10 Mistakes That Could Kill Your Snow Removal Business

Published on November 13, 2018

When starting any business, mistakes are inevitable. This is why it’s important to avoid the top mistakes that could kill your snow removal business.

In a business as unpredictable as snow removal, it’s important to safeguard your business in whatever means possible.

In this article, we’ll discuss the top 10 mistakes that could kill your snow business so that you can avoid falling subject to them.

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1. Failing to Document at All

Running a snow removal business is risky - especially when dealing with slip-and-fall lawsuits.

Documenting every time you drive onto the client’s property is the best way to mitigate liability.

By documenting everything, you can keep record of things like:

  • Job completion times
  • Before and after results
  • Date and weather conditions 
  • Chemicals or equipment used
  • Pre-existing and new damages
  • Employee jobsite assignments

Plus, you can track your team, store client information in a cloud, automate all of these tasks, and so much more using Service Autopilot.

Automations is the  #1 way to follow up  with clients. If you’re not using it, your business might still be successful - but it won’t grow. 

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In Service Autopilot, our automations send emails and texts to:​

Every lead after an estimate is completed
Clients after their property has been serviced​
Remind leads and clients to send you customer feedback​
Update outdated or declined payment information​
Inform them when a service can’t be completed due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e. weather)​
Remind them of maintenance tips (i.e. putting a cover on the outdoor faucet before the winter)​
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2. Failing to Document Pre-Season and Follow-Up Visits

Everytime you or your snow employees return to a property to reapply salt or plow snow, it’s important to document the date, time, and assigned employees.

Although, you should especially document these actions during important pre-season visits (this is easy to do in Service Autopilot).

After all, these visits are the best way to identify pre-existing damages, obstacles, and mitigate liability.

Also, if your contract states you’ll perform follow-up visits, be sure to follow through with your promise..

Otherwise, not following up on a visit that’s stated in your contract could lead to the business being held liable for a slip and fall claim.However, if you receive a slip and fall claim, your insurance should be able to protect the business.

3. Not Following Through With the Signed Snow Contract

Without any exceptions, anything signed within the contract has to be completed. 

If you promised that parking lots will be cleared by 6 AM when the first shift arrives for work, then those lots must be clean.

This is why it’s important to consider your crew’s schedule, and what they can reasonably finish, before signing new contracts.

Otherwise, you’re taking a chance of being held liable for injuries or an angry property manager whose parking lot wasn’t cleared by the time promised on the contract.

Be sure to create a contract, which mitigates liability while also remaining a successful snow business.

As always, before being finalized, it’s critical to have a lawyer or legal consultant review ALL contracts.

When you choose Service Autopilot you can send and receive digitally signed contracts with time-stamped IP address signatures.

4. Not Properly Training Your Team

Every business should ensure it’s team knows how to record when they arrived, what they did, and how long it took at each contracted site. 

This in-depth documentation should be an implemented part of your training process.

Keep in mind, patterns show documentation may be the most important survival tool for your snow business.

5. Missing Important Language in the Contract 

Appropriate signatures between all parties can protect the business from future problems with clients.

Here are some important points to include in your contract:

  • Valid dates
    • For example, your contract is valid from November 15, 2018 to April 15, 2019.
  • Explicit language with realistic job completion expectations
    • For instance, you can’t guarantee bare pavements if a snowstorm is still going strong at 8 AM.
  • Include "Acts of God" or "Force Majeure" events
    • There are Mother Nature issues which are out of your control.
  • Limit your responsibilities.

6. Not Providing Proper Equipment Training or Site Visits

To mitigate liability and broken snow equipment, train your team on using various equipment.

In addition, if you have commercial snow accounts, then take a crew leader to each site.

In turn, the crew leaders will know the important job items, such as where to put the snow, who the property manager is, and how the parking lot is laid out.

7. Not Having the Right Equipment to Efficiently Complete the Job

Make sure you have the right size of equipment for all contracted jobs.

For example, using smaller trucks that aren’t designed to handle a heavy plow, or pushing heavy snow, will only make your job harder.

Plus, trucks and plows won’t last as long if they’re working harder than they’re meant to.

8. Buying Used Equipment

In the beginning, you don’t have a lot of money to spend on equipment.

However, be careful when buying used plows and blowers.

Generally, buying a used plow is a bad idea because the moldboard could have underlying problems you don’t notice until you’re using it in the middle of the night.

As you know, snow removal businesses work their equipment to the limit.

As a result, the equipment is often pushed past it’s breaking point and is not in good enough condition for continued use in your business.

Although, if you have no choice and decide to buy used, make sure it’s from a trustworthy dealer.

Find the right equipment for your snow business!​

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9. Not Paying Attention to Weather Alerts

Don't let the weather sneak up on you.

Be aware of when a storm is heading your way by paying attention to local weather updates.

Tune into your local weather stations, like Accuweather.com and NOAA.gov.

Alternatively, you can invest into Weatherworks to stay updated with the latest weather reports and predictions.

Otherwise, you WILL have unsatisfied customers wondering why you aren’t doing your job.

10. Forgetting to Communicate With Clients

Forgetting to keep clients in the loop is one of the most common mistakes that could kill your snow removal business.

For this reason, it’s essential to invest into a snow business software that allows you to send up-to-the-minute messages to clients

As a result, clients always know when you’re coming to clear their lots or when you’ll be doing a follow-through visit.

Plus, when you choose Service Autopilot, you can set up automatic, two-way messaging with clients.

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Avoid These Biggest Mistakes That Could Kill Your Snow Removal Business

Despite all of the mistakes that could kill your snow removal business, when done right, the snow industry is still worth it.

However, if done incorrectly, these mistakes could kill your snow removal business.

Don't get snowed under by a poorly written contract - or caught out by a surprise snowstorm.

Use this all-inclusive list to protect yourself and ensure a smooth and profitable snow season.

Finally, you have everything needed to be proactive and avoid these biggest mistakes that could kill your snow removal business.


Related: 7 Reasons Why Pre-Season Visits Are Vital to Your Snow Business


Originally published Nov 13, 2018 6:46 PM, updated Nov 19, 2021 4:29 PM

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Wendy Komancheck

Wendy Komancheck is the owner of The Landscape Writer. She writes for lawn care, landscape and other field services. You can email her at wendy@landscapewriter.com. When Wendy’s not working, she’s at the local high school cheering on her two sons' volleyball games, taking walks with her dog, Hope, or helping out at church.
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