There are two ways to increase profits – raise prices or become more efficient. In today’s price-sensitive market, if you raise prices you risk losing customers.
In this article, four snow contractors candidly share how WESTERN WIDE-OUT™ snowplow technology helped increase efficiency, enabling them to add customers and make more money in the same amount of time.
With an engineering background, Shannon Shaw and his team at Pinnacle Property Maintenance continually analyze the numbers. “The key to maintaining our competitive edge is knowing where our costs are,” says Shaw. “If you don’t know your costs, you don’t know what to charge people. And a focus on efficiency is at the heart of everything we do.”
Pinnacle initially bought the WIDE-OUT for the productivity of its 10-foot width on the big open lots. “We did a lot of comparison testing in side-by-side commercial lots. The WIDE-OUT delivered a faster job, cleaner lot and better location of snow piles.”
What they didn’t expect was how much more efficient they would be in busy retail lots. Shaw explains, “you get challenged by cars, by narrow drive lanes, by stop-and-goes. It even makes experienced plowers nervous. Being able to “contain-plow” and go down drive lanes in single passes in some cases was huge for us. We are so much faster getting in and out of those open retailers than we ever dreamed of. Plus our guys are much more at ease. And when they’re confident, they do a better job.”
Josh Wiley lives in a small town of 500 and plows the city streets, as well as commercial accounts. “With my 7½ foot WESTERN PRO PLUS® with add-on wings, it took me 5½ hours to do the city streets. Now with my WIDE-OUT, it only takes 3 hours,” says Wiley. “I like being able to control the wings separately. I can angle the leading wing forward and take a full pass. It pushes the snow into the blade just like the video says!”
Wiley likes the adjustable width for his residential jobs. “I can size it for the different driveways I do – 8 feet or 10 feet wide – one pass and you’re done. It’s just an amazing, amazing plow,” he says. “I wouldn’t ever own a straight plow or a V-plow now.” He adds, “a V-plow in scoop, even if you add wings to make it wider, still doesn’t carry as much snow as a WIDE-OUT.”
Contractors also appreciate the WIDE-OUT’s ability to angle in scoop mode and carry snow around corners. Mark Weaver of South Bend, Indiana uses his WIDEOUT in commercial lots. “If you have three or four unoccupied parking spaces, you can angle the blade all the way, swing in and out and carry the snow out with you, without spill-off. With v-blades, when you turn, you spill off a lot of snow because you can’t angle them.”
Weaver also finds the WIDE-OUT more efficient to transport. “Being able to shrink it down to 8 feet is an advantage,” says Weaver. “I’ve had 10-foot blades and they’re much harder to maneuver through the city. In 8-foot mode, the blade only sticks out a few inches wider than my truck.”
When it comes to training, Shaw says new operators are sometimes a bit daunted at first. “But 15 minutes into it, they’re saying, ‘hey, it’s a piece of cake.’ They learn it fast and get to the point where they don’t even look at the controller or think about it – they just do it,” he says.
Josh Wiley concurs. “There was no learning curve. After a couple hours in the truck, you don’t even have to think about it. Your thumb just knows. It’s weird,” he says. “The very first time I ran my new WIDE-OUT was at Walmart. It normally took me three hours to finish, and with the WIDE-OUT, it only took me just over an hour and a half – the very first time I ran it. I had never run the plow before and got done in about half the time.”
Gary Sherwin of Straightforward Fence Company agrees. “It’s pretty much fool-proof: up/down, left/ right, in/out. You use it for an hour and you’ve got it down,” he says. “It enabled us to take on extra jobs.”
For Pinnacle, maintenance has not been an issue. “We have several three-year-old WIDE-OUTS, and the only thing we’ve had to do is change a light bulb,” says Shaw.
Josh Wiley says, “I always try and be careful with my equipment. But when you’ve been up plowing for 24-32 hours, and it’s slick, you’re going to slide into curbs and things. I’ve hit those wings hard – really hard – not meaning to, and they ‘give’ like they’re supposed to with the pressure relief. And after two years, they still work perfectly.”
But Gary Sherwin probably put his WIDE-OUT to the ultimate test. “The very first storm with my new WIDEOUT, I was running my F350 Turbo Diesel with crew cab, long bed, dually… couple yards of salt in back, WIDE-OUT on the front. 13,000 lbs of truck! I had the wing out and angled forward, and I hit a train track on an angle – wing first – so hard it literally swung my truck around and jolted me pretty good. I got out of my truck thinking, ‘oh man, I wrecked my new plow.’ The wing took all the force. And there was nothing wrong with it! It’s been three years now, and last year was the worst snow we’ve had in history. And it’s still going strong.”
It all comes down to the numbers for Shannon Shaw. “Productivity relates to profitability,” he says. “It allows us to be more competitive when we bid. We know our costs, we know we’re more productive, and we know we do a great job. It can be achieved!”
Mark Weaver puts it another way. “Moving more snow per hour means getting done faster, so I can actually take on more accounts. Lots that used to take an hour are now getting done in 30-40 minutes, and they look better! It’s one way to combat all the low-ballers out there.”
Weaver continues, “The WIDE-OUT pays for itself in just a couple of storms. Time is money and you only have so many hours to get it done before 8:00. I’m willing to pay a premium to get more done with less trucks. It’s a lot cheaper to pay for a more efficient plow than it is to buy an extra $40,000 truck, not to mention fuel, insurance, labor, etc.”
|An 8’ Straight Blade can take up to five passes (or more) to clean between aisles of parked cars.||An 8' to 10’ WIDE-OUT carries more snow with less spill-off to get the job done in three passes.|