By Mark Holman, General Manager
Do you want to boost your snow removal offerings to include ice management? Becoming a full service snow and ice management business will not only increase your company’s bottom line, but will help your community’s businesses stay open during a snow event.
Since people don’t want their lives put on hold for a snowstorm, think about the commercial properties where your snow and ice removal services would benefit your community:
- Grocery stores and outlets
- HOAs and rental units
- Medical office buildings
- Office buildings and complexes
- Retail units including strip malls and shopping complexes.
Additionally, ice management services will keep you busy from fall throughout early spring. If your region has a low snow season, you’ll still make money because you’ll need to treat black ice and freezing rain. Plus, your season will now extend into spring because you’ll need to deice parking lots and roadways during the freeze-thaw cycles of the season.
What You Need to Know
Yet, before you advertise your deicing service, remember that you first need to do your homework. Here are 4 tips to consider when adding ice removal to your snow management services:
1. You’ll need more equipment: If you’re going to add ice management to your list of services, remember that you’re going to need to add more equipment to your arsenal. It could be as simple as adding a spreader to the back of your truck. Your truck’s snow plow pushes snow out of the way while the spreader distributes salt or sand to the plowed pavement to keep roads ice-free.
Also, you’ll need to add deicing materials such as sand, magnesium chloride or calcium chloride to your supplies. Not only do you need to buy enough to last you the entire season, but you need a place to store it. Do you currently have enough room to store salt or sand, a spreader, a snow pusher as well as any other snow removal equipment at your storage facility? Will you need to upgrade your garage or add a new building to your property?
To save money on new equipment, some snow removal companies buy their deicing equipment in the off season when everything is on sale. Also you’ll save money when you stick to one brand. You can make repairs and easily get parts when you only need to call one dealer.
2.Will you hire or will you subcontract your services? Next you need to decide whether you want to add employees to the mix, stay solo or subcontract with another company. If you’re a one-man show with a snow plow hitched to the front of your truck and you’re thinking about adding a salt spreader to the back, you may want to subcontract your services with a local commercial snow removal company. When you’re the subcontractor, you don’t have to worry about contracts, scheduling pre-season site visits or dealing with client issues.
If you decide to hire subcontractors or employees, be prepared to add time during the pre-season to meet and train them, so there are no hiccups when the first snowstorm hits your area.
3.You’ll need to up your insurance: When you add deicing services, you also need to add more liability and property damage to your insurance coverage. To avoid high insurance costs, make sure you buy the right size equipment and know how to operate it to avoid any property damage during a snow event. And if you’re adding employees to your snow and ice management services, make sure they’re trained to use your equipment before the season starts.
Liability insurance will protect you from lawsuits in slip and fall cases. To help lower your liability insurance premiums, you can offer pretreatment services—where you add deicing products to parking lots and commercial roads before the storm hits. When you apply deicing before the storm, you prevent the pavement and ice from forming a bond that leads to slippery and dangerous conditions.
Pre-treating roads and parking lots is a new way to prevent slip and fall accidents. It also makes it easier for you to push snow and add deicing products during the storm. You’ll also notice your after-storm clean-up will be reduced because you already pretreated the area and got a leg up on reducing ice and snow amounts.
4.You’ll need to budget for cash flow: As you know, the cash doesn’t start coming in until later in the season when the invoices are due. How will you make budget or make payroll with no money coming in? You can
- Add some residential customers to your client mix who’ll pay per snow event
- If you’re a lawn care or landscape business during the warmer seasons, you can use the income from fall fertilization, clean ups and other fall services to front the costs for the first part of the snow season.
If your passion is clearing roadways and sidewalks for the people in your community, consider adding deicing to your snow removal services. By following these four tips, you’ll be able to continue to grow your snow removal services as well as make the community safer and happier.