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Teach Me

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by TakeMeHome, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. TakeMeHome

    TakeMeHome Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Hello to all you veterans, I hope you won't mind one more rookie taking some time to pick you brain for things that are totally obvious to you. Be patient with me.

    I need some guidance on just about any plowing topic for the sake of my father in law. He wanted to start his own plowing business this year, though he's never done anything remotely close. He's interested in the money aspect, I'm just trying to save him from losing everything he's got. Thankfully, he's not trying to get rich quick: he's looking to get some residential work, and maybe 10-15 commercial accounts, and by that I mean mostly grocery stores, laundromats, restaurants, etc. Nothing huge. I don't think any of the places that he's lined up would take him more than an hour to plow.

    He's got a 1/2 ton '00 Dodge with a 7.5ft meyer plow. He's thinking of getting a salter as well. Is this setup going to work through a chicago winter? He's not a hotdog type, babies his stuff, I think he knows enough to take it slow, but will the truck hold up since he's not doing a ton of places? I know he changed his insurance for it.

    What are realistic goals to set for a season? I think he's looking to build on this year to year. How many guys should he take to help?

    Thanks so much for any help. Having read a few posts on here, I figured this would be the ideal place to go to learn. I would send him on here, but he's a fifty-something year old that only speaks spanish.
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Tell him to go grab a siesta. With that combo and just how you described him ,he'll be good for about 5-10 driveways and that's it.Not being a jerk about it.
  3. MileHigh

    MileHigh PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,827

    There is no way 1 truck can plow 15 grocery stores in one night...and then drop the blade on some resis.

    Outhere most grocery stores are about 1.5 hour plow with 2-4 inches....if it drops 6-8 inches...forget about it.

    And by the way...if he's looking to get commercial accounts this late in the year...there gonna be pretty bad accounts most likely...the good ones get locked up already.

    Your dad needs to find a contractor to sub contract for quickly, as the contractors are filling up there spots very quickly id assume.

    You and your dad really needed to post this back in August.
  4. Burkartsplow

    Burkartsplow PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,246

    We would have to see the size of the lots and how close they are to each other. there are so many variables that need to be taken into account if we are going to help you out, But if you post a pic then that would help I believe.
  5. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    As BladeScape said, there is no way he is going to push 10 to 15 commercials, as well as do resi's being a one man one truck show. He really needs to do a few resi's this year to get a feel for it. The money can be decent, but getting rich doing a few driveways, isn't going to happen. He will learn the hours suck, the snow sucks, and dealing with the customers can sometimes suck as well. Specially for a man who is never done it for a living before.
  6. TakeMeHome

    TakeMeHome Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    I kinda figured all this stuff, but you all are the experts, not me. I'll try to ask him about working for someone.

    I wasn't here earlier in the year to talk him out of this. My wife and I are missionaries where it never snows. I've been home for a couple of weeks now, and we leave again pretty soon, so I just wanted to get him squared away as much as I can. I don't fault him for being industrious.

    The name was actuallya reference to my roots in west virginia. Sorry no women here. If any of you work in the chicago area, or know a contractor that does, let me know, and I'll point him in that direction. Thanks again.
  7. iceyman

    iceyman 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,925

    are you gonna just drive up to an grocery store and say im going to plow this lot? most lots have contracts well in advance to the season

    edit: i see you lined up some places already.... so if he has 10 places that take 45 minutes to plow then some restaurant could have to wait 7 hours before there plow truck shows up?
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2009
  8. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    His truck / plow combo is marginal at best. It will never hold up to a v-box sander. To be competitive on commercials of any size at all he needs a bigger/better plow too. Start with those driveways, go from there.
  9. TakeMeHome

    TakeMeHome Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Ok, I looked over all his stuff within the past hour that he's already lined up. He's got 4 solid places that will average about a half hour to do. His largest will probably take hour and a half. I mentioned the sub contracting route so he can learn the ropes from those who know best, and I think he's open to that...just gotta find someone who needs a spot filled.

    If I had pictures to post, and knew how to, I would. I do know that only one of his places wants him to take care of salting. And because he has stuck strictly to the spanish community he's found some that haven't cared for their snow removal yet, they have all procrastinated on contracting out there lots I guess.

    His truck is inadequate for the job, but he had to start with what he had available. He already has a regular job, so the plow money will be bonus. I told him to use this winter as a "probation" period, and if he thinks he can do this, take the plow money and put it towards a 1 ton for next season.

    You guys are good at what you do...I've learned a ton just reading on here tonight. Appreciate your patience.

    On smooth lots with no blocks or islands on 'em, how do you calculate the quote? By time it takes, or per push? Just plowing, no salting
  10. Burkartsplow

    Burkartsplow PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,246

    most guys can plow 44000 square feet in 45 minutes to an hour or a acre with a 7.5 blade. figure out what you want to make an hour and your bid price.
  11. jimspro

    jimspro Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    if he has a full time job, how is he prepared to be up all night long to do the accounts, then go to work and then go out the next night to do clean ups and handle any drifting that happens, as you get older it gets harder to work a full time job, then plow all night and back to work again, also, with big commercial accts, what happens if the truck goes down 1 hr into a 8 hr storm, how will he get the accounts done he commited to do, just something to think about
  12. TakeMeHome

    TakeMeHome Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Valid points. His regular job is stuck until the snow is cleared anyway, plus I guess he has some flexibility there. I'll talk to him about getting a back up in place, just in case his truck goes down right in the middle of a storm.

    If he's got 4 hours worth of plowing work lined up by himself, would that be a good stopping point? I know you can stretch yourself too thin, and then have some unhappy customers. He does have a two man shovel/salt crew that will be going out too. Thanks for the input.
  13. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    With a full time job, 4 hours is probably fine. He'll likely pickup a few on the first storm anyway. I always do.
  14. terrapro

    terrapro PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,912

    How the heck do you guys know how long it will take your father in law if neither of you have ever even touched a plow to the pavement let alone a 12" storm?! That tells me your father in law lowballed the accounts and took them from reputable contractors.

    I know you have to start somewhere but honestly it should have been subbing for a REAL contractor.

    To answer your question of "how to calculate the quote", honestly it is all experience whether its grinding out your blood sweat and tears in the field or sitting here for weeks and weeks reading about the ins and outs of the snow business.
  15. TakeMeHome

    TakeMeHome Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Sorry, I must not have mentioned I have plowed before. In the gawd-awful industrial yard I used to be employed at. It was all with skidsteer and 6 ft. blade, and bobcats. They had employees do it, so there was no quote process involved. The other places that I went to with him said they didn't have a plow lined up for the winter. If he stole someone's business, it wasn't knowingly, the owners' just answered no when I asked them if they had someone lined up to remove snow for them for this season.

    He may have lowballed one of them ( a parking lot that will take 5 pushes probably 120 ft. long), the big one he hasn't even given the estimate yet, because they are now asking for more to be done than just the parking lot; they now want their entire complex done.

    Concerning how to set up the contract on the big place: Sorry I can't put a picture up here, but I can tell you it's a 1600-2000 sq.ft. parking lot, then driveways between shops and storage areas. Multiple places to pile snow, pavement is good except one 70 yd. long stretch down the side of a building.They have a 2" trigger, and I was thinking it would be best to set up tiered pricing. Maybe x amount for 2-6 inches, more for 6-12, and top level for 12 or more. What do you advise for the rate of increase for each tier, because he could potentially start plowing with 3" on the ground, but another 9" on the way. What's fair to them, yet profitable for him? Or is that not the best way to do it? And I guess they prefer to pay out per snowfall vs. a season contract. Thanks, guys
  16. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Best thing he could do is some resi drives this year and LEARN. Most of the guys here have many many years plowing experience and what takes them 30 mins to do will take him twice as long untill he gets some experience.
    Start small...Do good work and everyone will be happy and he will get more to do next year.
  17. jimspro

    jimspro Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    Hydro is correct, he should start small, then grow when he gets some experance, if he takes on a big acct, and can't handle it, word spreads fast, When I started i worked as a sub then grew from there
  18. TakeMeHome

    TakeMeHome Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Well, I guess you guys would know. I'm gonna point him in that direction, and also see if I can't get him hooked up to sub for someone. Thanks again for the help.
  19. jimspro

    jimspro Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    where is the armpit of america
  20. LittleJohn

    LittleJohn Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    Michigan has my vote.

    I've been here almost all my life... :help: