Snowplow Forums banner

newbie snowplow guy needs some advice

2237 Views 24 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  BUFF
hey everyone!

ive plowed snow for 4 yrs with the county parks department, so i have some exsperience with plowing.
im considering buying a new dodge with plow rig to have a winter income since im just making enuff for my wife and i to live on with my regular income. i know nothing about running my my own 1 truck contractor business, so can someone please point me in the right direction to a good book that will set me up with everything i need to know about insurance, contracts ,ect....

anyone read the snow plowing handbook?

also , is it possible for 1 truck to get 20,000 do11ars in contracts for the winter season and handle those accounts with a 1 man truck setup?

thanks !
robbo in new jersey
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
i dont know where you are but 20k plowing by yourself seems an aweful lot of plowing to me or your planning on charging alot. could be wrong and probably am.
im in new jersey, i just came up with that stat because i heard some friend of a friend tossing around some big stats. so maybe you can clue me in on what can be made for someone with 1 truck, 1 snowblower and salting unit. on avg how much would insurance be for 1 truck and how many residents can one man handle?

from skimming this board it sounds like a 1 man operation should go for per push with some small contract commercial sites, what do you guys think?

i would charge the going rate .
I wouldnt count on plowing snow to even make one of your truck payments! If you are set enough finacialy to be able to weather the storm so to speak(or no storms in our case) of a bad winter then plowing can be a good way to make some extra cash and be able to write off part(or all) or your truck and maybe some tools;) and things like that. My point it possible to make 20k gross or net in one year with one truck? The answer is yes, but can you handle if you dont make any $ and you tear up your 3500$ blade or something like that? Only you can answer that.

Dont count on the weather, larger outfits can because they are set up to weather the storm so to speak although a couple mild winters in a row and they can be hurting too. And every body likes to talk about making big $ last year or for the last X years but nobody really likes to talk about looking at the books praying for snow because they were about to go belly up or they actually lost $.

Think about how many new plow trucks/blade you see after there is a big winter and the next one isnt.

Dont mean to discorage you. :)
See less See more
I agree with ratlover. Remember that if you're a one truck operation plowing only residential driveways and don't have any seasonal accounts, you will only have income a few days a winter; The day after a snowstorm and possibly the second day of a really big storm. Now, if you get an average of 5 snowstorms a year, that's only 5 days you can make money. With luck and in a metropolitan area, I'd say you'll be lucky to have six hours worth of work. If you average $125/hr, that's $3750 for the year. That's not even going to pay for a good quality 7 1/2' plow. Not to mention the truck payment and insurance. You'll make more if you offer sanding/salting, but you'll also have to get bigger truck and the cost of the equipment and material.

Bottom line - this is not a field to "make some money". Financially, I was thousands of dollars behind the first two years.
I agree with what has been said so far. I think if you really scouted out some business you could probabbly get in the area of 5,000 maybe more, depending on the snowfall you get there. In my area it is tuff because all the "Lowballers" But we get so many lake effect storms they peter out fairly quickly. I enjoy snowplowing but in reality I think it really is more of a hobby that pays well. Best of luck to ya!! :)
Try and sign on as a sub-contractor for a large company in the area. This may work out better for you this year.
Welcome to SPC ! :D

I will second Rob's advice,and maybe sign on for some sub work.It will gain you some experience,and some knowledge of your local events.It will help you decide if this is for you,and want to go full time next year.

You will have a tough time paying off a new truck,the new blade,insurance,etc with a small one truck route.It will take some time to recoup your costs.
thx for replying guys!
i was thinking the sub contractor route also, but i wouldnt now where to start with that. does that pay by the hr , per push or, do they contract you for the season at one lump sum?

i know when i worked for the county they were considering getting all sub contractors to plow.
what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of sub contracting?

well the truck would probally be a wash with my car trade in. i have a exspensive 2004 european car( tht i couldnt really afford) so im thinking of getting the truck to use as my everyday wheels also and for plowing in the winter and possibly lawn matinence in the summer!
do any of you guys do 1 man lawn matienence and fall cleanup also?

im considering all this because i worked for the county parks department for 5 yrs and did all this type of work. i like this stuff , but just couldnt stand all the back stabbing and favortism that goes on with goverment jobs.

i can affford the truck and some plow and lawn gear ,but i wanna make sure i can make enuff money to live on the first couple of yrs while i learn the business end of all this.
Filling in your profile\location will help too.If your in Colorado,it may be a very profitable venture,but the total opposite if your in an area that recieves little snow.It may also help get other members in your area to give you local specific advice.
wyldman he said in second post he live in nj. i dont know much about nj but i never thought they got all that much of snow.
DOH !! I see that now.I was looking beside his user name for his location,and missed it in the second post.
we all make mistakes. i thought i made one once but i was mistaking:D
ok guys i filled it in, so its easier for everyone to see!

we've had some heavy snow here and some lite winters also. my last yr working for the county i plowed 2 days straight and last yr we had a 2 day snowstorm but thats not gonna happen every yr.
how many storms on average.
seems like about 10 snow falls with 2 being 24 hr storms a yr!

id like to get the book advertised on this site , but 70 bucks is really up there.

i guess some guys also salt on non snowing ice days right?
It sounds like your area gets a reasonable amount of snow. Here are a couple more ideas:
1)- Buy a 2 or 3 yr old 3/4 T Dodge, diesel if you can swing it. It should be at least $10k less than new. that cuts your earning requirements big time. The fuel mileage on the diesels will be much better than gas, and maybe almost as good as your Euro.
2) Definitely sign on with a big company as a sub. Your hourly rate will be less, but you will usually work more hours to make up. That will also let you get some statistics together for when you do go on your own. You won't be over-extending yourself as easily.
3) Look for your dealer and quality service just as much as you look for features in a new plow. You will likely need the dealer sometime, and you want him to be stable, open reasonable hours with good parts inventory.
4) If you have less than 4 years of experience plowing, suck up the fee, and buy Chuck's book. Except for being written by a Chevy lover, it is a good use of the $$ and the time to read it.:grinz

Lastly, prowl the history pages around here. Great wisdom is here and good folks who will help you. :nodd
See less See more
ROBBO....These guys are right on!

Subbing in your area and doing a few driveways could be
very profitable !

I have family down there across from Philly.

They don't get a lot of snow but when they do...............
They charge a LOT compared to my area where the lowballers
and a million plow rigs out there keep prices LOW!

If you get a rig...........Post here in the Networking thread....
Many posts for sub guys and rigs in your area !

Also consider Plow insurance to keep your behind covered.
Some contractors will not use you if you don't have it.
My family down there says NJ has the highest rates in the USA !

good luck...............geo
See less See more
You could do it but just want to warn you that things are unpredictable. On my first year of plowing, I only had two plowable events. Fortunately I had a small old truck & used plow at that time so I had no payments to make. But I did took a loss during that horrific season due to cost of insurance, etc. Not meaning to scare you but just want to warn you not to depend on snow to make payments on new truck if you decide to purchase one.

Yes I do lawn maintenance and leaves clean-up on my own. Not always easy but manageable in most situations.
1 - 20 of 25 Posts