While many cities and states have their own snow plows, most individuals and businesses don’t have specialized, heavy-duty snow removal equipment. While snow can be cleared from driveways, walkways and (small) parking lots with shovels or snow blowers, many people would rather have someone else do it. They either don’t want to, aren’t physically able to or don’t have time to clear snow themselves.
Snow plow businesses specialize in removing snow from personal residences and commercial properties. From 2011 through 2016, IBISWorld reports, the snow plowing grew at a rate of 2 percent annually. It’s currently a $14 billion industry.
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Learn how to start your own Snow Plow Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a snow plow business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Snow Plow Business
- Form your Snow Plow Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Snow Plow Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Snow Plow Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Snow Plow Business
- Get Snow Plow Business Insurance
- Define your Snow Plow Business Brand
- Create your Snow Plow Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your snow plow business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a snow plow business?
The startup costs for a snow plow business are substantial. The largest expense is the cost of a reliable truck, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The Democrat & Chronicle reports that Michael McClusky, a snow plow business owner, paid $35,000 when he purchased a new truck for his business, and there are trucks that cost much more than that.
A business will also need a plow, snow blower, salt sprayer and salt, which together may cost between $3,000 and $10,000. Other startup expenses include insurance, fuel and advertising costs.
Business owners that are looking to keep their startup expenses low may want to use a truck they already have or purchase a used truck that’s less expensive. It’s important that a truck is reliable, though. Customers will become upset if a business owner isn’t able to plow because their truck broke down during a storm.
Leasing a truck can greatly reduce the startup expenses for a snow plow business, but lease payments significantly increase operating expenses. A loan may be a better option than a lease, because the business will own the truck once the loan’s paid off.
What are the ongoing expenses for a snow plow business?
The ongoing expenses for a snow plow business include maintenance for a your truck and plow, fuel and insurance premiums. Keep in mind that your vehicle(s) will need to be replaced every 10-15 years, depending on frequency of use.
Who is the target market?
A snow plow business’ ideal customer is an individual or business that’s located in a metropolitan area. Because people and businesses in cities are close together, business owners can spend more time plowing clients’ properties and less time driving between clients.
How does a snow plow business make money?
A snow plow business makes money by charging clients for snow removal services. Clients may either pay on a per-plowing basis or enter into a season-long contract.
How much can you charge customers?
According to CostHelper, most snow plow businesses charge between $30 and $45 to plow a typical driveway one time. Businesses may charge more for long driveways, steep driveways, quick response times and properties in rural areas.
AngiesList members reportedly paid between $341 and $415 for season-long contracts in 2013. Some businesses’ contracts include unlimited plowing for a season, while others charge an additional fee after a certain number of plowings.
How much profit can a snow plow business make?
In the right areas, snow plow businesses can be extremely profitable. One business owner in Boston has a gross revenue of $150,000 in an average year -- but once brought in nearly $400,000 during a single month. The profit from these numbers would depend on a business’ operating expenses.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Many snow plow businesses provide lawn care services during the warmer months. This helps cover loan payments and equipment depreciation when there’s no snow.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Snow Plow Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your snow plow business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Licenses for snowplowing are typically regulated locally. For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Snow plowing businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions. Snow plowing businesses typically choose to distribute hourly or seasonal contracts, depending on the amount and frequency of plowing requested.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a snow plow business?
Snow plow business owners should have a backup truck that they can use if their truck breaks down. If they can’t afford a second truck, they should at least find a mechanic who will agree to make emergency repairs quickly.
Additionally, business owners should have at least a few thousand dollars saved in case their truck’s transmission fails. The continual changing of gears that plowing involves can be rough on a transmission, and having a new one installed can cost between $1,800 and $3,500.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a snow plow business
The most effective way to market a snow plow business is via word of mouth. Because of this, it’s extremely important to provide excellent service so clients are happy. T
How to keep customers coming back
A snow plow business can distinguish itself from other plowing companies in the area by offering superior service. Business owners ought to strive to be the first business plowing driveways and parking lots when storms come, and they may want to offer other services, like shoveling and salting.
Offering discounts for referrals is another great way to bring in more customers.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2022 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Snow Plow Business in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
Anyone who doesn’t mind driving and is enjoys being alone for extended periods of time may be well-suited for owning a snow plow business. Snow plowers spend hours alone, driving from client to client.
Starting a snowplow business while maintaining another job that has regular hours is difficult, if not impossible. Clients expect snow to be cleared promptly, and snow plow drivers often head out whenever a storm begins -- regardless of whether it’s the morning, afternoon, evening or middle of the night.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a snow plow business?
A snow plow business owner will spend most of their time driving to client’s locations, where they plow driveways and parking lots. They might also shovel and salt walkways. When not plowing, business owners may work on growing their business, collecting payments from clients and getting their truck maintained.
Work for snowplow drivers often comes in bursts. A driver may pull long hours during a storm, and then not have much to do until the next snowfall.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful snow plow business?
A snow plow business owner must first have a driver’s license. Business owners who don’t have a license may need to take a driver’s education course before obtaining a license in their state. DriversEd.com has a directory of courses offered throughout the country.
Business owners may also want to take courses specific to snow plowing. The Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA) offers several training programs, including “certified snow professional” and “advanced snow management” programs. The Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) also has a certification that business owners can earn.
What is the growth potential for a snow plow business?
Most snow plow businesses serve one specific area. A business might bring on additional drivers so it can serve more clients, but hiring employees significantly increases a business’ operating expenses.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
How and when to build a team
Many snow plow businesses are one-person operations, largely to keep their ongoing costs minimal. Businesses that hire employees not only have to pay those employees’ salaries, but they also must pay higher insurance premiums.
Despite these expenses, a few snow plow businesses do hire employees. A business might be ready to hire employees when it secures a contract for a large parking lot, which may require plowing and shoveling, or has more clients than one driver can get to in a reasonable amount of time.
- Snow and Ice Management Association
- Accredited Snow Contractors Association
- Snowplowing and Ice Removal Contractor Directory