How to Start a Snow Removal Business

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Though seasonal, a snow removal business can prove to be quite a profitable venture especially in areas where snowing gets pretty intense. This is a business that you can start simply – using shovels or a truck and a plow – and then grow from strength to strength.

The job will largely involve you removing snow that has accumulated in people’s pathways, sidewalks, lots and driveways, whether this is in residential areas or around business premises. Starting this type of business isn’t so complicated; you just need to get the facts right and after several days of planning and preparation you can get things rolling. Speaking about the facts, it is wise to establish the average volume of snowfall that you can expect in your locale annually – a visit to the local library can help you arrive at a factual estimate.

Getting the Paperwork Sorted Out for Your Snow Removal Business

As with any other venture, a snow removal business should be legitimized according to local rules and regulations. In some areas like Wisconsin it is against the law to push snow onto the streets or into rivers – the point here is that you should know the rules to play by the rules.

Your business should be licensed with the concerned local authorities and apart from licensing concerns you might find it necessary to take out some insurance depending on the scope of the job. While insurance cover may not be absolutely necessary, it is very much worth considering.

The Required Equipment for Your Snow Removal Business

The equipment required in running a snow removal business depends on the magnitude of the business as well as the description of the targeted customers. A snow shovel will be sufficient if you want to start off by serving a couple of neighbors but if you are targeting commercial premises parking lots, e.g. at the local mall, or even clearing public roads for that matter, you will want to think about acquiring a truck that can be fitted with a heavy plow, or alternatively a snow blower. You can expect the equipment costs to be quite steep at these initial stages and for this reason you might find leasing to be an appropriate solution. As part of your arsenal you will also be well advised to invest in an ice-melter and a couple of shovels.

Apart from the said equipment you need to have the right attire for the job given that you will be working in the cold. You will need waterproof and insulated clothing and gloves, plus the appropriate footwear. Your snow removal venture needs to look professional right from the start and a simple way of doing this is by having the name and number of your business printed on your work attire and/or on your truck.

Finding Customers for Your Snow Removal Business

In the initial stages of starting your snow removal business you need to establish where your area of focus will be, i.e., whether you will start by serving residential homes or commercial premises or both. This means that your customer base might include private home residents, owners of commercial residences, and/or business owners. It may also be worth trying to get into subcontracting arrangements with the local authorities whereby the scope of your job will include plowing parking lots and public roads. In order to be allowed to plow public spaces you might need to have a municipal license and its worth knowing that up to 12 months may elapse before you receive one of these.

Residential Snow Removal

Offering a snow removal service to homeowners may vary from providing a one-time job to providing assorted services as determined by annual contracts. It is possible to start off with a couple of shovels but for added efficiency it will be quite prudent to invest in some specialized equipment like some snow blowers (two of these, a large one and a small one will suffice) or even the truck with a mounted plow. Remember that the snow blowers will need to be affixed to a trailer which will in turn need to be towed by a truck. Snowblowers or mounted plow notwithstanding, it is best that you find a heavy-duty pickup truck with 4-wheel drive to avoid getting stuck.

In terms of the cost of investment, the pair of snow blowers will require approximately $3000 while a brand new plow will cost you roughly $2000 – getting a used one in proper condition is advisable. Note that you will need to pay some amount for the installation of these equipments onto your truck.

Commercial Snow Removal

In terms of commercial work you will mostly be required to handle parking lots, with most of these being around schools, office buildings, shopping plazas and industrial complexes. From an overall perspective the truck-mounted plow will be the best equipment to tackle the job but you may also need snow blowers and shovels to get the job wholly done, especially where you are also required to ensure that the sidewalks are snow-free.

The magnitude of the job is usually what determines how the deal is entered. Large contracts are normally subjected to a tendering process while jobs of a smaller scope may just need to be negotiated between business owners and yourself.

6Coming up with a Binding Agreement

One of the most critical aspects about starting a snow removal business is making sure that your clients are clear about what the service will cost them before any work is done. The clearing rates are determined by making an assessment of the area size, the terrain, and the snow depth. These factors are what will inform your requirements in terms of equipments and even situations where you will be forced to hire some people.

For residential areas where you are removing snow for some local neighbours the agreement can be sealed by word of mouth but for commercial clients it is best advised to have these agreements in written form or as contracts. Apart from the description of the service and allied rates, these agreements should detail the manner in which the service will be provided i.e. whether you will be called each time the service is required or if snow removal will be done routinely once a predetermined volume of snowfall has accumulated.

How to Get the Word Out about Your Snow Removal Business

As you start your snow removal business you should also think of the best ways to introduce your enterprise to the market. Some of the cheap but effective techniques that you can use are:

  • Door to door – This is most applicable when you are targeting local neighbours in residential areas.
  • Flyers – These are best for targeting commercial type clients and they can be issued from local restaurants and supermarkets, as well as being handed out to passersby and being placed on car windshields.
  • Business cards and advertising in the Yellow Pages can work for both residential and commercial clients.
  • Incentives – Residential clients can be encouraged to pass on the word about your service if you commit to giving them a discount for finding new customers.

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