The weather has been weird lately. Droughts, flooding, and in winter, big dumps of snow. More snow than most people are able to get through with a $10 shovel or even the snowblower they’re not quite sure how to use. But they still need to get to their cars so they can slip and slide their way to work. You can help, and you can capitalize on their lack of preparedness by plowing snow and making bank.
If you’ve got a truck and a few minutes to set up the basics, we can show you how to start a snow removal business. With this checklist and easy-to-use tools from Durable, you can set up a standalone snow plow business or add it as a service to your existing handyman or lawn care business. Let’s get chilly.
Starting a snow plow business used to be harder than chipping the ice off a frozen sidewalk. Not anymore! There are just five important tasks to complete and you can be ready to push white stuff around in no time. Yes, there are some value-added things you can do to upgrade your operation (more on those later) but for right now, you just need to focus on these five straightforward steps:
- Build your website
- Drive traffic to your snow plow website
- Provide ways for snow removal customers to get in touch with you
- Acquire essential tools for plowing snow
- Set up ways to get paid for plowing snow
Let's dig into the details.
1. Build your snow removal business website
People act like the world is coming to an end when it snows, with no idea what to do about the quickly accumulating flakes on their driveways and streets. If you want to get the call to plow their properties, your business needs to be top of mind. So you need a business name that is instantly recognizable and easy to remember.
Think of a snow plow business name that is:
- Maybe a little clever
But more importantly, you'll need a website. In this day and age, a business website is a must-have. The good news? It's easier than ever to build one thanks to AI. There are a lot of AI builders out there, but Durable's checks all the right boxes. It takes 30 seconds to build, and writes copy, generates a template, and finds images for you. Match it to your brand, add the information that your customers need (pricing, services, contact info, etc.), and update it whenever you want. And if you're stumped on a name, it'll even make recommendations. Bada-bing.
2. Drive traffic to your snow plow website
If customers don’t know you’re open for business, you’ll spend your days doing donuts in the parking lot instead of plowing all the way to the bank. So honk your horn and let people know that you’re gassed up and ready to go. Let’s look at how to get clients for snow removal.
There are plenty of options for promoting your snow plowing business:
- Tell your friends and family. Your personal network will definitely appreciate clear driveways and will help to build positive word of mouth with the neighbors and colleagues.
- Post on local boards and forums. The internet is snowed under with free places to post your services, like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Nextdoor, etc. You can do this step in just a couple of minutes—don’t worry about fancy ads, just get your info and website address out there.
- Say hi on social media. Business pages on LinkedIn and Facebook give you reach beyond Google. And if you’re the artsy type, try shooting video of you plowing or big snow storms or weird icicles and posting it to TikTok and Instagram.
- Pay for ad space. We are not talking about Super Bowl ads here—ad space on social media, Google Ads, and in local media is cheap and easy to place. If you’ve got a few extra bucks, try paying the small fee to boost your ads and reach even more people.
- Print materials. Business cards, of course, but have you thought about door hangers and lawn signs? A big, colorful lawn sign impaled in a snow bank will look great against a white backdrop and encourage neighbors to call.
- Truck wrap. Your most visible ad is your truck. Wrap it with your brand colors, logo, and easy-to-read contact info to attract people jealously watching you work while snowed into their homes.
- Send some email. If you already have a lawncare or handyman business and you’re adding snow plowing services, you’d have to be crazy not to email your customer list to let them know.
- Build a great reputation. You’re good at plowing snow and your customers are happy—make sure they tell the world about you. Don't be shy: ask happy customers to leave a review after a job well done on Google or Facebook
3. Provide ways for snow removal customers to get in touch with you
Your website is the foundation for your snow plow business, but you also need to provide ways for customers to contact you directly, especially when they’re freaking out about the incoming blizzard. Your contact page has to have:
- A phone number. Think of this as your emergency hotline. You can use your existing mobile number or spring for a fancy one that’s easier to remember, like 1-800-SNOW-GON or something. If you’re okay with it, let clients know they can text you too.
- An email address. It’s a contact method but it’s also part of your brand, so be sure to coordinate your email with your business name. If you are operating as Jake’s Flakes, try to get firstname.lastname@example.org. Or for a small fee, you can set up branded email and get email@example.com. And building your website with Durable will automagically give you a built in contact form linked to your email inbox. Sweet.
- Direct messages. Wherever possible, make it easy for people to get in touch through social media direct messaging—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
When the calls and messages start coming in, be ready to capture that information and store it so you make it to all your appointments and know who to contact during the next major weather event. As you get busier, consider setting up client relationship management software (CRM) to automatically keep track of your data for you.
4. Acquire essential tools for plowing snow
We’re assuming you’ve already got a snow-worthy truck as the basis for your snow plowing business. If not, you’ve got a significant expense ahead of you before you can start your operation.
Once you’ve got four wheels under you, you’re going to need some equipment, and you’ll need to buy it in advance of winter so that you’re ready when the calls start coming in. Luckily, it’s not a long list:
- Snow blower (optional)
- Plow blade (there are three main types)
- Salt or ice melt
These items are all inexpensive, except for the plow blade, which can range from $500 to $2,000, depending on style, options, and quality. If you’re strapped for cash, consider looking for a used plow blade locally—sometimes a higher end used blade is superior to a new, budget option.
5. Set up ways to get paid for plowing snow
When you start getting snow jobs, you might receive payment as cash or check some of the time. But these days, people tend to be smartphone junkies and they want to pay by credit card or bank transfer through a secure website. You do not need to be a finance expert or software designer to make it happen. Just use Durable’s invoice tool. You can create slick invoices and send them in seconds, then collect payments instantly, all through your cool-as-ice website. No need to count the pennies in the ashtray.
You put the pedal to the metal and sped through the basics to get your snow plow business up and running. But there are some extras that you can do to help your business find success early and for the long term.
- Write a snow plow business plan. It’s the best way to set goals, understand market conditions, stay organized, and keep your eyes on the prize. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a handy template to get you started.
- Register your snow plow business. If you’re plowing a few driveways as a side gig, you can likely just track your income, pay your personal income taxes, and operate as a sole proprietor without officially registering. But for a larger, more complicated operation that may need some protection from liabilities, you might want to consider other business structures, then get help from a business lawyer or CPA to help you register.
- Get a license. Many municipalities require snow plows businesses to obtain a license or permit to operate. Contact your local government office for more information.
- Get accreditation. While you don’t need to be accredited to operate a snow plow, it can be helpful for marketing purposes. Check out the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) for more information.
- Open a business bank account. Separating your personal and business finances is the best way to keep yourself organized, and you’ll find it incredibly helpful at tax time.
- Insure your plow and your business. You will likely need to insure your truck as a commercial vehicle, and there is a possibility that you will need additional insurance to cover your plow blade. You’ll also want to get some commercial general and professional liability insurance so that you’re protected in the case of injuries or property damage. Talk to insurance brokers near you and online to find the best deal.
- Price competitively. Is snow plowing worth it? Well, that’s up to you: plowers make an average of $25 per hour in the United States. You can make sure you’re earning top dollar from your plow by looking at what your competitors are charging and pricing your services accordingly.
- Snow contracts. Some clients will want to hire you for regular service or priority plowing on snow days. Be sure that you have an airtight contract that lays out expectations for you and your client. Here’s a template to get you started.
- Power up your plow skills. Pushing snow isn’t that complicated, but you can boost speed and efficiency by studying some plowing techniques, allowing you to fit more jobs in a day.
- Map your route. If you start getting a lot of jobs on the same day, you’ll want to avoid driving back and forth across town—it wastes time and fuel. Instead, plan your route to take care of clients in clusters, or use a tool like Dispatch Route Optimization from Google Maps to make sure you’re plowing in the most efficient way possible.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
Crank up the radio and lower your blade, it’s a great time to start a snow plow business. With a low barrier to entry, hardly any equipment required, and big blizzards threatening to snarl our city streets, a snow plow business might be a great way to line your pockets during the colder months. All you have to do is get set up with Durable and you’ll be on your way to working in a winter wonderland.