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How to Set Up Your Snow Operations for Success this Season: Part 3 of 3

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Business Advice

Top snow contractors are ready for the first snowflake long before the first frost. In this three-part series, we’re breaking down how the ‘snow pros’ set up their snow operations for success, regardless of what Old Man Winter throws their way. In Part 1, we provided key budgeting guidelines for snow management. In Part 2, we dug into unbillable time and in Part 3, we’re talking about how to sell snow and ice contracts this year.

Secure Last Season’s Snow Contracts

It’s time to get down to business. And that starts by ensuring you’ll actually have a booming one in a couple of months. Starting in the summer and continuing into early Fall, your sales team should be re-signing and/or renegotiating commercial and residential contracts.

It’s far easier and more profitable to sell existing customers. In fact, the success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% compared to just 5-20% for a new customer (source: ClickZ). Furthermore, increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits from 25-95% (source: Huify).

A contract renewal notice should never be the first time a customer hears from you since the last snowfall. Ensure you’re keeping in touch with customers all year long.

Send out a monthly newsletter highlighting winter weather predictions, company news (like key hires and new equipment), profiles on your customers and winter safety tips. Include links to your social media channels.

Stay active on Facebook, Instagram and/or YouTube. Research which social media channels your customers follow and decide on the type of content they would find valuable and entertaining. With so many competing priorities, it’s easy to let social media promotion slide.

Assign the task to a qualified employee or outsource the task to an agency. Regardless, ensure you schedule your posts at least a week in advance (preferably a couple of months) so your social media coordinator knows exactly what they’re posting on a daily basis and you know how it will support your marketing plan.

Consistency in communication – year-round, is key in order to stay top-of-mind with existing customers and secure that lucrative repeat business. And snow plowing software that features a built-in customer relationship management tool will ensure you know where your customers (and leads!) are in the sales cycle.

Generate New Snow Business

No matter how consistently you’ve been keeping in touch with last year’s customers, you’re still likely to lose a few to a persistent competitor with a low-ball quote. Whether you simply want to hit last year’s numbers or expand your business, you need to get strategic about new sales.

Define your market segment: As tempting as it is to take every bit of work that comes your way, it can seriously affect your bottom line. Each customer type has different requirements, from staffing to equipment. By staying focused on a segment, e.g., residential, commercial or industrial, you’ll increase efficiency and revenue.

Diversify contract types: If winter packs a punch and 90% of your contracts are per push, you’ll be laughing your way to the bank. But what happens if there’s one or two small storms and that’s it? You need to be sure you’re covered regardless of snow fall with a mix of contract types:

  1. Per Event or Per Inch
  2. Seasonal or Monthly: Base price for a select period of time.
  3. All Inclusive: Typically includes caps, threshold and other restrictions.
  4. Time & Materials: Many customers favor being charged for the work that’s been done.

Use YOUR preferred contract types (or ideal mix) as a criteria when screening leads. Saying ‘no’ to a potential customer because they don’t match your desired contract type can actually be in your best interest as you’ll make room for that perfect match while minimizing your risk in a risky business.

Think Location, Location, Location!

When you’re taking every job that comes in, you’re missing the most obvious (and most profitable) sales opportunities right next door.

Say you’ve sold a shopping mall parking lot. A few steps away, there’s an office building. With the efficiencies gained through labor and equipment by servicing properties that are adjacent, you could beat any competitor estimate and still make a killer profit on the job. Think about how much easier snow crew scheduling will be.

When it comes to sales and marketing tactics, e.g. cold calling, email marketing and/or social media, focus on proximity to existing sites. Whether you’re dropping off flyers, targeting a Facebook ad to a certain geographic location or offering existing customers a referral bonus for selling neighboring businesses, make sure to ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ when you’re planning your promotions.

Snow will happen but your business shouldn’t be entirely dependent on miserable weather. When you’re strategic about who you’re selling to, what you’re selling and where you focus your efforts, you’re most definitely setting yourself up for success this season. And when you’re using snow management systems like LMN, for key operations functions like snow removal estimating and snow removal time tracking, you’re optimizing your business for success this season and beyond.

Want to ‘own’ Winter this year? Register for the LMN Academy Snow Day on Friday, November 1st from 9am – 4:30pm EST in Toronto. This advanced course is designed for existing LMN users who want success in snow.

Did you miss Parts 1 and 2 of 3? Find out why budgeting is key for success in snow & ice. Click below:

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