It's winter again, and you’re trying to decide what you'll do with your lawn care business to make it through the off-season.
For many lawn care owners, the answer is snow and ice removal. Here’s why:
- Continuously make money throughout the entire year
- Keep your best employees (rather than laying them off for the winter)
- Give your best employees better wages and benefits
- Increase your client lifetime value
- Keep your clients happy throughout the entire year
By offering snow and ice removal during the winter, you can not only make more money - but you’ll also keep your team’s rockstars and your best clients happy.
Unlike when you first started your business, you already have clients and a team. As a result, it might not be as hard as you think to add snow removal services to your business.
Here’s how to transition your lawn care business into a snow removal business during the winter:
Step 1: Cover Your A** By Being Bonded & Insured
As a current lawn care owner, you probably already know that you need to be bonded and insured.
And while it’s important to do this in the lawn care industry, it’s especially important for the snow removal industry.
In the snow business, there are way more risks, hazards, and liabilities than you’ve ever faced in lawn care. To name a few:
- Client and employee lawsuits
- Injuries during equipment use
- Damage to property
- Accidents on the job or on the way to the job (many due to equipment failure or severe weather conditions)
- Unseen hazards covered by the snow
There’s a significant increase of risk when you’re operating heavier machinery and hand tools during extreme weather conditions.
Due to this substantially increased risk, you’ll likely need to add or change your current insurance policy you’re using for lawn care. This is because many insurance providers require higher coverage to insure you for snow and ice removal.
You’ll want to check with them to make sure you’re completely covered under your policy.
Step 2: Pay More + Charge More = More Success
In snow removal, your costs are astronomically higher than that of lawn care.
Not only are you going to require more expensive equipment and tools, but you’ll have to pay your team more. And depending on your area, you’ll likely need to pay your team overtime for increased work time.
Due to these circumstances, you should charge your clients more to account for these additional costs.
As you determine how substantial your expenses are, remind your clients why they’re paying top-dollar for your service. Let them know that while you charge more than your competition, there’s way less liability for them (which saves them money in the long run).
During this step, you need to also choose how you’ll charge your clients:
- Per inch
- Per push
- Per event
You should also check to make sure your prices make sense. Check out our guide to get more help with this.
Price Your Snow Removal Services In 10 Minutes Or Less
Step 3: Start Small, Snowball from There
Since you’re going to require additional equipment, it’s always a good idea to start small.
As you’re first starting out, don’t offer too many services at once.
In general, you want to add equipment AFTER you’ve sold the jobs where it’s needed. It’s better to find a sub or drop a client than to have an expensive plow collecting rust and salt in your yard because you were too quick with your checkbook.
Remember how many services you offered in the beginning of your lawn care business. Pick a few services and really hone in on those skills within your first season. Then, gradually add more services as you go along.
Also, don’t forget about the learning curve too. You and your team will have to acquire the proper training and certifications to offer these services. You don’t want to overload you and your team with extreme training and equipment costs to start off.
As a general rule of thumb, you might begin with one or two services in your first year. For example, you might offer driveway and sidewalk snow removal and ice treatment during your first year.
Prepare for online video training early by checking out resources such as SIMA’s online Certified Snow Professional Certification.
Not only do you need to check with your state’s laws on certifications, but you should also account for this cost in your clients’ prices.
Step 4: Market to Your Existing Lawn Care Clients
Here’s the great news: You already have clients who love you, so you won’t have to spend as much money on client acquisition.
Depending on when it begins snowing in your area, you should consider leaving business cards around August or September. Generally, marketing around two months before you’ll begin service is a good rule of thumb. Follow up as the first snow is in the forecast when people are worried about snow - this is a great opportunity to push fence-sitters over the edge and turn them into customers.
Consider leaving an “exclusive offer” to your existing clients, so they might be more open to your additional services.
Step 5: Provide Referral Offers to Your Best Clients
As a business owner, one of your main goals is to clone your best clients.
Providing referral offers to your best clients is one of the best ways to do accomplish that.
As you pass out business cards to your existing clients, be sure there’s a referral offer on there!
A common misconception among business owners is that your offer would be so small it wouldn’t matter.
In fact, in most cases your clients don’t even care. They’re just happy that you’ve made them feel special.
While you should still try to make your offer as appealing as possible… Don’t be afraid to give $5 off their next service, if that’s all you can afford.
Step 6: Start Bidding in October
Depending on when snow season begins in your area, you typically want to start bidding your snow clients in October. This gives you enough time to make your bids, conduct preseason visits, and assign your clients to teams before the season begins.
Bidding this early ensures you won’t be as overwhelmed when the busy season starts. Plus, it gives you somewhat of a headcount for the number of employees, equipment, and materials you’ll need.
Starting bids in October is a good standard practice you should consider incorporating into your snow business.
Step 7: Start Preseason Visits
You know that liability thing we talked about earlier?
… Well, this is how you minimize it.
When you conduct preseason snow visits, you’re protecting yourself from liabilities like:
- Unforeseen obstacles and hazards
- Existing damage
- Potential “trouble areas”
Not only do preseason visits protect you from potential liabilities, but they also boost your team’s efficiency and allow you to get your clients’ expectations.
Don’t skip out on the one thing that can save your snow company hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars.
Maximize your profits this snow season by completing your preseason snow visits early.
Profiting from Snow Removal
No matter if you’re new to the snow industry… or you’re looking for new tips to maximize your snow removal profits this year - these steps can help.
If you take the proper steps, the snow industry has the potential to be highly profitable for you.
By beginning your snow season preparations early, you’ll decrease the chances of curveballs throwing off your A-game this winter.
… So what are you waiting for?
Let’s get started.
Originally published Dec 10, 2019 7:00 AM