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Wisdom Needed

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by NEWFINISH, Oct 8, 2009.


    NEWFINISH Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    I am in a position to possibly get a contract from a nursing home for 30 properties doing snow removal. I already cut one of the homes during the mowing season and the owner told me that he would like to have me do year round service on all of the properties. He currently has another company doing the lawn and snow on the other properties but he said he likes me better as a business person and would like to continue to give me business. Now my dilemma is that I initially told him that it was a possiblity that I would not plow because I dont have experience, my truck needs the 4x4 and ABS module fixed first and the cost of plow is too expensive right now for my personal situation. I don't have the capital and I dont want to pick up any debt trying to get plow ready. I also have been planning on getting a full time job over the winter to save up for the next cutting season. I have an interview for a job lined up and everything. But I played around with numbers if things went sweet with the nursing home owner and I were able to pull the contract. I came up with 30 residential style/nursing homes $40 per driveway/sidewalk @15 snow events at a 2" trigger. $18000 for the season. I planned on doing this and making him pay in thirds. 1/3 up front 2/3s mid season and the remainder at the the end of the season. I also planned on doing this with Toro snowblowers. . Would this be worth the risk from the opinion of someone who is experienced?
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2009
  2. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    I would have to say the snow blowing or plowing sounds risky with your truck situation. 30 places is a lot of snow blowing. I think you should regroup with the job your trying for and maybe snag these places the following year, with a fixed truck and plow.

    NEWFINISH Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Snowblowing 30 places is a lot of work in the cold, feet being wet, hands freezing and all of that but if that type of income is attainable over the winter time I would be willing to make it happen. I was thinking if I could get him to front that money I could use that and get everything fixed on the truck and get my snowblowers and salt. The job that Iam interviewing for will fall significantly lower in the amount that I would earn and I still planned on getting the truck fixed out of that money. Are there any unseen risks that could potentially come up?
  4. sechracer

    sechracer Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    Well, alot that you need to take into consideration is how much travel time between lots, amount of time at each lot and how fast they need to be cleared. if it takes you 10 min per drive and 1 min between for travel, you got 5.5 hours of work every time it snows. so if you need to be done by 7, you get to start by 2 am ish.....
  5. Mike NY

    Mike NY Senior Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 108

    Snow blowers only, NO WAY. Plow w/ back-up OK. You will find that the snowblowers on the sidewalks will take you longer than plowing the driveway, dont give that away for 15$.
    Contracts are a must have.
    Half due Nov 1st, Balance due Jan 1st.
    Salt is additional.
  6. Mick

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

    How about subbing it out? Check your calculations for mistakes, though. 1/3 up front and 2/3 part way through doesn't leave a balance. I'd agree that 1/2 and 1/2 mid-season is better, though. Even the most well-intentioned get "forgetful" at the end of the season. I had that reinforced last winter when I had to cut off a good long-time customer mid-season till he paid up. If you use subs, make sure you have backs for each site; especially since you do not have any equipment of your own. Also, you need to do site-checks after every storm. It's your reputation on the line.
  7. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    He meant to say the second 1/3 mid way through the season. He's breaking it into 3 payments.

    I also think the guy giving him the work will expect to see "him" doing the work. I could be wrong though, it's happened before. :salute:
  8. Mick

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

    Maybe, but the "guy giving him the work" is hiring a contractor, not an employee. As long as the work gets done as agreed, he has no say about who actually does it.
  9. WIPensFan

    WIPensFan PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,594

    I disagree. If I hire you to plow my snow and I look out the window and it's another company, not you doing it, we will have a problem. If you tell me in advance that you will sub this work out and I agree to it then we're good.
  10. Mick

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

    Then the person you hire becomes an employee.
  11. M.McDaniel

    M.McDaniel Member
    Messages: 49

    Where in Michigan do you operate?
  12. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Sounds like you should pass on it this year and maybe try for next year with the right equip.
    It also sounds like you "may" get the work.....I sure wouldn't buy more equip unless I knew I could get the work.
    Insurance will be very costly.
  13. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    Sounds like you aren't charging enough for your mowing/maint. operation to cover the cost of maintenance on your vehicles, maybe a full time job over the winter to make money so you don't lose it, and rethink your pricing for next summer where you can make some money not lose it. I don't claim to know anything about pricing driveways or what your market rate is, or how close together the jobs are, but i wouldnt think about doing that many with just a snowblower, what are you going to do in big storms?

    NEWFINISH Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    You are right. I took too many risks this past season, A lot associated with pricing, Pricing too low to get work that turned out to be deadbeats. And buying unneccesary equipment prematurely. Lessons learned the hardway. Thanks everyone for the positive feedback. Plowsite is little more positive lawnsite.
  15. suzuki0702

    suzuki0702 Senior Member
    Messages: 649

    get the truck fixed. if your getting a third up front...thats 6000 bux upfront. thats plenty for a repair and a damn nice plow! and probably enough for gas for the beginning of the season! get you foot in the door now while u have the oppurtunity!

    NEWFINISH Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Thatwindow of opportunity has now closed. Since I originally posted that thread. The owner of the nursing home has decided to go with someone else cheaper and more closely related. LOL! It is what it is. Im learning not to put my eggs in one basket never again. So I am strategizing on putting together a flyer and networking campaign in hopes to sign up some customers that are last minute people looking for a snowguy. I am looking to signup snowblowing 15 places @ $40 a snowfall all customers within one neighborhood and a few minutes away from my place. I was thinking either the payments being broken up in thirds, halves or being prepayed every month. And I also had a scenario to ask about.

    a. If I tell a client that I come out at a 2" trigger, get there, clear the snow, and it continues to snow and another 2" accumulates is that considered two snow events or one? What is the best way to handle that still be profitable and keep the customer happy?

    b. Salting. I was thinking about charging an additional 5 bucks to salt. The bagged salt that I buy is 5 bucks and I could salt one place good and only use 1/4 of the bag. I thought this was a good method because one account could pay for one WHOLE bag of salt. Are there any other pricing methods?

    c. What is best, signing people up for 10 events or 15 events? I dont want to sign up for 10 and get 15 and have to do 5 for free. Or sign up for 15 and get 10 and have to return money. Its a gamble but how do you alleviate risk?
  17. plowindiesel

    plowindiesel Senior Member
    Messages: 192

    a. not to sure how to answer that as all of our accts are on seasonal contracts
    b. make sure you cover your costs and still make $$$
    c. get an average of the number of 2+ inch snowfalls from the last 3-5 seasons and get your number

    hope this helps
  18. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    If you sign them up for ten you get $400.00 10 services is $40.00/event 15 services is $30.00/event. Therefore you never work for free.

    Sign them up for fifteen you get $600.00 15 services is $40.00/ event 10 services is $60.00/ event. You make real good money for the time invested and you keep it unless they really get adamant about it. Then you offer or negotiate your landscape maintenance services to them like a discount or free service. Explain to them that if you had too service them more than 15 events you were ready and willing to do so even if it meant losing out on some money. If that still doesn't fly then offer them $40.00 back and go into negotiations again until (like someones sig says) both parties leave the table feeling screwed.

    I think you will find very few people will take that route if you did indeed do a good job. The majority of people are fair and a deals a deal.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
  19. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    Each time your push/clear should be a charge

    Don't give your work away. Most importantly calculate your cost per hour of operation to determine your minimum pricing. I don't know your market, but I do know that as snow contractors we all have operating costs and different use-rates that effect our pricing.

    We offer a CD tittled "Know why you charge what you charge" that calculates your company's cost per hour of operation for your company based on your expenses, overhead and use-rates. No industry standards. This CD is not software, don't be scared. It is simply an excel spreadsheet that you fill in the blanks. This CD will calculate costs per hour of operation for any services that you offer such as mowing, landscaping, fert. & weed control, seeding, etc.

    Call us at 800-845-0499 for a simple explanation or you can visit our website at www.profitsareus.com.

    Good luck!
  20. TonawandaNY

    TonawandaNY Senior Member
    Messages: 160

    I am kinda confused are looking to determine a seasonal rate based on events or are you going to charge per event?

    If your charging per event, then each time you go out that is 1 event. So if you have to go back a second time then you now have 2 events.

    If your going to do this with snow blowers then make you get one that has large engine and large sweep, something no less than 28" and preferably something that is in the 30-40" range. Obviously, the more snow you move per swipe the more profitable you will be because you will be able to do more in less time.

    i dont have anyone on per visit contracts because most people want it to be seasonaly rated.



    A new one will cost around 1500-2k. I am partial to ariens but I know there are others.