Big commercial accounts can make your snow removal company rich.
They can also break you.
This guide will show you how to:
Win more snow removal commercial accounts
Rescue the accounts you’re about to lose
Your snow season is about to get a whole lot more profitable…
Step 1: Network to Find More Clients
Networking is the most reliable way to get more commercial snow plowing contracts.
High-dollar sales are important to the health and growth of your business. Unlike the snow, however, they’re not falling out of the sky.
You gotta hunt them down.
Research is your first step to getting any commercial snow plowing contract. Research the properties in your service area and find a way to talk to the main decision maker:
- Look for locally owned businesses.
- Try to talk directly to the owner, instead of an office person (who can’t make any real decisions).
- Talk to your local Home Owner’s Assocations and other Real Estate Groups, like apartments or condos.
- Search the internet for “HOAs in [my city]”
- Contact your city’s BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association)
- Find out where and when they have meetings
- Contact anyone you can to get a list of attendees and members who might be interested in your snow plowing services
- CEO Forums, Chamber of Commerce Meetings, etc.
- These kinds of networking events are great for networking and finding prospects. The closer you are to winter, the easier it is to sell these people.
- When it doubt… KNOCK.
- Cold calling and knocking on the doors of local businesses is a good way to gauge interest in your services.
- Make sure you’re good at selling in person
- Works very well in early November to early December, right as the first snows start to build up. This makes people worry.
Step 2: Look Like a Pro
Most guys who are new to the snow industry (heck, even some older companies) don’t care how they look.
That’s a huge mistake. Entrepreneurs and business owners take appearances very seriously. You should too.
Some tips to look more professional than the competition:
- Wear your company uniform when selling your work. Make sure the logo is visible. Any of these will do:
- A nice polo
- Long sleeves
- Make your company website shine.
- Spend a little more to get a higher quality web developer, and get your website touched up.
- Businesses will judge you heavily based on how good (or terrible) your website is.
- Keep it clean and simple. Don’t over complicate your website.
- Ensure you have the right equipment
- Make sure you’re equipped to even handle the job. If it’s a massive Walmart parking lot, you’re going to need more than a shovel and a walk-behind spreader
- Speaking of shovels, make sure your crews are equipped with top notch shoveling gear, and not your grandmother’s old plastic one.
- Drive a truck that’s great for plowing.
When you look like a professional, you instill trust in your future clients. It makes it easier for commercial business owners to say “Yes! We need to hire that guy right now!”
Step 3: Bid (and Win) Any Commercial Account for Snow Removal
The ugly truth about the snow removal business…
…is that nobody wants to pay for snow removal.
They just want the snow to be gone. Fortunately, all commercial properties care about one thing: their bottom line.
Prove to them that your services will save – or even make them money, and you’re in:
- Show them the Dollar Value of Freshly Plowed Property
- People are sick of staying at home when the snow starts coming down. So, here’s how you can sell it:
- “When your business is nice and safe to drive-to/walk around, you’ll get more clients. We can make that happen.”
- Work with your clients, not for them.
- Commercially-owned Residential properties especially care about looks. They want a beautiful home for their residents (because that means they can charge more).
- Get them to show you where their problem areas are. Ask them where they would want the snow pushed/dumped.
- Explain the dangers of bad snow removal.
- Nobody wants a lawsuit.
- Explain how your services will help prevent these accidents. Do not make any legal claims or guarantees, as those can get you in trouble.
- This is also a great way to upsell de-icing and salting services.
- Walk in with a professional proposal ready.
- You want to make it easy for them to say “Yes!” right then and there. Come prepared, and you’ll win far more commercial bids than anyone else.
Remember… Always listen to your clients. Do not talk over them.
People love nothing more than to talk about themselves, and that’s great for you. You get to hear their fears, their expectations, everything.
Show them you care. It allows them to trust you, and they’ll tell you exactly what they want. This is how you win anyone’s business, especially in this industry.
The 5 Essential Questions Before You Bid on Any Snow Removal Contract
Some Snow Owners will jump at any opportunity.
The frog leaps before he looks. Sometimes, that means he gets swallowed whole.
Make sure you avoid traps and pitfalls by asking yourself these questions before going after any snow removal contract:
To win your bid, you often have to underbid your competition. Sometimes, the victory is not worth it.
Know your numbers. Measure the property, note the dumping sites, the problem areas, etc. If you can’t win the bid and still make a profit, then it’s not worth it.
2. How many competitors are bidding on this property?
A lot of competition will drive down the price. Maybe it’s not worth it.
However, few competitors mean you can raise your profit margins more than a little.
3. How warm is my relationship with the Decision Maker?
This is why networking is so critical. If you can get on the owner’s good side, chances are you’re going to have a better chance at winning the contract… regardless of price.
You might also upsell them easier, too.
4. Speaking of Upsells…
What other services can you offer?
- Salt and sand?
- Priority plowing during events?
- De-winterization services, or get them on your spring mowing list ASAP if that’s your other main business.
5. How often does this company switch contractors?
If a company proves that it switches contractors every single year, then they don’t care about loyalty. That means, you probably won’t get repeat business.
Don’t spend too much time selling these guys, because a loyal client is worth far more to you in the long term.
How to Win Back Your “Lost” Commercial Accounts
First, a few words of warning:
- Don’t try to buy commercial accounts. They’re not worth it.
- Never underbid yourself out of profit just to get a lost account back.
- Don’t rely on a single account. You will lose accounts, and if you only have the one… you will be out of luck.
Losing accounts is part of the game. Don’t let it stress you out too much.
It ain’t the end of the world, as my grandfather used to say.
That’s why it’s so critical to have great, profitable prices and multiple commercial snow plowing accounts.
But, when you do lose an account, don’t roll over and “take it.”
Instead, try this strategy:
Write a “Thank You” letter to the client who just dropped you.
Yep. You’re going to tell them how you were grateful for the opportunity to serve them. Use words like, “We had a wonderful experience with your company.”
This action, this kind of language, will give them a pleasant last memory of you. Last impressions matter.
This can turn around a lot of negative accounts, and help you win them back next year – when things go south with their new snow company.
Include one last counter offer in your “thank you” letter. Your outstanding professionalism + an attractive offer will make your clients consider signing back up with you.
Make it easy for them to say, “Wait, actually, I DO want to hire you again.”
Winning Commercial Accounts is Easy When You Do it Right
These quick tips will help you get more commercial snow removal contracts, and keep them around much longer.
Even the clients who leave you will come back, begging for forgiveness because of your sheer professionalism.
Armed with these strategies, you are set to have an incredibly profitable winter, and maybe even a head start on the spring.
Related: Snow Plowing Season… is it Here Yet?
Patrick Hoffman is Marketing Director at Service Autopilot. He specializes in managing marketing campaigns and giving marketing strategies to the Lawn Care, Landscaping, and Cleaning Industries. When he's not writing, he's reading books on marketing, self-improvement, or science fiction.