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Time to plow XXXX

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by branhamtom, Oct 7, 2001.

  1. branhamtom

    branhamtom Guest
    Messages: 0

    Hello all, first post here. I am a new comer to plowing. I have a chance to bid a hotel and want to try and get this right the first time around. I need all the help possible. LOL Said property is about 1.6 acres. I believe it will be straight forward plowing. I have read what some other contractors charge here and I plan to use a similar cost. How long should this take to plow? I plan to use a F250 w/8-8.5 blade. Give me a average time, I know a big storm will take longer vice versa. I am looking for a time based of a proven track record. Please if you have a lot of this size could you tell times etc.? Thanks in advance

    Green Thumb
    Lawn Service
  2. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    Hard call to make site unseen. However, if it is fairly open and not a lot of islands and obstacles, I would say 1.5 hours to plow at a 2-4" depth. I might figure it as 1.75 hours multiplied by my hourly rate to make sure I covered myself. I like to include drive time in my time estimate, anyway. I figure any time spent driving could be spent earning money, so drive time is no less valuable than plow time in my book.

    Also, don't expect that even if you shoot them the "right" price that they will jump on it. Most responsible management will think long and hard before contracting with someone who is breaking into the market. It is not impossible, because many of us start out in the same shoes. However, your job at this stage of the game is to provide the management with peace of mind knowing that there is a viable snow removal plan in place for their property should they elect to use your services.

    Also, I'd measure the property myself. I had a property management company tell me a 60,000 sf lot was an acre. I could not figure out why that acre lot took me over an hour to plow.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2001
  3. ddm

    ddm Member
    Messages: 57

    Sno Job has provided you with some good advice. The only thing I'd add is to remember it's a HOTEL. You could have lots of vehicles to work around, and if you bid per plow system they won't want to pay you extra for the 3 times you have to come back to get it all. Plus the more obstacles, the better the odds you may find one the hard way, good insurance can go a long way :)
  4. branhamtom

    branhamtom Guest
    Messages: 0

    Thanks snojob, and ddm. This area is oval shaped around the hotel. It is open area. No islands.
    I did measure the area. That is where I got 1.6 acres. I did plan to bid per push. Plan is to start at the end of storm so that I wouldn’t have 3 trips. What else would you do? I did let customer know this is a per push deal.
  5. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I don't see how you can get away with waiting until the end of a storm to plow a hotel. That's the sort of place that needs good access. The only way to deal with that issue is to keep the travel lanes open and clear parking areas as they empty out. I'd be willing ot bet that when you tell the owners the details of your plan they will go with someone else. In my opinion you should figure on an anti-icing application of salt or, preferrably, treated salt at the onset of the storm. That will keep snow from packing on and may need re-application if the storm continues for many hours. Follow the chemical application with plowings as needed to keep travel lanes clear. Repeat on 2" of accumulation, clearing any open areas in the parking spaces as you go. Follow up wiht an overall plowing at the end of the storm and possibly(probably) a de-icing application to get back to bare pavement
  6. Dockboy

    Dockboy Guest
    Messages: 0


    ddm added some great points;)

    I use to(key words "use to") plow a road side Motel near me. A "U" shaped drive and parking area with a grass courtyard in the middle. I'd show up to plow and next thing you know I'm playing chicken with all the "moving" parked cars:eek: The Maintanance man would see or hear me, then start going around knocking on doors to have people move their cars:rolleyes: What a PITA!

    A job that should have taken about 45 min, invariably took about 2 hrs. When I approached the owner about renegotiating our agreement, he said no, our agreed price was all it was worth (by the way, it was a cash by the push deal, no contract).

    Guess what? When I drive by during a snow now, it's either not clear or the "Maintanace man" is out there with a shovel:p . Poor guy

  7. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    We plowed a hotel last year, and there is no way you wait till the end. The snow will be packed to the asphalt, and when you do plow, with out a v plow, you will leave large winrows behind the cars.
    We start with a premetive layer of magic salt, followed by plowing every 1-2" throughout the storm. We have all access lanes opened by 7 am. Then we leave an come back at 11-12 in the morning. That way we can get all the empty spaces, and the sun helps with melting.
  8. ddm

    ddm Member
    Messages: 57

    There's no way that you'll wait until the end storm to plow that.
    Hotel will be on the phone to you long before that I would suspect. Is it a major chain or a local enterprise?? Most chain or franchise type places are very meticulous about keeping their image, so I can't imagine they would let snow pile up.

    The salting idea mentioned above would probably help, we've never done that though. Usually plowing with the storm works best. I would suggest rethinking and billing per hr. though.
    It could wind up being a nightmare (and a costly one) doing it just per push.
  9. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    I'd clear any area where there were two or more unoccupied spaces. Tell them you will prorate the pricing based on the same full plow price. This way you can charge your hourly rate without disclosing hourly pricing. Figure $100-$150 per hour, maybe SLIGHTLY lower depending on your market. That would mean you would charge between $160 and $240 for that lot if you were to spend 1.6 hours plowing. If it takes you an hour because there are hardly any spaces, then they get charged $100. Just don't tell them you charge per hour, you charge by the job and prorate for partial service.

    I agree with the others who have advised you not to wait until after a storm is over to plow. Again prorated pricing is in order here. If you give them a price for clearing the lot when it is empty, and explain plowing with the storm calls for prorated plowing at rates lower than the full plow price. I hope I have helped.

    Also, if you are trying to make a profit, contact as many customers as possible. If you charge the rates I said, anywhere from 10-25% should accept your offers if you have a coordinated plan and appear to have the organization and ability to deal with the seriousness of a winter storm. I could write you a book and I know very little about snow by comparison to many folks here.
  10. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    I use a similiar strategy when plowing condo's that I maintain. I made it very clear to the organization that I would not deal with moving cars when I come for the initial time. I get what is open. Later I come back and "clean up" after people have had a chance to get out. I find a return trip is actually quicker then a driver waiting for people to move and risking cars driving all around him.
  11. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Never prorate your plowing, charge xxx.xx every time you go in. Somethimes it you mat be faster than you figured but others may take longer, so it all balances out in the end.
    We will clear some empty spaces when we are plowing the lot, but not every one.
  12. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    Whatever floats your boat. As long as you make what you need to make hourly, the method that gets you there is a moot point.

    I prefer charging for what work is performed, nothing more, nothing less. There is more than one right way to do it, believe it or not.:rolleyes:
  13. Kent Lawns

    Kent Lawns PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 315

    There indeed ARE several ways to do it.

    My challange is to price it so I can get my $135/truck hour that I require.
  14. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    By prorating your pricing, you just end up confusing the entire issue. So many numbers start floating around, the customer never really knows what the real price for plowing is.
    I have been there and it will end up biting you sooner or later.
    We also used to price in 3" increments, that to has gone by the way side. We charge one price to plow the lot and that is for 0-3". If we get more than 3" we charge for 2/0-3" and just charge for the amount of times we go into the lot. So on a 8" snow fall we would plow 3x, and so on.
    The customer knows what it will cost to plow the lot, they just dont know how many times we will have to do it. Many expect a price break during storms that when we recieve over 3" but infact they deserve no such charity.
    The mind set needs to get away from T&M type pricing and more to flat rate work.
    If you are given a rate of 200.00 for a brake job, and the shop gets 50.00 per hour, perform the work in 2 hrs and use 75.00 in parts do they only charge you 175.00, no they charge the 200.00. That is the mind set ones needs to work with. The customer has no idea if you only had to plow 75% of the lot, and sooner or later you may have to do extra work, and in that case, you just suck it up, and live with the price for the flat rate.
    You will still be way ahead of the game.
    Of course this is just MO.
  15. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Gotta agree with Dino on this one.

    For the most part I have gone to all seasonal contracts, with enough "extra charges" to protect me even in the busiest winter. This was manily just to save on paper work.

    extra charges:
    1. The blizzard Clause
    2. Loader work when we feel needed
    3. After X amount of storms you are billed XXX amount more per month.
    4. ect

  16. Kent Lawns

    Kent Lawns PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 315

    I still like the per push price with 10 push minimum paid up front.

    Everybody wins.

    Might not work in some markets or with some accounts, but I like it.
  17. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Nothing wrong with that idea Kent. The nice thing is that if you only push 5 times, if you are nice you can apply some of the remainder to the following year, and keep the customer.
  18. fireball

    fireball PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 545

    if you think you are going to plow only once, have you got a lot to learn. Three times if you are lucky. Once to provide access to all the people who are seeking shelter to wait out the storm, twice to provide access out so they can leave, and thirdly to plow the spots where they parked. Hotels, Hospitals, convenince stores are all fun places
  19. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    If I have a $60-$100 lot, I'd charge full price every visit. On a $300 lot, I'd show up and clear the drive lanes which would take an hour or so. The first time I charge $300 for a visit of that length, my butt is out the door faster than you can say "Alberta Clipper."

    I'm sure others are not trying to mislead anyone, but different customers have different ideas. A prevailing theme I hear when making snow sales calls is that the customer wants to pay for what they have received...nothing more and nothing less. When I hear this sentiment, I know the solution...prorated visits.

    Under the right circumstances, we will prorate for those customers as long as they understand we have a minimum charge which includes time for travel. I educate my customers so they understand why they pay for travel time. Generally, a customer that wants prorated service for partial visits has been burned in the past and is entrusting you to be fair...your results may vary.

    Customer education is key. I have a lot of work to do because obviously, very few people in my market take snow removal seriously...both fellow contractors and consumers.

    Maybe it has something to do with the customers I pursue, but it seems many feel they have been burned in the past and are happy once we service them. Happy customers generally stick with who they have doing the work. Of course, my price is likely similar or higher in most cases.

    Another advantage is that we are more likely to get called out a day or two after the storm to clean up at places like this since you NEVER can clear every spot, even in three visits. After storm work is gravy. If management knows they won't be "overcharged" we have better odds they will want "extra service."

    Yesterday we signed a small lot that was paying $60 last year. Our price: $100. I have developed a good relationship with the customer in the past year since I do other work for them. I'm not trying to tell anyone to charge less for their services, to be sure. ;)
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2001
  20. branhamtom

    branhamtom Guest
    Messages: 0

    Thanks guys for all the great replys. A lot to consider. That is why I am here asking you the pros and not Joe blow. Ok, several trips seems to be normal. I like some parts of your ideas. How does this sound? Like plowking said, open entrance and exit areas on the first trip by predetermined time if possible. Second / third trip as said before to clean up or replow. I am gonna shoot for the prices you guys have mentioned for a base and go from there. Ok if you prorate or charge for the amount of snow as said, how do you determine the amount? Measure snow, or go by weather facts etc?
    What if you plow open areas and entrance and get another 3” and haven’t gotten a chance to clean up the lot. Just charge for additional snow and clean all areas as best as possible?

    Also this place has a sidewalk around the perimiter and several doors. Does this get charged at a different rate? Snowblower will be fine here with a addition time not included in my first letter.

    What type of ice control should I use for imprinted / colored cement near the main entrance / car port. This will get tracked inside so I need to keep that in mind.
    Thanks again guys