Snow removal (including snow plowing, shoveling, and ice removal) is a seasonal business in many parts of the world. It can provide a part time or even full time income. Many contractors who work outdoors, such as roofers, masons, and lawn care professionals, have a second business involving snow plowing and removal in the colder months.
You need more than a shovel to start and run a profitable snow business. Having a successful snow removal business involves organization, knowledge, patience, perseverance, people-skills, and a number of other traits. Many business owners fail, not because they weren’t skilled in working a snow plow, but because they were not skilled in running a business.
The larger you want your snow removal company to be, the better you need to be as a business owner, as the responsibility will be greater. It is not wrong to dream big, but if you are a new business owner, it is best to start small and work your way up.
3 STEPS TO STARTING A SNOW REMOVAL BUSINESS
There are three basic steps to starting a snow removal company from scratch. First is planning. Second is registering with proper government institutions. Lastly, you will need to promote your business in some way to attract customers.
1. Plan Your Snow Removal Company
Before diving in to any business, you should develop a business plan. If you want to start a snow removal business, you definitely need to start with a business plan! Snow plows, salt spreaders, and other equipment, along with vehicles can cost a lot of money. Don’t forget about insurance costs, not only for you, but for any employees. A business plan doesn’t have to be anything complicated, but is something that will help organize your goals and priorities and help you make wise decisions.
Planning properly will help you decide if you are going to specialize in a specific area such as commercial snow removal, or if you will offer a variety of services including salt spreading.
- Set short and long-term goals – Plan your business before you spend a dime.
- Decide what services you will offer – Decide the scope of your business.
- Find a niche – What will be your specialty? What will set you apart from the competition?
- Choose a business name – Put some thought into deciding a name for your snow removal business. If you already have a name for an existing business, you can simply add information about your snow removal services to your marketing materials.
- Decide what you will charge for your services
- Financing – You may need to get a business loan
As soon as you start your snow removal business, you will need some sort of organizational structure so you can keep your customer communications and business-related paperwork in order. You won’t necessarily need a full office when starting out. An office desk dedicated to your business paperwork would be helpful.
Get a daily planner or use your smartphone to schedule estimates, jobs, and other work-related appointments. An easy way to lose customers is to arrive late or even forget a scheduled appointment. Snow removal is often a 24-hour, on-call job. You will need to be prepared to work at an unpredictable schedule.
- Set up an office
- Business phone
- Estimate forms
- Bill Forms
Equipment needed when starting a snow removal company
Equipment will probably account for the largest portion of your startup costs. Starting out, you don’t necessarily need all brand-new tools and equipment. You will save thousands of dollars in startup costs by purchasing a used truck, used plow, used salt spreader, and any other misc. equipment you may need. If you already have a truck for your existing business, you already have one necessary piece of equipment.
2. Register Your New Snow Removal Business
Make it legal
Make sure you are following proper protocol in your region. This means having necessary insurance, following tax codes, getting proper licenses and permits, etc. This applies even to a part-time business.
Some steps to starting your snow removal company legally:
- Select your business structure (sole-proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- Register your business name
- Register your business entity
- Register as a home improvement contractor with your state (US)
- Open a business bank account
- Taxes- either get an accountant, or do research on filing yourself
- Liability Insurance
- Worker’s Compensation
- City Licenses and Permits
3. Grow Your New Snow Removal Business
In order to grow your snow removal company, you will need to work hard, have people skills, and be patient. You will also need to market your business effectively. Success and profit won’t come overnight. There is often a lot of competition to secure contracts. You may need to start out with residential customers if you are having trouble signing up commercial contracts.
Beside employees, dealing with customers can cause a great amount of stress. Learning how to communicate well with customers can help boost sales and increase word-of-mouth leads.
- Learn how to sell a snow removal job/contract to a potential customer
- Estimate a job properly
- Communicate regularly and clearly with the customer
- Be fair and honest- take responsibility for your mistakes
After you start a snow removal business, you need to market it. Some low-cost advertising to get started can include a basic 1 or 2 page website, setting up a free business listing for your snow removal company on Google and other online directories, social media accounts, business cards and a few yard signs.
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