How many snow plow customers can 1 man handle?

If you are just getting your snow plowing business going or maybe you have been doing it part time for a while and are curious as to how many customers you could handle with a one man crew, here is a great discussion that covers that topic from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. One new business owner was switching from performing commercial snow removal to residential and he had a few questions on how many customers he should take on.

He wrote “I’m located in Toronto, Canada and am going to start up a snow plowing business this winter, marketing only residential customers. Does anyone know how long it takes to plow an average sized 2 car garage driveway? I’m trying to figure out how many customers I can take on this year.

I’ll be using a professional front and rear snow plow so that I can back up, drop both plows, and drive forward. I’m guessing I can probably handle 100 jobs (about 12 hours of work) in a day, but I’m not sure. Maybe someone with experience can give me a better idea.

I’ve done snow plowing before, but it was more commercial and I have found a large demand for residential snow plowing. That’s why I need some advice from someone who has had  residential snow plowing experience.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I wish you well. 100 residential in 12 hours is one customer every 7.2 min. That doesn’t take into account any travel time. Having plowed residential and commercial properties for 30 years I doubt that is possible unless your driveways are all in a row.

A second thing I’d like to point out is pulling snow with a rear blade, have you tried this? I have using a tractor which would have more power than a four wheel drive and it is hard pressed to do it. By pulling the snow, you will have a tremendous build up of snow under the back of the truck. If you get more than 6 inches of snow, it will lift the back of the truck.

I understand Toronto has very concentrated areas to plow, do they allow you to push the snow across the street? I am just trying to figure out what you will do with the snow that you are plowing. Even outside the city where I live, if you get caught pushing snow across the street it’s a $500.00 fine first time around and goes up from there.

Snow plowing is kinda like mowing a lawn. You should always take a helper to trim and blow. With snow plowing, it’s good to have a helper to shovel the steps, up close to the garage etc.

Generally speaking a truck/tractor can handle 50 to 70 residential driveways in a 48 hour period where I live. If you are not there within 48 hours, I can pretty much tell you the customer will leave.

When we have really big storms, 12″ plus, we send the vehicles out after 6″. I’d suggest you work a deal with your clients so that you get extra money for bigger storms to cover the two visits it will take to clear their driveways. Doing so has worked well for me.

Where I really make big bucks is using the loaders on the tractors to push the snow back. Trucks just don’t have the ability to pile it high where as I can make a 8 to 10 foot high bank in no time. Keep in mind we are on the coast so our snowfall tends to be heavy.”

A third snow plow business owner added “I think I can answer your question. First, let me tell you a little about myself. I’ve been in the landscaping business for over 10 years. I’ve plowed snow for 15 years. I also live in New England and my snow removal is a 24 hour service.

My truck handles about 50 driveway per storm. Some driveways are big and some are small. So on a good day I’m out almost 24 hrs and on a bad day I can be out 2 & 1/2 days straight. So 100 driveways in a 12 hour time frame is not happening unless you have two trucks and split the route up by area’s.

So, you want to use a front and rear plow for your truck so you can drop both of them and plow a driveway!?! That is not going to happen or even work and here is why… No matter what, as soon as you drive over snow, your tires will compact the snow leaving snow ruts. Your best bet is to push the snow on the driveway off to the side than back drag with the rear plow from in front of the building

When it comes to pricing, I charge a 20′ x 20′ driveway about $35 per 3″ inch of snow. So if a storm drops 7″ inches, I show up the first time at 3 and a 1/2″ inches and then again at the next 3 1/2″ inches. With that, I just made $70.00 plus any shoveling I had to do (I do all shoveling at the end of the storm). For small walkways I charge about $5.00 plus salt would be another $10.00. So for that one storm and driveway I just made $85.00.”

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