Business Smarts: Becoming a Snow Removal Subcontractor - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Becoming a Snow Removal Subcontractor

If you want to break into the snow removal sector and don’t have the customer base to support the division yet, becoming a subcontractor can be a helpful solution.

“I tell guys that don’t have experience if you can find a good contractor in your marketplace and become a subcontractor for them, that’s not only an easy way to learn, but now I don’t have to sell the work,” says Mike Rorie, CEO of GIS Dynamics and board member of GroundSystems, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. “I’m only billing my one customer, the contractor I’m working for. I’ve only got to manage and deliver the work with my guys. I don’t have the phone ringing. I don’t have outside demand, and they tell me when to go and what to do.”

Benefits of Subcontracting

Serving as a snow removal subcontractor can allow you to bring in extra revenue over the winter months without the significant level of investment required to launch a whole new division. It also can serve as a way to gain further experience before branching out entirely on your own and managing the customer service side of snow management.

Another benefit of subcontracting is that many companies are looking for partners, so you’re more likely to be able to negotiate favorable terms for your services.

Tips for Success

If you want to be someone’s go-to subcontractor, you need to inform companies that you are available to help well in advance. Don’t wait until the snow is falling to start asking around for extra work.

One way to connect with companies is cold calling the local snow and ice providers in your area. Often the initiative indicates your level of enthusiasm for the work. Another option is letting snow equipment dealers and your peers know you’re looking to subcontract to help connect you with the right people.

When you think about your ideal subcontractor to work with, traits that probably come to mind include being reliable, professional, available and honest. Naturally, these are the qualities you should be demonstrating to the snow and ice management companies you are looking to work with. Other landscape companies that hire snow subcontractors are often looking for proactive businesses that communicate well.

If you want to be taken seriously, you must come prepared with the necessary equipment and qualifications to get the job done. As a landscaper, you already have the trucks, loaders, and crews needed, but you’re more likely to get hired if you have the necessary salt spreaders and plows as well as relevant credentials. Companies like Schill Grounds Management require their snow subcontractors to have the same level of insurance as they do.

When reviewing the employment contract, ensure you’re on the same page about the job description, chain of command and payment timing. Failing to perform the agreed-upon work can lead to dismissal and lost revenue. Ask follow-up questions about their preferred snow and ice removal procedures so your work is up to their standards.

Being flexible and willing to do whatever jobs come your way can mean a lot to landscape companies. They are far more impressed with and willing to pay top dollar for subcontractors who go above and beyond. Working with them as if you are part of their team helps with overall satisfaction for both parties.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.