With winter on it’s way, many new lawn care business owners are looking to add snow plowing to their list of winter services. Trying to come up with an idea on how to charge can be challenging, especially for new businesses.
A Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum member asked such a question regarding snow plow services. “I have clients asking to have one payment for snow plowing their driveways for the winter season. Is there anywhere that one can get some sort of idea as to the expected snow for the season this year? I have searched everywhere, but found nothing. Realizing that predicting snowfall for any given year is about impossible, I am just wondering if anyone here has come up with an idea to supply this type of service. I did some last year, but lost each of them this year because we only had enough snow to plow 2 times, but they felt they paid a lot for just the 2 snow plows. I realize it is a gamble on both parties’ side. I have real estate agents that are requesting a price for a seasons plow so it can be given as an incentive for a buyer, “Buy the house, get a years snow plowing and mow/trim”. Easy to calculate a years mow/trim. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.”
Pete: “I charge by the hour sometimes. My minimum for snow plowing small driveways is $35 under 6 inches of snow. Over 6 inches of snow I will charge 40% more. My hourly rate is $125/hr per truck. Salting or sanding the driveway or lot is 40% more. It is hard to price a job when you first get into snow removal. The actual removal is easy. If you have the right equipment you could make good money. I leave a invoice in their mailbox if they are not home, but I knock when I’m done with the job to see if they have cash or a check for me. If not then they have 10 days to send me the money or they will get charge a late fee.”
Tim: “Here is how we charge for snow plowing:
$50 min for residential driveways every 2″ of snow fall. So if there is 6″ before we can get to them it would be $50 x 3 salt is $2.75 per pound spread.
$$$ per push on commercial every 2″ of snow fall $3.00 per pound of salt spread.
For ex. we have a commercial customer that has 4 miles of street and 4 mail stations.
We charge them $175 per push every 2″ of snow fall this includes 2 passes (1 down & 1 back) clearing cul-de-sac’s and clearing mail stations, $3.00 per pound of salt used. Approx 1,000 lbs per application if we do all. We also stated in the contract we are not responsible to clear in front of or behind any cars/trucks street parked. Basically the contract states if the cars/truck get plowed in, we are not responsible to digging them out.”
Ken: “Here’s how we charge up here in the north east. The worst winter I’ve had is 9 storms, the best, 27. We average 12-15 winter storms. So here’s what I offer:
- Per push - each time we come, we charge full time. I do my best to NOT allow any “inch-age” limits (i.e. 2″ then we come out, or push every two inches, etc.) because truthfully, everyone has a different idea of what 2″ is and it’s just one more place for conflict. If I have a commercial acct, and they INSIST on that verbiage, I accept and hope for the best, but I would NOT accept any “cut in pay” if I missed the 2″ mark. We charge full price each push, $15 minimum - most of mine are $20-$25 per push. I charge $5-$10 to cleanup the end of the driveway if needed after the storm.
- (NOTE: I do not offer “per storm”. If someone insisted on it, I’d just charge 2-2.5 times my per push rate and hope for the best)
- Per season - with insurance. I don’t offer a blanket “per season” charge because there is WAY too much variance in the amount of snow we get. It would be like saying “I’ll build you a house for $125,000 and then hoping you decide on a 900 sf ranch and not a 2,000 sf colonial. What I do is figure 15 storms, 2 visits per storm. Let’s say it’s $25 per push, their contract would be $25 x 2 x 15 or $750. This amount would cover them from a minimum of 11 storms to a maximum of 18 storms. If we had less than 11, they’d get some refund, if more than 18, they’d get a bill. THIS gives them a 90% probability, give or take, of meeting their “budgeted” amount, but also covers us from extremes.
A final word, ALL my plowing is per push, every single one. BUT I think it’s nice to have a variety. You get more from the contracts during times of little snow, but you get some big money from the “per push” people during heavy winters. It’s sort of like diversifying your stock portfolio.”
Listen to this on the GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Podcast.