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How to Start a Snow Plowing Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Snow Plowing Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$6,050 - $13,100

Revenue potential

$25,000 - $188,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$20,000 - $57,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

Many people hate to shovel snow from their driveways, and most businesses don’t have the equipment to plow their parking lots. In comes the snow plowing business to save the day! Snow plowing can be a great way to make good money in the wintertime, and in the warmer months, you could use your truck to do other things, like junk removal. Snow plowing is a growing, $20 billion industry, so there’s plenty of opportunity.

But before you plow forward, you’ll need to understand the snow plowing business. Luckily, in this step-by-step guide, you’ll find all you need to ramp up your entrepreneurial skills and launch a successful company.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a snow plowing business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.

Pros

  • Good Money – Make up to $200 to clear a parking lot
  • Flexibility – Run your business from home
  • Low Startup Costs – If you have a truck, you just need the snow plow

Cons

  • Seasonality – Snow only falls a few months of the year
  • Fuel Costs – Rising fuel costs will cut into profits

Snow plowing industry trends

Industry size and growth

  • Industry size and past growth – The US snow plowing industry was worth $20.5 billion in 2021 after 4% annual growth the previous five years.((https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/snowplowing-services-industry/)) 
  • Growth forecast – The growth of the industry depends on weather patterns. 
  • Number of businesses – In 2021, 87,487 snow plowing businesses were operating in the US.
  • Number of people employed – In 2021, the US snow plowing industry employed 176,744 people.
snow plowing industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the snow plowing industry include:

  • Technology is advancing, making snow removal easier and more efficient.
  • The emphasis on sustainability is creating the need for snow plowing businesses to use eco-friendly practices, like reducing the use of salt and fuel. 

Challenges in the snow plowing industry include:

  • Climate change is making weather more unstable, which means uncertain income in the snow plowing business.
  • Labor shortages are making it harder for snow plowing companies to find workers.
snow plowing industry Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

snow plowing industry demand hotspots

What kind of people work in snow plowing?

  • Gender  9.9% of snow plow operators are female, while 85.4% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/snow-plow-operator-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education The average snow plow operator is high school educated.
  • Average age – The average snow plow operator in the US is 47 years old.
snow plowing industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a snow plowing business?

Startup costs for a snow plowing business range from $6,000 to $13,000. Costs include a down payment on a truck, a plow, and other equipment.

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your snow plowing business, including: 

  • Truck
  • Plow
  • Snow blower
  • Salt sprayer
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Truck down payment$1,500 - $3,000$2,250
Plow, snow blower, salt spreader$3,000 - $6,000$4,500
Total$6,050 - $13,100$9,575

How much can you earn from a snow plowing business?

You can earn an average of $50 for a large driveway and $200 for a parking lot. Your profit margin after fuel costs should be about 80%.

In your first year or two, you could do 20 $125 jobs per week, for 10 weeks of the year, bringing in $25,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $20,000 in profit, assuming that 80% margin. As you grow your fleet of trucks, sales could climb to 1,500 jobs per year. At this stage, you’d rent a commercial space and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to around 30%. With annual revenue of nearly $188,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $57,000.

Because snow plowing is seasonal, you could supplement your income by using your truck for something else during warmer months. You might start a junk removal business

snow plowing business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a snow plowing business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • The cost of a quality plow 
  • Competition from established snow plowing companies

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a snow plowing business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape. 

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research snow plowing businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a snow plowing company that also does sidewalk shoveling, ice removal, or roof snow removal.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as business parking lots.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your services

Your services will depend on your equipment. Your best bet is to offer as many snow removal services as possible to increase your seasonal revenue. You can also increase your revenue by offering other services during the warmer months, such as junk removal.

How much should you charge for snow plowing services?

Prices will depend on the size of the area you’re plowing. To plow a large driveway it should cost about $50. To plow a parking lot should be between $100 and $200 or more. You should aim for a profit margin of 80%. 

Once you know your costs, you can use our profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

If you decide to specialize in parking lots, your target market will be business owners. You can find them on LinkedIn or you can call on them directly. Search for local businesses on Google and Yelp. If you decide to also target homeowners, you could find them on Facebook and Instagram, or reach out to community groups. 

Where? Choose your business premises

Here are some of the essential premises and considerations for storage and operation:

  1. Equipment Storage: You will need a secure place to store your snow plows and other equipment when they are not in use. This could be a commercial storage facility, a rented warehouse, or a secure area on your own property.
  2. Accessibility: Your storage facility should be easily accessible even in heavy snow, as you will need to respond to service calls during and after snowfalls. Proximity to main roads can be advantageous.
  3. Maintenance Area: You will need a space for maintenance and repairs of your equipment. This might be a section of your storage facility or a separate workshop. It should be equipped with tools and supplies for routine maintenance.
  4. Office Space: Depending on the size of your business, you may also need office space for administrative tasks such as scheduling, billing, customer service, and marketing. This can be on-site or at a separate location. In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. 
  5. Utilities: Your facility will need basic utilities, including electricity for maintenance work and charging of any electric-powered equipment, as well as possibly heating to prevent equipment from seizing up in the cold.
  6. Local Regulations: Check local zoning laws and regulations to ensure that your storage facility complies with all requirements. You may need special permits to operate a commercial facility, especially if you are storing large equipment or handling chemicals (like de-icing agents).
  7. Environmental Considerations: If you will be handling de-icing chemicals or other potentially hazardous materials, you’ll need to consider safe storage and disposal methods to comply with environmental regulations.
snow plowing business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Snow Removal Company Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “snow plowing” or “snow removal”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Powder Patrol” over “Commercial Snow Patrol”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Snow Plowing Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Present a concise overview of your snow plowing business, highlighting your services, target market, and strategy for efficient and reliable snow removal.
  • Business Overview: Describe the services provided by your snow plowing business, including snow removal, salting, and de-icing for residential and commercial clients.
  • Product and Services: Detail the range of services offered, such as driveway and parking lot plowing, sidewalk clearing, and emergency response.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the demand for snow removal services in your area, particularly focusing on regions with heavy snowfall and the types of clients in need.
  • Competitive Analysis: Compare your business to other local snow removal services, emphasizing your advantages in equipment, response time, or pricing.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your plan to attract clients, including direct marketing to homeowners and businesses, online advertising, and partnerships with property management companies.
  • Management Team: Highlight the experience and skills of your management team, especially in areas like operations management and customer service.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the logistics of your snow removal operations, including equipment maintenance, staff deployment, and weather monitoring.
  • Financial Plan: Provide a summary of your financial strategy, covering startup costs, pricing models, and revenue projections.
  • Appendix: Include additional documents such as equipment lists, service contracts, or detailed market research to support your business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to snow plowing businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your snow plowing business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a snow plowing business. 

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Snow Plowing Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a snow plowing business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your snow plowing business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Service AutoPilot, Jobber, or connecteam, to manage your appointments, invoicing, and payments. 

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Clients are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.

Marketing

To maximize visibility and customer acquisition for your snow plowing business, the following comprehensive marketing strategies blend traditional methods, digital engagement, and community involvement for a robust approach to capturing and retaining a loyal customer base.

Digital Presence and Optimization

  • Website Launch: Ensure your website is professional, user-friendly, and optimized for mobile devices.
  • SEO Practices: Utilize local SEO tactics to rank higher for snow plowing services in your service areas.
  • Social Media: Use targeted ads and regular, engaging posts to connect with local communities. Run seasonal promotions on social media platforms to target potential customers when they need you most.
  • AdWords Campaigns: Use PPC advertising with well-researched keywords for better ROI.
  • Instagram Visibility: Showcase before-and-after images of your work to capture attention.
  • Google Business Profile: Maintain an updated profile for higher visibility in local searches.
  • Yelp Listings: Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews to bolster your reputation.

Offline and Community-Based Strategies

  • Local Distribution: Hand out well-designed flyers in neighborhoods most affected by snowfall.
  • Event Participation: Sponsor local events or volunteer services to create brand goodwill.
  • Incentive Schemes: Implement referral discounts or loyalty programs to encourage word-of-mouth marketing.

Customer Relationship and Retention

  • Reward Systems: Create a loyalty program that rewards frequent customers with discounts or added services.
  • Post-Service Engagement: Follow up with customers after a job to ensure satisfaction and encourage repeat business.

Branding and Visual Marketing

  • Consistent Branding: Ensure your trucks, uniforms, and all marketing materials have consistent branding.
  • Service Demonstrations: Share videos showcasing the effectiveness of your snow removal methods.

Leveraging Technology

  • App Development: Consider developing a mobile app for easy booking and service updates.
  • Real-Time Service: Use social media or an app to give live updates on your plowing locations during major snowfalls.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your snow plowing business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your snow plowing business could be: 

  • Driveway buried? Put away that shovel and let us clear the way 
  • Stay in business on snow days – let us clear your lot
  • Fast, reliable snow removal – driveways, sidewalks, even your roof
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a snow plowing business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in snow plowing for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in snow plowing. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a snow plowing business include:

  • Drivers – provide plowing services
  • Dispatcher – take calls, scheduling
  • General Manager – staff management, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Snow Plowing Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Snow plowing is an essential service to keep your community moving in the winter. Starting a snow plowing business is a great way to make some good money in the winter, and you can use your truck to make money in other ways during the warmer months. Snow plowing is a growing $20 billion industry., so there is plenty of opportunity. 

Now that you’ve plowed your way through your business homework, it’s time to climb into your truck and start your successful entrepreneurial journey!

Snow Plowing Business FAQs

Can a snow plowing business be profitable?

Yes, a snow plowing business can be profitable even if you’re working as a solopreneur. It’s seasonal, but you’ll have a truck that you can use to make money in other ways during the warmer months, such as junk removal.

How much should I charge for snow plowing?

To plow a driveway, depending on the size, should be between $40 and $60. To plow a parking lot will also depend on the size, but it could be up to $200 or more.

How do I market my snow plowing business?

Optimize your website for search engines to improve online visibility. Utilize local directories, online classifieds, or community forums to promote your services. Network with local businesses, property managers, or homeowners’ associations who may require snow plowing services. 

How can I differentiate my snow plowing business from competitors in the market?

Emphasize reliability and timely service, ensuring that you promptly respond to snowfall and provide consistent plowing services. Offer 24/7 availability during snowstorms or significant weather events. Utilize modern equipment and technologies to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, such as GPS tracking for accurate service updates or snow-melting techniques for improved safety. 

How can I stay updated on weather conditions and effectively plan my snow plowing operations?

Utilize reliable weather forecasting services or apps specific to your region. Monitor local news or government alerts for weather-related information or snow emergencies. Consider investing in weather tracking tools or subscriptions to receive real-time weather updates. Establish communication channels with local meteorologists, weather organizations, or road maintenance departments to receive up-to-date information on weather conditions. 

How do I get customers for snow shoveling?

Promote your snow shoveling services through online platforms, local directories, or community forums. Distribute flyers or door hangers in neighborhoods where you offer services. Offer bundled services or discounts for snow plowing and snow shoveling as a package. Network with local businesses, property managers, or homeowners’ associations who may require snow shoveling services. 

How can I ensure the safety and efficiency of my snow plowing operations?

Ensure that your equipment is properly maintained and in good working condition. Train your staff on proper snow plowing techniques and safety protocols. Emphasize safety practices such as proper attire, visibility measures, and caution around obstacles or hidden objects. Monitor weather conditions and adjust operations accordingly, prioritizing safety during extreme weather events.

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How to Start a Snow Plowing Business