Winter is coming and if you live in an area where it snows, you might be thinking of starting your own snowplow business! As with any new business venture, it is important to analyze the cost of the investment, the risks and the profits before getting started. If you take into account all the variables you may find, and get the business off the ground and running, you could have a very lucrative career during the winter season!

First, start with the level of service that you are going to offer.  You have two options: a basic “plowing” service for residential and business customers, or a more personalized service that includes snow plowing and shoveling. 

It is important to bear in mind that your offer is crucial, which is why punctuality, planning, good communication and logistics are fundamental. If in addition to snowplowing, you offer other gardening related services, you must have your priorities in place. 

In general, it snows more at night. So, if your services are contracted to remove snow for a client in the morning, you must do your job! Your client, whether residential or commercial, may have their work routine interrupted, if you do not do your job on time. If you are a responsible person, this will stop your contract from being canceled the following year! Punctuality is essential!

The worst mistake a contractor can make is to forget to clean a property and rush to cover their mistake, only when the client complains. Therefore, communication and planning are very important! Carry a list with schedules and client’s names, which can be useful to help you remember. Apart from this step, communication with clients is also essential. If you cannot do your job or meet your deadline, give sufficient advance warning and try to repair the damage immediately. To communicate with your clients, use technology to your advantage! Don’t limit yourself only to telephone calls, but also emails and text messages to let your clients know of your progress.  

Weather alerts can warn us of snowfall activity, but they are a little unpredictable. That is why you need to be like a boy scout…always ready! As mentioned earlier, good planning with excellent client communication, will help you to overcome difficulties, get organized, and what is even better, keep your business!

Along with technology, consider installing a software that will allow you to become more efficient and competitive, either in the communication department with your drivers (if you have several trucks), and/or to improve your invoicing system and cash flow.  

Details are also important! The idea of a good service is that you do it quickly, at the time agreed and in the best way possible. This is why I said logistics are important! Here are some questions you might like to ask yourself: 

-Where is the most convenient place to snow plow?

-How do I prevent ice from accumulating at a property?

-What is the best system to avoid blocking roads and causing interruptions?

-How can I prevent damage to the property of the client?

When you invest in a snow plow, think about how long it will last. After all, quality is more important than price. Many times what is cheaper, is more expensive in the long run! This will be one of the most important investment you will ever make! So take the time to find out more about the market, including the competition. The material and equipment that you buy, should be on par with the services you want to offer! 

As I said at the beginning, if you want to offer a more tailored service, you may want to invest in a snow blower, shovels, and supplies to melt the ice.  Sometimes, to get started, you can rent all or part of the equipment to test the business and if you get a good return on your business, invest in your own supplies! 

Try to investigate how much the competition charges, and what services they provide. It does not necessarily have to be cheaper, but you can maintain your competitiveness or offer some benefits, incentives or promotions!

You should also invest a little in advertising. It is true that the best advertising of a great service is word of mouth recommendation, but to get it, you need to get hired first! A great idea is to make flyers to distribute to homes or businesses. You can also create a Facebook page, or any other site where you purchase a little publicity. The idea is to connect with other services or shops in your area, or purchase advertising.

Regarding the legal aspects, I left it for the end, but it is by no means less important. Your business needs to adhere to local rules and regulations. This means that you must comply with all licensing and registration laws, including the required insurance coverage. Learn more by searching online or call the IRS. In the same way, the contracts you put together for your clients should clearly indicate what services are provided, and how much they are going to cost. You can assemble budgets based on the characteristics of the property (how much time it will take, what materials, labor, etc.) and include the customer’s requirements. This will help you put together a work contract and the corresponding invoices.

I wish you lots of success!