How To Bid Snow Removal: Pricing Formula & Guide

January 12, 2022
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There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration when bidding on snow removal jobs. For example, snow removal contractors need to consider overhead costs, the depth and area of the snow, amount of time the job will take, location of the snow, effort involved, and which devices are necessary for the job -- just to name a few. This can quickly get overwhelming and makes it difficult to know just how much to charge. 

Luckily, we're here to help! Using these straightforward tips, you’ll be able to break it all down into a simple pricing formula we’ve provided. Then, using our convenient estimate software, you can determine snow removal prices and bid jobs in seconds. This will make the bid process fast and easy for both you and your customer.

 

What Is Snow Removal?

While often used interchangeably, even by the companies doing the work themselves, snow removal and snow plowing are actually two entirely different processes. 

Snow Plowing Services

snow removal

If you’re simply doing cut and dry snow plows, you’ll be taking a snow plow attachment and essentially pushing the snow from one end of the driveway to another, plowing it out of the way so whoever is inside can get out and go where they need to go, usually leaving it in snow piles.  These piles will inevitably become snow banks which will, at one point or another, require snow removal services like snow blowing, snow shoveling, and snow melting (salting).

Snow Removal Services

Snow removal services, on the other hand, involve getting rid of all of the snow entirely -- including snow that has previously been plowed and may be piling up on a curb, the end of a driveway, or anywhere else. This could involve much heavier, specific equipment such as dump trucks, front-end loaders, and more, to get the job done and haul it off the property and out of the way.

 

Snow Blowing Services 

When it comes to dealing with snow in a driveway, walkway, or another small and delicate area, snow blowers are the easiest and quickest way to remove snow. This is especially true if the snow is powdered, making it easy for the snow blower to pick up the snow and redistribute it. On average, a snow removal pro can charge about  $40-80 dollars for one visit involving snow blowing a typical residential driveway (between one and three cars long) and sidewalks that don’t involve melting ice or shoveling any packed snow that’s already melted and refrozen underneath the top layer. However, this amount may vary depending on your area, the competitive prices of other snow removal companies, and the equipment necessary. Depending on the area in question, you may want to use a single-stage snow blower or a two-stage snow blower, powered either by gas or by electricity. 

Ice Removal Services

One key component to snow removal business’ services that is often overlooked is de-icing. To prevent slips, falls, and a myriad of other tragic accidents, an area must be de-iced and then serviced to proactively stop refreezing. While it’s often said that using rock salt is the best way to melt snow and prevent ice and snow from metastasizing to an area, some prefer their own homemade concoctions of hot water, dish soap rubbing alcohol. For larger areas, it’s advised to use the tried and true method of salting, where a tailgate salt spreader will be necessary. Not every snow removal company offers salting as a service, meaning you can charge your customers more if you provide it.

 

How To Bid Snow Removal Services

Before placing a bid for snow removal, it’s important to factor in everything necessary from your end, from how competitive your market and area are and their snow plow rates to what the base cost would be to ensure you make a profit from the jobs.

Be sure to calculate your minimum snow removal rates by asking yourself: what would your overhead be? Wages (per worker), drive time, fuel, and insurance are all base necessities required for every job. It helps to calculate a job based on how long it would take one (1) person to clear snow, that way you could multiply exponentially depending on how many people you plan to send to the job site, making it easier on you in the end.

After that, it’s easy to figure out a good, competitive price that includes a profit margin for you -- whatever margin you’d like!

 

How Much To Charge For Snow Removal

When it comes to deciding how much to charge for snow removal, the decision about which pricing method is best lies on your shoulders alone. A snow removal contractor could charge by the square foot, per hour, inch, per push, per visit, or even provide seasonal contracts! Each option has pros and cons that you’ll want to consider to see what’s right for you and your company.

Snow Removal Rates Per Square Foot

If you choose to charge by the square foot, remember to take into consideration the type of terrain and how difficult it would be to maneuver around in. You should also note any obstacles in your way that might make the job more difficult. The cost per square foot will actually make your total decrease the larger the lot is, so consider this option for pricing for snow removal carefully!

Hourly Rate For Snow Plowing

If you choose to charge per hour, you can either charge per inch of snowfall that you’re meant to clear, or per push required by your plow. Your equipment will vary depending on the location of the snow, whether it’s residential or commercial, and how sensitive the area is -- some areas might require adding snow blowing at the end of a plow if the plow can’t fit.

Per Inch

Charging snow removal services per inch is based on how much snow has fallen, not the inches of the driveway or area. It may seem like the difference between two inches of snow and six inches of snow isn’t that much, but in all actuality, it’s a staggering difference for you, the person behind the plow. 

It’s much easier to clear an area after a smaller depth of snow accumulates because the snow has yet to have a chance to ice over and become difficult to deal with. If you’re called into an area that hasn’t been cleared in days after heavy snowfall (most likely by the owner trying to save money), you may end up charging even more because of the extra equipment required to do a full clear. This could make snow removal much more difficult for you.

Per Push

Charging per push is essentially exactly how it sounds, charging per amount of times your snowplow pushes snow out of the way for pedestrians and cars. For most companies “per push” is a one snow event thing -- you’re charging for the number of times you come to clear the area and each time you come in it’s considered a push. Typically, events reset every 24 hours, so a 1-day snow event would count as one event but if that storm lasted three days, it would count as three separate snow events).

How Should A Snow Removal Contractor Bill For Plowing?

If you’re in an area with regular snowfall, you may have people coming to you before the season even begins along with those that need services the day of snowfall or week of their call. You can charge per event (per visit), set up an annual contract, and even provide a full-service plow that includes pre-treatment before the season begins. It’s best to offer every type of service you can to obtain as much new business as possible. In the end, it could make the workload less for you while still being a value to your customers!

Per Event/Per Visit

Charging per event (per visit) means you have one flat rate for your customer no matter how many times you push during the visit. If you’re in an area with constant, low-inch snowfall, this could be an incredibly lucrative way for you to charge for your services. Similarly, if you’re in an area with heavy snowfall, event-based pricing could end up being back-breaking work with a small profit margin. It would be wise to consider the weather in your area before estimating the per visit prices of any snow removal project.

Seasonal Contract

A seasonal snow removal contract is a nice, pre-paid way for snow removal companies to make sure they have customers come snow season. A lot of consumers don’t like having to worry about setting up their snow removal services and micromanaging them, so they’ll request a contract that could be paid out in months, could last years, or however long you see fit. You’re guaranteed income when the snow months arrive, which is a very valuable pro to most companies. The downside is that you’ve already set your price regardless of snowfall, so if the snow is unreasonably deep, you’ve already locked yourself into that price point and you can’t adjust your rates based on the weather.  Be sure to adjust your rates for all snow removal services yearly for inflation in your area.

What Should A Snow Removal Contract Include?

While the final details of the snow removal contract are entirely up to you, you should consider including the following to cover all your bases:

  • The fixed date range of when services will start and end, so there's no confusion on your part or the part of the consumer. Is it an annual snow removal contract, or seasonal? How are you defining a season? This seems like a no-brainer, but often enough both companies and customers will assume different dates if they aren't specifically included, especially in a seasonal contract. 
  • Information on how to end the contract if either you or the customer is unsatisfied with or otherwise no longer requires the services. 
  • Cost of the service you'll provide. Whether it's the entire contract length, per month, per week, per snowfall, or per inch is entirely up to you.
  • Where the service will take place on the property, i.e. the driveway, the walkways, and so forth depending on the area in question. Again, you and the consumer might have different ideas of what the 'obvious' areas would be, so be sure to include all of them.
  • When the service will take place on the property. Not just the date, but the time of day. You'll also want to specify if you'll arrive during or after a snowfall, or based on inches on the ground. You don't want to receive an inordinate amount of calls once the snow starts falling from customers wondering where you are, and when you'll get there.
  • Additional charges that they might incur during the season. This could be excessive snowfall that goes beyond the pale of the regular, expected snowfall. If you are charging more to de-ice, this is the perfect place to include your stance on that. It could also be where you'd like to include any damages that your company will not cover based on your insurance.
  • Your policy on unused snow removal visits and what counts as an event. 

 

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Full Service

If a property is highly traveled no matter the weather conditions, the customer will likely be interested in a full-service package. This means you’ll offer them treatment before, during, and after a snowfall, to make sure they’re always clear of snow so that their pavements and walkways are travelable regardless of what’s going on in the world. It also makes snow removal much easier on you when an area is pre-treated and ready for snow removal. Whether you want to offer ice-melting products, pre-treatments before snowstorms, or more is all dependent on you and the area. Each area should have a plan tailored specifically to their needs, and will most likely be commercial properties, along with schools, hospitals, and other areas facing an emergency. 

 

Snow Removal Software

snow removal software

While this may feel daunting to keep track of at first, FieldPulse has you covered! Our snow removal software is an absolute must-have for managing a snow removal business, whether you're new to the game and want to stay organized and in control of your business, or if you're already a seasoned snow removal professional that just wants to keep it simple and easy for yourself by improving efficiency and revenue. Why spend time and resources on complicated, hard to keep track of admin office work when you could streamline and automate time-consuming tasks?

FieldPulse is an all-in-one tool that has all the tools you need to run your business: invoicing and estimates, billing, scheduling and dispatch, contract and signatures, you name it. Our app works seamlessly across iOS, Android, and web. It's user-friendly, simple to navigate and easy for anyone to jump in and start using without a lot of training.

Employees are notified automatically of new jobs and you can instantly route jobs to minimize travel time and fuel expenses, plus take on more daily visits, maximizing your profit.

 

FieldPulse includes all the tools used by pros to up their sales game, like good, better, best pricing options, contracts and e-signatures, digital payments, automatically calculated prices based on square footage or job duration, store prices, and bundled products and services to price jobs in an instant. If that wasn't enough, it integrates with Quickbooks as well as having accounting features built directly into the app, including job costing and profit analysis so you know exactly what you’re making from each job and which jobs are your true profit centers.

Ready to get started? Jump in and explore the app with a Free 7-Day Trial.

 

How To Price Snow Removal Jobs

Snow and ice removal costs will greatly depend on the area you’re removing snow from, as well as some key questions. Is it commercial or residential snow removal?  What is the competitive cost of snow removal in your area? Are you a good salesperson, charming enough to pull off a higher rate in tandem with your services? What equipment will you need to complete the job?

 

How To Price Commercial Snow Removal

pricing snow removal

All commercial areas are different, keep that in mind when coming up with the snow removal cost for your commercial services. Account for whether or not there’s a parking lot, whether there will be cars parked during the snow removal itself, whether the snow has to be plowed or pushed and lifted, among other factors like the equipment necessary for the job. It’s also important to note whether or not the area that will need snow removal is an emergency assistance area or not, as hospitals and other properties will need their commercial snow removal services immediately upon request, or snowfall.

Additionally, commercial businesses will typically want a multi-year or annual snow removal contract from snow removal contractors, and jobs may involve larger crews and snow removal equipment like utility vehicle plow instead of simple snow shoveling or using a snow blower.

 

Commercial Snow Removal Prices

When deciding snow removal costs, keep in mind competitive snow removal pricing for your area. Here are some starter prices to consider for your commercial snow removal services. To calculate an annual snow removal contract, you’ll want to multiply the snow removal cost by the approximate number of expected events.

 

Plowing commercial parking lots

$50-150 per hour

Further snow removal in commercial parking lots

$90-160 per hour

20,000 sq. ft. with minimum obstacles

$450 per snowfall

50,000 sq. ft. with obstacles and challenging terrain

$900 per snowfall

 

Plow Pricing

When you’re thinking of snow removal, we’re willing to bet that the first service that came to your mind was snow plowing. It’s the bread and butter of the snow removal contractors, not to mention the easiest and quickest way for you to make a profit. If timed properly, you could plow upwards of 25 to 35 residential driveways in a 24 hour period at $30-$75 each. The location of the snow will determine whether a traditional snow plow or a Bobcat will be necessary for the job, and whether or not you’ll need to use a snow blower to finish it off.

 

How Much To Charge For Snow Plowing Commercial Parking Lots

Depending on exactly what’s done to remove snow in a commercial parking lot, snow removal contractors could charge anywhere between $50 to $160 per hour for snow removal services. Be sure to factor in the location (of your business as well as the location of the commercial parking lot), the size of the parking lot, and whether cars will be in the parking lot or if the lot will be empty at the time of snow removal. Add any additional fees you’ll want to charge for snow removal depending on whether the customer wants rock salt or sanding to occur before or after snow removal, and be sure to consider what they're asking for: they might be asking for the parking lot to be plowed, but actually want snow removal in its entirety, not knowing the difference in their request.

 

How To Price Residential Snow Removal

residential snow removal

Most homeowners, despite knowing winter is coming every year, prefer to leave the hassle of snow removal to a professional contractor. It’s important, however, to keep in mind that the cost of renting snow shovels or snow blowers daily is typically around the same amount you would charge for your services per visit and that as important as your snow removal service is if you charge too much to remove snow they always have the option of backing out and trying it on their own. Make your prices fair for the market and be sure to sell them as best you can. Use your knowledge and charisma and try to remind your customers that using your snow removal service rather than attempting to remove snow on their own is not only a relief on their minds but their bodies as well. To most, it’s back-breaking work!

Residential Snow Removal Pricing

When deciding how much to charge for snow removal, remember to consider the property size, equipment necessary, and the base cost for yourself before you can make a profit. Larger properties will likely require more time and effort, as well as having the possibility of more obstacles in your way. Be sure to compare your prices with any other snow removal company in your area to know that they’re competitive and reasonable, and check out our estimated charging table below.

Snow shoveling a typical driveway and sidewalk

$30-70 per visit

Snow blowing a typical driveway and sidewalk

$40-75 per visit

More complex snow shoveling involving deicing

$55-95 per hour

More complex snow blowing involving deicing

$60-100 per hour

 

How Much To Charge For Snow Plowing Driveways

Snow plowing a residential driveway is one of the easiest and quickest ways to make a profit in the snow removal business. The cost will depend on whether or not it's a gravel driveway or a dirt road (gravel driveways typically require salt), a short driveway or long driveway, the driveway size if you want to charge per hour or visit, and if you need to remove snow entirely after the plowing is complete. You'll also need to consider the condition, slope, and design of driveways, on top of the length. The average price your business will want to charge will likely be between $30 to $75 per visit. Also, keep in mind that some homeowners may expect their sidewalk to be included in this price.

How Much To Charge For Sidewalk Snow Removal

While most snow removal service pros include sidewalks and pathways in their flat rate or hourly rates, it's perfectly acceptable to consider removing snow from these areas an additional task with an additional cost. Be sure to clarify with your customer whether or not they want sidewalk snow removal with their services, as many public sidewalks need to be cleared of snow within a certain specific time frame after a snowfall or during the day, otherwise there will be a fine. Due to this potential fine, contractors can charge more competitive prices because customers won't have time to shop around, and will be eager to remove the snow before a fine is imposed upon them, potentially costing them more in the long run. No one wants to shovel snow at the last minute! Removing snow from a sidewalk could involve snow shoveling or snow blowing, depending on the area, the inches, and whether the snow is powdered or needs to be deiced underneath. 

 

How Much To Charge For Roof Snow Removal

While roof snow removal isn't one of the first things that come to mind when you think of snow removal, it's a necessity when snowfall is heavy or goes on for a prolonged period of time. Trusted snow removal companies will tell you that letting your roof collect more than six inches risks serious damage to your home and that you'll want to remove snow before any more than that accumulates. The average roof snow removal cost will range anywhere between $200 to $500 per visit for standard roofs, or $1,000 to $2,000 per visit for a large or steep roof, especially if roof access is difficult. You can also charge for roof snow removal by the hour, between $50 and $100 depending on the size and the amount of snow, as well as whether or not ice needs to be removed. Keep in mind when calculating your cost whether you'll need a standard roof rake, roof rake extensions, or any other necessary equipment.

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Snow Removal Pricing Formula

When using a formula to calculate your price for snow removal, remember to keep in mind the average cost of snow removal in your area based on how much other professional snow removal companies are charging. You'll want to use your formula to figure out your base price for the cost of services, then add your markup as you see fit.

Your rate can either be by the square foot, per hour, per inch of snow, or per push. For example, say your rate is 40 dollars an hour, and you'll have to account for the labor costs of two workers working on the area for two hours. 

Your rate x number of workers x number of hours = your cost of snow removal service.

40 x 2 x 2 = 160, your base cost of service.

You'll then want to add your mark up to the formula to be sure you make a profit. Not sure about the average cost of markups? We have you covered with everything you need to know about markups. Markups account for your overhead, like expenses to market your business and the cost of having employees beyond labor costs, as well as account for how much profit you want to make off a job.

 

Other Services Snow Removal Companies Can Offer To Upsell

If you have the equipment you can always offer extra services at an additional cost to your customers, especially if you plan on working year-round and not just when snowfall occurs. Whether you want to offer special pre-season snow removal prices for prepayment, special prices for visiting a single property multiple times, or offer lawn care or gutter cleaning services, there's always money to be made.

Keep in mind that homeowners associations in certain neighborhoods like to include the price of snow plowing, snow blowing, and other services in their flat rate, and marketing to them means contractors can acquire a large customer base in one fell swoop. (Alternatively, you can use our complete marketing guide for referral marketing tips to win over more business in one neighborhood.)

Lawn Care Services

Many lawn care companies dabble in snow removal on the off seasons to keep business afloat and stay busy in the interim until the snow season begins. You can offer basic services like lawn mowing at an average cost of $25 to $150 per week depending on your area since the national average cost runs roughly at $45. Set your price based on the size and difficulty of the yard (if there are any obstacles to consider), how often they want their lawn mowed, and whether they want to hire you for clean up, maintenance, or any other services included in the lawn care.

Gutter Cleaning

Gutter cleaning is another additional service that can be an easy way to stay busy and make a profit during any season when snow isn't a factor. Most professional full-service contractors charge by the linear foot for their services, with an increase in cost if the home has multiple stories. Depending on your area, consider charging $0.40 (low end) to $0.80 (standard national average cost) per linear foot for single-story homes, and upwards of $2.00 per foot for multiple stories. Make sure to clarify whether or not the customer is looking to have only their gutters cleaned or if they expect to have their downspout included, which could net contractors anywhere between $50 to $100 dollars per spout.

 

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Free Snow Removal Estimate Templates

Now that you know your pricing and billing structure, you’re ready to pull it all together into an estimate for your customers. An estimate gives both inexperienced and seasoned customers a simple ballpark estimate of how much much your service will cost before the price is finalized into an invoice. Not sure how to structure your estimate? Use our invoicing guide for a detailed run-down of what to include. 

We’ve also included a package of free snow removal estimate templates you can use to structure your estimates. Simply download our estimates using the link below, then adjust as needed in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. 

Want to speed up estimates and get paid faster? Try FieldPulse’s complete snow business management software free for 7 days. Bid jobs, invoice customers, schedule jobs, take payments, automate follow-ups, and more all from one easy-to-use app.

 

 

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