I might be leaving the business scene slowly need advice

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by soloscaperman, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,649

    Ok, then answer this: If you could have a plow route that takes 4 or 5 hours, 1/3 of a tank of gas, and bills at $1000 per small storm, $2000 for large storms (8 to 10 hours, 2/3 tank) would you do it? You need 25 driveways at $40 per push on a tight, 4 hour route. Not too hard to manage. I think that is worth a day in the seat. In a typical storm, I am up and in the truck at 5am. Back home eating breakfast by 10am. Bill $1000. Spend $25 in gas. We get an average of 11 storms, 3 or 4 require a 2nd push. (Full disclosure...I do end up spending anywhere from $500 to $2000 per year on truck or plow repairs.)

    Yes there are guys that will plow a driveway for $20. And they will drive 30 minutes in a blinding snowstorm to earn that $20. Those are the guys that can't seem to understand why they aren't making money plowing. They are in the truck for 12 hours, burn $100+ in gas, and bill $500 total. Not too strategic.

    Do the math. I just don't see how working all day, every day for $15 per hour is a better deal.
  2. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,764

    Those numbers are great. What happens when your 6 wheeler, loader, skid steer, one tons, plows, sanders break down? Because they do. Or one guy calls in sick so you have a machine/truck with no driver. I've had seasons where I've grossed almost 30k and netted a whopping 2k due to breakdowns and fuel rising. To be honest I've made the joke that during that season I would have made more money as a cart jockey at Wal Mart and I wouldn't have been turning wrenches at 2 AM in -30 weather. If you make money great, I do as well, but if there were other alteratives I would be more than willing to explore them.
  3. soloscaperman

    soloscaperman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,054

    Every person should remember this! So true! The clients I mow I can't be lien-ant when it comes to plowing. I have that rich whiney guy that you guys told me to dropped well HE PUTS THE STAKES DOWN AND PUT THE LAST TWO 2 FEET ONTO THE GRASS. He has a $2M house but his driveway is the same size as my plow. He calls me telling me to fix the grass. I did fix it when the snow melted. I was trained that you always shovel out from the garage doors and that's what has been killing me with time and there is one mowing customer (good old people) that have a ripped up driveway so I have to shovel out the first 10ft or I would damage my plow and my ball joints.

    DON'T RELY ON PLOWING AS AN INCOME BECAUSE HALF THE TIME YOUR NOT GOING TO GET THE SNOW AND THE OTHER HALF IS THE OVERHEAD. Unless you got new Ford F350's and have money in the bank plowing is to keep your workers busy and your full service customers happy. Commercial plowing which I do two small apartments that's where the money is!
  4. inzane

    inzane LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,478

    for about 9 years i have worked 11pm to 7am shift (more like 11pm till 11a.m. most nights) and what that kinda shift is doing to my family life, and what its doing to me physically is not worth 18 bucks an hour anymore. i took that job so i could run my lawn care business during the day (9 years ago), little did i know that i would be working 12 to 15 hour nights (which was good overtime, but not good for running my business on top of that), the money was great, the insurance was great, i spent 9 years building up a 401k so it wasn't all for nothing. but i'm burnt out, another year and i probally will be divorced, i see my kid mabee once a week and i sleep 2 or 3 hours a day if i'm lucky.

    my point is, make sure you know exactly what your getting into. it doesn't sound like a bad opportunity if there is room to move into a day time position. night shift is not for everybody.. the only thing that got me through it was the amount of debt i was carrying due to stupid mistakes, however.. i've worked my way out of that hole over the last few years, and at the end of the year i'm out of there.. :clapping:

  5. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    I have to question the price structure of the business if you are considering taking a job making 30 to 40K. Then you say you would put most of money from the job back in to buy another truck and mower?

    I say take the job and move on or take the time to learn How to Recover your expenses and make a good living. Do not do both.
  6. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Messages: 580

    soloscapeman, where are you located?

  7. soloscaperman

    soloscaperman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,054

    Around Fairfield county, CT
  8. RSK Property Maintenance

    RSK Property Maintenance LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,504

    I don't rely on plowing for income in the winter, but i see it as a bonus, and it does snow where i live in the winter, and I charge enough money where I make about 5-8 dollars a minute while i'm actually in the driveway plowing or shoveling a sidewalk or steps. none of my customers live in million dollar houses, none live in 800,000 dollar houses. most are probably 3-700,000 average sized for the area. And none of them complain. my 16 year old ford f350 with 271,000 miles doesn't require much maintenance. There actually is a pretty good amount of profit in snow plowing if you price it like I do, so you make at least 130-140 hour, which is having a bad route that is 14 hours long and driveways spaced apart so you can only do 3 per hour.
  9. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,649

    Exactly...it is decent money if you do it on your own terms. To me a 14 hour route wouldn't work, but that sounds like a profitable day for you regardless. My route used to take 8 hours because the driveways were spread out. But I kept advertising, searching for better customers. When I got some new ones closer to home, I would drop the distant ones. It took 6 or 7 years to get where I am, and I don't have that many plow customers. But what I do have works well, it is fast, and I make good money for such a short route. As an example, I have one shared driveway with 4 houses. It takes 20 minutes to plow all 4. They all pay $45 each per push. I also have 3 additional drives on that same street, maybe another 25 minutes. I do 3 of my neighbors, all 3 take about 20 minutes. So that is 10 driveways that (even with drive time) are all done in under 90 minutes. Situations like these are the way to make it work.

    A lot of landscapers don't realize that often times you are better off saying "no" to a customer. And that is especially true when it comes to plowing. I have a standard response to people who call from too far away, I just say that "I would love to help them out, but because of the distance I would not be able to provide the level of service they would need or expect". And at this point, even a mile off my route is way to far.
  10. RSK Property Maintenance

    RSK Property Maintenance LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,504

    yah that's my problem, I have a 20 mile ride from my two furthest accounts, but i have a lot in between so its really not bad, just a little time consuming. and its hard for me to say no. But i'm starting to get a lot of accounts that are about 1-5 mins away from each other finally, so things are looking a lot better this year plowing wise. i'd like to get to the point where i make 2000 off a small storm 2-6" i know right now with all the new accounts i just got last week i am probably pretty close, which i think, starting with no accounts last year is pretty excellent. I retained 98% i only lost 2 or 3 customers but it doesn't even matter because they are very replaceable. They have been replaced with better customers that pay better. If only I got lawns this easy and quickly. hopefully next spring I will!

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