Depending on your location, winter may be the time that you transition from landscaper to snow remover. For some, it's a matter of knowing snow is coming, but you just don’t know how much yet. If snow removal is part of your seasonal business or you’d like to launch it for winter, there are key things you should know to help with the transition.
You’ll need to have a game plan for how you’ll offer services. Additionally, you’ll need to have the right equipment. Then you’ll need to be on top of the weather in your region. Finally, it’s critical to communicate with clients and set expectations. Let’s look at each area and why it’s important to your transition to snow removal.
Have a Game Plan
Snow doesn’t usually come down when it’s convenient, so always be ready for the unexpected. Sometimes this means getting out and removing snow in the middle of the night so that the morning commute is less hazardous.
To be able to coordinate these activities, you need to have a plan already mapped out with protocols and processes. You’ll need to know who is available to be on call and to potentially work long or extended hours. Without the labor to pull off snow removal, you won’t have a business, so you need to have that part well planned ahead of time.
You also need to understand your capacity. Based on your labor and equipment, how much work can you realistically take on? You’ll need to know the average time for how long jobs will take so you can estimate how many you can do in a certain window of time.
If you already have regular landscaping customers that have hired you to remove snow, you should have a layout of their property, noting any obstacles that could cause problems. Based on these, you should also be able to know the size of the job and how much salt or deicing material you’ll need.
Get the Right Equipment
If you are just getting into snow removal, you may think all you need is a plow. However, there are many types of plows that are designed for specific jobs so you’ll need to do some research. And without the necessary equipment, you won’t go far in snow removal.
You also need to choose the right size equipment for the majority of jobs you will do. If these jobs cover many acres, it’s beneficial to have larger equipment. Sometimes that’s just not possible. If you have smaller equipment, be sure to provide extra time for the extra passes needed.
When you make the decision to buy equipment, evaluate it on many levels, including safety, cost, and increased efficiencies. For example, if a piece of equipment is highly efficient and cuts down on the total job time, it’s probably worth the extra investment since you can get more done in one day.
If you choose to purchase used snow removal equipment, just be aware that there’s really no way to determine if it has problems (or had them) and how much action it has seen. If you do decide to buy used, purchase from a dealer since they are more likely to not sell you a lemon.
Stay on Top of the Weather
If you aren’t on top of the weather, it’s going to get on top of you. This means you’ll have more work to do and less time, which could be a disaster.
Instead, monitor the weather like it’s your job—because it actually is in this scenario. There are, of course, many ways to monitor weather, from a station completely dedicated to it 24 hours a day to different weather apps.
Then there are companies like WeatherWorks, who provide timely, accurate meteorological data. The company has snow and ice experts who can also help with your pre-season bidding by giving you historical weather data for a region. Check it out to see if it could make a difference in your operations.
Communicate with Customers
As the snow begins to fall and accumulate, your customers will feel anxious and may contact you with questions and concerns. A better idea is to be proactive and let them know what your plan is and what they can expect.
When you keep customers in the loop then they feel better. You can let them know you’ve pre-treated areas and that you’ll be back to remove the snow between a window of time. The more you can communicate with customers the more they will feel confident they can count on you.
Transitioning to snow removal may net you additional revenue and also keep your landscaping clients happy. If you are in the process of transitioning, take heed with these best practices, and above all else, ensure the safety of your crew and your customers this winter.