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Things I learned this season

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Citrausa, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. Citrausa

    Citrausa Member
    Messages: 56

    1. Using a 1995 1/2 ton pickup on almost 20 accounts (1 rather large commercial lot) is not in my best interest.... hence my transmission needs to be rebuilt. :mechanic::mechanic:

    2. My efficiency or lack there of cost me money.

    3. Under bidding smaller accounts cost me money. Need to learn more!

    4. Some people have no clue as to what wear and tear plowing has on a vehicle, other wise they wouldn't expect free plowing lol.

    5. A decent set of tires makes a huge difference (lesson learned from last year). Reason why I bought tires this year and saw an immediate difference!!

    6. Need to invest into a back up plow vehicle if I continue to plow commercially.

    7. Even with all the learning curves, I will be back plowing next year.

    And thank you to this website, all the people who provide great detailed information and endless threads!
  2. Defcon 5

    Defcon 5 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,914

    Looks like you have a pretty good handle on things.......:salute:

    Underbidding is the biggest killer in this business...Its a race to the bottom with a lot of these guys....To many guys out here that don't have a clue on their costs and costs to do a job....:gunsfiring:
  3. bhmjwp

    bhmjwp Senior Member
    from kcmo
    Messages: 309

    Great honest post! Admit that learning is the key to successful growth and profitability. After 20 yrs we are still learning, biggest lesson is to drop the non-profit. You can not grow with out room.
  4. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Great Post

    IMO the most important snow removal equipment you can buy is a set of true winter snow tires.
  5. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    You know what, a 95 half ton can do a lot of work. You probably didn't beat on it. Those are great trucks. It's an old truck and the transmission was probably destined to fail for various other reasons.
  6. ratherbfishin

    ratherbfishin Senior Member
    Messages: 205

    Ya, great post and all sooooo true! Tires are huge....I have Supposed M & S tires on my new 1 ton and they basically suck. Firestone winter force on my 3/4 ton...a world of difference!

    1/2 ton...forget it! Wear and tear is huge on any truck; a half ton is maybe ok for a few driveways and that's about it!

    Back up truck is a absolute must. Not only for reliability but also for peace of mind. There is plenty of stress in a storm without having to worry about breaking down and not being able to service your customers.i have a truck always in a garage,ready to go. My biggest concern is how to get to it if I break down.

    Plowsite....simply priceless!
  7. Randall Ave

    Randall Ave PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,582

    Spare parts and a good working knowledge of your equipment
  8. thelettuceman

    thelettuceman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,218

    Citrausa: Great post as others have said.
    I need to stay away from circular drives. My truck has too big of a turning radius.

    Randall Ave: You are correct but I am clueless with tools.
  9. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,910

    Good honest post. If you keep that up you'll do well for yourself.

    It's nice to see someone that realizes they under priced work and that they need to change how they price because they lost money. That's not something that you hear very often. A lot just see the big dollar amounts and go yeah, I'm making money!
  10. Citrausa

    Citrausa Member
    Messages: 56

    I'm still learning about the cost of time and materials vs what I should be charging. Especially smaller jobs. 90% of my plowing this season was residential.

    I will continue to read and make adjustments where I am with the accounts that have already asked for me back next year. I do donate my time with 2 driveways. Both are veterans and can't shovel let alone drive. So I hope that it's good karma for me. :angel:
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  11. Citrausa

    Citrausa Member
    Messages: 56

    It's difficult for me to sometimes charge an elderly person I know that's on a fixed income. Because I'm on a fixed income from the VA. I get that $10 everytime I have to plow their drive (which can be 4-8 times a month or more) is not in their budget. But I do realize I can't lose out on my time, equipment wear/tear and fuel cost just to help. So I struggle understanding what is a fair charge (shake) for both the customer and I. I will continue to to read on this site all the suggestions and learn as I go.

    With that said, I did quote a job push only 2"-5.9' for $ amount. And 6"-10" for $$ amount and over 11" would be $$$. The guy laughed and said, who the hell plows for inches of snow. I walked away, he found someone but I felt ok because of the potential for wear and time waste.

    Again thank you to everyone for the information!
  12. Citrausa

    Citrausa Member
    Messages: 56

    I like to think it wasn't me beating on it. I did ram from drive to reverse a few too many times too quickly but yes its a 95 with 172k on it. I'm looking around now for a non plow truck to purchase (if possible).

    I'd love to have a 3/4 ton and fix mine (if financially feasible) as a backup. Being that I have bad arms from the Marines it's difficult for me to do major repair jobs. I agree about this site being priceless!

    I learned a lot this year just with the solenoid! The last time I pushed snow recently my blade wouldn't move.... glad I had a spare solenoid in the truck and a pliers! lol

    I've noticed that (my truck is an extended cab) with smaller driveways it makes it a challenge pushing the snow where it needs to go. Making matters worse, the city has an ordinance that snow can't be pushed across road (streets). Probably why there are not a lot of people jumping at residential plowing in this area.
  13. Citrausa

    Citrausa Member
    Messages: 56

    OMG let me tell you I got stuck 5-6 times last year. More times then not it was because of tire issues. Twice was from driving too far up onto a stack.. lesson learned!! I'm thankful for tires this year.
  14. Citrausa

    Citrausa Member
    Messages: 56

    Another thing I forgot to mention was ... water in the system. I struggled with that this year and have yet to find the reason why. I drained and refilled the pump a few times. I was using trans fluid and freezing was an issue so I switched to the blue hydro fluid. Draining was costly at $12 a quart but I did see a marked improvement in performance.

    So I guess this summer I will check all the lines, fittings and rams (for pitting) and see what I can do to prevent problems next year.
  15. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,910

    Unfortunatly, and I hate to put it like this, but customer's incomes aren't our problem as a contractor. I don't know anything about you or your business, but there's no way I can see $10.00 being enough for a driveway, no matter what or where it is.
  16. Doughboy12

    Doughboy12 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,698

    I too have learned a ton in these pages....thank you all.

    There is no money in $10 driveways I don't care who tells you different and how many you have in a row. It just costs more than that to operate.
    My MIL has a guy come do here drive (lives in different town) and she pays a "senior" special rate of $25 for a 3 car short driveway. I even think the city subsidizes it based on situation. So you need to either do this for a business or do it for fun...charity work comes after the bills are paid.

    (Said the guy NOT in this business....:rolleyes:)

    Edit: JDG posted while I was typing...;)
  17. CowboysLC_DE

    CowboysLC_DE Senior Member
    Messages: 177

    I believe you are saying $10 a driveway for the Veterans. Depending on there size and how quick you can get it done it could be good karma. Hopefully people with money would here about the nice things you are doing. But with that being said they need to be the last customers taken care of after everyone else. And be sure to let them know this. Say "I'm going to give you a great price of $xx, because I am very thankful for your service but I need you to know that I have to put you at the end of my plowing list which usually takes 10? hours to get through.

    As for the truck, I believe most of us would advise that you buy a 3/4 or 1 ton truck that has not seen a plow before. Then keep you 1/2 ton as your back-up and daily driver.

    You sound like a good guy, just giving you my advice.

  18. Citrausa

    Citrausa Member
    Messages: 56

  19. Citrausa

    Citrausa Member
    Messages: 56

    I appreciate all the advice everyone here has provided. As far as the donated or discounted driveways I took care of this season. I don't generally share that information with anyone. The 2 veteran driveways take me less then 5 mins each. I will be increasing my rates next year and if I lose out on an account so be it. I am sure there is always someone out there that will under cut what is bidded by someone else. I've had several commitments for next year already by half of my accounts, so far so good. It could change I'm sure.

    I'm searching for a non plow 3/4 ton truck now. I'd love a 6.6L Duramax and add on a nice plow, but will have to see! Cost being a big thing.

    I have a car for my daily driver that's all wheel drive.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  20. Doughboy12

    Doughboy12 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,698

    I have a 6.6l that I have my MVP3 (8'6") on with Timbrens... I'm sure it is fine but if I was doing this commercially I would want a gas truck for less wear and tear on the front end...IMHO