Take your winter services from side hustle to profit center

(Photo: koldunova/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images )
(Photo: koldunova/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images )
(Photo: koldunova/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images )
(Photo: koldunova/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images )

With a winning strategy, snow and ice management services can generate immense profit. But building an operational plan to succeed requires forethought, effort and execution. Here’s how to take winter services from side hustle to profit center.

Start with great contracts by engaging in sales early. When promoting snow and ice services, focus on building a balanced portfolio that includes both fixed rate and variable pay structures, so your revenue is protected regardless of how much or little snowfall occurs in a given season. No matter how strong an operations team functions, the quality of the contracts will always play a defining role in a company’s wins or losses.

Questions to think about

Next, companies must determine their operational strategy. The two biggest questions that arise tend to revolve around workforce and equipment. Is it better to self-perform work or contract out service partners to work alongside? And should equipment be purchased new, leased for a period of time, or acquired as used?

There isn’t a single right answer.

Those with enough seasonal staff can often go through a winter season with their workforce. This ensures the continuity of employees from season to season and simplifies the time for onboarding. Yet subcontracting allows faster scale across a wider geography and the ability to leverage the competitive advantage of another company without having to invest up front. Often a geographic service area is a deciding factor. Most successful companies of moderate size find a balance between the two extremes.

When considering the strategy for equipment acquisition, use and disposal, there are a few factors to consider. First, can the equipment be utilized year-round for services? If so, a purchase program will likely yield the highest return on investment. As equipment ages, the importance of qualified mechanics on staff increases dramatically. There is no opportunity to catch up in snow and ice, and reliability must be a top priority.

If pursuing older equipment, your snow strategy must incorporate backup parts, preventive maintenance and stand-by equipment. These factors can radically change the total cost-of-ownership equation.

If fleet maintenance is daunting but new equipment purchase prices are too high, a middle ground is often leasing. Winter rentals are often expensive, but a multiyear lease can provide affordable payments, equipment maintenance and even flexibility for future purchases.

However a company chooses to proceed, strong partnerships with vendors and suppliers are key to success. By working with quality partners, snow managers can explore their options and create unique solutions that work for their operations’ circumstances, budgets and objectives. Start today to find the right equipment dealers, salt suppliers, meteorological services, subcontractors and employee sources to set up a successful winter operation.

Invest in your team

One of the best strategies for successful snow operations is to invest in education for you and your team. We host
Snowfighters Institute events, two-day deep dives with a small group of contractors focused on radically improving your winter services.

Our operations management event will be Sept. 6-7 in Bensalem, Pa., for those who manage and work in the field. The event features great education, networking and facility tours. Visit SnowfightersInstitute.com for more information and to register.

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