Are you ready for some snowfall? Some big, whopper storms sound good to me. Although a few pockets of the country have consistently enjoyed nice seasonal totals for their businesses the last few years, many of us in the Midwest would agree that the past two seasons have been lighter than normal.
A slower season is not as exciting on the P&L, but there is a silver lining to it. With back-to-back years of low-yield winters, fringe providers to the snow removal market often fade away, leaving opportunity for the committed, serious providers to take back market share.
Hopefully you maintained your resolve to continue to grow your business so when the inches show up, the dollar signs will, too.
Examine growth patterns
How do your sales look for the upcoming season? Did you set goals to grow your business this winter? Several slow seasons in a row can be discouraging; however, it’s important to stay focused on the bigger picture and move forward with your efforts to grow your business year-over-year. There are a number of ways to achieve this.
Start by looking at what you have on tap for the season. Understanding where your growth originates is critical to learning how to find more of it, and helps you overcome the vulnerability of retaining your clients in the future.
What does your business look like this year? Can your new accounts be tracked to existing relationships or new relationships? How did these relationships originate?
Build strategic relationships
Geography always poses an issue when you’re trying to grow your snow business. It’s great to pick up new customers in targeted areas where you would like to grow, but the logistics of loading materials, maintaining your vehicles and getting your staff in and out of the property is a big barrier to tackle in the growth conversation.
In all my years in the snow business, I have found that increasing our subcontractor partnerships has been a proven method to solve this problem.
Developing new relationships in strategic areas is critical and necessary. Constantly expanding your subcontractor network in areas where targeted work is available makes a lot of sense.
If you can win a critical mass of work in a targeted area, attracting a quality subcontractor who wants to help you fulfill the work will likely follow. You can then use their facilities to strategically set up material depots around the properties you maintain, allowing you to expand your business without much added infrastructure.
Additionally, improving deliverability for the operation as a whole is often an added benefit of these strategic partnerships, which ultimately translates to a huge competitive advantage as you gain superiority over other competitors in the market.
Let there be snow!
If you have new customers to service this season, the true test will follow when the snow begins to fall. It will quickly become clear if you have the right ratio of capacity to demand to successfully deliver services for each event.
By continually adding more square footage under management each year, you tend to keep your operation sharper and opportunity at your door, rather than allowing the same issues or barriers to reoccur. Seeking out new methods to manage a larger footprint also inherently increases your resources as you succeed in doing so. The more square footage you have, the better off you typically are...as long as your estimates and pricing are accurate.
Good luck this season! I look forward to hearing the end results for everyone when we meet at the 21st Annual Snow & Ice Symposium in Cleveland next June.
Mike Rorie has been a participant in the snow and ice industry for nearly four decades. He is now the owner of GroundSystems, as well as the CEO of GIS Dynamics, parent company to Go iLawn and Go iPave. Contact him at Sales@gisdynamics.com.