6 Tips for New Snow Business Owners
When does a side hustle become a full-fledged business? In our experience, when you know, you know. Suddenly, more clients than you thought possible are calling your phone asking for your services in clearing snow and ice from their properties.
Whether it’s word of mouth, an ad campaign, or something else that made you the go-to snow removal business in the region, it’s now time to consider your company’s scalability, sustainability, and all of the details in-between. With that said, let’s answer the question of how to start a snow plowing business the right way.
What Legal Information Do I Need When Running a Snow Removal Business?
Things like payroll, health insurance, and liability insurance are complicated matters especially if you’re out there trying to plow properties alongside your newly-hired employees. If you’re faced with moonlighting as human resources for your own business while still doing everything else you’ve always done, then you might want to consider hiring someone that already has that expertise.
The Small Business Association has an intuitive 10-step plan for new business owners to help get you started. They also have resources you can take advantage of should you need further assistance or have specific questions about running your own business.
What Tools & Equipment Are Necessary When Creating a Snow Removal Business?
Your greatest resource is a crew of people that understand how to operate a plow in even the worst conditions. Beyond that, you need a fleet of vehicles that can accommodate your team. Depending on your size, you might even want an extra vehicle or two for when one is in the shop.
One overlooked piece of inventory is an emergency kit for your operators. This kit should be in every single vehicle and should have supplies should they get stranded. That means food, water, and a source of heat should they need to ride out the storm.
Consider investing in equipment that can be useful for landscaping as well. A spreader that lays down rock salt can double as a fertilizer in the summer months, which means you can keep your revenue stream open even when the snow is a distant memory.
How Can I Find New Clients?
Are you too busy rolling your sleeves up in the field to do your own marketing? At the very least, be polite, courteous, and extremely reliable to your clients; word of mouth is perhaps the most effective advertising you can have. Best of all, it’s free!
However, if you are beginning to scale up, whether it’s a residential snow removal business or commercial snow removal contracts, then it might be time to hire someone that can be a “jack-of-all-trades” office person. Let them stay in the office, process paperwork, and do any of the other stuff you might not have time for. Most of all, ensure you hire someone with a knack for marketing. While you and your team are out clearing snow let them be your voice. Make sure they market your company through as many channels as possible. We suggest, at the very least, direct mail, social media, and flyers.
Don’t be afraid to have your team pound the pavement and go knocking on the doors of the businesses in your area that look like they’d benefit from your services as well. With persistence, your list of clients will have no choice but to grow from these efforts.
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How Should I Price My Snow & Ice Removal Services?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to pricing. However, there are ways to better understand your business, which makes pricing your services that much easier. The rule of thumb? Figure out how much you want to be paid and how much you want to pay your employees, then work back from there.
Calculate the cost of paying you and your workforce, the cumulative cost of overhead, the cost of your consumable inventory (things like bulk rock salt), and the cost of your fleet (regular maintenance and repairs). Once you’ve crunched those numbers, choose a service rate that will accommodate those expenses. Just bear in mind that your prices should be competitive within your region.
What Do I Need to Know When It’s Time to Hire Help?
Most snow removal enterprises can go pretty far with just the owner at the wheel. However, there’s only so much you can do on your own before consistency and quality suffer. When you start to see the first signs of overwork it’s time to bring in employees. However, how do you make sure that process isn’t just smooth but that it doesn’t change the quality of service you’ve worked so hard for?
Train your employees in a way that teaches them how to work like you do while preserving the spirit of your business.
Lastly, get workers’ compensation and liability insurance: it’s not just you anymore. There are legal requirements when hiring a crew. At the very least, you need to be paying into workers’ compensation as well as liability insurance should something go wrong on the job.
How Can I Stay On Top of Equipment Maintenance?
We recommend that you create a maintenance checklist for all of your equipment. Things like putting air in truck tires should happen regularly. Changing the oil should happen regularly, too, if not as frequently. Even things like washing trucks and state inspections should be scheduled out so they aren’t forgotten in the daily hustle of the business.
Even software like UpKeep could be a sound investment. Digitizing your maintenance requirements means you’ll never be out of commission due to a lack of functional equipment and that’s priceless.
Do You Have It?
Yes, a snow removal business comes with its own specific needs. However, all local businesses require the things we listed in some shape or form; attention to the details, the right tools, and the people to use them, a method to reach out to potential clients, a business model that scales, and the ability to remain productive even when you’re not running at 100%. With those principles at the forefront, you’ll already be on your way to a successful new snow removal business.