One question that comes up often among plowing contractors is “How do I get new customers when I’m competing against cutthroat one-truck operators who give away their time?”
Maybe that’s the wrong attitude. Maybe as a contractor providing a service, you are in the position to interview the customers you want instead of quoting work “hit or miss.” Target marketing is a key to success in any business. Why should it be any different for snowplowing?
If you service a shopping plaza during the winter, it’s in your best interest to have additional clients near that location. So pay attention to what’s happening across the street – if the lot isn’t plowed on time, or if it’s plowed poorly, make a mental note of it. In the spring, send a letter to the management of the other site, and request a meeting to discuss their plowing. Do it when the problems of the past winter are still fresh in their minds. You might not secure the business that spring, but by staying in touch with potential customers you could get another chance when they renew plowing contracts for the next season.
When looking for new business, consider targeting potential customers in the vicinity of your satisfied ones. Ask for a letter of recommendation that you can use to pull in more clients. If you charge “per push,” getting new customers in the same area will cut down on travel time between jobs. If you charge “per truck,” with a minimum travel time charge between customers, you’ll increase revenue per truck if you lower the travel time. It just makes good sense to cluster your accounts strategically – it provides higher margins and lower travel times between sites.
Also, avoid customers with gravel lots unless you can charge for the increased time it takes to plow them. Otherwise, you might have to include a disclaimer charging the customer for redistribution of gravel in the spring.
The next time you ask yourself how to pull in more customers, start by targeting the ones you want in the areas you want them.