10 Mistakes That Could Kill Your Snow Removal Business

Published on November 13, 2018

In order to thrive for many years to come, it's important to avoid these common mistakes that could kill your snow removal business.

Use this article to safeguard your business for long-lasting success and:

  • Keep clients happy
  • Mitigate liabilities
  • Maximize profitability
  • Keep employees happy

While some mistakes are unavoidable, there are some common mistakes that could kill your snow removal business.

By avoiding these common mistakes in an unpredictable snow industry, you'll be able to safeguard your business for future success.

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1. Not Regularly Increasing Prices

By failing to regularly increase prices, you aren't maximizing profitability and are stunting business growth.

Even though a price increase can be intimidating, it's essential in the long-term success of your snow removal business.

Consistently recalculate your break-even point. Then, weigh your profit goals and compare it to each client's individual profitability. Plus, you can quickly check this using Service Autopilot.

Take a quick look at the most important factors in determining a price increase:

  • Consider all values when increasing prices
  • Choose the right time to adjust your prices
  • Roll out the price increase on the least profitable clients first
  • Adequately communicate the price increase to the affected clients
  • Test and improve the process before adjusting prices for the remaining profitable clients
  • ALWAYS verify new prices with a trusted CPA (i.e. Certified Public Accountant) before finalizing

Remember, losing clients is inevitable. While you should make attempts to keep these clients, it's better to replace minimally profitable clients with more profitable ones.

2. Failing to Document

Running a snow removal business is risky, especially when dealing with slip-and-fall lawsuits (however, adequate insurance should protect the business).

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, with the best snow removal software, you can track your crew, store client information in a cloud, automate all of these tasks, and so much more using Service Autopilot.

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3. Skipping Pre-Season Visits

Pre-season visits help your business:

In addition, pre-season visits allows you to fully evaluate every property each new snow season, as well as prioritize proper safety measures and precautions.

Also, it's crucial to have a robust winter preparation checklist for pre-season snow visits.

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4. Breaking the Contract

Without any exceptions, ANYTHING signed within the contract MUST be completed. 

For example, 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 within the contract.

Appropriate signatures between all parties can protect the business from future problems with clients. Here are some important points to include in the contract:

  • Valid dates
    • Contract term dates
  • Explicit language with realistic job completion expectations
    • 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 out of your control
  • Limit responsibilities
    • List what you are/aren't responsible for

As always, before being finalized, it’s critical to have a lawyer or legal consultant review ALL contracts to ensure proper language is included and all bases are covered.

By the way, did you know Service Autopilot can send and receive electronic signatures for contracts?

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5. Failing to Properly Train the Team on Your Software

Every snow removal business should ensure its team knows the ins and outs of your chosen snow removal software.

For instance, each employee should know how to use your mobile app to record when they arrived, what they did, and how long they spent 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.

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6. Offering Subpar Daily Operations Training

In addition to training your team on your software, it's also important they're properly trained in your day-to-day operations.

For example, every employee should know how to:

  • Safely operate equipment
  • Perform various site visits and services
  • Adequately complete the required tasks

Plus, there should be fully trained crew leaders at each commercial site who know how to perform the higher level tasks, such as:

  • How the property is laid out
  • Who the property manager is
  • Specifics of the contractual agreement
  • Where to put the snow into neat berms

7. Providing Inadequate Equipment

By providing adequate equipment for proper job completion, you'll ensure you have the right size of equipment for all contract jobs.

For example, you wouldn't want to use smaller trucks that aren’t designed to handle a heavy plow.

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

8. Buying Used Equipment

Even if you have a smaller budget for purchasing equipment, it's important to avoid buying used snow equipment.

Keep in mind, any commercial equipment which has been used in another business likely isn't going to be in ideal condition.

As a result, unreliable equipment can cause you to breach contracts and cause a delay in work.

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

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9. Not Paying Attention to Weather Alerts

Don't let the weather sneak up on you. By paying attention to local weather updates, you'll be aware of upcoming snow storms.

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

Alternatively, you can invest into a weather solutions resource, such as 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. Failing to Properly Communicate With Clients

Proper communication with clients ensure they know what services are being performed as well as when they're being performed.

Plus, client communication is one of the best ways to keep clients happy with your services.

For these reasons, it’s essential to invest into the #1 snow removal software, which allows you to send automated messages upon dispatching or invoicing.

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

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

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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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 highly lucrative.

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 your snow business and:

  • Keep clients happy
  • Mitigate liabilities
  • Maximize profitability
  • Keep employees happy

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


Related: The Ultimate Winter Preparation Checklist for Businesses


Originally published Nov 13, 2018 6:46 PM, updated Aug 16, 2022 11:12 AM

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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