Growing your snowplowing business to the next level often depends on how much equipment and manpower you can muster to deal with the increased business. Additional equipment requires a substantial capital investment, but you can reduce those costs by using outside service providers to supply both the manpower and equipment to serve your customers during peak times. If you aren’t familiar with securing and organizing outside help to grow your snowplowing operation, here are some suggestions and guidelines to assist you.
Advertising in the classified section of the local paper is the most common way to attract plowing service providers. This can be as simple as “Snowplowers with vehicle needed. Routes throughout (your market) area. Call 555-1234 for information.” Using online sites like Craigslist is another option, and you can increase the wording since these are often free services.
Once you’ve decided to place an ad, be ready to address any concerns or questions a service provider might have. Here are a few examples:
- How will I get paid?
- What are your payment terms?
- How will I be told when to plow?
- Where will I be plowing?
Put together an information packet that can be mailed to potential candidates to avoid any misconceptions later in the winter. The packet should include your policy on insurance, a formal service provider agreement that lays out their responsibilities as well as yours, the pay rate or pay scale, and an explanation of your company’s policy on dealing with outside contractors.
Referral programs are another good method for expanding your pool of candidates. If you pay a referral fee to existing service providers, they’ll have more incentive to recruit others. One suggestion is to pay $200 to any contractor who refers another to work with you. The new service provider would have to stay on for the entire season, of course, but you could pay a portion of the referral fee in the middle of winter and the balance at the end.
Even though you’ll find that the majority of service providers are trustworthy, be ready for the pitfalls of hiring independent contractors. A few will invariably fail to show up when called, citing sickness, hangovers or a broken down truck. On the plus side, though, independent service providers by necessity often take better care of their equipment than many employees will take care of yours.
Just be sure, at the end of the day, to have independent service providers submit a report of their hours worked. Or, better yet, use technology that automatically records the work completed, along with GPS data to substantiate it. Otherwise you’ll end up arguing about the particulars of a snow event no one even remembers.
So if you’re looking to take your snowplow operation to the next level, consider using independent service providers to keep your capital investment costs down.