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thegroundscrew
01-18-2012, 09:15 PM
I have been in the landscaping business since 2009 but have never got into the snow plow business until this year. This year I decided to buy myself some snow shovels and a snow plow. Yesterday was my first day as we got 4-8 inches in the Seattle area. I had 24 clients lined up for that day all living within five minutes of each other. It was very profitable, however, I only know the basics to snow plowing and removal and am asking for some advice and help. And to get this clients I walked door to door.

Are there any better methods out there than walking door to door?
Is a snow plow to a ford f250 necessary? What are its uses other than commercial?
What is the best way to get clients? etc
Any help will be awesome. I have 22 clients for tomorrow so hoping for some quick tips and tricks to the trade to improve. Please help and thank you.
When is the best time to remove snow? I am also guessing that you don't come back for free if it snows again? I had a customer complain about this and had to go back to do it all again for free?

Thanks

SECTLANDSCAPING
01-18-2012, 11:11 PM
You should charge per push. So every time you show up you get paid. If you wanted to be a nice guy, you could come back to clean what the town trucks left behind and do a single pass for half that price.

Getting clients would be no different then what you did with landscaping. The only difference is they all call at once. I call this emergency service and charge double. Dont worry if the price is high. The local newspaper interviewed a 1/2 dozen companies that charge triple for this.

I dont understand the plow question.

I start when theres 2" on the ground. I try to remove snow before the clients go to work. You should ask them this when quoting. If they go to work at 3pm and you plow them at 5 am. There more likely to call and complain then if you put them at the end of the route.

thegroundscrew
01-18-2012, 11:45 PM
It seems as if most people generally go to work at the same time roughly. How are you able to get everyone in at the time they want? How do you get commercial customers and price out both commercial and residential jobs? For me I have been just estimating how long a job would take and use my hourly price. Is that a good way for estimating? Also, what are some tips and tricks of snow plowing?

CHEESE2009
01-19-2012, 01:26 AM
5cm = go out (my area)

I have to disagree with charging per push, charge per season. This way you are guaranteed income.


Also, doing snow removal 99% of the calls are b.s. There is never any good input from a client, so don't take it too personally. You cannot get everyone done when they want it done, impossible. They will have to wait, as you are following a route that is created to get everyone done within a reasonable time frame as is, and it cannot be changed.

The average tractor with a snow blower attachment has a route of approximately 150 driveways which can be done within a reasonable amount of time if the route is fair. Try to pace yourself and not get too ahead.

Upscale2
01-19-2012, 12:30 PM
I'm guessing that Seattle doesn't get much snow.

If you are doing residentials most won't do a seasonal price by the month.
Most likely they will sign up per storm and by the push.

With that said. Start plowing at 2" or so. I live in NH, so we don't really
get are panties in a wad, when the snow flies. Unlike say NY or Connecticut. They can't handle snow.

Depending on timing, start plowing before daybreak so people can get out of their driveways. Do your route. If the snow continues heavily, do it again. And so on. Charge for every push the same as you did when you started.

Do your homework, find out how many storms you get per season, and then find out how many are plowable. From their set up your client base, contract them, and be on time and do a good job. They will call you back.

Ducke
01-19-2012, 05:14 PM
I'm guessing that Seattle doesn't get much snow.

If you are doing residentials most won't do a seasonal price by the month.
Most likely they will sign up per storm and by the push.

With that said. Start plowing at 2" or so. I live in NH, so we don't really
get are panties in a wad, when the snow flies. Unlike say NY or Connecticut. They can't handle snow.

Depending on timing, start plowing before daybreak so people can get out of their driveways. Do your route. If the snow continues heavily, do it again. And so on. Charge for every push the same as you did when you started.

Do your homework, find out how many storms you get per season, and then find out how many are plowable. From their set up your client base, contract them, and be on time and do a good job. They will call you back.

Most likely won't hear from you toady I hear you got hit good today.
Good luck

TiedemanLLC
01-19-2012, 06:01 PM
Snow removal is one of those things you love, but also hate at the same time. For example, I am just finishing up a 42hr 3 day snow routine. And I am going to have to wake up again tomorrow morning at 3am. And we are supposed to get another storm Friday night, and Sunday night.

With snow you are on call 24/7, you will miss holidays, and you will cancel appointments and family get togethers. I have worked 30hrs straight one time. Get used to it. There is no way around it (unless of course you have your crew do the work).

Now some may disagree with me, but I feel snow plowing is also one of our most profitable services.

We do a combination of billing; pre-payment, per push, and flat monthly rates. We have learned in the post that a combo approach works the best. Case in point, the month of December was almost no snow events, thank God we had our flat monthly rates.

You are going to get clients that want the snow removed before they go to work, before they get home from work, cleaned out so they can get to their doctors appointment, etc. There is not going to be one set of ways to do. For example, we have our commercial accounts as number one priority, then comes people that have to leave in the morning for work, and then after that everyone else falls in based on their geographic area.

Sometimes you have to do multiple plowings per storm, while other times you will just wait until the storm is done. It's basically up to you and your clients. However, I strongly suggest if a major storm is falling through out the day, that you plow it more than once. Also you will run into the situation of where the city or county will come by and plow in the end of the driveway or sidewalk that you just cleared. Do you charge the client to clean up the end again? Well thats up to you. With us we normally don't, unless it's large amounts of snow.

We have found out that yes you have to be firm with snow removal to a point, but you also have to understand that unlike lawn mowing that is fine if you wait a day or two, snow plowing, can not wait.

Steve
01-20-2012, 02:28 PM
We do a combination of billing; pre-payment, per push, and flat monthly rates. We have learned in the post that a combo approach works the best.

What's your view on the best way to figure out which customer should be billed in which manner?

Do you try to have a certain % of each or how should this be figured out?

TiedemanLLC
01-20-2012, 04:06 PM
What's your view on the best way to figure out which customer should be billed in which manner?

Do you try to have a certain % of each or how should this be figured out?

Well, we always try to push for flat monthly rate clients. We like the guarantee pay better than just hoping for some snow. With offer them a slight discount, same with pre-payment.

picframer
01-20-2012, 04:37 PM
Our billing is pretty much the same as Tiedman, we charge per push however I have it in a spreadsheet what the customer wants, for example we have one private subdivision which is 6 homes, 3 are doctors, their driveway and the road leading in has to be kept clear every 5cm +/-, that is per push no cap, I have a couple of nurses that we do, we plow at the end or upon two hours notice unless the storm was overnight at which time they have to be clear for 5 a.m., I charge what I call a standby charge.

The only billing I do not do is per season, we are all over the map, either I or the client will get burnt, some winters it seems you are out twice a week yet other winters I have never dropped the plow.

Then we have a few coffee shops that call us to bring in the tractors with buckets to clean out the drive trough's, that is per hour. I am on call for the city for loader service, usually get called twice a year.

We do sidewalks in private subdivisions, here we can use the ATV's as they are faster than tractors and the blade a perfect width, I charge per hour.

I sub out all salting and sanding, simply too hard on the equipment, the salt air here is bad enough.

bruces
01-20-2012, 07:12 PM
I also use a mixture of seasonal and per push billing .For a few years we didnt have many snowfalls,which had a bunch of customers upset with paying for nothing,so many wanted per-push billing which was fine with me .
I also find its easy to get everybody opened up in the morning if you keep a nice tight route,and find out exactly when your victims need their driveways done.

thegroundscrew
01-21-2012, 11:40 AM
So I just finished up all my snow and ice control work and am barely alive living on just three hours of sleep. My uncle and I manned a ford f350 with a 7 foot plow and a 25 inch snow blower. My helper maned a ford f250 with a salt spreader attached to the bed of the truck. We bought $5,600 of salt and used every little bit of it. In Seattle we got 6 to two feet of snow all within a 40 mile radius. We serviced 226 residentia customers and 28 commercial properties.

My Uncle has been doing snow and ice control for a few years now so I was able to get some tips and experience what it is like working 34 hours without sleep.
I'm young so I actually enjoyed every little bit of it.

Well thanks for the tips guys so for next year or next storm I will charge by push (not by season because we dont get much snow in seattle). I might also try a combination to see if that works. I will just have to experiment. I think it would be best to also start plowing at a few cm, that is a great point. I have always thought that there must be at least a few inches. We had? mutliple service calls but were unable to service everyone. What do we do if we cant service someones property? Do we just say we are already filled up and might have an opening?

Thanks for all the help and advice guys!

SECTLANDSCAPING
01-21-2012, 10:01 PM
We serviced 226 residentia customers and 28 commercial properties.

umm you went from 24 customers to 250 in two days?

That would be near impossible with two trucks.

thegroundscrew
01-22-2012, 12:24 AM
The first day was by myself with just a snow blower and shovel then I partnered with my uncle who owns a landscape company so I could learn what snow removal is really about.

Steve
01-23-2012, 12:04 PM
My Uncle has been doing snow and ice control for a few years now so I was able to get some tips

What were some of the tips your uncle advised you to do? And how do you feel they helped?

thegroundscrew
01-24-2012, 12:27 PM
1. My uncle told me to always have a charged phone as people were calling left and right!
2. Well we had tons of deep and also wet and frozen snow so he told me to....In deep snow raise the plow several inches off the ground to shear off the top layer. With the Power-V Plow, use the V-position for the first pass. Then change to the Scoop or Angle-position to widen things out. You should push just enough snow with each pass to get the job done efficiently without overloading your equipment. A good rule of thumb is to use a full blade width for two inches of snow or less, three quarters of the blade for four inches of snow and a half blade for six inches of snow or more. (Very helpful tip)
3. Also he said come prepared if a plow or blower breaks down so bring extra parts... that includes extra hydraulic fluid, hydraulic hoses, a pump solenoid, extra cutting-edge bolts and a trip spring. He said this will eliminate from having to go home and since we serviced so many properties it is bound to happen.
4 He told me to make sure that I make myself and vehicle visible by using a strobe light or backup lights to the vehicle and wear a bright neon colored vest.
5. Told me to make sure I know where the customer wants me to plow their snow.

That is all the tips I can remember it was actually one of the best experiences i had in the landscaping industry. Since I'm young I actually liked working in the middle of the night with very little sleep.

CHEESE2009
01-24-2012, 01:01 PM
5. Told me to make sure I know where the customer wants me to plow their snow.

Have the customer open their garage door and push in all the snow.

lol.

Am I a genius? I think I'm on to something here...

yourscape
05-08-2012, 08:11 PM
1. My uncle told me to always have a charged phone as people were calling left and right!
2. Well we had tons of deep and also wet and frozen snow so he told me to....In deep snow raise the plow several inches off the ground to shear off the top layer. With the Power-V Plow, use the V-position for the first pass. Then change to the Scoop or Angle-position to widen things out. You should push just enough snow with each pass to get the job done efficiently without overloading your equipment. A good rule of thumb is to use a full blade width for two inches of snow or less, three quarters of the blade for four inches of snow and a half blade for six inches of snow or more. (Very helpful tip)
3. Also he said come prepared if a plow or blower breaks down so bring extra parts... that includes extra hydraulic fluid, hydraulic hoses, a pump solenoid, extra cutting-edge bolts and a trip spring. He said this will eliminate from having to go home and since we serviced so many properties it is bound to happen.
4 He told me to make sure that I make myself and vehicle visible by using a strobe light or backup lights to the vehicle and wear a bright neon colored vest.
5. Told me to make sure I know where the customer wants me to plow their snow.

That is all the tips I can remember it was actually one of the best experiences i had in the landscaping industry. Since I'm young I actually liked working in the middle of the night with very little sleep.

Thanks for the tips!!!! Any more would be great since I am a newbie.