Snow Removal Business Tips to Stand Out From The Competition
As in any relationship, for snow removal setting clear expectations well in advance of the first flake falling can not only avoid customer complaints but also help to set boundaries and save you headaches down the road.
Ask Chris Senger of Mow Town Edmonton. He learned that the hard way.
“Last year being our first season doing snow we learned a ton from it. I made all sorts of valuable mistakes,” he says. “Everything from how to plan a route out, to how to market, to when you should start talking to people about snow.”
Chris Senger, Mow Town Edmonton
We learned everything from how to plan a route out, to how to market, to when you should start talking to people about snow.
Marketing is all about timing
Senger says he made the rookie mistake of panicking in mid-September and started emailing people then about setting up snow removal service. “They weren’t ready to have that conversation, so I didn’t get as warm a reception as I could have,” he says.
Instead, he suggests following nature’s cues and to start marketing when the leaves are falling off the tree because that’s when people start thinking: winter is coming!
And then snow removal marketing can begin in earnest.
“We’ve taken the time to develop a pretty solid stock email. It shows all the features and details in a well-worded, succinct way,” says Senger.
Set policies and expectations in writing
The Mow Town brochure is not just a marketing tool, it also sets-out clear service expectations. One side of the guidelines brochure pushes their lawn care service – reminding customers of what they do in the summer – but, more importantly, the brochure outlines the company’s snow removal policies.
For example, Mow Town tries to be there within 24 hours of a snowfall, but guarantees it will be there within his 48 hours.
“We lay it all out in the email when we give them the quote for the year and try and get them to buy,” says Senger, adding he makes it clear that they can cater to the odd special request.
Customers want you at their beck and call
“Once they’ve said yes we want to reinforce expectations. Just give us a call if you have questions. We absolutely want to hear from you day or night,” says Senger, adding that it’s important to know where to draw the line.
“We’ve had customers say ‘I don’t want your normal service, I just want to call you when I want you to come out. Can I set that up?’”
That’s where the setting boundaries come in.
“I have to say: ‘I’m sorry, we operate on fixed-price monthly contracts, so as much as I’d like your business, the answer is no,’” Senger says. “When it snows, we are totally dedicated to servicing our customer list as possible. If we take the one-offs, we can’t do that.”
Senger says Mow Town’s crews worked a lot of 19 hour days because they catered to a lot of special requests and now he knows he shouldn’t have done that. “We just can’t do call-outs on a regular basis. So, saying ‘no’ to the wrong kind of business makes it easier because then everyone has the same expectations,” he says.
Chris Senger, Mow Town Edmonton
Saying 'no' to the wrong kind of business makes it easier because then everyone has the same expectation.
Service agreements lay out the terms
Justin Pitre of Just In Time Yard Services in Noeville, Ontario also says setting ground rules will solve problems down the road.
Many of his monthly paid snow removal contracts are with school boards and municipalities, which will often have service requirements for snow removal clearly outlined in their contacts.
For other clients, he insists on a site survey before the season begins and asks client where to put the snow. “I usually tell them that once four inches of snow is on the ground, I’ll be out within 24 hours,” he says.
Having your customers on the same page as you well in advance of the first snowfall will make sure you don’t get buried under unreasonable expectations.
If you have tips or experiences about setting expectations when the snow hits hard, let us know in the comments below.
Run a snow removal business?
Try Jobber For Free
A simple solution to schedule your jobs and manage your invoicing