Snow removal services gear up for the season with higher rates

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MUSKEGON, Mich. -- It looks and feels a lot like Christmas in some neighborhoods in Muskegon; Christmas songs are playing, decorations are hung, snow is on the ground and freezing temperatures are here.

"I was a little caught by surprise, because here we are in the middle of fall cleanups and you got to get all that lawn equipment put away, but yet you got to get everything ready for your plows and salter," said Jamie Mikelson, owner of Mikelson Plowing.

Mikelson was most surprised because it's still autumn and six inches of snow and below freezing temperatures have her plowing company gearing up.

"I try to get as much sleep as I possibly can because I don't know how long I'm going to be out there," said Mikelson.

With six inches falling she says that will take her 24 hours to clear all 56 residences and eight businesses she was hired to take care of. The cost that goes into maintaining the equipment she needs to do that isn't cheap.

"When the snow gets ready to come you got to get your plow serviced and everything changed, make sure everything is working good with the hydraulics system. We just had a new system put in this year a total of $2500 to get it serviced," she said.

Plus the $1100 she spent to get the 2500 pounds of salt she's hoping will last through the winter.

"The price of salt almost doubled and if lots of people need salt and everything, it makes salt prices go up," said Mikelson.

That means plowing rates have increased this season not only because of the salt, but because of the cash snow removal services lost because of last year's snow that threw them for a loop.

"The amount of snow we got last year and we had a lot of people go with season prices and with the amount of snow, we did a lot of plowing for free on residential properties," she said.

Jamie has one thing on her side; gas prices went down.

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6 comments

  • Ummm OK

    we did a lot of plowing for free on residential properties,” she said.,,,,,,um they paid for that service lady,and what about the years snow was sparce . did you give their money back ? didn’t think so .

  • s

    Yea… What about all the years the plow companies only went out a handful of times.. Never saw a price drop or refund…one bad year in the last five or so.. up go the rates…

  • Andy

    Sounds like her contracts are not in her benefit. We plow for a certain number of plows based on an average winter (80-90″). After a certain number of pushes, the client need to pay a reduced rate per visit. In defense of plowing companies, a lot of people want to pay a “cheap” price for unlimited plowing visits for the whole season. They tend to call a lot for minor accumulations, or comparing their drives to neighbors and wanting a plow, or in general abusing the fact that they have unlimited plowing. A few ruin it for many. It is also a great way for a plowing service to go out of business. Now, that also means that a plow service should charge appropriately and not do drives for $200 all season unlimited because they think they have to based on other “low ball” offers out there. Charge for your time and service and don’t be afraid to spell it out. Know your costs to operate your business and the cheap skates will go price shopping somewhere else. I should also say that if you do price correctly and ask for better rates, then deliver exceptional service with great ability to service your routes in a very timely manner for your clients. 24 hours to do 50 some residencies and 8 business? We service over 160 accounts with 4 trucks and my drivers are out for 5-6 hours each. That is not a well thought out and managed snow route, which can also lead to a business losing clients.