Ready to Start Your Own Snow Plow Company?
Its winter time and once again hundreds of snow plows are roaming the street just looking for a driveway to clear. What is the allure with this business and how easy it is to start one?
Before you jump in, it’s important to point out that the snow plowing business is not easy money. It takes a lot of work to get started, and when the storms come, you’re going to be looking at very long hours to make the job pay off.
One assumption we’re going to start with is that you already own a truck. Cars do not have the necessary strength to support the blade or move heavy amounts of snow and you’re more likely to get stuck in a snow bank trying.
One of the first things you’ll need to begin the business is a snow plow (commonly referred to as ‘blade’). These cost $150 up to $2,000, but remember – you’ll get what you pay for. This InfoBarrel article discusses used snow plows, but to start we’d recommend something purchasing like this on Amazon that costs $1,000 and has excellent reviews.
Secondly, you’re going to have to verify what licenses or registrations may be required from your town or state in order to run the business. A lot of companies run their business off the books, but in the spirit of avoiding fines and/or jail-time, we’d strongly recommend paying whatever fees it takes to get started.
Lastly, consider what other services you may want to offer. Are you going to be clearing sidewalks or pathways to a house? If so, you may want to consider buying a snow blower, snow shovel and a sidewalk salt mix.
Now that you own the basics, it’s time to start to build the business. A good way to start is advertising. Some of the top advertising avenues we’d suggest include
- Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc…)
- Newspapers (Weekly newspaper or pennysaver paper)
- Yard Signs
This is just to start and doesn’t include the MOST important avenue – word of mouth. The better of a job you do with your existing customers, the more likely they are to refer you to their family and friends.
It’s worth to note that even though you might not have the revenue to begin printing hundreds of dollars’ worth of flyers, we live in an era where 80% of your advertising can be done for free online. Beyond the social media site we mentioned above there are sites such as Craigslist that attract millions of potential customers on a daily basis. It’s also important to monitor sites such as Yelp to ensure your customers are posting positive reviews, and to respond to any negative comments.
If you don’t have a ton of experience plowing in the past, it may be a good idea to get a little practice in. While we’re not advocating plowing every driveway on the block, you could offer your services for free to a few customers in return for getting the experience (and hoping to receive the precious word-of-mouth). If this doesn’t work, there are likely areas that you know of that don’t get the proper attention during storms. Practicing your trade here could stop you from making a mistake in the future – and help you earn a lot more money!
When spring begins, the business ends, right? WRONG. Spring is one of the most important times to lock up customers in contracts for the following winter. Sending thank you notes or other token gestures to your customers after the season is a sure way to build relationships that are critical to the success of your company.
If you did a good job (which should obviously be a TOP priority) and begin to build relationships, you should see your company continually expand year over year.
The Business Side
While we’ve touched on some of the business aspects of a snow plow company, there are plenty that we’ve left out. Most importantly is your pricing. There is no blanket pricing structure that we would advocate, but it is really important to understand what your competitors are charging. This is two-fold because 1) You don’t want to be overcharging by so much that no one uses your service and 2) You don’t want to be undercharging by so much that you’re leaving a substantial amount of money on the table.
A good pricing strategy to implement would be to try to stay under the rate of the market by 10-15% while offering outstanding service. This will get the customers to both use your service and stay long-term.
A less written about topic of the snow plowing business is the tax side of things. If done correctly, you should be writing off much of your expenditures including the vehicle, accessories, and even mileage. Although you may need to depreciate some of those expenses over a number of years (like the truck), it will help save money from your taxes and keep you clean with the government.
To summarize, there are a lot of positives to owning your own snow plowing company. Just keep in mind the amount of work it will take, and don’t get discouraged if things don’t go perfectly in year 1.
Has anyone out there started their own snow plowing company before? We’d love to hear your experience in our comments section!
Now Get Plowing!