How to Start a Snow Removal Business
Thinking of starting a snow plow business? Good thinking—it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry with growing demand. But it’s also a seasonal and unpredictable business, so proper planning is essential.
Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or an established lawn care professional looking to scale, our 10-point “how to start a snow removal business” checklist will help set you up for success this winter.
Here’s how to start a snow removal business
1. Write a business plan
A business plan helps you define your vision for your business, improves your odds of success, and helps you get startup capital from a bank or other investor.
Make sure your snow removal business plan includes:
- Cover page and table of contents for easy reading
- Executive summary to give the reader a quick summary of the entire business plan
- Business overview introducing your business, including structure (e.g., LLC or sole proprietor), service area, mission statement, and goals
- Services list describing the snow removal services you’ll offer to your customers
- Pricing strategy outlining your pricing model (e.g., by square foot) and how much you charge for snow removal
- Market analysis with an overview of your service area and ideal customers
- Competitive analysis outlining competing businesses, their prices, and what makes you stand out
- Marketing plan with 3–4 advertising tactics you’ll use to grow your customer base
- Employee planning showing what roles you’ll be hiring for and when
- Financial projections, including monthly expenses and income forecasts
READ MORE: 20 of the best seasonal business ideas
How much do snow plowers make?
In 2021, the median pay for snow removal professionals was $17.05/hour or $35,460/year. If you manage costs and maximize profits, you can make even more, with some snow plowers making $50,000 per plow truck in winter.
How much does it cost to start a snow plowing business?
Plan to spend $3,000–10,000 (USD) on snow plowing equipment. You’ll spend another $5,000–30,000 on a pickup truck, depending on if you buy new or used.
Factor in two months’ operating costs, too. Roughly $5,000–10,000 should cover costs like equipment maintenance, fuel, insurance, marketing, and snow removal business software.
2. Register your business
It’s essential to register your new snow removal business with your local and state government for tax and legal purposes. Here’s how:
- Business name: Pick a practical, professional business name that describes what you offer. If you’re an established business owner, you can trade under your existing name.
- Business type: Register as a limited liability company (LLC), sole proprietorship, or partnership. An LLC is a popular choice because it protects your personal assets if you’re ever sued.
- Business registration: Head over to your local registry and register your business. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll pay a fee, trademark your name, and register your domain.
- Business permit or license: A permit or license allows you to legally work in your area, but not every community requires one. Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce to see what type of license you need and apply for it.
Don’t forget about snow plow insurance in case of accidents. Get a business owner’s policy with general liability, commercial property, and business income insurance, plus any other coverage you’d like.
READ MORE: What small business insurance do I need?
3. Get the right business insurance
The right snow plow insurance can protect you, your team, and your customers in case of accidents. At minimum, you’ll want to get a business insurance policy that includes:
- General liability covers claims related to personal injury or property damage that took place at a job site as a result of an employee’s actions.
- Worker’s compensation is a requirement in most states if you have employees. It covers any claims or lawsuits if an employee is injured on the job.
- Commercial auto insurance protects you in the event your company vehicle is involved in a collision. It covers personal injury, property damage, collision-related medical expenses, or vehicle damage and theft.
READ MORE: What small business insurance do I need?
4. Purchase snow removal equipment
The type of ice management and snow removal equipment you need depends on if you’re serving residential or commercial clients. The amount you’ll spend will vary between new and used items.
Here’s some of the equipment you’ll need for your snow plow business:
- Snow blower
- Snow plow
- Hand snow shovel
- Snow pusher
- Ice scraper
- Roof rake
- Rock salt or ice melt
- Salt spreader
- Warm clothing (coat, hat, gloves)
5. Open a business bank account
It’s important to keep your business funds separate from personal funds, so set up a small business bank account for tracking expenses and payments.
It’ll also make you look more professional and help you build up a business credit history. As a result, you can access larger sums of money for large purchases, repairs, or business growth.
Invest in accounting software like QuickBooks early on, too. Track expenses, view income at a glance, run payroll, and integrate with your snow removal software to stay even more organized.
6. Train your team and plan for breakdowns
Whether you’re the only one plowing or you have a crew to help, be ready to provide service when the snow starts to fall. That means tackling your training and breakdown planning now.
Do pre-season service area visits to identify any obstacles or challenges, maintain equipment so it’s ready to hit the road, and make sure you know how to use your tools and vehicle safely.
Even with all your preparation, you may still have breakdowns or other emergencies—especially in heavy snowfall. Have a plan in place to ensure clients still get their driveway or parking lot cleared, no matter what.
What snow plow training do you need?
You don’t need formal training to start a snow removal business, but you do need a driver’s license to operate a snow plow. You might like on-the-job training with a local plow business owner, too.
Follow these tips on snow plowing to stay safe and keep clients satisfied:
- Learn the best ways to remove snow and where you’re allowed to pile it.
- Know the rules of the road and be ready for the hazards that come with winter driving.
- Dress warm, plan for emergencies, and take steps to stay awake behind the wheel.
7. Build your brand
Your business branding will help potential clients recognize and trust your company. To build a brand, start by creating a unique logo—you can work with a designer or use an online logo generator like Looka.
From there, you can apply the logo to your truck, business cards, uniform, website, social media, and more. Here’s an example of what your snow removal branding could look like:
8. Get your first snow removal customers
Marketing your snow removal company will get your brand noticed and attract new clients. Start marketing your snow removal business in the fall, when the temperature starts to drop and potential customers start thinking about the winter season.
Try a few traditional and online marketing strategies like these:
- Create tear-away snow removal flyers and pin them to community bulletin boards.
- Print door hangers and distribute them to residents in your ideal neighborhood.
- Build a new snow removal website, or update your existing site with a page about snow removal. Include a work request form that allows clients to book services online.
- Create a Facebook business page for your snow shoveling business, or update your current page to include ice removal and snow removal services. Post often and include before-and-after photos of each snow removal job.
- Buy high-quality leads with Google’s Local Services Ads, or set up profiles and attract potential clients on lead generation sites.
- Use email marketing to stay top-of-mind with clients so they’re ready for your services by the winter months.
9. Invest in customer service
Creating and investing in customer relationships will help you become a successful, in-demand snow removal contractor. Here are a few ways to build those relationships:
- Build a customer referral program to encourage word of mouth between family, friends, and current clients (if you already run a business).
- Hire the right employees with the right attitude who uphold your values. One way to do that is with an employee referral program.
- Create standard operating procedures, systems, and processes—for example, following up before, during, and after a job to make sure clients are happy.
- Offer a client hub where your customers can conveniently request work, approve quotes, double-check visit details, and pay invoices online.
10. Find local partners
Build relationships with other local businesses, both in home service and in other professions. It’s always handy to know realtors, lawyers, insurance brokers, accountants, and anyone else who can give you a professional advantage.
The right local partners will help you watch for new opportunities. They may even send potential clients your way—or become clients themselves.
How to start a snow removal business from a lawn care or landscaping business
If you already own and operate a lawn care or landscaping business, snow removal is a great seasonal business idea. And because you’re not starting from scratch, you’ll be able to get your snow removal business up and running in half the steps.
1. Plan for your snow removal business
Before you start a new seasonal side-hustle, make sure there’s demand for your snow removal services. Look at the snow fall patterns for your region, decide whether you’ll target residential clients or commercial properties, and check local and state regulations.
2. Purchase equipment
Some of your landscaping or lawn care equipment can be repurposed for snow removal. For example, trucks can be fitted with plows. Make a list of the snow removal equipment and tools you can use and what you’ll need to buy.
3. Train your team
Make sure your team understands how to use your snow removal equipment safely.
You’ll also want to invest in high-visibility clothing, warm gloves, and slip-resistant boots for your crew.
4. Update your insurance policy
Snow removal can have more risks than lawn care. Contact your insurance company to make sure your policy covers potential damage to property or injuries.
5. Advertise your snow removal services
Introduce your new snow removal business to your existing clientele and potential customers alike. Here’s how:
- Add a page to your landscaping website that highlights your new snow removal services.
- Create snow removal flyers, post them on community bulletin boards, and distribute them to customers in your ideal service areas.
- Update your social media profiles and create posts that introduce your snow removal business. Offer potential customers discounts for booking early.
Start your snow plowing business today
Now that you know how to start a residential snow removal business or commercial snow plowing company, you can begin shovelling snow for money.
Starting a snow removal company will take lots of work, but you can succeed if you plan ahead, follow the steps in this article, and use the right business tools to stay on track.
Originally published September 2021. Last updated on September 12, 2022.