Starting a Snow Removal Business

Job Duties

When starting a snow removal business your job duties will consist of removing snow from driveways, pathways, lots and sidewalks of homes or business locations. A disadvantage of starting a snow removal business is that it is a seasonal business in most parts of the country so you will not be working the whole year. You should keep in mind that one year you may experience large amounts of snow while the next you may not experience any. You can go to your local library to research previous snowfall amounts in your local area to help give you an estimate on what to expect.

Where will you work?

snow plow
When starting a snow removal business you can decide to focus on residential homes or commercial locations or both. You can also attempt to subcontract with local governments to plow public roads and parking lots. Your clients can include residents of private homes, or owners of commercial real estate, or business owners. You will be working in cold and undesirable conditions so you should be prepared with the proper clothing to protect you from the outside elements.

Basic Costs

The costs of starting a snow removal business will depend on the size of your business and your targeted customers. If you want to start small by removing snow for local neighbors, a snow shovel should be sufficient. However if you plan to plow big parking lots for commercial businesses/ malls or public roads a truck with a heavy plow is usually required. An alternative to using a snow shovel is a snow blower. However a snow blower will be moved by truck which will have to driven in undesirable conditions. The bigger scale snow removal equipment can be quite expensive so you can consider leasing.

Starting a Snow Removal Business Tips

  • Know local rules- When starting a snow removal business you should be aware of local rules about snow removal. For example in Wisconsin when using a snow plowing truck you are required to keep at least one window open to hear the cries of any pedestrians. Local rules usually prohibit pushing snow into streets or rivers.
  • Know the area you plow- If you are hired by a commercial business it is a good idea to check out the property before any snow falls. You can then have a better idea where the pavement and lawn starts. After inches of snow begin to fall it is much harder to tell what is beneath it all.
  • Come up with a clear agreement- Make sure clients know exactly how much you are charging before you do any work. If you are removing snow for local neighbors a simple word of mouth agreement should be sufficient but if your clients are commercial real estate, businesses or local government writing out an agreement or contract would be a good idea. Include in the agreement whether the client will call you each time for services or if you will automatically start working after a certain amount of snowfall.

Advertising

When advertising your snow removal business you should determine which forms of advertising will give you the most bang for your buck. You can do this by trying different forms of advertising and keeping track of which ones are giving you the best results.

  • Door to door- If you are planning to sell your services to local neighbors you can take advantage of snowfalls to go door to door with a snow shovel in hand and offer your services.
  • Incentives- Offer customers a discount when they find you new customers.
  • Flyers- Determine if you can put up flyers in local grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants. It is best to ask the owner of these businesses for permission first. Also hand out flyers to passer byes on the street and place them on car windshields.
  • Snow Removal Business Cards- Create business cards and hand them whenever an opportunity appears.
  • Yellow Pages- Consider buying an advertisement in the yellow pages of your local phone book. You can also include your business in the online version: YellowPages.com.
  • Local.com Having a listing at Local.com can help people that are searching for your service or product locally find you.
  • Yahoo Local Searches- If you include your business in the Yahoo Local Searches, when people search for your service your business will appear in the list. To add your business to Yahoo local search, enter the term “add business to yahoo local search” in Yahoo.com and click on the first link.
  • Google Local Searches- Google has a local search as well. To add your business to Google local search, enter the term “add business to google search” in Google.com and click on the first link.
  • Newspaper classified ads- Newspaper ads in your local newspaper can be very effective in advertising your snow removal business.

Not sure about starting a snow removal business? See a list of small business ideas

Do you have a business story or experience you would like to share?

Share with us your story on starting a snow removal business.

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7 comments

  1. Mr. R says:

    Thank you, I found this site very informative.

    I have most of the necessary equipment for small business /residential customers.

    My wife and myself are both unemployed at the moment. My wife gets SS disabillity benifits 1111.00 per month, we are living off my 401K ( took 30% hit right right off the top.} shoud be exonerated in a hardship case. But thats our deep pocketed / unreliable gov. policy
    My wife and I need serious income to pay for her cancer care, in home nursing, plus medical patment bills/ medivac bills/ mortgage payment /car payments, ect.
    This has turned into a Major test of challenges and human survival for the life of a nurse that dedicated 15 years of her carrier ( after birthing and takeing care of our two wonderful daughters)
    Kathy took care of other unfortunant patiences on a daily basis for 15 years ,society or govs do not return any rewards. Sad state of affairs!

  2. Eletrician says:

    Snow removal can be a very great business to start. Particularly for those who live in seasonal areas and already own or are thinking of starting a landscaping business. These types of people already have a lot of the necessary equipment. The addition of a snow blade on a landscaping truck can give the company winter business.

  3. Grandy says:

    I’ve been doing that very thing for about 15 years now. In Indiana you can usually count on at least SOME snow during the winter months. It’s a great way to stay busy and keep lining your wallet. Cheers!

  4. ethan says:

    how can i subcontract for the county here in nebraska?? i would like 2 remove snow and get paid for it since i live out in the country and the grader doesnt do a vary good job….. i think i can do way better than he.. an they not come out too often any help i would appreciate

  5. coltron says:

    I’m doing research for a comparative service and I was wondering how many clients you could expect in the first and second years.

  6. Does going door to door in the fall to ask people work pretty well for generating seasonal clients? We have been putting out a lot of flyers but need to generate a lot more clients.

  7. Ethan it very hard to work for any city or county that is if you do it right. I have not found one Insurance company that would insure me for plowing city streets. Private no problems Good Luck

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Resources


Small Business Development Center- consult with experts

SCOREs - find a SCORES chapter near you to speak with a business consultant.

Small Business Administration- provides information for starting a small business.