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Bought a Snowthrower - Any Tips?

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  • Hedgemaster
    started a topic Bought a Snowthrower - Any Tips?

    Bought a Snowthrower - Any Tips?

    I'm pretty sure that we won't see any snow now that I've sunk a bunch of money into a snowthrower, but on the off chance that I actually have the good fortune to use it to make some money, what "snowthrowing" advice do you have to offer someone (a) new to "the business", and (b) new to snowthrowers period.



    No laughing, but I bought a Craftsman. A "pro-grade" thrower is not in the cards at the moment, and rather than risk buying a used thrower and having it crap out on me on the first job, I decided to buy "new". Apparently it's made by MTD and is the same as the Troy-Bilt in most ways. When comparing them at different places, I couldn't locate anything with the same features for less than $1,000.00 - this one is reg priced at $1,070.00 and was on sale for $740.00 As it turns out, they were an additional 10% off today, bringing the price to $666.00.
    Not a bad price at all considering what it offers vs other throwers of similar price/quality.



    208cc
    26"
    Power Steering
    Joystick-controlled 4-way chute adjustment
    Nylon/Poly Skid Shoes (won't scratch/damage driveways)
    More here



    I'll be picking it up on Wednesday. Guess I'd better start clearing out a spot in the garage.

  • Hedgemaster
    replied
    I am glad you have been so busy! Are you doing any marketing while you are on these job sites? Are you leaving extra business cards or anything like that? Maybe clover leafing the neighbors? Or were you just too busy?
    No, nothing special... just talking to the folks who were available - getting to know them a little, asking them to pass my info along to anyone they think could use my services. I did give one customer an additional card, as well as the lady whom I had just met who asked me to clear her driveway. I played up the fact that I've taken all the steps to legally operate a business - including my recent approval by the municipality. "Great, I like to support new businesses" was her response.

    I also think that "playing with the dog" is excellent marketing. I'm not "faking" that part though - I really love animals, so any time I see a critter at a customer's home, I try to interact with them. I don't know about everyone else, but when any worker has ever been to my home, I have found that those who seem genuinely interested in our pets are the more memorable/trustworthy ones.
    If you don't like dogs, don't try and fake it - we can tell.

    Leave a comment:


  • Steve
    replied
    I am glad you have been so busy! Are you doing any marketing while you are on these job sites? Are you leaving extra business cards or anything like that? Maybe clover leafing the neighbors? Or were you just too busy?

    Leave a comment:


  • Hedgemaster
    replied
    Last week I was out washing my truck while wearing a T-shirt.
    Last night we get 9" of snow out of nowhere.

    Ring! Ring!

    "Hello?"

    "Can you clear my driveway tomorrow?"



    Four calls last night, another in the am, and three more jobs picked up along the way today.




    I did 7 drives today and shoveled a lengthy sidewalk at the 8th place.

    $230 was my "haul" for a relatively easy-paced 7 hour day.
    I've been charging between $25 and $35 for drives/walks. One guy wanted to pay cash ($35), but he only had two 20s... "Here, just take it, and give me $5 credit - I'll be calling you for some handyman work when the weather clears up!" lol, "OK, Thanks!"


    I did have two "mishaps" - one I feel horrible about.
    I was making the final pass up the drive with the snowthrower, and just when I was about to stop near the rear of the customer's vehicle, the tire of the snowthrower slid off the edge of the concrete, "popping" the front of the unit up, and scratching the corner of the bumper. It's one of those "plastic" bumpers, and the scratch was less than a half an inch in length, but it was still a scratch.

    When I finished, I knocked on the door and told the owner what had happened, and that before even discussing "payment", I wanted him to see it. Long story short, he wasn't concerned, and thanked me for letting him know about it.
    The real kicker is that I asked for $25 and when I looked at the check later, he had given me $30. AND he's going to have me start cutting his grass in the spring! "Just the front - I can cut the back", he said. LOL.
    He's at that age where he knows it's getting to be too much for him, but still trying to do as much as he can. Works for me - he lives a quarter mile from me, so it's not a loss to do such a small lawn job for him.


    The other mishap was when I chewed up a solar light. (cruuuunch!)
    Wasn't my fault. I always use my shovel to "search out" the edges of the driveway in order to make sure I don't run off the concrete and hit rocks, ornaments, edging, etc.
    Well, I was clearly two feet from both edges of the drive when I hit the thing. It must have been loose and laying out on the driveway before the snow fell. I told the customer - he didn't seem upset.



    OH, and I know I mentioned it before, but the power steering option was well worth the added cost to the unit - makes working around walls and such very easy, as it can be "fine-tuned" as you move along. If it starts working it's way toward the wall, just tap the appropriate steering controller, and it adjusts quickly.

    Leave a comment:


  • nnyparts
    replied
    Location...Location...Location

    Its kind of like selling a home. What its worth depends on where your located. We charge on average between $15.00 to $20.00 to plow most driveways in our area. I know of some that charge as high as 35.00.

    Now I have a brother in-law that lives on Long Island that tells me for the same size driveway, they charge 100.00 and up to do the same work. So it boils down to the location your in.

    I would fist start by figuring out where your break even point is of just covering your costs. Don't get into a bidding war with others in your area. Cost is not always the factor on who gets the job. Trust and doing what you promised for a fair price will win you return customers and they in turn will tell others of how well you treated them to gain more.

    Leave a comment:


  • Hedgemaster
    replied
    Thanks. Hoping for more snow, but not much in the forecast.



    BTW, I forget who answered my question about adjusting the skid pads so the "scraper bar" is about the thickness of a quarter from the pavement, but "thanks" - it worked out nicely.

    The lady who contacted me (from flyer distribution) had a concrete drive that was only 1 year old, so I bumped it up "just a hair" to prevent scratching the surface. It worked out well, and I made it a point to explain what I had done so she was aware that I was being careful with her property.


    Does anyone know if the metal, bottom "scraper bar" can be retrofitted with something that would not scratch - like a "nylon" material?

    Having the nylon skid pads is nice, but that doesn't remove the chance of scraping if the metal edge makes contact.

    Leave a comment:


  • Steve
    replied
    Congratulations! And we still have some time to go before winter is over.

    Leave a comment:


  • Hedgemaster
    replied
    Yay snow!

    We only got about 3" overnight, but it was enough to get a call from a customer. Then I called another customer to see if she wanted her drive done and she said "yes".

    Woo-hoo!


    While the rest of the country seems to be getting hammered with snow, we've gotten very little, so two jobs is worth getting excited about. LOL

    Leave a comment:


  • Hedgemaster
    replied
    Another good year for snow removal. Been out 11 times since Dec 15. The snow has been a dream to move,lite and fluffy. Even though there is alot. Blowers are coming threw like a champ.
    We are having a blizzard like snow event here today.Not much snow but plenty of wind. Most of the high storm totals will be in SE Iowa.

    That cargo carrier is slick. I want one!!!!!!!! Does that hitch to the ball or slide into the hitch?

    We're getting nothing but rain. Snow-melting, money-stealing rain.


    The cargo carrier goes into the receiver.
    I picked it up when I first started mowing some lawns, as a mower won't fit in the truck with the cap on it.(without folding the handle)
    Unfortunately, the "normal" cargo carriers were about 1" too narrow for a mower to fit on, so I started looking around and found this thing. It's actually "Mobility Wheelchair/Scooter Carrier" from Harbor Freight.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/aluminu...67599.html?p=2

    I saw it on sale for about $179 and used a 20% off coupon on top of that. Although it was somewhat of a pain to assemble, it is built pretty well considering the price. (look around online for something this size - you'll see)
    I assembled it with the ramp on the driver's side so I could unload into the street, as opposed to the way it was designed to unload onto a sidewalk on the passenger side. There's some "play" when it's inserted in the receiver and it rocks side to side a bit, but not enough to cause any "issues".

    I added a piece of plywood for a "floor", and used a hole saw to bore places I could run rope, or bungee cords through to secure the load. I also replaced the bolts/hinges for the ramp with hitch pins so I could pop the ramp off quickly. It's too bulky to take on and off with the ramp attached, but otherwise, it's quite light.

    It's rated for 500 lbs. I guess I should weigh the snowthrower, because I can fit it and three 50 lb. bags of of salt on there, but I don't know what that adds up to.

    Leave a comment:


  • Martywdx
    replied
    Another good year for snow removal. Been out 11 times since Dec 15. The snow has been a dream to move,lite and fluffy. Even though there is alot. Blowers are coming threw like a champ.
    We are having a blizzard like snow event here today.Not much snow but plenty of wind. Most of the high storm totals will be in SE Iowa.

    That cargo carrier is slick. I want one!!!!!!!! Does that hitch to the ball or slide into the hitch?

    Leave a comment:


  • Steve
    replied
    Heh. And regarding the yellow vest, I had a guy open his door when he saw me coming - he thought I was with the gas company, and was there to tell him there is a leak. LOL
    I got to say that is awesome! You are doing such a great job.

    That one pic from the house looking down, gives you a great perspective on what your truck looks like from a customers house. It also shows you how you could go with a sign that fills the entire side window. If a customer is elderly, they may not be able to see the number and call you from their home.

    Also, the safety vest is fantastic! It is getting people to open their doors! That is great! Even if they think you are from the gas company at first, it seems to put them at ease that you are a professional doing a job.

    Do you think it would help more with the door to door sales presentations?

    Leave a comment:


  • Hedgemaster
    replied
    Here's my truck at my only "regular" snow removal customer's home.
    You can see the covered snowthrower on the back.





    Here's a pic of my sexhay face...

    (frozen finger pressed the button before I could smile)




    This time, I tried to smile, but my face was frozen! LOL




    Note my temporary signage on the truck cap. I set the copy up on two pages of 11x8.5 paper, laminated them, and then taped the two together to make a 17x11 sign. Sometimes you have to make due with what you have, and this is better than nothing.
    BTW, a laminating machine can be had pretty cheaply, and they come in handy for a variety of things. I laminated a copy of my insurance policy to keep in the truck for "proof" if anyone requests it.

    Heh. And regarding the yellow vest, I had a guy open his door when he saw me coming - he thought I was with the gas company, and was there to tell him there is a leak. LOL

    (Oh, and I wore that hat by accident today. That's my "take the dog out" hat. I forgot to change it before I left today. Not a fan of wearing "beer ads" when talking to potential customers, but it is what it is.)
    Attached Files

    Leave a comment:


  • Hedgemaster
    replied
    Eh... didn't get more than 3-4" so the snowthrower stayed on the truck today.


    Shoveled one driveway and spent about 4 hours driving/walking around handing out cards and flyers.'

    Supposed to get more snow over the weekend. (crosses fingers)


    That cargo carrier works GREAT for hauling around the snowthrower. The roads are a bit wet, so I covered it with a tarp to keep the road salt/mess off of it.

    As I don't have my truck lettered yet, I made/printed some "SNOW REMOVAL" signs, laminated them, and taped them on the back and side windows of my truck cap. It's not ideal, but you can read them from a distance clearly enough.

    I also picked up a yellow safety vest - gives me a slightly more "legitimate" look, and there is no question that I'm "shoveling for money" as opposed to looking like a homeowner to those who see me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Hedgemaster
    replied
    12am... snow is falling steadily...

    1-2" expected by 8am. I suspect more...


    (drool)


    Leave a comment:


  • Growing Green
    replied
    Awesome job Hedgemaster aka SNOWMASTER! Always enjoy reading other peoples experiences.

    Matt

    Leave a comment:

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