By Kevin Forestell
Equipment challenges are often the biggest hurdle contractors have to overcome to profit from snow removal, whether they’re shifting business operations from their main source of work or reopening their doors after summer and building up temporary fleets with rentals.
Businesses in either case may find it easier to fill and manage their equipment needs using online networks for peer-to-peer (P2P) equipment sharing. These networks allow contractors to use the internet to connect with other contractors and negotiate rental agreements for equipment needed for snow and ice management operations.
There are a few advantages to P2P sharing over traditional rentals that can help snow removal businesses increase their profits through winter, whether by saving on equipment, bidding on more contracts or finding new ways to make money in the cold season.
Gearing up and saving money
Businesses often depend on regional rental companies to get the equipment they need for winter snow removal. That strategy means the equipment available to them is limited by demand and they might need to race competitors to get the last piece powerful enough for snow removal.
Traditional rental yards may not even stock the equipment contractors think is best suited for their work, which means they need to either purchase costly new machinery, rent subpar equipment or miss out on snow removal work altogether.
P2P networks connect geographically distant contractors with one another, meaning the supply of equipment isn’t as affected by regional and seasonal demand. This means contractors looking for tractors, wheel loaders or other machines commonly used for snow removal may have an easier time finding that equipment on a P2P sharing network than they would at a rental yard in their region.
They may find better prices on P2P networks, too. The nature of an online business means P2P network operators don’t have as many overhead costs as traditional rental businesses. They don’t even own the equipment that’s being rented, which also means equipment owners who list their equipment on these networks can set their own prices.
Equipment owners also have less overhead to worry about than rental businesses -they’re just listing their equipment to get it moving and generating revenue. Their prices on P2P networks are typically lower, meaning renters can expand their profit margins by renting the same equipment for less money.
Getting more done
Volume of work is naturally limited by the availability of personnel and equipment. The ability to rent machines at lower costs from faraway businesses may mean snow removal contractors can build out their fleet more effectively and take on more work for the winter. This is especially true if their existing equipment limited their work to smaller jobs. With larger equipment, they can bid confidently for larger and more lucrative snow removal contracts.
For example, a contractor may be able to pay to rent larger, more powerful agricultural tractors with snowplows attached. These larger machines can get each job done more quickly, freeing up time for additional work.
The same benefit of access to more rental equipment works in reverse, too: contractors may be able to increase their capacity for snow removal jobs in tighter spaces by renting compact equipment on P2P networks. They’re still likely to pay less for machines like skid steers or even walk-behind snow blowers. Completing dozens of smaller contracts with each snowfall can be a lucrative tactic.
Going the other way
Some contractors may see P2P sharing as an alternative way to generate winter revenue without venturing into the cold themselves.
Sharing your equipment on P2P networks is simple, and equipment owners retain a lot of control over where their machines are sent and how they’re used. Most importantly, insurance coverage is in place to protect your machines in case anything happens while they’re out on a rental. P2P network operators should help contractors with logistics to deliver equipment and return it to the owner after the rental period.
Contractors with equipment that may sit during the winter can also send their machines south, out of the cold and snow, to regions where weather doesn’t impede construction, agriculture, roadwork and other fair weather business.
Tips for maximizing your rentals
- Be specific about planned work and timeframe
- Be open to using new types of equipment and attachments
- Don’t be intimidated by distance. Search outside your region for better availability
Kevin Forestell is the CEO and co-founder of DOZR, a peer-to-peer heavy equipment sharing network. Before founding DOZR in 2015, Kevin owned Forestell Designed Landscapes, specializing in snow removal during winters in the greater Toronto area in Ontario, Canada. Learn more at www.dozr.com/snowremoval.
- Know the market for your machines to set a competitive price
- Wash equipment and take lots of photographs for potential renters
- Use social media to market your machines and attachments available for rent