For contractors and landscape professionals, success depends on making sure that each product or piece of equipment owned can make consistent revenue. This strategy often works for those who offer plowing services in the winter. But while your business could see a decline in earnings over the cold months, it simply doesn’t have to be that way. You could be putting your nontruck equipment to work year round and letting it pay for itself.
Embracing the Challenge
Let’s face it, winter can be intimidating. The opportunity for work is there, but it requires preparation to overcome the uncertainty. So, as winter pummels the streets with its brutally cold temperatures and harsh conditions, keep in mind that with the right equipment, contractors can meet the unique challenge of being profitable while keeping the public safe and snow free. Regardless of your location, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure your equipment is ready to work.
While plows have traditionally been on trucks as the primary snow control method, increasingly over the last few decades, larger and smaller pieces of equipment have come into their own. Such as pusher plows, these large boxes can move an incredible amount of snow and are now suitable for a range of equipment sizes ranging from small skid-steers to large wheel loaders. They're perfect for clearing snow from large areas like airports and parking lots. Small UTV plows are also useful for smaller areas like sidewalks and pathways. This is especially important as labor costs for sidewalks can be quite expensive.
The Benefits of Double Duty
Having your equipment do double duty is beneficial in two ways. It provides the revenue you need while also maximizing efficiency. For example, a UTV with a plow and drop spreader can do the work of three to four people on a shovel crew in the same amount of time. A 16-foot pusher plow moves the same amount of snow as two 8-foot blades. This simple change can eliminate the need to find multiple drivers while reducing labor costs. Each piece of equipment offers a distinct advantage and together they become a force multiplier for your business, allowing you to do more with the equipment you have.
Preparing your Equipment
In order to make sure your equipment is ready for winter, it's important to make the right adjustments. Just as you would prepare your vehicles for winter, you will want to ensure your equipment is set up for cold temperatures. This includes getting the right tires on your wheel loaders, UTVs, and skid-steers. For track loaders, it's important to have winter tracks to increase traction in snow and ice. You will also want to check that your oil and fluids are set up for the cold winter weather.
The same process applies in reverse when getting your equipment ready for summer, with the change back to standard tracks and tires, and oil that can handle high heat and summer temperatures. It may seem like a lot at first, but minding these details will keep your equipment at peak performance from season to season.
For contractors further south toward the snow and ice line do not be afraid of winter! Inclement weather can open new doors for your business. Recently, we've seen places like Atlanta and Dallas get hit hard by winter storms, and when all seemed like chaos, people were looking for workers ready to help with the right equipment.
Think of it this way: Snow removal is a lot like emergency services, and people will pay more to have it done quickly and safely. It’s that serious. Contractors are working the front lines in this manner. By being prepared, they have a unique role that can make a profit while helping to keep people safe and working during the winter.
If you want to give it a shot, I encourage you to do the extra work up front so that you’ll be ready, come what may. For those in the northern half of the country, it’s about strengthening what you have to be as efficient as possible. And if you’re in the warmer parts of the country, be smart with your investment. Look at the equipment you have and ask, “how can I profitably use this for winter conditions?” Once you decide, get things ready to go and be prepared. When the storms hit and everyone else is freaking out just remember it’s not the end of the world instead it’s an opportunity for growth.