Starting a Snow Plow Business: 10 Snow Removal Startup Tips
For the right person, snow removal and snow plowing can be a lucrative side business. If you can handle spending long, cold nights working — when other people are in bed — you can make a healthy second income for your trouble. If you’re thinking about starting a snow plow business or a snow removal business, we have some tips to help you get started and to stay successful your first winter.
At TP Trailers, we sell and service HUNDREDS of snow plows every year. So it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about how to do this right — and also very wrong.
Some of our tips focus on choosing the right plow to meet your needs, helping you avoid beginner pitfalls, and making sure you come out on top financially — your ultimate goal. We can’t guarantee we can make you a veteran in one article — or in one winter — but we can help you spend more time plowing than in the repair shop.
Check out these snow plow startup tips and remember, whether you’re a single operator or the manager of a plow fleet, TP Trailers is your full-service snow removal equipment resource.
10 Tips for a Successful Snow Removal Business
1. Buy a Quality Plow That is Easy to Repair
All plows need maintenance — and the easier to maintain your plow, the better. Quality models and brands are designed to make routine maintenance and emergency repair much easier. If you’re new to plowing, easy maintenance will pay off double.
For example, on cheaper model plows, the hydraulic pump is located in the A-frame. This means in order to replace hydraulic hoses (one of the most common types of maintenance), a mechanic needs to take apart the entire plow frame to access the hydraulic pump. On a well-designed plow, replacing hoses should take about 20 minutes. With a less than optimal design, the process will take several hours. Why is that an issue? Because it drastically increases the time you’ll spend sitting waiting for repairs — rather than making money.
Just remember that you bought a plow to make money, not to spend your nights in a repair shop.
2. Buy a New Plow (If You Can Afford It)
Unlike when buying a car, opting for new—not used—is the smart financial choice. When you buy a new plow you can ensure that it will work with your truck. If you buy a used plow that doesn’t match your truck, you will need to purchase and install a truck mount, a headlight adapter, and wiring. Paying for these requisite upgrades can actually undermine the savings from buying a used plow.
Furthermore, not all used plows are a great bargain — some people may choose to unload plows that are basically used up. If you’re a novice, you have less of an idea of how to evaluate a plow’s condition. You might think you’re getting a great deal on a plow, only to find out that it’s already seen its last winter.
3. Buy a Straight Blade Plow
The two most common makes of plows are straight plows and v-plows. Named for the shape of the blade, both plow styles can get the job done. The main difference is that v-plows provide the driver far more options about how to angle and direct the blade. Straight plows can’t be turned and angled in as many ways as their v-shaped counterparts, making them easier to use effectively but less versatile.
While many plowing veterans appreciate this versatility, v-plows often overwhelm newbies. In the same way that it’s easier to learn to drive on an automatic than a stick shift, when you’re new to plowing, you want to keep matters as simple as possible. After you’ve got a few winters under your belt and are looking for your second plow, that’s the right time to investigate the v-plow advantages.
4. Don’t Push More Snow than You Can Handle
Sometimes rookies think that just because they’re driving a plow, they’re invincible. There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting stuck and having to call a friend to get your plow plowed out.
5. Don’t Wait until the Snowfall Stops to Begin Plowing
In any serious snowfall, you’re going to face more snow accumulation than you want to tackle in one go. Waiting until the last flake has fallen to begin plowing is a rookie blunder that can often get you into trouble. As we just mentioned, having to call someone to plow out your plow isn’t a good look.
When you’re facing too much ground coverage and you begin plowing, you can accidentally pack the snow into a barrier that even your plow won’t be able to move. Instead, get started halfway through the storm to stay ahead of deep accumulation. All you need to do is keep an eye on the storm forecasts and find the midpoint of the snowfall.
By breaking up the job into more manageable chunks, you make the job far easier. Although it takes a little bit longer to handle the job in waves, your time spent is more than worth it. This is something that every veteran plowman knows to do and something that every rookie should try out.
6. Leave Enough Room for the Second Wave of Snow
Like we mentioned in tip number #4, you can accidentally pack the snow so tightly that if forms a wall with all the strength of a concrete barrier. When you’re clearing a large area in multiple waves, make sure you push the first clearing of snow back far enough so that you have somewhere to go with the second wave.
If you don’t provide yourself enough room ahead of time, you’re going to struggle to find a place to push the rest of the snow.
7. Mark the Area You’re Going to Plow
In your first winter plowing, you’re almost guaranteed to hit something — most likely a curb. Even though it is likely to happen, you need to take every precaution possible to prevent it or ensure that it happens as little as possible. Your plow is a powerful piece of equipment, but crashing your blade into something solid can lead to an evening in the repair shop rather than making money. Spending as much time working and as little time waiting for repairs is the formula for a successful first winter behind the wheel.
Check out the area you’re planning to plow ahead of time and place reflective markers around obstacles. The markers should keep you aware of potential hazards even in thick, blizzard-like conditions. Just make sure that the markers are tall enough that they don’t get buried in heavy snow.
This tactic works especially well if you’ll be plowing a parking lot.
8. Get Your Truck Warranty in Writing
As far as investments are concerned, your truck is a bigger one than your plow. Make sure that your plowing side business doesn’t void your manufacturer’s warranty. Once you confirm that, keep a written copy of your warranty to make sure you’re covered. After all, plowing is a tough job, but any good truck should be able to handle it.
If you’re buying a new truck, ensure that the warranty supports the mounting of a plow before you sign. Also, don’t just take the salesman’s word for it—he might be tempted to make promises the warranty can’t keep.
9. Finance Your Plow — Without a Payoff Penalty
Most of the time when people are starting their own plowing business, they don’t have a few grand to buy the plow outright, so they end up financing it. There’s nothing wrong with that — that’s a viable strategy to purchase the high-quality plow you need. When you sign up for your loan, just make sure you can pay it off early without a penalty.
A busy winter should be enough to pay off your plow and pocket the surplus. If you’ve had a successful winter, you shouldn’t be punished for it. Find the right loan so that you don’t get hit with a payoff penalty.
This is an important tip that we almost always recommend to prospective plow shoppers when they’re looking through our extensive inventory. After all, the primary reason you’re taking on this side job is to come out ahead financially, getting hit with a payoff penalty isn’t part of the plan. After you own your plow outright, you can pocket the profits every winter going forward.
10. Don’t Buy Your Plow Online — Build a Relationship with a Local Dealer
Chances are someone on the internet won’t be undersold on price, but that doesn’t mean they’re offering a good deal — especially if you’re a rookie.
You don’t just need a plow. You need to build a relationship with an expert who can provide you guidance and advice. You also need to have a full-service repair shop on your side when something does go wrong.
So, while someone might offer a great price online, they’ll likely disappear after the sale is made. As someone who’s new to the game, you need a team behind you. You need a team that can provide you maintenance when you need it — day or night, even in the middle of a snowstorm.
TP Trailers & Truck Equipment is Your Local Snow Plow Dealer and Service Center
TP Trailers & Truck Equipment is the snow plow support team serving first-timers, plowing veterans, and big fleets throughout South Central PA and beyond. As a dealer, we offer a huge selection of high quality new and used plows. In addition, we have the skill and years of experience to get you started.
We’re a full-service repair shop, meaning we fix the big and small things that can go wrong with your plow, including custom fabrication of hydraulic hoses. Furthermore, we stand behind our plows by offering 24/7 maintenance during emergency conditions. That’s right: if you need maintenance to get your plow working during a winter storm, you can call us and we’ll meet you at our centrally-located repair shop.
After all, you didn’t buy a plow to sit out a storm — you have a job to do and money to make. We’re the team that makes that happen. Get in touch with us today.