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What's more profitable? Commercial or Residential

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by mr hydroseed, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. mr hydroseed

    mr hydroseed Member
    Messages: 53

    This will be my first year plowing and I thought that I wanted to get mostly commercial contracts but after losing a bid to a condo complex by almost 1/2 the price I'm starting to doubt myself. I'd rather plow a large parking lot equivilant to 10 driveways in time and price. I figure there's more money in commercial because the people that do these jobs tend to be the professionals and not the part time plowers am I right? I'd rather plow a parking lot every 2" rather than every 6" for a driveway. Did i just answer my own question again? I think so, but i'd like to here you opinions.
  2. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,364

    Most likely, the commercial accounts are going to want better service, because they're at more risk as far as liability issues.

    However, most guys think that commercial accounts pay more because they're at more risk as far as liability issues.

    Therefore, everyone and their brother want to do commercial, since "that's where the big money is".

    This is true when you get into the real big accounts, since not every operator out there is set up to maintain such large accounts.

    BUT, if you're just going after the strip-malls, gas stations, restaurant sized lots, everyone with a plow is capable of "maintaining" a lot that size, so you're constantly competing with the guy that's just doing it to make enough to cover his truck / house payment.

    Yes, you usually do have to have larger insurance requirements and the such, but there are ways around those too if you so incline.

    So, as far as which is more profitable?? It's going to be different from account to account.

    Yes, the commercial accounts will tend to be better money, and usually more work, with regards to salt / sand / whichever, but along with those are the people thinking that if they cut the price by $10 / hour, they're still making $10 / hour more than residential, which, if you did 4 @ $25 in the hour that you worked the commercial account that paid $100, there's really no difference.

    Before you all jump on my numbers, I was just generalizing with those for easy math, yes I realize you all will make way more / hour and be able to do way more residentials / hour than what I listed. :D
  3. hickslawns

    hickslawns Senior Member
    Messages: 627

    If you mean more profitable then it is residential. Even if you only get 6 drives/hour done at $25-40 per drive (more for larger or walks), that is $150-240/hour. I think one every ten minutes with drive time is realistic for driveways in my area. I know I cannot get half that for commercial around here.
  4. mrplowdude

    mrplowdude Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    Residential can be profitable too. my friend had 20 driveways last year at 25-50 a piece, which is at least $500 each time you plow. Start there and then work up. Put an ad in the paper. you could get about 15 drives from that. I got about 15 my first year in the biz. Another guy does 50 drives at $30 so every time he is out he gets $1500, that might be better than a couple commercial accounts. Plus it is pretty late in the season to get the commercial accounts. Good luck
  5. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    If I had it my way I would do only residential. Think about it, (and this is from a solo guy) I bid a job that needs 2 or 3 guys on it for an hour or so you have to bid it to be competetive so your only making pennies after you pay your subs. Now if you do residential and charging anywhere from $15.00-$35.00 per push times 20 drive ways and take the average of $25.00 thats $500.00 in only a couple of hours barring no break downs and the driveways are relativly close. I do have 2 commercial accounts but I am the only one plowing them the resy are residential. I think the lots where it takes a couple of guys to do it is not worth doing unless you get a great rate but anymore great rates are a thing of the past, everybody and their brother has a plow on their truck. This is only my opinion and based only on my experiences in bidding both commercial and residential accounts.
  6. awaywithnature

    awaywithnature Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 1

    Hey Brian Young,

    I have to agree with your comments, i do have a questions a little off topic though. I noticed you are plowing with a f-150, i am looking to purchase a similar truck and plow and am wondering how it performs for you, power, front end holding up etc. The truck i am looking at is straight six auto and i am not sure if it is "heavy". Thanks for your comments
  7. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    So far its been fine. I had to put some money into it but it looks and runs like a brand new truck. I did however beef up the rear springs this year to 3/4 ones and I also installed heavier load front springs in the front and put the air bags back into the springs. I only have a 302 v8 in it but it moves just as much snow as any 3/4 or 1 ton Iv'e ever seen. You will definetly need air bags for the front springs, Jegg's racing catalog has them for about $75.00. Mine is a heavy half ton so I have an extra shock in the front and a little bit heavier front end capacity I believe. I also put on off road heavy load shocks and 4 Cooper Discovery tires with a "c" load range. Just don't abuse it and it should be fine. There are a couple of other things to look at if your not sure its a "heavy half ton" my tranny is a "E4od" its a heavy duty tranny, the same used in a F-250 DON'T USE THE OVERDRIVE while plowing (that should go for any make of truck) But the extra front shock is a dead give away.:waving:
  8. stumper1620

    stumper1620 Senior Member
    Messages: 222

    Is'nt that basicily the same as what they referred to as a 5/8 ton back in the 80s
  9. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,394

    I dont know I was just a little kid then.lol