The snow industry is substantially different from many other field service industries, so it’s important you know all of the ins and outs of starting a snow removal business.
Since the snow industry is different from other industries, this means you’ll likely have less competition. But with that said, your knowledge and resources are also just as limited as theirs.
This makes it hard when you’re inexperienced trying to start your snow removal business.
As a result, if you’re looking to start a snow business, you’ll have to know more than your competitors do.
So suit up.
Because it’s 3rd and inches, you’re on the goal line, and you’re about to hurdle over your competition.
Here’s how you’re going to start your own snow business.
Before you do anything else, you need to know what types of snow removal services you’re going to offer.
Think about your area and how much snowfall and ice you get every year. Do you get more snow or ice? Knowing this will help you decide if you want to do snow or ice… or snow AND ice.
Then, decide if you’re going to do residential or commercial accounts.
As you’re first starting out, you don’t want to do both. You should consider picking one or the other. Then, later on down the road you can expand into other types of accounts.
Residential and commercial snow accounts could require different types of equipment. In other words, if you start out by doing both, then you may have to buy twice as much equipment.
If you own a lawn care business too, you should probably pick the type of accounts you work with in lawn care (residential or commercial). Oftentimes, those same clients can become your snow clients too.
In a world with other snow businesses, the one thing that’s going to set yours apart from your competitors is branding.
Branding is your promise to your clients.
Essentially, it tells your clients what sets your products and services apart from your competitors.
Your branding is:
The key to any effective branding strategy is consistency.
You’ll need to choose how, what, when, where, and to whom you’ll communicate and deliver your messages. Once you decide on this, be consistent and don’t change it.
Now, you need to define what actually is your branding. To do this, you need to establish your:
Really get to know your target market, and find out their needs, habits, and desires. This will help you develop your branding around it.
Now, you need to start marketing your brand:
Above all else, be consistent in everything you do. Consistency is the essential key to building trust with your leads and clients.
Every business has to have a name… And your name is a HUGE decision for your snow business. It needs to be done right, the first time.
As you brainstorm name ideas, consider these things:
Every time your clients or leads think of snow removal, they should think of your business. So whatever name you choose, it needs to catch their interest.
Then, make sure the name you’ve chosen isn’t trademarked.
If you’re registering in the United States, you can use the US Patent and Trademark Office to search the names. If you’re registering in Canada, you can use the Intellectual Property Office to search.
If it’s not trademarked, you can decide how you want to register your snow business’ name:
After you’ve registered your business name, you’re ready for the next step!
After you’ve trademarked a name for your snow removal business, you’ll need to do a few additional things:
Before you register your business, you’ll need to know what you want to register your business as. These are your options:
Don’t forget, you can change your registered business type at any time.
More commonly, new business owners can start out as an LLC and then switch to a Corporation once they’ve grown a few years down the road.
And just so you know, your registered business type is primarily for tax purposes.
Now that you know your business type, you should register your business.
You can check with your local government to find out where to go (by the way, if you click the link and scroll down a little, you can look up your local site for registration). Plus, they should have information on licenses and permits as well. And don’t forget to get your tax ID number too!
Then, you should sign up for bonding and insurance.
If anything is stolen, bonding protects your business. Also, in order to sign up for insurance, you’ll have to be bonded first.
And even if you’re a solo or duo crew, insurance and bonding are still important. On top of it relieving you of significant liability, it’s also a major benefit to your clients for hiring you.
Plus, bonding and insurance are a great way to justify your higher prices to your clients.
Congratulations! Your snow business is now registered and official. Now, you need to create a business checking account, so you can start getting paid right away.
There are several reasons why you should get a business checking account (instead of a personal checking account for your business):
Before you start selling your services and accepting payments, you should get your business checking account up and running ASAP.
Before you can start taking on new clients, you should draw up a contract.
Contracts create a sense of transparency between you and your clients. It ensures everyone is aware of the expectations set between you and your client.
In addition to that, contracts force your clients to uphold their end of the contract, and it’ll likely protect you from any misunderstandings.
In other words, clients can’t come back and say you did/didn’t say something about their services.
You should also include a section in your contract about payments.
Decide on a set billing cycle for all of your clients. Then, state if said payment isn’t made by said date, you can immediately terminate their services.
Additionally, you should also consider stating in the contract that you reserve the right to terminate their services at any time for any reason. That way, if for unforeseen circumstances you have to drop a client, it’ll protect you later on down the road.
Also, if there’s a misunderstanding between you and your clients, a contract can help you avoid potential legal repercussions.
By the way, you can create an estimate that doubles as a contract using Service Autopilot. Plus, it’ll track the date, time, and IP address of your clients, so you’ll have further proof they signed their contract.
It’s time to determine who your target market is going to be.
Now that you have a brand, what does your ideal client look like?
If you’re going to effectively market to your audience, you need to know who that audience actually is.
In order to identify your ideal client, answer these questions for yourself:
These are just a few of the many questions you can ask yourself to determine your ideal client.
Now that you know your audience, you should ALWAYS keep them in mind every single time you market to them.
Getting reliable equipment for your snow business is just as important as building it. After all, there’s no point owning a snow business without the proper equipment.
The equipment you purchase depends solely on what services you want to provide (snow and/or ice).
For snow removal work, you’ll need things like:
For ice removal work, you’ll need the same equipment as with snow. Plus, you’ll also need salt and equipment for salting.
Choosing a snow removal software for your snow removal business is one of the most important (quite possibly the most important) steps in your startup process.
Snow removal software should ensure everything is running smoothly…
And the best part? You’ve already found the best snow removal software.
See why snow removal experts trust Service Autopilot:
With Service Autopilot, you’ll save time and money on the tasks that used to take you hours to complete.
Get happier clients. Grow a healthier business. Service Autopilot is your one software for everything.
Before anything else, usually the first question that your clients ask is about price.
… Which is why you need to have your prices in order before you start quoting clients.
In the snow industry, there are a lot of factors involved in properly pricing your snow removal services.
You’ll have to find out things like:
All of these factors determine your pricing and allow you to set a base price for your services.
By the way, Service Autopilot allows you to easily input, track, and charge your prices accordingly.
In addition, you’ll also have to decide on your pricing model:
Once you decide on a model, you’re ready to start finding clients.
A word of caution: If you’re entirely new to the snow industry, you should be cautious with signing commercial contracts. There are a lot of other factors involved with commercial jobs than there are with residential contracts.
Click here to read our full guide on properly pricing your snow removal services.
Ahhhh… this is the thought-provoking step many business owners want to skip, but it’s also a very important one.
By setting your goals before accepting new clients, you’re setting the pace of success for your business.
The concept is quite simple for this step: Decide how much profit you WANT to make in snow for the year.
Then, add up your prices and costs. Once you’ve got that number, you’ll know how many jobs you need to complete to meet your overall profit goal.
After that, you can see if you will realistically be able to acquire the minimum amount of jobs you need to meet this goal.
Don’t worry. It just means you’re probably not pricing high enough.
Pro tip! You need to know the average yearly snowfall in your area to determine if your prices are realistic enough to meet your goals.
Service Autopilot can track your goals by calculating your profits for you. This allows you to see the progress you’re making as you go.
Get happier clients. Grow a healthier business. Service Autopilot is your one software for everything.
If you’re a lawn care owner transitioning into the snow business during the off-season, this step is pretty quick and easy to complete.
Your first action should be to reach out to your lawn care clients and let them know you offer snow and/or ice removal services too.
Since they’re already your client, they’re way more likely to purchase more services from you.
By the way, if you’re in lawn care, this step is especially easy in Service Autopilot since your client list is already within your account database.
And if you don’t have a big enough client base, you should consider putting out Google Ads.
Once you know the basics, they’re rather quick and easy to complete.
The best part is that you can set your daily budget, and Google will stop running the ads for the day once it’s met.
And by the way, they charge PPC (pay-per-click), so you’ll only pay for the ad if someone clicks on it.
In addition to Google Ads, you can also try Facebook Ads as well.
They’re a little more cost-effective, however the results might not be as effective as Google Ads. This is because people are actively searching for a snow removal solution in the Google search engine… but they’re not necessarily looking for that solution on Facebook.
You can try both and see which one yields better results for your business.
This step is extra, because it’s not necessarily essential. However, it’s highly useful.
Consider building relationships with lawyers, bookkeepers, accountants, HR professionals, and all alike.
In the unfortunate event you run into problems, these types of connections can assist you.
Eventually, you’ll inevitably have questions about finances or legal solutions. Rather than venturing these types of circumstances on your own through trial and error, it’s best to consult with a professional for advice.
By befriending these people, you’ll likely save yourself loads of heartache (… and time… and money).
If you’re just starting out in the snow industry, this article can guide you through the steps to starting and building a successful snow removal business.
From registering your business to licensing and even pricing, you’ll get most of your important questions answered.
Starting your own snow business can seem a little intimidating, however if you follow the tips in this article, you’ll have the resources you need to start building your successful, long-lasting snow removal business today.
Originally published Sept 19, 2019 7:00 AM, updated Aug 25, 2020 2:11 PM
Tags: Business Operation