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How to Bid and Win ANY Residential Snow Client

Published on November 22, 2017

Since the snow industry is a competitive market, it’s important that you know how to bid and win ANY residential snow client that comes your way.

The main way to bid and win ANY residential snow client is by knowing how to price your jobs and create quick estimates.

Despite what you might think, when you lose a bid, it’s most likely not because of your pricing… It’s likely because you took too long to get back to them.

The longer an estimate takes, the more likely you’ll lose a bid to one of your competitors.

Since the snow industry is so competitive, and you can’t afford to lose a bid because you don’t know how to create fast, highly profitable estimates.

When you know how to maximize your job profits and quickly send estimates over the phone, you can start winning residential clients fast.

Use this article to help you start winning residential snow clients like a pro.

1. Know How Much the Job Costs You to Perform

Job costing is the only business stat that matters.

There are three factors that go into the cost of any job, snow or otherwise:

  • On average, how long did it take to do the job?
  • Know your labor costs (man hours used on the job ✕ average pay field employee pay)
  • Know your equipment costs (fuel used + maintenance + insurance ÷ total time equipment was used that season).

To calculate your labor burden, you need to compute time on the job as "man hours." Crew size can fluctuate (2 guys on the truck today, 3 tomorrow, etc.) a simple "12:30p-2:30p" doesn't actually give you a lot of information.

BUT...

If you multiply those two hours by the number of guys in the crew, then you have a number you can compare to any other time that property was serviced.

Take a look:

Once you know how much a job will cost to perform, you can know how much you will make on it.

You don’t have to guess or pad your estimate for some profit. You can know “we’re making 12% on this job.”

Collect this cost data on your current customers so that you can make future pricing decisions by comparing new properties to old ones.

New to the snow industry?

Use your own drive and a couple of friends’ drives to get some basic figures.

You don’t want to start with guesswork, get out there and collect a little bit of data. You’ll expand your dataset this season.

2. Measure the Residential Snow Property

You want to know the area that you’ll work, including any square footage you’ll be responsible for (walks, drives, etc.)

Collecting the square footage of the new property lets you compare it against other, similar properties you already service.

You can measure the residential snow property by using a tool like Service Autopilot’s Smart Maps to measure virtually - without leaving your office.

Plus, when you choose Service Autopilot, you can create fast, easy estimates in less than 5 minutes!

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3. Rate the Residential Property’s Difficulty

Is it a concrete drive or an asphalt/gravel one? Does it have a heavy grade? Any apparent obstacles?

Anything that makes it more difficult to plow, salt, or shovel will make the job take longer.

Since labor is your main expense and you typically pay employees by the hour, anything that takes more time cuts into profits - especially if you estimate on square footage alone.

This is where preseason visits come in handy.

When you conduct preseason visits, you can easily see the property’s difficulty level without snow being an obstacle.

For instance, you might implement a grading scale from 1-5:

1 - No obstacles, small drive. Very quick job.

2 - No obstacles, longer drive.

3 - One or two obstacles, a ridiculously long drive, or a curved drive.

4 - Multiple obstacles

5 - Multiple obstacles, long and curvy drive, etc.

With experience, you’ll be able to grade properties accurately and know exactly what you need to tack onto the bill to make it worth your time.

For your first season, use the knowledge you’ve gotten from your drive and friends’ drives to rate potential customers.

Remember: Time on the job is paramount to every other consideration.

You sell hours of labor NOT a clear driveway.

4. Know Your Area’s Snow Event History

Do you sell snow contracts? They’re an effective way to ensure income, even in years with little to no snowfall!

You should diversify your company’s offerings to include a couple of different contracts for the snow season.

Different contract types are like different bets. And if you offer all of the bets, you will always win something.

Event history helps you predict averages for upcoming years.

You can get the raw data, by zip code, from NOAA, or for a simpler breakdown of data by city, check U.S Climate Data.

Here’s an example to break this down:

The data in the images for this section was compiled by looking at every December in Boston over the last 10 years.

By pulling this data for the whole season (rather than a single month), you can get the average number of events for the season, the average total snowfall for the season and per event.

If you want to create similar visual representations of snowfall data in your area, Beam is an excellent tool for creating graphs from spreadsheet-style data.

It can be helpful to see the information rather than just reading numbers in a spreadsheet.

You can do this for the zip codes in your area to produce a good prediction model for each. This lets you know, on average, how many times you’ll service a property in a season.

You can compute a one-time rate using the information above, but you need to have an idea of how many times you’ll have to service them in a season to create a profitable contract.

Multiply the number of average services in a season by the one-time profitable rate, and you’ll have a contract amount that works out to be profitable (the majority of the time).

Bid and Win ANY Residential Snow Client

Don’t live in the world of low-ballers and fly-by-night companies. Know your numbers, put in the effort, and you’ll see the results.

The snow industry is a cut-throat business, but knowing your numbers and pricing accordingly will help you.

Just remember, iInformation is power… The power to make good decisions.

If you don’t know why you’re doing something, and you can’t back it up with data, you’re not making a decision… You’re guessing, hoping, and crossing your fingers.

Use the information in this article to arm yourself with solid information, stay profitable and ahead of all the fly-by-nighters.

Now, you have all the information you need to start bidding and winning ANY residential snow client!


Related: How Much to Charge for Snow Removal


Originally published Nov 22, 2017 6:30 AM, updated Dec 29, 2020 10:30 AM

Cody Owen

Cody is a copywriter with Service Autopilot. He was writing before he could read, dictating stories to his mom. Of late, he distills business principles and practices learned from his ever-increasing trove of books and his year with SA Support into digestible blog posts designed to provide maximum value to service industry business owners.
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