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-   -   Snow Plowing Tips and Tricks ?? (https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/426794-snow-plowing-tips-and-tricks.html)

Katmandu 11-04-2005 10:07 PM

Snow Plowing Tips and Tricks ??
 
Have anymore tips for a person just starting out in the Snow Plow business ?? 1-man operation here focusing on small jobs (for now)!

What are the basics to know for Snow Plowing ? :-huh

How much do you Charge ?? :-huh

Any advice/tips would be GREATLY Appreciated !!

jroehl 11-05-2005 08:29 AM

I don't personally plow much (I help a friend out on occasion), but I can tell you this:

Get dual batteries. Low speeds in parking lots with lots of power draw running the hydraulic pumps = dead battery. A second one helps you get through a job and back on the road to get your batteries charged.
Charge for your time and your equipment. Around here, that's about $25-30/hr for you, and that much again for your truck, for a total of about $50-60/hr.
Save for a new transmission. You'll need a new one sooner than you think.

Jason

1956MarkII 11-05-2005 08:39 AM

1) Don't get into the snow-plowing business. I've seen more people try it and fail. If there's nothing I can say to change your mind, then proceed to number 2.

2) Take your time, don't rush the job, especially with residential jobs. You can lose any profit you made by spending the spring fixing the damage you did to the edges of their precious gardens. Post stakes along the edge of the driveway so you know where the pavement ends and the lawn begins.

3) Most plow businesses today charge a combination of flat rate and fee-per-plow. For example, $300 for the season, and that gets the customer 15 plows. If they exceed 15 plows, then it's $40 per plow after that, which seems the fairest way to do it for both contractor and customer. You'll have to adjust the $ amounts to your local area, I just used those as examples.

4) If you don't have a taste for Starbucks, develop one. You'll need coffee that strong to keep you awake throughout the night. And you will be up a lot of nights; people want their driveway clear when they leave for work in the morning, not excuses why it didn't get done.

Katmandu 11-05-2005 11:28 AM


Originally Posted by 1956MarkII
1) Don't get into the snow-plowing business. I've seen more people try it and fail. If there's nothing I can say to change your mind, then proceed to number 2.

Roger that.

I'm looking at doing this as very P/T income. Most likely charge as "Per Plow" jobs and no Contracts. I already work FT (3rd Shift) as is. I'm looking for some extra income to keep my Hot Rod project moving along. :-X22

What reasons have you seen why people fail at it ?? :-huh

jroehl 11-05-2005 12:23 PM


Originally Posted by Katmandu
What reasons have you seen why people fail at it ?? :-huh

Re-read his answers, numbers 2 and 4.

Third shift doesn't sound very conducive to being even a part-timer. Screw up once and people won't call you again. They don't want to talk to a voice mail or answering machine, either. They want to talk to a person and know that they're next on the list (whether they actually are or not). Contracts ensure that you have regular customers and mean that you can plan on plowing (put your plow on BERFORE the snow gets there) when the snow flies instead of twiddling your thumbs waiting by the phone.

Are you also ready to do sidewalks and such? If not, most will use you once, then find someone willing to do it all.

You have to either do it, or not do it, no in-between stuff. People like good customer service, and will sometimes even pay more for it.

Jason

Katmandu 11-05-2005 07:14 PM


Originally Posted by jroehl
Are you also ready to do sidewalks and such? If not, most will use you once, then find someone willing to do it all.

Jason

Depends on how it pays I suppose.

What's the going rates for sidewalks and salting ?? :-huh

00BlueOvalRanger 11-05-2005 10:17 PM

If you really want to get started in the snow removal business, why not call a couple of 'established' companies in your area (from home) and ask how much THEY charge, because you are 'not-in-the-best-health' (Ahem, ahem) and will be needing YOUR snow removed this year, and you want to compare prices before deciding who you will give your hard earned money to.
:)

My brother-in-law did that, and he under-cut prices by just a few dollars.
He has more grass cutting and snow removal work than you can imagine.

Beast12 11-06-2005 07:54 AM

Here's an idea I just thought of. I am not sure if you already have the equipment and stuff to do plowing but here is an idea.

Would you rather learn how to plow snow and make all the mistakes with YOUR truck and equipment or would you rather you SOMEONE ELSE'S equipment?

Maybe try to find a company in your city and get a job with them for one plowing season. You could learn some things and then you will know how long it takes to plow certain size lots/driveways.

Just an idea. :)

-Matt :-tap

Katmandu 11-06-2005 10:02 AM


Originally Posted by Beast12
Would you rather learn how to plow snow and make all the mistakes with YOUR truck and equipment or would you rather you SOMEONE ELSE'S equipment?

Maybe try to find a company in your city and get a job with them for one plowing season. You could learn some things and then you will know how long it takes to plow certain size lots/driveways.

Just an idea. :)

-Matt :-tap

That is a good idea. :-X22

Although at this point, I already have a decent F/T job and also want the flexibility to come/go as I please on plow jobs.

I have my truck search narrowed down to older F250s and Broncos.

I here Broncos do great because of their short wheel base and tight turning circle radius. I really wonder if the front ends are up to the task cause they are basically just F150 front ends.

Ideas ?? :-huh

rebocardo 11-06-2005 07:50 PM

If you want to get started, you need the right truck.

The ideal plow truck is a Bronco, standard shift, at least a 351/300. Skip the 302. A working rear window that you can lower to see backing up. Studded snow tires kept at a low inflation. You want a plow frame that goes almost to the middle of the truck. Electric heated mirrors.

For large lots you basically plow forward in low, back up in high. Having a standard makes it much quicker.

Other then that, if you are pushing a lot of snow, then get a straight axle F-350 reg cab 8 foot bed, Load snow in the bed for plowing.

I think the best way to compete and make the most money is doing steep driveways in rich sections of the city. Get a Bronco II, automatic. It makes an excellent plow truck with the lighter plastic blades (basically steel frame with the board made of plastic). Plus, snow does not stick to it.

The F-350s and Bronco IIs I used never needed an extra battery, though I always made sure mine where good and they had A/C which meant they had 90+ amp alternators.

blue96psd 11-06-2005 08:18 PM

plowing snow isn't for everyone i have been doing it for about 5 yrs for my boss and shoveling walkways for him for another 6 (since i was a kid) . my boss has chevys i hate plowing with them the frame rails sit to low along with the truck right height. also i would look into some type of strobe light because during snow storms every jerk O** and there mother is out not paying attention . as for pricing drive ways ex. 20ftwide X 50ft long is like 60 bucks and then to shovel a side walk figure another 15-20 bucks maybe more maybe less depends on length. also if your going to plow get your self a good tow strap to pull out those idiots that are out on the road that shouldn't be there. i don't sand so i wouldn't know what to charge for that but i know our customers don't want sand because they don't want to track it into there house.

if you do, do drive ways try to get a bunch in the same area like 5 on the same street make for money than driving across town to do one driveway.

i hope i was able to help in some way
chris

Katmandu 11-07-2005 10:11 AM

Great advice so far guys!!

What would make a better plow truck ?? BTW, both are 88 F250s...

#1) Has a 460 and C6

#2) Has a 302 and a 5 Speed.

Which would make a better drivetrain for plowing ??

dono 11-07-2005 11:56 AM

Whatever you do, don't consider going into that business around here. We set a record yesterday at 89 degrees and it is in the 80's today (North Texas).
Dono

hawk 11-07-2005 12:01 PM

one thing you'll want to make sure you have is a transmission cooler on that automatic, if you don't have one, add one!!! ------

Beast12 11-07-2005 05:24 PM


Originally Posted by Katmandu
Great advice so far guys!!

What would make a better plow truck ?? BTW, both are 88 F250s...

#1) Has a 460 and C6

#2) Has a 302 and a 5 Speed.

Which would make a better drivetrain for plowing ??

You do NOT want to plow with a stick shift. Do not listen to someone that tells you. TRUST ME! I have many years experience plowing and an automatic is the ONLY way to go. Transmissions (autos) get wrecked from people not coming to a complete stop before shifting.

With that said choice number one is still better. That 460 will push snow like no tomorrow and the C6 is a GREAT tranny. One of the best that will stand up to the abuse of snowplowing. That Mazda 5 speed is junk.

-Matt :-tap

P.S. DONO: Funny guy! :-D

plapczynski 11-07-2005 05:26 PM

Make sure you know where those concrete parking stops are. Most are spiked in!

Katmandu 11-08-2005 06:10 AM


Originally Posted by dono
Whatever you do, don't consider going into that business around here. We set a record yesterday at 89 degrees and it is in the 80's today (North Texas).
Dono

Ahh..yes..... I served at Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, TX. for a Very short time back in 1983. :-down You'all have BIG PRICKELY STICKERS in your yards down there!! Don't ask me how I know!!!! :-roll x( :-X15 :-X07

Katmandu 11-08-2005 06:13 AM


Originally Posted by plapczynski
Make sure you know where those concrete parking stops are. Most are spiked in!

Now THAT is good advice!! :-D

Anyways, what is the BEST TIRE to use for plowing snow ?? :-huh

tellico racing 11-08-2005 06:29 AM


Originally Posted by Beast12
You do NOT want to plow with a stick shift. [/b]

Why not? I plowed commercially for many years with my 79. The worst part of using a manual trans was how slow it was in reverse.........and of course the clutch leg gets a workout.

Seriously though I actually liked using the manual trans. My times on lots were as good or better than the guys running autos.

I would have to agree it would be better to learn the plow game with an auto though.

hawk 11-08-2005 09:57 AM

"That Mazda 5 speed is junk" boy aint that the truth! basically it's a car transmission in a truck.

Katmandu 11-08-2005 11:47 AM


Originally Posted by Katmandu
Now THAT is good advice!! :-D

Anyways, what is the BEST TIRE to use for plowing snow ?? :-huh

Mark Oomkes 11-08-2005 12:40 PM

Some of the advice has been good, some not so. The auto is faster than a manual, I'll challenge anybody on that.

Tires--Cooper M&S. DO NOT run them at low inflation. You want narrow, skinny tires for plowing snow. You also want the max inflation to carry the weight of the plow and ballast. Check with someone in your state about studs or chains. You will not need these for the most part, especially with the M&S.

Even better than lying to a reputable contractor, either try subbing for him or just ask him for help. DO NOT ask their prices and then lower your prices a couple bucks to get jobs. This is called lowballing and shows that you don't really know how to estimate or operate your business on your numbers. This is the main reason that most plowing 'companies' go out of business. In my area, $50-$60 is on the very low end. I am on the higher end of the spectrum and do not have a problem getting enough plowing. The other part of this is that when your tranny goes, plow breaks, front end needs to be rebuilt, basing your pricing on someone elses may not be making you enough money to pay for the repairs. You might want to check into insurance as well, unless you want to take the chance on losing everything you own from a lawsuit.

Don't plan on breaking even the first year plowing part time. I wouldn't hold my breath on supporting your hot rod project by plowing either. Working 3rd shift you might be able to find someone that needs an operator or sub during the day, because most plowing is performed during the 3rd shift, so those operators may be at their job or getting rest.

77300i6 11-08-2005 02:15 PM

I think plowing snow is one of those businesses that requires too much money
to do part time and still make a good profit. I worked for a contractor for four years doing telcom. He would not take a job unless there was at least 20% profit in it. You need to look at how much it will cost just to get started.

1) Cost of buying a truck + any repairs / modifications
2) Cost of buying a plow (unless it came with the truck)
3) Business insurance. Incorporate yourself so no one can sue you personally.
4) Truck Insurance
5) Maintenience

The cost of all of those aforementioned items could easily get you pretty far on your project.

Yes you will need tall skinny tires for plowing snow. My BIL likes bias better, says they get better traction. I don't know.
Like someone else suggested, work p/t for someone plowing snow so that you can learn how to plow and charge accordingly. Don't lowball others. If you can do the same work for a few $$ less, that's fine. That's what capitalism is about, don't charge less just to get a job. It may actually cost YOU to do the job. Plus, I personally would rather pay $20 more for service that I know is worth it. I'm not criticizing you, but your potential customers don't know you or your work. Let your work speak for itself.

On a side note, if your married. the misses won't like spending cold nights alone. Especially if it's all for your hotrod. ;) Hope it works out for you.

someday 11-08-2005 02:22 PM

ive heard that it is a good idea to mount an extra solenoid for the plow next to the existing one...if it goes bad all you have to do is switch over the wires

nick88f150 11-08-2005 02:42 PM

Use the tips the city guys i work with use.....hammer down and stay outta the way, haha

tellico racing 11-08-2005 02:58 PM

Mark Oomkes.... You in G.R? I see oomkes lawncare and snowplowing around here...Well respected company.

I didn't mean to imply the manual trans was faster, only that it can keep up and make money if you have a good driver.

Mark Oomkes 11-08-2005 03:07 PM

That be me. Thanks for the kind words.

Gotcha on the tranny. I was just trying to get across that if someone is purchasing a truck for plowing, get an auto. Like you said, your leg and knee will thank you.

I take it SW MI means here in GR as well?

Katmandu 11-08-2005 06:20 PM

I'm basically looking at low budget startup and doing residentials in my area. Mainly my OWN driveway/alley and my nearby neighbors as well. My car was buried for (3) days behind my garage/alley last year. Plus a bunch of us guys from the neighborhood worked out AZZES off last year digging out all the cars on the street! I'm in my mid 40s now and I'm NOT going putting up with that ever again! I'd rather have a plow/truck just sitting behind my garage taking up space and use it when it counts.

I would then venture out some and round up some residentials. I'm not looking for big bucks, but would like to make it worth my while.

I have an 88 Bronco 302/auto lined up and a good Meyer's plow. Probably get it all up and running good for $1500-$2000 or so. ??

I did have a long talk with a local Contractor about the business when I was looking at buying some of his old equipment. He said he pays $50/hr for sub work.

What are fair rates to charge residentials and small Commercial lots ??

Is this reasonable considering the up keep/fuel costs nowadays ??

alchymist 11-08-2005 07:41 PM


Originally Posted by Katmandu
I'm basically looking at low budget startup and doing residentials in my area. Mainly my OWN driveway/alley and my nearby neighbors as well. My car was buried for (3) days behind my garage/alley last year. Plus a bunch of us guys from the neighborhood worked out AZZES off last year digging out all the cars on the street! I'm in my mid 40s now and I'm NOT going putting up with that ever again! I'd rather have a plow/truck just sitting behind my garage taking up space and use it when it counts.

I would then venture out some and round up some residentials. I'm not looking for big bucks, but would like to make it worth my while.

I have an 88 Bronco 302/auto lined up and a good Meyer's plow. Probably get it all up and running good for $1500-$2000 or so. ??

I did have a long talk with a local Contractor about the business when I was looking at buying some of his old equipment. He said he pays $50/hr for sub work.

What are fair rates to charge residentials and small Commercial lots ??

Is this reasonable considering the up keep/fuel costs nowadays ??

Why not just fork over the $800 bucks for a good big snow blower? Sounds like it could handle all you describe above. Could probably do an average drive way in not much more time than a truck mounted plow. JMHO....:-D

swamprat 11-08-2005 07:52 PM

I just bought an f 250 with a lift kit a 96 and its in better shape than my 80 350 so i was thinking of putting a plow on it.Im not sure how ill make it fit right though since the truck has 9" of lift on it and 39" tsl's may have to weld some things.Im not sure if the springs with the lift will sag bad from the plow but i was wondering tellico what type of truck did you plow with?If it wil be a big headache then ill put it on my 80 350.I see you have a big truck like i do.oh and by the way I use to plow for many years and with many plows i find fisher plows are the best made.

Beast12 11-08-2005 08:18 PM

I have also heard the Cooper M&S tires are great for plowing.

My reasoning for not using a manual tranny is two fold.

1) You left leg will be tired in about 30 mins. Not cool when you have 2 feet of snow. :)

2) A clutch will not be able to handle the amount of shifting you will do when plowing snow. I would guess you would go through one clutch per plowing season. An auto will last a lot longer if treated properly (complete stops before shifts and frequent fluid changes).

-Matt :-tap

bigblu250 11-08-2005 08:30 PM

Even better than lying to a reputable contractor, either try subbing for him or just ask him for help. DO NOT ask their prices and then lower your prices a couple bucks to get jobs. This is called lowballing and shows that you don't really know how to estimate or operate your business on your numbers. This is the main reason that most plowing 'companies' go out of business. In my area, $50-$60 is on the very low end. I am on the higher end of the spectrum and do not have a problem getting enough plowing. The other part of this is that when your tranny goes, plow breaks, front end needs to be rebuilt, basing your pricing on someone elses may not be making you enough money to pay for the repairs. You might want to check into insurance as well, unless you want to take the chance on losing everything you own from a lawsuit.

Don't plan on breaking even the first year plowing part time. I wouldn't hold my breath on supporting your hot rod project by plowing either. Working 3rd shift you might be able to find someone that needs an operator or sub during the day, because most plowing is performed during the 3rd shift, so those operators may be at their job or getting rest.[/QUOTE]

I've been in the snow removal/landscape industry for 15 years and whole-heartedly agree with everything above. If you want the inside scoop from the pro's, check out plowsite.com

Hope this helps.....

P.S. And for the record, a manual tranny will last just as long if not longer than an auto. I've plowed with both, an auto will be easier to learn on. But don't listen to anyone who says a manual won't hold up (although your leg may give out from constant shifting).

tellico racing 11-08-2005 09:15 PM


Originally Posted by Beast12

A clutch will not be able to handle the amount of shifting you will do when plowing snow. I would guess you would go through one clutch per plowing season.

-Matt :-tap

Actually the throwout bearing gave up first on mine, After 3 1/2 seasons.

jake00 11-08-2005 09:46 PM


Why not just fork over the $800 bucks for a good big snow blower? Sounds like it could handle all you describe above. Could probably do an average drive way in not much more time than a truck mounted plow. JMHO....
Im not too sure about that... My parents drive is 65 x 40 I can plow it in about 5 minutes, or takes abbout 1/2 hr with the 24inch toro blower

Katmandu 11-09-2005 01:05 AM


Originally Posted by alchymist
Why not just fork over the $800 bucks for a good big snow blower? Sounds like it could handle all you describe above. JMHO....:-D

Man! We had (3) snow blowers (8,5 and 2HP) all going at the same time and it still took us 3-4hrs to clear the area.

Never again in my mind! Even if I never break even with plow jobs, just having the Peace of Mind that I can clear a Path anywhere, anytime with a Truck/Plow is enough for me !! :-X06

The extra money I make from plowing would be extra gravy for my Hot Rod project! :-X22

Katmandu 11-09-2005 01:11 AM


Originally Posted by Beast12
I have also heard the Cooper M&S tires are great for plowing.

Is this the tire you'all are saying is the BEST plowing tire out there ?? Cooper Discoverer M&S

https://www.tiresavings.com/tires/disms.jpg

t_dickie 11-09-2005 01:38 AM

Advice? Sure. Hit it hard and hit it fast:-D . That's what we do when plowing out the yard at the farm.........but we use a 73 Versatile 300 hydrostatic/manual gearboxes with a 12ft blade. The old man plans on makin a 3 point hitch for the back to mount the snowblower. I think he wants to cancel winter in the yard.

Trevor

swamprat 11-09-2005 02:59 AM


Originally Posted by Katmandu
Man! We had (3) snow blowers (8,5 and 2HP) all going at the same time and it still took us 3-4hrs to clear the area.

Never again in my mind! Even if I never break even with plow jobs, just having the Peace of Mind that I can clear a Path anywhere, anytime with a Truck/Plow is enough for me !! :-X06

The extra money I make from plowing would be extra gravy for my Hot Rod project! :-X22

I agree with katman snowblowers take to long of a time to clear an area.I would hire a kid for clearing sidewalks with a snowblower but for parking lots and driveways you got to have a snow plow.

66 Beast 11-16-2005 02:07 PM

I bought a John Deere 410 backhoe for that specific purpose. I like my truck too much to tear it up.
I used to plow with an ex military 6x6, it plowed great but turning was a real joy! Armstrong steering!

gp42gpw 11-16-2005 02:24 PM

I don't completely agree Matt I like plowing with a stick shift. I have done it for better than 15 years and the only compliant I have is reverse is geared a little to low when doing parking lots. Other than that I have zero compliants plus those autos give up too soon plowing deep snow.
Just my opinion nobody elses
Glen
05 F-350 4x4 Reg Cab PSD 6Spd.


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