Snow Blowers


Snow Services

July 7th, 2014 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

Snow ServicesAs all of us baby boomers get older there will be more and more opportunity for snow clearing companies to provide snow services in the winter time. Depending on what stats you read, there may be one in four of us who will be retired and at various capability levels over the next 20 years.  This is an unprecedented opportunity for many companies to provide a variety of services to seniors and the elderly. Most of us want to remain in our homes and most of us will be unable to perform the various maintenance tasks around the home. This means that many companies and individuals including  snow plowing companies will abound and be available to provide services for us. It will become very important that we make sure that we have a contract that specifies what services we are supposed to get, how much they will cost and importantly when the services will be provided. Snow services for clearing snow is no different and we urge anyone who is hiring someone to clear the snow, have a clear and well defined contract to cover them.

Snow Services – Have a Contract

Which ever company you hire, always have a contract that specifies what services you will receive, how often you will receive them and how much snow must fall before they will come around to clear the snow from your driveway. In addition it should specify when and how much you should pay them for these services. If you can ensure that all of these snow services are clear on the contract then you should have fewer problems and be satisfied with the service. Payment for the snow services is another issue we want to discuss. If they are looking for full payment up front, you may want to question their motives.

Snow Services – When to Pay

If your contractor wants all of the money up front, find another contractor. The norm appears to be ten percent on signing of the contract, 40% at the beginning of the season and 40% halfway through the winter. Both parties are protected from any fraud issues or if for some reason the contractor should be unable to provide the service due to business or health reasons. Someone who wants all of the money up front might be a legit contractor, however there is too much risk for the customer that the contractor will not provide the services as contracted or might even take off without providing the services at all.

Be cautions, ask for references, only pay in installments and always have a clear contract. this is by far the best method of ensuring that you are going to receive the snow services that you need and want and what you have contracted for. If for some reason, it does not work out with the contractor you choose, at least you have not given them all of your money. You may not recover the initial deposit or progress payment, but at least you can limit your losses, if the contractor does not live up to his end of the bargain. Also read the fine print, the details of the contract etc to make sure that there is nothing in the contract that would cause any concern about signing the contract. If it is all one sided, you may want to renegotiate or find another contractor.

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Reliable Snow Clearing

May 21st, 2014 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

Reliable Snow ClearingConsumers are looking for reliable snow clearing services every winter instead of risking a heart attack or having to go out in the cold weather to clear their driveways. However many have different ideas about what this statement actually means. For some they are content as long as they can get their car out of the driveway in the morning to get to work. Other consumers are not happy unless the steps are shoveled and the driveway is kept clean of snow at all times. This includes that frustrating pile of snow that the city snow plow leaves at the end of our driveways a half hour after our driveway has just been cleared. Some people want the driveway clear even if there is less than an inch of snow on the driveway. The more you ask for, the more you are going to pay for the services that you receive.

Reliable Snow Clearing Services to Look For

If it is not written into the contract, you probably are not going to get the service you might be looking for. For example if it snows only one inch, your driveway may not be cleared. Most reliable snow clearing companies specify how much it must snow before they will come around and clear your driveway. Also note that they rely on local conditions in your town or city. You could have more snow in your driveway than people do on the other side of town. You may want to be able to call them to arrange for snow removal if the local forecast does not report that sufficient snow has fallen.

Most will follow the city snow plow so that they only have to clear your driveway once during the day. If you need your driveway clear by 7 am, then this should be specified in the contract. It should also specify in the contract that they will return to clear the snow from the end of your driveway that the city snow plow operator leaves.

Always Have a Contract

Unless you are dealing with your next door neighbor or a family friend, you really should always have a contract regardless of how confidant you are about the company you are dealing with. Think of the contract for reliable snow clearing as a form of communication between two parties that specifies various things about the removal of snow from your driveway. There may be some items that you are not considering which will be listed in the contract. For example most will include payment requirements. These can be one, two or three payments spread out over the season.

Timing, start and end dates, price, driveway clearing, sidewalk and front step clearing should be included in the contract. This will help  to ensure that there are no assumptions which can lead to  disagreements later on. Even if a neighbor is doing the snow removal for you, having a clear understanding of when he will clear the snow from your driveway will avoid any disagreements or misunderstandings that you might have. It might not be a contract in legal terms, but just having the terms written down for both of you to review and agree to will avoid a misunderstanding in the middle of winter.

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Snow Removal Services

May 7th, 2014 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

snow removal servicesYou might wonder why we are posting an article for snow removal services in May when the snow is all but gone. Well there is one single reason and that is to remind consumers who use snow removal services that they may be able to lock in rates for the coming year . If they are happy with their current provider, why not have a conversation now with them about next years winter snow removal? Perhaps you can lock in the rate at the same level or lower than what you currently have. This could be a savings opportunity for you.

Confidence About Snow Removal Services

While it may be possible to negotiate an excellent rate for the coming year for your snow removal services,  consumers should also be confident that the company will still be in business the coming year. They will expect at least partial payment to secure the best rate. Consumers will want to ensure that there is no danger of them going out of business and taking your money with them.

You might provide them with a low down payment and pay the remainder prior to the start of the next snow removal season. A winning negotiation would be that you secure the same rate  or lower as the current year and also not have to pay anything until the beginning of the next season. Perhaps 10% now to hold the rate and 45% at the beginning of the season and the remaining 45% on January 1st would be appropriate to avoid any danger of losing your full deposit.

Snow Removal Services to Consider

You may only need the snow to be removed from your driveway with the consumer removing the snow from the front steps. Some consumers will be willing to pay a little more and have the snow also removed from the front steps and any walkways around the house. This will incur an extra cost in addition to the driveway snow removal since it takes more time and may also involve a second crew that comes around to shovel the snow from the steps etc.

Check with neighbors and friends to obtain recommendations and to also compare prices. While the snow removal services prices are pretty standard it is nice to know that you and your next door neighbor are in fact paying the same price for similar sized driveways. Another advantage of using the same provider as your neighbor is that it gives you negotiating power when negotiating the rate. If you have a complaint, the snow removal services provider is well aware that customers talk and he will be sure to rectify your problem quickly to avoid word getting around that they provide less than great service.

Consumers can reduce their overall cost of snow removal if they take this approach. The worst that can happen is that you ask for a discount and they give you the same price as your neighbor or other contractors. Even if you save 10% on the cost, it is money in your pocket which can be used for other things. We can all use money for other expenses no matter how well off we might be.

 

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Snow Plow Services

March 21st, 2014 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

Snow Plow ServicesWhere is the snow plow when you need it? You received a foot of snow overnight and you have to get to work and before you can even get the car out of the garage you have to shovel the driveway. This is one of the worst situations that many people experience through the winter and many baby boomers and seniors are now opting for snow plow services to make sure that their driveway is clear of snow to get to work or just to get out for the day.

Hiring Snow Plow Services

You have to get to work! The last thing you want to do is to shovel snow before going to work. At the same time your wife needs the car to run her errands during the day so you cannot just leave and not shovel the driveway. Then you have to fight the traffic and the long commute into work. The 15 to 20 minutes of snow shoveling can make the difference between an hour delay in traffic.

The city snow plow cleared the street and dumped a pile of snow at the end of your driveway. It is too high to get the car out and you just have to shovel. Or again your wife wants to get out during the day and can’t because there’s too much snow at the end of your driveway. What can you do?

The snow is way to heavy to shovel some days the snow is that heavy wet stuff. A heart attack waiting to happen when you have to shovel heavy wet snow out of the driveway. Why bother with this at all when you can hire snowplow services to clear your driveway.

Hire a snow plow services company that provides snow plow services in your area.

What to Look for from a Snow Plow Services Company

Make sure that they will come back to clear the snow from the end of your driveway that the snow plow from the city leaves. Also make sure that they will clear the snow in time for you to get out in the morning to get to work. You may want to confirm also how much snow must fall before they will come and clear driveway. Do you want them to also shovel the front  steps?

You may not even care about the price they charge. On the other hand asking for quotes from several companies in the area will give you confidence that you are not over paying for these snow plow services. You can also ask for references or talk to neighbors who also use a company to keep their driveway clear in the winter time.

These are all various factors that should be taken into account when setting a contract to have have your driveway cleared of snow.

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Snow Plowing Service

March 7th, 2014 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

The season is almost over for snow plowing services. Most contracts end at the end of March and any snow that arrives in April will need to be looked after by the homeowner or special arrangements made with the snowplowing company to come and clear your driveway. In many communities snow plowing contracts last from the 1 December until the end of March.

This is also an opportunity for consumers to lock in their contracts for the coming year. It may seem early to think about this however it may also be an opportunity to negotiate a better rate by locking in your contract in advance compared to waiting until next fall.

What should you expect for snow plowing services?

The date your contract will start and end, how often they will clear the snow, how much snow needs to fall before they will clear your driveway, will they clear the snow from your steps, and will they come and clear the snow from the end of your driveway after the snowplow has cleared the street. These are all things that should be considered as part of your contract.

The details do matter. For example if the snowplow cleared your street at 4 o’clock in the afternoon but the contractor had already cleared your driveway in the morning, will they come back to clear the snow left by the snowplow operator from the end of your driveway.

Avoid snow being blown against your house. The contractor should already know this, but you should make sure that snow is not blown against the side of your house or your neighbors house. Occasionally there can be rocks and chunks of hard ice which could damage the siding on your home or break a window.

How often should you expect the snow to be cleared? Most contracts specify how much snow must fall before they will clear your driveway. It is also important to understand who makes that decision. Is it based on the weather report at the local airport which could be miles away or is it based on the actual snow on the driveway?

Will they clear snow from your steps? You may not want the service, however it is pretty nice to be able to walk out in the morning knowing that your steps are clear of snow and your driveways cleaned as well. There will be in extra fee for the service and consumers must decide if they wish to pay for the service.

How many months will they clear snow? Depending on where you live, snow clearing contracts will start approximately December 1 and continue until March 31 of the following year. If you are concerned that this is not broad enough., You may wish to have the snow contract start November 15 and finish by April 15, however expect to pay more for the service

Get it in writing! Always get all of the details and specifics in writing on your contract and initialed by the contract provider. Otherwise you have nothing to fall back on if the services you thought you were getting is not being provided.

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Landscaping Snow Removal

December 7th, 2013 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

Landscape in the summer, snow removal in the winter has many advantages for both the company as well as the consumer. There are numerous marketing opportunities, equipment efficiency advantages and you get to keep your employees employed most of the year, which means you get to keep your experienced people and do not need to worry about training as many new employees. There will always be some, but at least you can keep it to a minimum. This should also transfer into less breakage and equipment break downs as well. We will examine a few of these in more detail.

Keep your employees

If you have landscape projects to work on right up until the frost comes, then a few weeks off for vacation and then into snow removal, you have a good chance of keeping the same employees year round because they know they have a job to go to. The same applies in the spring as well.  The transition between seasons is the most difficult so if you have landscape construction projects to work on you can work much longer into the fall season for example as compared to landscape maintenance projects. Yard clean up in the spring, outdoor repairs and design work are all part of the job in the spring time, just before you get started with actual landscaping projects.

Multi use some equipment

Some equipment can be reused such as tractors and trucks. Obviously equipment such as lawn mowers and snow blowers cannot be reused across all seasons. During the in between season i.e. in the fall before it snows, your employees can also be completing repairs and maintenance activities on all equipment. In the fall for example, get your snow removal equipment ready for the coming season and update and repair your landscaping equipment from the previous season.

Cash flow

Cash flow is one of the most critical elements of any business regardless of what type of business your in. With a landscaping business in the spring, summer and fall and then snow removal in the winter time, you can ensure a continuous cash flow from both business operations. Your customers will also like the idea of using the same company especially if you provide excellent service.

Market snow removal in the fall
Market landscaping, lawn care etc in the late winter

Selling your services at the appropriate times, obtaining repeat customers and signing up customers for both services is one of the key success areas. Small business owners in this area much have at least one person dedicated to selling and marketing your landscape and snow removal service all year long. Someone should man the phones and be able to quote standard prices, set contracts and set up appointments for quotes. It is critical that your customers can reach a live person at all times, whether it is a request for a quote, make an appointment, or deal with a complaint.

Encourage word of mouth

This is one of the marketing items that is difficult to manage, however by providing excellent service to your clients and by providing a 5% referral bonus to customers who bring added customers to your business you can quickly build more clientele. Business owners who provide multiple services such as landscaping maintenance and snow removal may also reward their customers with discounts for taking both services from them.

Customer service is your best advertising element that must be managed carefully. It is your best advertising medium and can bring many new customers especially if it is good comments. Installing markers at the end of the driveway to mark the edge of the driveway for snow clearing purposes as well as advertise your companies name and phone number is almost as good as word of mouth advertising. All the neighbors see your signs and may talk to your customer to find out if they are satisfied.

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Snow Removal Technology

November 21st, 2013 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

Shovel, Snow Scoop

Every homeowner requires some sort of snow clearing equipment. The basic requirement is to have a shovel and snow scoop to clear snow from your driveway and sidewalks. The problem with shoveling snow is that it is actually hard work and every year we hear of men in their mid fifties or sixties over taxing themselves and having a heart attack right on the driveway. This is typical of the person who is a couch potato most of the year and suddenly decides to shovel snow and does not know when to stop.

There are several solutions that are easy and not too expensive and will help to ensure that you avoid having a heart attack. If you get a lot of snow you may want to either purchase a snowblower or hire someone to clear snow off your driveway in the winter time and clear your sidewalk. Both solutions are going to cost you money, however the snow blower solution is usually less for many people over the long term provided that they maintain the snow blower properly. If you are not comfortable with changing oil, renewing spark plugs etc, then hiring a contractor might be the right approach to clearing snow.

The following are the various solutions and some of the issues for each.

Electric Snow blower, Gas Snow blower

Many consumers in the northern part of the USA and Canada will purchase either an electric snow blower or a gasoline snowblower to clear the snow from their driveway for the winter. These units come in various sizes with various power levels. The one that I am running is an 10 hp and 28 inch wide machine. The size of snowblower that you need will depend on the amount of snow that you will have to clear in the winter time. Avoid trying to manhandle the snowblower and let the machine do all the work for you.

In general the larger the machine the better the job will be. Heavier machines will have more traction to push through the snow and they will have more power to also throw the snow further away from your driveway. Storage may be an issue for some people, particularly if you have a one car garage. Most people will not be able to store a snow blower in their garage and also get their car in the garage with it.

Truck with a blade

Contractors will sometimes use a truck with a blade mounted on the front to clear snow from your driveway. the danger with blades on the front of the truck is that sometimes they scrape the sod off the ground at the edges of the driveway. Also these scrapers or blades can sometimes scratch the asphalt or brick in situations where consumers have an interlocking brick driveway. Make sure that you include this issue in your contract and that the snow plow contractor uses a Teflon tipped blade to avoid scratching a brick driveway.

Tractor Mounted Snowblowers

This is the preferred equipment used by many contractors giving them much better traction and control of where the snow is thrown . Just like a small snow blower the snow can be directed in almost any direction to the left or right. Contractors can blow snow over hedges so they do not get ruined by the weight of the snow on them.

The other advantage of tractor mounted snow blowers is that you do not end up with a large pile of snow on your lawn or along side the road from your driveway. This is typical of blade mounted snow clearing equipment. Snow blowers spread the snow over larger areas and it also melts much faster in the spring since it is not all concentrated in one area. This is a definite advantage if you are concerned about gardening and getting rid of the snow in the spring as quickly as possible.

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How to Start a Snow Removal Business

November 7th, 2013 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

The very first thing that you should do when you’re trying to figure out how to start up a snow removal business is to develop a business plan. The business plan will layout all of the things that you need to do, the cash flow, revenue, your expenses, and your capital expenditures.

Budget

Basic budget is required for your business plan. This should include all of the expenses and operating costs that will be included in your business. It will also include the forecast revenue that you expect in the first year of your business. They should reflect the number of customers that you expect to have. The number of customers will then drive the equipment your business would require, the number of operators that you require, and the associated expenses with regards to fuel, repair, maintenance, employee costs etc.

Equipment

The equipment that you need for your snow clearing business will depend on how aggressive you expect to be. For example some people will use a truck with a blade on the front to clear snow off driveways. Other business people will tow a trailer behind a truck with a number of snowblowers and shovels on the trailer and at each location they will have to use the snowblower to clear the snow from the driveway. In other cases larger businesses will use tractors with snowblowers mounted on the back or on the front of the tractor. The type of business that you’re going to run will be based on the volume that you will have and will dictate the type of equipment that you will need. This will be part of your business plan assumptions and will it affect the capital that you will need to run your business.

Staff

You will also need people to run your business. These people will consist of someone to answer the phone, and do your billing. They will be people who will be needed to operate your trucks, run your tractors, and run your snowblowers. They must be available when ever there is a snowfall regardless of whether that is during the week on the weekend or at night over the evening period. They must be reliable people who will take care of your equipment and not abuse it. People who run equipment roughly will cause a great deal of maintenance costs that could be avoided.

Advertise

There will be advertising costs which will have to be included in the budget. This will be money that will be used to get your first customer and many customers after that. Advertising by word-of-mouth, advertising on the radio, and advertising by putting flyers up in the neighborhoods that you are available to clear snow will be required. Start slowly and build your business overtime. This will be the easiest way to make sure that your cash flow is managed, that you have enough equipment to do the job, and you have people on staff to also run the equipment.

Manage the details

Staying in business is all about managing the details. You must also keep track of the big picture to avoid any major issues such as mechanical breakdown and lack of equipment. However managing each customer and making sure that they are satisfied at all times is one of the most critical things that you must do. Do checks on the operators from time to time, look for the quality of work that they are doing, assess how well they are treating the equipment. These can make big savings for you if you are sure that you were treating the customer properly and your equipment is being used well.

Most significantly, owners must also watch the cash flow to ensure that revenues match expenses. If your expenses get out of hand you can find that there is not enough money in the bank at the end of the month to pay all of the bills and then you are in trouble.

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Snow Removal Techniques

October 21st, 2013 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

The title of this post may seem a little odd, however we wanted to take a look at snow removal techniques from the perspective of the type of driveway surface that you are dealing with and what precautions should be taken before various snow removal techniques are used.

Types of Driveway Surfaces

The driveway surface will make a big difference in terms of the safety and precautions that you might take when clearing snow. The common types of driveway surface include – gravel driveways, asphalt driveways, cement driveways and patio stone or interlock driveways. For the purposes of this discussion we will lump asphalt and cement together and we also lump patio and interlock together. We will also assume that all of these driveways have been installed properly.

Shoveling snow – from any of these driveways should not cause any problems what so ever, unless you are using an axe or some other sharp device to break up the ice on or around your driveway. Care must be taken that you do not accidently scrape or chip any of the surfaces that we have included in this review. Obviously a gravel driveway will withstand almost anything from a shoveling perspective. Shoveling is also the most strenuous and should be completed carefully to avoid not overdoing it and causing a heart attack.

Snow scoop – is much the same as shoveling. Care should be taken not to remove the gravel from the roadway when you are shoveling of using a hand snow scoop. They are great for moving a lot of snow by hand.

Snow blowing – with a snow blower either a consumer model or a commercial model is usually no problem, however care should be given to the interlock style of driveways to ensure that the machine used does not scrape and mark the driveway. Many commercial companies will use Teflon coated blades and scrapers to avoid or lessen the chance of leaving marks on expensive patio stone driveways.

Snow removal company – is one of the easiest and although the most expensive way to remove snow, it is effective for many people. When you are negotiating your contract make sure that the type of driveway is specified and that if any precautions are to be taken, that they are noted in the contract. Snow removal companies that use blades to remove snow scrape the surface and can sometimes leave marks much to the annoyance of the owners of the homes they are working for.

Depend on neighbors – to clear your snow for you. This is a great way to have your snow cleared. You may pay them something or give them a gift depending on how often they clear the snow for you.

Hire neighbors – makes the arrangement more formal and there should be a written agreement or even a contract which stipulates when they will clear the snow, whether they will do the steps or not and how much you will pay them to clear the snow for you. An agreement of some kind makes sure or reduces the chance of there being any misunderstanding regarding snow removal or the techniques they will use to remove the snow.

Regardless of which approach you take to clear snow from your driveway, consumers should always have a contract of sorts that spells out how often the snow will be cleared and whether the steps are included or not and what tools will be used to clear snow. Even if you hire a neighbor to clear the snow, writing down what your expectations are and what they agree to is important to ensure that you both have the same understanding about snow removal.

Even if you are not paying for the service and they are doing it as a favor, you may want to understand when the snow will be removed. If it does not meet your needs then you may have to make other arrangements.

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Snow Removal Companies

October 7th, 2013 admin Posted in Snow Removal No Comments »

My snow blower broke down recently and I decided that I only had a couple of options: repair it myself, have someone else fix it,  buy a new snow blower, buy a used snow blower or arrange for a snow removal company to clear my driveway when it snows.

Snow removal companies cost more over the long run. They can cost as much as $350 a year for my size of driveway. After five years of this service, this would add up to over $1700 plus tax. A ten horsepower snow blower with a 28 inch clearing width costs around $1500 plus tax not on sale. The break even is less than 5 years the way I look at it and sure I have to get out there and clear the snow myself, but I really do a better job and would prefer to do it myself. On top of that I also get a little exercise.

Time to replace or buy a new used machine.

I opted to purchase a snow blower that was used. The guy selling it told me that it worked fine. He was looking for one that was even more powerful. He delivered the snow blower for free and I paid him $280. Now it would not work without some adjustments which he apparently did not know how to make. The belt needed to be tightened so that the blower will actually blow snow much further than it does.

I also had to reconnect the power leads for the light and change the oil in the engine which was no problem at all for me. The housing is showing a bit of age, but then they all do after a few years of use and exposure to salt and ice.

The belts were fine so I think that I got a really good deal for less than what it would cost to hire a snow removal company for one year. If it only works for one year, I am ahead of the game in terms of pure financial terms.

Hiring a snow removal company is not in the cards for me, however for many people who are not prepared to clear their own snow from their driveways, a snow removal company is really the way to proceed.

What is the cost

Like I said the cost for my driveway is around $350 a year. They will only clear my driveway if there is more than one inch of snow. I am stuck clearing snow in any case on these days. Single car driveways will be less and longer double wide driveways will cost even more.

I also still need to get out outside and clear the snow away from my steps and front door. While I could also have this completed by the snow removal company, there would be an additional fee for this work as well. I would much rather do the entire job myself and know that it is done right at lower cost.

My neighbor and i take turns blowing out each others driveway. This is another big advantage of having a snow blower to clear your own snow.

Maneuvering a Large Snow Blower

the trick is to allow the snow blower to do the work for you and not try to man handle the snow blower. Another neighbor of mine, bought one and then returned it because he found it too much work to move the machine around. He was trying to steer and direct the machine by pushing it instead of allowing the machine to do the work for him. He found it just too much effort to use it and returned it after a few weeks.

I never did hear whether he got all of his money back or not. It was a craftsman snow blower which is a popular snow blowing machine and should have just worked fine if he had known how to use it.

He was much better off hiring a snow removal company to clear the snow for him!

 

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