There is one part of the snow and ice removal industry that often falls through the cracks—literally. Salt and sand spreading are a great addition to every snow removal company's arsenal. Here's what do you need to know before taking on the extra task.
Companies like Yardworx, a landscaping company by summer and a snow and ice management company come winter, have taken its snow and ice removal services to the next level with salt spreading. Beginning as a small part-time venture with just two employees in 2017, Yardworx now employs 35 professionals.
"I quickly realized the revenue potential, teamwork aspect and, frankly, the adrenaline rush snow removal has," says Yardworx owner Luke Benson. "Salt spreading was a service we offered since day one as we wanted to be a 'one-stop shop' to our clients. We knew we needed to offer de-icing to meet our internal quality standards."
Yardworx prioritizes finding the right equipment, second only to hiring the best employees. In an effort to boost efficiency, Benson upgraded Yardworx's internal processes by investing in technology. It was Hilltip's HTrack system that checked every box for Benson.
"I learned how Hilltip spreaders equipped with HTrack could be controlled from a web application and that got me hooked," Benson says.
In addition to remote access and geofencing capabilities, the system provides accurate de-icer applications, which saves the company money by not using excess material.
Yardworx isn't the only company that saw the potential in de-icing. Jay's Snow Plowing also offers spreading services, but it relies more on sand rather than salt because most of the roads and driveways in the service area are gravel.
"Salt spreading is something we’ve offered for only the last season," says Jay Quenneville, owner of Jay's Snow Plowing. "Having the ability to do sanding or salt application has allowed us to get larger contracts that require that ability for safety concerns."
Down to Business
Quenneville had dreams of becoming a business owner since before beginning Jay's Snow Plowing. However, his snow plowing efforts didn't start out as a business venture.
"Being a military member, I started performing free snow plowing for deployed soldier’s families with a plow truck I had purchased to initially just plow my own driveway," Quenneville says. Today, Jay's Snow Plowing sticks to its roots by doing volunteer work through Project EverGreen's SnowCare for Troops program in addition to regular business.
Word-of-mouth marketing and spreading awareness on social media helped his business boom, but Quenneville was originally in the dark on business management protocol.
"For the business side of things, doing research and asking questions to other business owners has helped tremendously," he says.
Quenneville found his niche in the snow and ice removal industry by prioritizing families of deployed troop members. From there, he was able to create a business plan around his research and business objectives.
"Have a business plan for your own benefit and update the plan as your business changes or grows," he says. "This will help you stay focused on your goals and the direction you plan to take your business."
As most snow pros can tell you, the best way to truly understand the snow removal business is to get started. Quenneville's introduction to business know-how was no different.
"Starting a snow plowing business has given me so much experience on things like performing business tax filing, insurance requirements, payroll and invoices," he says. "Regardless if snow plowing and ice management stays the primary focus of my future business, it has helped me feel confident I’ll know how to move forward."
A-Team Snow Team
However, no company is complete without great workers.
"I was lucky enough to find a very reliable solid right-hand guy who was instrumental in the first years," says Benson. "We have new reliable equipment and well-trained staff who are experienced in snow removal. Our management team has more than 100 years of combined snow and ice experience."
Even with the most experienced staff, safety can never be overlooked.
Quenneville sits down with every employee he hires and explains the company expectations for safety.
"Before they go out on their own, I go with them and demonstrate how they need to perform, and then I let them plow while I ride," Quenneville says. "For newer plow operators, we have practice roads and driveways to learn and practice on."
Yardworx also takes its safety measures in stride.
"We provide our team with appropriate apparel for their job. We require reflective clothing for our equipment operators and sidewalk team," says Benson. "We outfit our equipment with warning lights and have a strict maintenance program. All equipment gets inspected between events to ensure safe and efficient operations."
Hilltip's HTrack system has also been helpful in safety protocol for Yardworx. "We have been able to pull reports with maps and time stamps to provide to insurance companies for slip-and-fall incidents, which has been very helpful in protecting Yardworx and our clients," Benson says.
When it comes to making its mark on the industry, Yardworx holds itself to a high standard.
"We strive to bring the best team and tools to our clients," Benson says. "Most importantly, find a mentor and read as much as you can to educate yourself on industry best practices and standards."
Jay's Snow Plowing also puts an emphasis on quality and employee incentives to stand out in the snow removal field.
"We’ve based our business plan on the quality of our work above all else," Quenneville says. "For starters, hand shoveling in front of the garage and around the mailbox comes with every plow. Second, we take pictures of our work and include them in the invoice. For our employees, we pay a commission of what the customer pays the business which allows us to calculate how much an employee makes per hour based on his performance for that storm. We’ve found this inspires them to always try to do better, making them more money and better overall profits for the business."
With all this in mind, how are you taking your snow removal company pro?