GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With inflation and rising prices at the gas pump, private snowplow services are feeling the pinch which means customers may feel it too.
“I’ve heard prices all over the board as far as increases for personal plowing,” said Andrew Van Oostenbrugge of Cutting Edge Landscape Management in Hudsonville. “I think we went up an average of 10% to 15%, depending on the location. I know others went up much higher and some stayed the same. We try not to raise too much knowing inflation is taking a toll on everybody’s pocketbook.”
Another snowplow service told News 8 it raised its seasonal fee by $100 this season.
Other companies are cutting back services amid the rise in cost.
“A lot of (the) calls that we received from new customers were because other companies downsized. New customers we signed on this year were dropped from other companies,” Van Oostenbrugge said.
If you’re still looking for a snowplow service, the Better Business Bureau of West Michigan urges you to do your homework before you pay.
“First and foremost, you need to make sure you do your research on a company before you give them the money,” Troy Baker, manager of communications at the BBB in Grand Rapids, said. “Go to bbb.org. Do a Google search. Make sure it’s a company that has a history of actually showing up and doing the work you’re hiring them for.”
Baker said while it might be difficult to find a plow service now that the first snow has dropped, it’s important that you try to gather a couple of price quotes.
“It gives you some things to compare to make sure you find the right company for you, and then, when you’re hiring somebody, there are some questions you really need to ask,” he said.
Baker advises you to make sure you know what’s covered.
“Have them look at your driveway. Make sure there are no surprises. Is it a two-car driveway, a one-car driveway or is there a side piece you want done? Make sure everybody understands what’s expected and the timeline you need,” he explained.
For instance, if you need your driveway plowed by 6 a.m. to get to work, make sure the plow service knows that going in.
“Also, know what’s covered under the agreement price-wise,” Baker cautioned. “A lot of companies will want a full season up front, but each company defines a full season differently. For some, it’s unlimited plowing. Some will give you a certain number and then there’s a per-push charge after that. So, know how much you’re actually getting so you can compare with those others and know exactly what you’re going to end up paying.”
Van Oostenbrugge also recommended asking about the length of a plow service’s route.
“We try to stay within a five-hour route,” Van Oostenbrugge explained. “That way, if we have a really bad snow event, one of those Michigan blizzards, we can service jobs multiple times in a day without causing too much of an issue for myself or my helpers who are driving with me.”
If you’re struggling to find a plow service, make sure to ask your neighbors for recommendations.
Also, if you need a plow in a hurry, there’s a relatively new app called Quikplow that connects customers with individual plow drivers.
Ryan Crawley described the app he created as Uber for snow removal. You order a plow as you need it, so there are no contracts.
Crawley said prices for a one-time plow range from $40 to $140 depending on what you need.
A regular, suburban driveway usually runs $40 to $55, and drivers usually get the job done within four hours.