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  • #16
    How important do you feel is taking into consideration travel time to the different accounts when coming up with a bid? Especially when they are smaller accounts and you might spend as much time getting to them as you spend actually working on site?
    Thats the downfall to this business! The way I see it, is that it is a form of advertising for us when we have some out of the way property where it cost as much in travel time as is to do the work. You really can't charge a customer travel time, when they could hire another guy that is closer and won't charge travel.
    This is where having a good crew comes into play, as they are the ones that you charge to get the word out in that nieghborhood. I will have them throw a couple doorhangers out to potencial customers or stop and talk to the wife out getting the kids off to school at the bus stop. It all about being clean, neat, and the highest level of Courtesy. Keep these elements in the fore front and that one secluded property turns into a cash cow.
    And that is how you deal/think of those properties, not as a hinderance but as an opertunity.

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    • #17
      I will have them throw a couple doorhangers out to potencial customers or stop and talk to the wife out getting the kids off to school at the bus stop.
      That is brilliant. Now when its winter and your crews do this, do you promote only snow plowing or do you promote lawn care or both?

      What about in the spring? Do you also promote that you offer snow plowing services?
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      • #18
        far far away customer.

        Pass those long haul customers up.....positively no sense in having to drive 30 mins to do one small driveway in 10 mins, unless you are helping out a friend who is really stuck. I had 1 small driveway 20 mins out of my route and plowing, shoveling and roof raking took my worker and I 20 mins to finish properly. I made the mistake of charging only $40.00. Thats 20 min to get there....20 mins job.....20 mins to get back on the route. 1hr??$40.00??? didn't seem at all worth it but, this was a good paying SPRING/LAWN/FALL customer and I felt obligated to provide this service knowing well enough some plow chump would try and steal the account . What to do?? I know the homeowner and had a sit down with him and explained my position. He cheerfully understood and agreed to have my brother (he doesn't plow snow but will work in it)and his snowblower take care of it with no threat to my three season job there.
        You see, don't be afraid of telling like it is. People understand. If you can't do it in a profitable fashion....just say no.

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        • #19
          grass in the snow...

          I really can't think of my own lawn during the winter season, let alone think some homeowner is thinking of theirs....

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          • #20
            Thats 20 min to get there....20 mins job.....20 mins to get back on the route. 1hr??$40.00??? didn't seem at all worth it
            To make such a job worthwhile and profitable, what would you suggest such a job be bid at even if there was a slight chance of winning the bid due to it's higher price?
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            • #21
              is that right?

              That part of the bidding process comes down to literally eyeballing the small properties and knowing that it will take "X" amount of time in a 12" storm and then converting that an hourly cost. for a 50' driveway in a 12" storm you are looking at 10-15 min and if you get 100/hr thats $25, as an example. The big properties are the ones that will break you if you bid wrong, that's for sure!
              Are you telling me that you plow a 50' driveway that has 12" of snow on it in 10 minutes one time for $25? You must have one big plow and a very easy driveway to beat up your equipment like that.

              People always ask what should I charge..The first thing I ask them is, "what are your costs"?

              Consider this 24" 2 stage snowblower costs $600 to replace with a decent one. Shovels $40 for two cheap ones. Are you driving the snowblower around in a car or pulling it on a trailer or walking from your house next door? lets say you have a small truck and some ramps that you can drive it up on the bed.

              So now you have car insurance and gas to figure in.

              The best thing you can do is try to get a bunch of customers on one block so you can drive there and do maybe 5-8 people all at once.

              I plow residential driveways exclusively and I start at $25 for three inches of snow. I don't wait til the storm is over to start clearing driveways. I'll tell you this your snowblower is going to take a lot of wear and tear trying to go through 12" of snow. A typical driveway where I live is about 35'-40' long and 15'-20' wide. 12" of snow in that space ranges from 525-800 cubic feet of snow removing 5 feet of cubic snow every 30 seconds rates at a bit over 50 minutes to clear the 35 x 15 driveway and 80 minutes to clear the 20x40 this doesnt take into account the time it takes you to turn the blower, reposition the chute and start again. This will give you an idea of how long it would take. Unless you have a very good snowblower you will have to go pretty slow depending on the snow type and depth. Now take into account the person who needs to get to work by 8am and leaves at say 7:15am that means you would have to be at that house clearing at least an 40 minutes earlier to get the drive cleared enough so they can get out. doing driveways with a snowblower is great if your consumers don't care when the snow gets removed and if this is a case you have a leg up on the plowers. I say this because I would never plow 12" of snow with my equipment and most plowers don't like to push snow over 6" because it talkes a huge toll on your stuff. I'd charge a one time fee to do a 35-15 foot driveway at 12" of $55-$70 dollars depending on how good your blower is to get the job done. For me to plow that area I'd come evey 3" to plow the area at $30 bucks a pop would cost you $120 if I was doing it just becuse of the added cost of the plowing equipment. I could plow that same driveway, 35'-15' at 3" depth in about 5-7 minutes 4 times would be 20 -28 mins just plowing not counting drive time. My subs sign contracts I base on annual snowfall and I give discounts for seniors, military families and personnel which factors into that $120 fee for a storm like that so it averages out. Do yourself a favor and DON'T WORK FOR FREE! I could care if some fly-by-nighter is dumb enough to plow a residential driveway that size for $35 bucks no matter how much it snows because when his equipment breaks he won't have any money to fix it and that takes care of him for good. When you get into this business you would be suprised how much people are willing to pay for a RELIABLE person to show up and do the job right. Charge at differnet depth levels starting at three inches and go from there. Once you do a few you will know just how long it is taking you and you can adjust your bids accordingly. Don't be afraid to charge for your services. People who are not willing to pay for reliable service can be the ones stuck at home missing work breaking their backs shoveling because Craig the crackhead who usually does the driveway for $25 bucks didn't bother to come this time...I love people like that when they beg me to plow them out I charge $35 a push just so they can leave and not miss work. Nothing like $70 bucks in 5 mins and most likely a future customer!

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              • #22
                Are you telling me that you plow a 50' driveway that has 12" of snow on it in 10 minutes one time for $25? You must have one big plow and a very easy driveway to beat up your equipment like that.

                Craig the crackhead who usually does the driveway for $25 bucks didn't bother to come this time...I love people like that when they beg me to plow them out I charge $35 a push just so they can leave and not miss work. Nothing like $70 bucks in 5 mins and most likely a future customer!
                Let’s get one thing clear grandstander, maybe I am jumping the gun here, my name is not Craig the crack head who plows for $25. I also want to add, not that anyone here would know this, as a retired disabled vet quality and reliability are two of the biggest assets to our customers. Now that we have that order of housekeeping clear, back to the snow removal topic.
                Most of our trucks run with 9’6 blades and several also have 10’, so clearing a 50’ driveway does not take long at all. In fact, if it takes you over 15 min to plow that driveway you may want to rethink your occupation. I was also referring to this whole plow example as just that an example, not necessarily what I use as a figure. Something’s in this business are coveted bits of information and as a rule we never relinquish our pricing structure to anyone and quite frankly as I have stated in previous posts, your cost of doing business is different than mine. You would not be a very business savvy if you let someone else do the numbers and not take the time to breakdown you’re operating costs per hour. I also should have been clear with everyone in my example in that we also, like grandstander, plow that driveway at least twice during a 12” storm and that would be your $50 for that driveway per storm assuming that you plow at every six inches at $25 a shot. There are also other factors that play into that hourly figure, other customers in the neighborhood, is there ice, are multi-service customers, time of day/night, coded gates to get through, security check points (such as on military installations), do trucks and drivers require special ids (the military fast pass system that cost each person $150.00 for one year), is the customer “high maintenance” and never happy with anything but still only wants you to care for their property. I would assume by now everyone gets the point here.
                SO, the moral of the story is “you have to figure your hourly expenses”.

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                • #23
                  , plow that driveway at least twice during a 12” storm and that would be your $50 for that driveway per storm assuming that you plow at every six inches at $25 a shot.
                  I can understand plowing lesser amounts of snow is much easier on the equipment but how do you suggest handling the customer that just wants it plowed once at the end of the storm? Is there a good way to go about dealing with them? Or should they be avoided?
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                  • #24
                    woah...there pony....

                    Let’s get one thing clear grandstander, maybe I am jumping the gun here, my name is not Craig the crack head who plows for $25. I also want to add, not that anyone here would know this, as a retired disabled vet quality and reliability are two of the biggest assets to our customers. Now that we have that order of housekeeping clear, back to the snow removal topic.
                    Most of our trucks run with 9’6 blades and several also have 10’, so clearing a 50’ driveway does not take long at all. In fact, if it takes you over 15 min to plow that driveway you may want to rethink your occupation. I was also referring to this whole plow example as just that an example, not necessarily what I use as a figure. Something’s in this business are coveted bits of information and as a rule we never relinquish our pricing structure to anyone and quite frankly as I have stated in previous posts, your cost of doing business is different than mine. You would not be a very business savvy if you let someone else do the numbers and not take the time to breakdown you’re operating costs per hour. I also should have been clear with everyone in my example in that we also, like grandstander, plow that driveway at least twice during a 12” storm and that would be your $50 for that driveway per storm assuming that you plow at every six inches at $25 a shot. There are also other factors that play into that hourly figure, other customers in the neighborhood, is there ice, are multi-service customers, time of day/night, coded gates to get through, security check points (such as on military installations), do trucks and drivers require special ids (the military fast pass system that cost each person $150.00 for one year), is the customer “high maintenance” and never happy with anything but still only wants you to care for their property. I would assume by now everyone gets the point here.
                    SO, the moral of the story is “you have to figure your hourly expenses”.
                    I wasn't referring to you as "Craig the Crackhead" and if I had the right equipment to hit a 12" depth in one shot with 12 other accounts on the same block sure I'd drive my $300 an hour rig out there to do the job too. There are ways to cut costs that I or you may have access to that other people do not. Pricing structure is what it is; there is no right or wrong way. At the end of the day if revenue outweighs expense you stay in business. I was just putting in some thoughts about the kid with the snow thrower and some shovels. Plowing snow is not rocket science and never will be. The problem comes with cheap people who don't understand why it costs $75 for 10 minutes of someone's time. They are the same ones who complain about a the car dealer charging $85 an hour. People like this get "Craig the Crackhead" to do the work and find out the hard way. cheers mate

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