When it comes to snow removal services, you’ll find that the average cost varies drastically. There are many factors taken into consideration such as overhead costs, how deep the snow is and in what areas, how much time the job will take to complete, and what devices are necessary for the job. With so many factors in play, snow removal companies might not know exactly how much to charge.
Our experts at Ninja De-Icer are here to help! We are here to offer you tangible and straightforward tips to help you better understand our approach to snow removal pricing.
Tips for Better Snow Removal Pricing
When it comes to pricing, you want to be fair to the consumer while factoring in profitability for your company. Many business owners find this process to be a bit intimidating as they want to stay competitive without scaring away their customers.
1. Understand Your Overhead
Overhead is every expense that your business incurs to simply exist. Your overhead expenses can be daunting. If you don’t have a clear understanding of your overhead by the time you’re pricing your services, you’re headed for disaster. When you’ve solidified overhead, then you can come up with a pricing strategy.
The most common overhead items to account for when pricing snow removal are:
- Insurance — you’ll need both vehicle and snow plow insurance.
- Driving & setup time — driving time and the time taken to set up your equipment are billable to your clients.
- Employee wages — your employees earn a wage and your overall revenue needs to accommodate for this.
- Supply costs — these can be supplies like deicer or equipment expenses, like your snow plow or salt spreader.
- Fuel to operate machines.
- Business operations – Costs can increase as you grow your business.
2. Estimate Job Length & Do It Accurately
You’ve already set a competitive rate for your area that still provides you with profit after your overhead is paid. But what good is that if you’re not accurately estimating the scope of your snow removal jobs? For instance, are you taking into account pricing for both snow plowing and salt spreading? Your clients may surprise you with how willing they are to agree to the cost commitment you create for them. Especially if you have a well-thought-out strategy for calculating job scope.
Think of how long it would take one man to finish a particular job. Then, you can easily calculate the labor needed when estimating a job. Simply calculate how many hours one man would take, then divide by the number of guys you’ll be putting on that job to get an accurate number of hours. This formula is foolproof and scalable.
3. Know Your Market
Every successful business has reasonable expectations from its clientele based on location and the overall market. The same is true for your snow plow business. Depending on your radius, you may have multiple “markets” to accommodate, all with different rates.
A wealthier community will pay a premium for snow removal services, so you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not acknowledging that. The inverse is true for less wealthy communities — they may stay away from you due to sticker shock if you’re advertising a universal rate that doesn’t fit into the market rate in their area. Get into the habit of pricing your services strategically depending on your clientele. Soon enough, you’ll gain the intuition needed to remain competitive across a diverse marketplace. Don’t be afraid to see what other businesses are charging — they might have already done the work to establish a strategic rate — so why reinvent the wheel?
4. Either Be a Great Salesman or Hire One
As your business’s momentum increases, it’ll eventually be time to build out your team. But not everyone you hire needs to be pushing a plow. Ask yourself what you’d rather do — be out in the field or the office. If you’d rather be in the office, ask yourself how good your people skills are. If you’re not the best schmoozer, then you may want to invest in a salesperson who can man the phones and even make sales runs to businesses in the area.
You’d be surprised how much business the right person can drum up. Some people thrive on human connection and can find common ground in any conversation. That’s the kind of person you want on your team — a go-getter and a confident talker that can vouch for your business and “shake the bushes” for new clients while you’re plowing snow or working on higher-level operations.
5. Get into Digital Marketing
Your first impression can often be made online before you’ve seen a potential client’s face or spoken to them. The last thing you want is for a business to Google you only to find an empty Google Business entry and a bunch of unrelated search results that could turn them off from contacting them.
Instead, take control of your digital marketing. Set up your Google Business page so it proudly displays a photo of your business, or one of your gleaming snow plows shoveling a mountain of snow. List your phone number, website, and office hours, and respond to any Google reviews, positive or negative to show people that you’re an active business owner. Most of all, make sure you have a website that people can visit. For your kind of service-centric business, simpler is better. Make it concise and give visitors ways to easily contact you.
Snow Removal Cost Factors
Make sure to think about the below variable to determine the types of snow removal services that you need and how much they will cost. Regardless of your decision, know that your customers might call your company before peak snow season begins to get the best rates.
Removal vs. Snow Plowing
There’s a difference between removal and plowing. In general, it will cost you more to plow the snow than to remove it, but it could be a sound investment depending on how much snow you’ll get. It’s not uncommon for large mounds of snow to stick around until later spring, so this is something you could include in your seasonal contract.
Snow Blowing vs. Snow Plowing
Snow blowing and snow plowing are usually offered at the same price point. As a snow removal company, you might need to do both. Plowing is usually faster but blowers are ideal for tighter spaces like sidewalks.
Seasonal Contract vs. Individual Visit
In the case that your area gets a lot of snow, a contract is usually more cost-effective versus paying individually per visit. As soon as the bill is paid, the company is responsible for executing the work. Some companies charge per number of clearings and when that amount is surpassed, the costs increase. If your area only gets a few storms per year, it could be smart to charge per visit.
Snow removal cost also depends on the property size. For example, the cost will depend on the length and width of the parking lot and whether the customer wants the sidewalks completed as well.
Any special conditions will also impact the price of snow removal. Maybe you are serving a particularly rural area in your state or there are many curbs you have to plow around. The more difficult a property is to navigate, the more expensive the cost.
If you move forward with a seasonal contract, make sure to clearly outline the response time. Many companies allow customers to choose a trigger amount for the needed services. For example, 1 inch of snow could be the trigger amount, meaning that you’ll pay more than if you would choose 2 inches of snow as the trigger amount as snow removal services are needed more frequently. Emergency services are the most expensive, so keep this in mind when you’re determining the price.
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Common Snow Removal Service Rates
There are many ways to determine your snow removal prices. You can consider charging:
- Per event
- Per push/per visit
- Per hour
- Seasonal contract
- Multi-seasonal contract.
How you opt to charge determines how you set up your snow removal services.
One of the simpler approaches to determining how much to charge for snow removal is charging per hour. You’ll want to follow a snow removal pricing formula that requires you to know how many pieces of equipment/workers you’ll need, the hourly rate of each piece of equipment/worker, and the estimated amount of time it will take to complete the job. You can follow the below formula to make this determination:
Hourly rate x number of workers x number of hours = total price
Customers want to know a rough estimate of how long it’ll take to remove the snow. For example, maybe you’ve been contracted to remove snow from a school parking lot. As an estimate, it’ll take 4 hours of work and requires two of your workers who charge $100 per hour. First, multiply $100 x 2 workers to get the total hourly rate of $200. Then, multiply this by the estimated number of hours. This means $800 will be your rough estimate.
Seasonal contracts are similar to subscription services. You’ll charge your customers a flat fee that’s paid one time. From there, your services are provided for a set amount of time until the contract is over. This method has continued to become popular for snow removal businesses, particularly in areas that get a significant amount of snow throughout the season. Always make it clear when the billable cycle ends for each contract to maintain a positive customer experience.
You can think of a snow event as a snowstorm or a significant amount of snow at any given time. If you choose to charge per event, ideally, you’ll be located in an area that doesn’t get a ton of consistent snow. Choosing to charge by an event is often easiest if you charge a flat rate within a 24-hour period. This eliminates the need to use a snow removal pricing formula.
Per visit or per push snow removal entails that the customer pays a flat rate each time you visit. Most customers who choose this option usually like to know the average amount of snow events in their area per season which can help them to better budget for their snow removal costs throughout the year. You as the contractor need to make sure you have an idea of how much it will cost you to plow the snow each time you are at the property so you can quote out the job without losing money.
Some snow removal companies charge per inch because the concept is so simple. All you do is price the total cost of snow removal based on how many inches of snow are on the ground. It’s typical to have flat rate price breakdowns for 1-3 inches, 3-6 inches, and then charge hourly after 6 inches of snow.
How to Price Snow Removal Jobs
The costs of snow and ice removal are heavily dependent on the area that you’re addressing in addition to some other key considerations. Is the removal for a business or a residence? What is the average snow removal cost in your area? Is there equipment needed for the job? Keep these factors in mind when setting your prices.
How to Price Commercial Snow Removal
All commercial properties are different, so this is something you’ll want to keep in mind when determining your commercial snow removal costs. For example, is there a parking lot that needs to be promptly cleared? Does the property type require that the snow is plowed, pushed, and lifted? It’s important to determine if the area that needs snow removal is an emergency assistance area; hospitals and other properties will need quicker snow removal services compared with other types of non-emergency businesses.
In addition, it’s not uncommon for commercial businesses to want a multi-year contract from their desired snow removal contractors. These jobs might require a larger crew or additional equipment such as a utility vehicle plow versus a simple shovel and snow blower.
Commercial Snow Removal Prices
When determining the price for your commercial snow removal services, be sure to do some research on other companies in your area. We’ve put together a list of starter prices that you’ll want to consider for your services. When determining annual contract prices, multiply the cost by the estimated number of events.
- Commercial parking lots: $50-$150/hour
- Additional snow removal in parking lots: $90-$160/hour
- 50,000 square-foot with obstacles and difficult terrain: $900 per snowfall
Snow plowing is one of the main services that snow contractors often use and it’s also the fastest and easiest way to make a profit. If you time your services properly, you can blow anywhere from 25-35 residential driveways in 24 hours. Many companies charge $30-$75 for this. When determining your plowing prices, know that the location of the snow will impact whether you can use a traditional snow plow or you’ll need something like a Bobcat.
How Much to Charge for Snow Plowing Commercial Parking Lots
Many snow removal contractors charge anywhere from $50-$160 per hour when removing snow from commercial parking lots. Always remember to factor in the location of your business and the location of the commercial lot, as well as the size of the parking lot itself and whether cars will be there at the time of removal. You can charge extra for services such as rock salting or sanding before or after the removal is completed. There are some customers who might not know the difference between complete snow removal and plowing, so be sure to discuss this.
How to Price Residential Snow Removal
A residential snow removal is a different approach compared to commercial snow removal. Keep in mind that the cost to rent snow blowers or snow shovels is usually around the same that you would charge for your services per visit. However, if you try to charge too much for the removal, they might back out of the deal and prefer to remove the snow on your own. Using tactics such as extra charm and charisma when selling can also help keep them interested in your offerings.
Residential Snow Removal Pricing
When determining your residential snow removal prices, remember to factor in the size of the property, the equipment that you’ll be using, and the base cost for your company before you can make a profit. Of course, properties that are larger will require more time and effort and there’s a higher chance of additional obstacles being in the way. For example, driveway and sidewalk services could be $30-$70 per visit while more complex shoveling could be $55-$95 per hour.
How Much to Charge for Snow Plowing Driveways
When determining the cost, consider whether it’s a gravel driveway or a dirt road driveway in addition to the length of the driveway. You can charge per hour or per visit, and if needed, you can charge additional if there is excess snow that needs to be removed after the plowing. Factor in the condition, slope, and design of the driveway in addition to the length.
How Much to Charge for Sidewalk Snow Removal
It’s not uncommon for snow removal professionals to include pathways and sidewalks as part of a flat rate or hourly fee. However, it is also acceptable to remove snow from these areas as an additional task that costs more for the client. There are even some public sidewalk regulations that require that the snow is removed promptly or the property owner is fined. If there is ice underneath that needs to be addressed, this could potentially add to the cost of your snow removal pricing.
How Much to Charge for Roof Snow Removal
Roof snow removal might not be top of mind for your snow removal company, but the most trusted snow removal companies say that you risk serious damage if you let your roof collect more than 6 inches at a time, and you’ll want this removed before additional snow accumulates. On average, roof snow removal costs anywhere from $220-$500 for standard roofs. For more difficult or complicated roofs, it’s expected to charge $1,000-$2,000.
Snow Removal Pricing Formula
Another approach is to use a residential or commercial snow removal pricing calculator to help you determine how much to charge and you add any markups as you see fit. However, you won’t want to use this formula blindly; make sure to keep in mind the average snow removal cost in your area to make sure you’re charging a fair amount.
Your rate can be based on time, inches, square footage, or push. For example, if you charge $50 per hour, you’ll need to factor in the labor cost of two workers who are working in the area for two hours. In this case, the formula would be your rate x number of workers x number of hours = snow removal cost. Using numbers, the equation would be 50x2x2=200.
How to charge for snow removal can be tricky as there are so many factors in play at once. We hope this article gives you ideas of things to consider when bidding snow removal accounts and ways you can price out your accounts. As the trusted rock salt supplier across the nation, we’re also happy to provide you with bulk rock salt and offer a snow and ice consultation for your business. Reach out to us today to get started!