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Thinking of snow removal as an add on services for my business

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by huskybear, Jan 16, 2007.

  1. huskybear

    huskybear Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Hows it going guys... My name is Sam. I run an auto detailing and reconditioning business, Evergreen Mobile Services, LLC, in Evergreen, CO. Being that it is some what of a seasonal business, I am considering other options to keep me afloat during the winter months. There is a large demand for snow removal in my area and when it snows.... it snows!! :drinkup:

    Any way, I was researching the idea when I came across this site, which looks like it will be very helpful. I always like to learn from professionals. I am trying to calculate the start and running costs of professional snow removal, as well as what equipment is required and what is the best way to go about it. I would like to incorporate snow removal into my existing business, so I want to go about everything in a professional way.

    I will be looking through the forums, but I can use all the advice and suggestions I can get. Please feel free to share your knowledge with me.

    Here are a few questions I have right off the bat:

    1) What is the ideal plowing truck and plow set up? (for someone with a minimal budget)

    2) Do I need a skidsteer or can I get by with just a truck and plow set up?

    3) Would a skidsteer make a better plow vehicle?

    4) What laws or regulations should I be concerned with?

    5) What expenses might I inccur other than vehicle / plow purchase and maintance?

    6) What were your startup costs?

    Thanks guys.

  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Very quickly:

    3/4 ton with plow prep. One ton preferable

    Could get by with a truck and plow

    Check with your town hall/clerk etc.

    Insurance - Commercial Vehicle and General Liability

    About $25,000 for truck, plow, sander and insurance. This year - another truck and plow cost another $28,000.
  3. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    I'm with Mick on all points there. We're also both in Fisher country, and I'm definitely going to recommend a Fisher snowplow (oh.... ok... others do fine as well!).

    I agree about the 1-ton. You don't necessarily need a dump, and a dually could just get in the way. I see more F350's around, though I personally have & love the GMC 3500. With the plow off in spring, summer, fall, I imagine you'll have a great lettering job done to advertise your auto detailing biz. I might expect the cost of truck & plow to be up closer (or over, depending on the trim level) to $30k, but it's all in what you want.

    One thing to worry about for a few years is establishing a customer base. Fortunately you're already IN business and have a reputation going -- capitalize on that. You already know people, so try to make that work for you. It can be tough for some plow guys to get a good plowing route (I've done it for 13 years, dropped & added lots of customers over those years, and have had a GREAT group of folks for 8-10 years).

    One rule from Plowsite: you have to take pictures of whatever you get for a truck! ;) Keep us posted, ya hear? Good luck!

  4. gardenkeeper88

    gardenkeeper88 Senior Member
    Messages: 115

    Plow type: look at what your are going after. Comm or res. Comm you prob want something with wings or a V plow to be able to "move' snow a idstance where you can pile it. Res. straight blade is fine. I'm about a 50 50 mix and I use a Western pro plus w/ wings. I do not do lg parking lots like wal mart, my comm. are factorys restaraunt, and small retail / office. I do like my western better than my boss plow.
    Good luck here in No IN we had bust last year. making only about 15-18% of normal years and only plow 1 this year so far. Be prepared for this and make sure you sign some seasonal contracts too. Search the threads for contracts so you know how bid. Again good luck.:waving:
  5. Oshkosh

    Oshkosh PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,655

    Depending On???

  6. cjcocn

    cjcocn Member
    Messages: 78


    I have a question that hopefully will help out huskybear (well, once it's answered :D ).

    Will you be offering snow clearing or snow removal services?

    There are a few commercial properties in my area that put out RFPs every year asking for bids for snow removal. I know a local guy that wants to buy a wheel loader and go after those contracts, but he doesn't have the means to remove the snow from the site. Having to hire trucks to move the snow makes his idea non-profitable (that and he doesn't see the importance of lining up summer work - even tho the numbers require it).

    I know of one company that tried it with just a loader and they took a loss on those contracts because they didn't have any trucks. After paying for the snow hauling they ended up losing money the one year that they had the contracts and haven't bid again. The company that usually gets the contracts has their own trucks (used all year) and they can pay their drivers by the hour, which in simple terms lowers their operating costs.

    I guess this ended up as a few questions:

    Will your contracts require snow clearing (just piling it in the corner of the lot) or snow removal (piling it and then removing it completely from the site)?

    If the answer to the above is "Yes," do you have a financially viable means of doing so?

    (for everyone) .. What is the norm for your contracts? Snow clearing or snow removal? If snow removal, how do you make it feasible?

  7. LMG Masonry Inc

    LMG Masonry Inc Member
    Messages: 35

    Don't know how busy your detailing business keeps you? You might consider subbing work from another contractor that is all ready in the biz, leaves you free to concentrate on your steady income. Lots of big contractors around Chicago That pay well !!! I'm sure there in Col. too, especially this year. But DON'T count on the weather to make you money. Lots of guys around here are hurting bad. My truck gets used all year round for main biz, sure would'nt want to be making payments on it if it did'nt make money all the time. Have you ever plowed before? Try it, you might not like it. My eyes feel like dried raisins when finished with my route and you have care and maintenance too. [Just more time spent] I have to wash truck after each time out and inspect from top to bottom. Take care of the equipment and it will take care of you.
    Not trying to talk you out of it But something to think about.
    Good luck with your decision and LET IT SNOW.payup
  8. huskybear

    huskybear Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Thanks for all your replies. I have been doing a lot of reading on the forums and right now, Im kinda 50/50 on whether plowing is going to work for me. But I think I will end up getting a plow truck either way... I live on a non county maintained road and lately the folks that used to plow kinda gave up... :confused:
  9. Kramer

    Kramer Senior Member
    Messages: 386


    Please remember that no matter what, snow plowing is a VARIABLE business. When you base your business on the weather, you get good years and bad years. Although you never know how the snowfall will be , its almost safe to say that if you buy a plow this year, it won't snow till next year. There's some humor here but not much.

    Look in your local bargain news paper next fall. There will be plow trucks for sale. You can pick up something real decent under $10-12K. If you never plowed before, getting the basics down will take you a few storms (depending on how many accounts you have). Unless you absolutely know that you will be in this for the long haul, be careful not to spend a lot on your first vehicle. Say you spend $10K on a good used truck w/plow....then, theres only 2 plowable events that year. You haven't had time to build up the accounts so maybe you get 3-5. At $30 bux each (just a number) then you made $300 bux maximum. Deduct expenses from that (gas....truck insurance...).

    So if you're looking at next year, you might get a load of snow or not. In either case, unless you get a lot of decent paying accounts, get efficient at it and have a few decent year, it's very difficult to make money.

    If a truck lasts 3 years or so, then unless you're using it for something else (lawncare...) then even at $700/year your insurance alone is $2100. Add the cost of the truck, gas, repairs...and you can see where I'm going. Look at a 3 year cycle and figure you gotta make about $8-10k just to pay you're truck off.....remember, high mileage plow trucks dont pull in a lot at resale.

    There are not many guys who do this as the only business---the ones that do are VERY smart, can gauge their money very well, usually can do a lot of their own repairs, and are usually well established over many years.

    There are a load of part timers--and a lot more guys who just decide they will buy a plow and get rich. The last bunch are the ones that will be posting their nearly new plow trucks in the bargain news in the fall.

    To answer your questions..

    depending on what you want to spend, I would personally gt either a 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton truck..reason is simple...a 1/2 is enough to plow any residentials, is usually better on gas...a 3/4 has better brakes, alternator... If you get a 1/2 be prepared to upgrade battery, alternator... From what you described..buy a jeep with a 6 1/2 ft plow. If you dont like it after the first year, then the jeep will sell OK later because there will always be yuppies ready for a jeep or a bug. Just remember if you get a jeep, you will need to wave to anyone else driving a jeep---its a rule.

    Forget the skid steer--its all hype--people have been plowing for 50 years with jeeps. I have a skidsteer--they have their place but not for you. Its an adder not a primary.

    Laws are local to you---don't push snow across a street, .....

    Always remember that you will get tired plowing, you will have limited vision, and you will inherently start to take chances ("I will just push a little farther closer to the edge of that ravine"). Insurance is important...you're gonna make $1500 a year but back over just one dog ..you figure it out.

    Start up costs vary..I was low but it was a million years ago. Might have been $5k but that was in the 70's.

    Good luck.