In the right areas of the U.S., someone with a plow hitch on the front of their pickup truck or tractor is a busy person these days and if they’ve done their planning right, sitting on a lot of extra cash right now.
A snow plowing business in the right location can give seasonal outdoor contractors a way of expanding their brand and keeping busy during the winter.
Snow plowing is a $19 billion a year industry.
And it’s a scalable business, too. It can be just a means of adding a few extra bucks to the coffers or something much bigger than that. Entrepreneurs with a pickup and snow plow on the front can pick up residential clients and stay busy the day of or after a storm. Other contractors could chase bigger plow contracts, like at a shopping center.
Guide to Starting a Snow Plowing Business
Here’s a plan outline for starting a snow plowing business.
Determine the Viability
If you’re not in an area where a lot of snow falls annually, it may be best to leave this notion on the table. Plows and equipment are not cheap, so you’d need to live in an area with enough snow to pay for the equipment.
Decide Whether to Go Big or Go Home(s)
No matter how ambitious you are, if you’ve only got one or two capable plow trucks, you should stick to securing work in residential neighborhoods. Plow-ready trucks, some shovels and a healthy budget for rock salt and ice melt are all you need to get started.
Contractor companies with multiple trucks are likely to be more ready to handle jobs like clearing the parking lots of shopping centers and office complexes. These jobs are typically awarded by contract ahead of the snowy season.
Get The Right License
Finding out about the licensing and regulations you’ll need to follow is critical. Normally these businesses are licensed. You can check with your city or town or even follow this link to the SBA’s local assistance page.
Compile an Equipment Checklist
Before you start looking for plow work, take stock of your current equipment and supplies. Determine what you’ll need to complete just one residential driveway or one storefront or small store parking lot.
Then take a look at the truck. If it’s not equipped for plowing, you’ll need to make an investment. Find out what the cost of backup equipment will be.
Then do a status check on all equipment and supplies after every job to ensure you’re ready for the next snowfall.
Find an Emergency Backup
This is one area where you don’t want to anger your customer. Nothing is worse than dealing with irate snowbound customers suffering from cabin fever.
If for any reason you’re unable to commit to a customer you acquire — due to equipment malfunction, injury or illness — you need to be able to deliver your services. Fail to show up to plow out one person’s house and you’ll never work there again.
Advertise Locally — For Free
Before you develop any sort of advertising budget, take advantage of all the free local ads and online services. Consider the rise in popularity of “near me” searches. Set up a Google My Business account for your snow plow business. Do the same on sites like Yext, too. Don’t forget about Facebook and Craigslist, especially for local businesses.
Offer your first few customers a break if they help spread the word about your new venture. This is one service where someone asks someone they know who does it for them.
Business cards can be tacked up on community bulletin boards, too.
Price It Right
Not only do you need to find a good target market, you need to charge the right price.
Consider that list of materials, equipment and supplies and what they cost. Shop around for bulk pricing and where you can get the best deals on everything.
Establish Clear Service Offers
Your business can range from shoveling a sidewalk to plowing an entire parking lot. Be clear in your pricing structure what customers can expect and when they can expect them.
Find Good Insurance
Like most other businesses, whether you’re big or small, it’s a good idea to have some kind of insurance to cover liability. Reducing the premiums you’ll pay can often mean getting extra safety features like rear mounted cameras and extra backup lights.
Experts agree you can’t get away from having liability coverage to cover you for things like accidental falls in a parking lot.
Arrange for Payments and Offer Choices
The most important part of your snow plow business will be getting paid for your work. Have a process in place for accepting cash payments. You’ll likely get a lot of those.
Look into accepting credit cards and mobile payments, too. It offers a convenience to your customers and helps you keep track of payments without worry of misplacing cash payments you get while you’re busy plowing.
Develop an Off-Season Plan
Once snow is out of the forecast doesn’t mean your plowing business should end. Use the down time to maintain and fix any broken equipment. Have a plan for keeping good equipment in that same condition until the next winter rolls around.
Look for deals on winter supplies after the season is over. And most importantly, start securing work for the first snow of the next winter season.
Photo via Shutterstock
More in: How to Start
But this is only working when it snowed. After that, it will not earn as much.
It seems like there are a lot of start up costs. However, if I can see how it would make sense if you offer landscaping and are simply adding more services. Cool article!
I like your recommendation to consider clearing parking lots of shopping centers if you have access to multiple trucks. It has been snowing a lot for the last couple of weeks and I’ve been jealous of my wife’s office that has covered parking. If I owned a business, I’d consider hiring a snow removal company that specializes in commercial jobs.
Thanks for your recommendation to take stock of your equipment and inspect your truck as well to make sure everything is prepared for the snow. My older brother lives in Whitefish, MT and is interested in maybe starting his own snow plow business. He’s never done it before, so it’d be great if he could find a snow plow to buy there to get started.
You make an excellent point that it is important to have a backup snow plowing company in case of emergencies. I just moved to a new town and have been looking for a snowplow company. I think I will source for two companies as a backup.
Hi rob! This is a good article about how to start snow plowing business and yes, that a snow plowing business in the right location can give seasonal outdoor contractors a way of expanding their brand and keeping busy during the winter. If you need Snow Plowing in Buffalo, just visit our website or contact us at 716-317-4090.