Setting up a snow plowing business is a great opportunity for outdoor contractors to expand their business this winter season. And, it’s easier than you might think; anyone with a plow hitch on a pickup truck can easily stay busy this winter season by picking up snow plowing jobs. With the right strategy in place, you’re sure to see some extra cash rolling in.
Snow plowing is a booming business
Snow plowing is a very scalable business. In fact, research from IBIS World found that the snow plowing industry raked in about $19 billion in revenue last year. And, the industry continues to grow by 0.7% every year. Small business owners who work in landscaping, likely already have most of the equipment necessary to start snow plowing, such as a pickup truck. This makes it easy to acquire residential clients. From there, you can start working your way up to bigger, commercial clients, like shopping malls.
So what’s the best way to start a snow plowing business? We put together these 10, easy-to-follow tips that will help you get started.
1. Determine Your Expenses
Snow plowing equipment can be very expensive, so it’s very important to make sure you’ll be able to pick up enough clients to cover these startup costs. From the very start, it’s vital that you manage your small business expenses. You can also consider options like a business credit card or a loan to help you get started.
2. Choose Your Target Market
Once you have some basic equipment it’ll be easy to start picking up residential clients. To get started, all you need are plow-ready trucks, some shovels and a healthy budget for rock salt and ice melt. Snow contractor companies with more industrial equipment can handle bigger jobs like clearing the parking lots of shopping centers and office complexes. They’re usually awarded these jobs before the start of the snowy season. So, if you’ve already missed out on nabbing these clients focus on building up your portfolio with smaller clients. That way you’ll have more experience to show larger prospective clients next year.
3. Make Sure You’re Licensed
Do your research about the license requirements for snow plow operators in your area. Some states may have state-level requirements, while other areas may have different qualifications at the municipal level. Obtaining the right licenses is vital before starting any project, you don’t want to face heavy fines or penalties later on.
4. Compile an Equipment Checklist
Before starting any jobs make sure that you take stock of your current equipment and supplies. Find out what you will need to carry out a job in one residential driveway or one storefront or a small store parking lot. Have a look at your truck; is it in proper working condition? If not, consider taking it to a mechanic for maintenance. Also, put together a backup plan, and determine how much money should be set aside for repairs. After each job it’s also a good idea to do a status check on all your equipment and supplies in order to prepare for the next job.
5. Have a Plan B
It’s always important to have a plan B. Nothing can sink your businesses faster than negative customer reviews, so make sure you’re always able to follow-through on your delivery. Remember, your customers are relying on your services during severe weather, you don’t want to leave them stranded. Have a backup crew on standby in cases any employees get sick and prepare all your equipment ahead of time to avoid breakdowns.
6. Advertise Locally, and For Free
There’s no need to invest a major budget for advertising. Instead, take advantage of local advertising opportunities, after all this is where the bulk of your clientele will come from. Use SEO techniques to optimize your site for “near me” searches online. Set up a Google My Business account, and create similar accounts on websites like Yext, Facebook and Craigslist.
Word of mouth referrals are another great, and free, marketing opportunity for your snow plowing business. Send out customer feedback surveys and encourage happy clients to write positive reviews online and social media.
7. Charge the Right Price
Inasmuch as you need to find a good target market, you also need to charge the right price. Determine the cost of all the materials, equipment and supplies needed for your business. Find out where you can get the best deals buying them in bulk. Charging competitively will help you stand out from the competition. In addition, have a clear pricing structure so that customers know what to expect from your services.
8. Offer Payment Choices
Of course, as a small business owner, you want to get paid for the work you do. Most people want flexible payment choices, so be open to offering cash, mobile, and credit card transactions.
9. Find the Right Insurance
Every business, even seasonal work comes with risks. Working on snow and ice exposes you, your workers, and your clients’ properties to danger, such as:
Accidents: An essential part of your business are your trucks. If they’re damaged as the result of an accident you could be left paying out-of-pocket without Commercial Auto insurance.
Injuries: Working with snow and ice means your employees are at risk of being injured on the job. Workers Compensation insurance is an essential policy that will pay for the medical and rehabilitation costs in case an employee is injured.
Having the right insurance for snow plowing services is an essential part of keeping your operations going in case of an unfortunate accident.
10. Have an Off-Season Plan
The end of winter doesn’t need to mean the end of your business. Now is the time to create an off-season plan for next year’s success. Check all your equipment, look out for off-season deals on supplies, and starting looking for prospective clients for next season.
With these simple tips in mind, you’ll be on the road to success in no time!