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10 Tips for Commercial Snow Removal Contracts


It’s not easy to get a commercial snowplow contract, but it’s where the money is. Residential owners can get your business off the ground, but you’re likely to do little more than break even when you consider the wear and tear on your truck. And that matters! Of course, you don’t need us to tell you that.

Yes, you can charge commercial property owners a bigger fee, but don’t price yourself out. Once you’ve proven your reliability and expertise, you can command a few more dollars. On the other hand, don’t forget that you’re out to make money. While you can be sure that person is talking to several vendors, it’s not necessarily the lowest bid that gets the job. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Get your feet wet.

Start with small commercial properties, like gas stations, small stores, day-care centers. You need to get your feet wet, so to speak, before you start hitting the big properties.

2. Meet the decision-maker(s).

Insist on talking with the decision-maker, whether it’s the office manager or business owner. Otherwise, your information will be placed in the circular “filing cabinet.”

3. Have references.

Have a strong number of “happy customer” letters and references with phone numbers that you can give the person. If at least one is a commercial property owner, all the better.

4. Be prepared.

Provide proof that you have the equipment to get the job done, like a reliable newer vehicle, commercial plow (preferably a V-wing, which is much more flexible), backup driver, and vehicle, if you can. If you have a friend who also snowplows, you might be able to work out a cover-my-back deal in case something unavoidable happens (people do get sick).

5. The humblebrag.

Brag a little, humbly. Show pictures of what you’ve done, especially when it comes to handling deep snow.

6. Know your rates.

Discuss salting parking lots, driveways, and walkways. Be clear on your rates and that this is an extra service. Salt is expensive when you’re pouring tons onto blacktop.

7. The proof is in the pudding.

Have proof of commercial insurance and liability coverage. It’s a must.

8. Manage expectations.

Guarantee a specific “job will be done by” time. Be careful here. All businesses want their snow cleared before opening, and you can get it done if you plow at 7 a.m., but explain that if it continues snowing heavily, you will swing back. You need to plan your time carefully.

9. Continued service.

Offer a discount on mowing-plowing. It gives them a break, and it provides you with more year-round income.

10. Over-deliver.

Go the extra mile. This is a competitive business, but it’s also one with fly-by-night drivers wanting to earn a few extra dollars for Christmas. Show you’re dedicated to developing a business—make absolutely sure you have business cards to hand out. It’s the drivers who are reliable, honest, and go the extra mile—literally and figuratively—who are around year after year.

Posted on September 21, 2021

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