to our lack of personnel.

    Route density is always a work in progress made difficult by numerous truck plow operators and the resultant pricing structure. Another issue that stymies our growth is a lack of competent operators or even those willing to learn and be dependable at the same time.

    The inverted hybrids have been a wonderful addition to our equipment line up for residential work.

    Over the years we have worked towards maintaining a diverse client base. Residential work helps us achieve that goal.
    HadiCoop, BUFF, Kinport and 4 others like this.
  15. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,213

    I forgot to mention that as well, and that alone is very much the hardest part of this. I struggled to find someone for my second tractor, even with my job operating heavy equipment and knowing lots of operators, none of them were interested in doing it even though it paid well. It's pretty much that alone as to why I decided to only want to have two machines. It seems with the more you have the more headaches that come with it.
  16. Landgreen

    Landgreen Senior Member
    Messages: 516

    This is the third year for our tractor/blower service. It has been going pretty well so far. We have two JD tractors and routes are full. Gaining customers has not been difficult. We use targeted mailers and yardsigns. The combination is effective.

    I've had very good luck with operators. They both work on farms in the summer. Both know more about tractors than I do and can operate them better as well. For the next operator I'm not gonna bother with advertising but call local farms to see if anyone is available.

    There is competition from other companies with snowblowers but they are the typical compact with front mount with rear backblade. I'm sure there will be other companies that will start using inverse style at some point. I'd like to sell my old style normands for the new style but I won't be advertising them here in TC.
  17. HadiCoop

    HadiCoop Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 259

    my route is spread out over 21 streets, at least one on each street and 2 on 3 streets. And my tractor only does 19km/hr. It’s a slow ride between each house. Once I get a bigger tractor, it will be much nicer.
  18. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,213

    Your area sounds very similar to the area I service. I deal with the same type of competition, but I am the only one that runs big tractors with inverted's. I don't blame you if you advertise your old blowers in another area instead of locally, at the end of the day you are helping those who will be after your clients. As I mentioned before, once I started marking driveways with advertising markers I ended up having some clients approached by those with small compacts offering to do them for cash.

    The new Normand's are taller than the old and you have to pay close attention backing in to not hit the eave of the house IMG_20191124_121621.jpg . But I'm sure your operators would like the old blowers a lot more without the rear blade. I will never put another one on my old 92" inverted again.
    Landgreen likes this.
  19. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 30,701

    Our hybrid scrapes soooooooo much better than the old ones. I'd be tempted to rob a bank to replace my other ones.
    CAT 245ME likes this.
  20. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,213

    How much does a new 92" Hybrid sell for in the states Mark?