How to Start a Winter Maintenance Business for Quick Cash

by Bill on December 18, 2013


This is an idea I came up with a few years ago while trying to figure out a way to pay rent. I had a basic job, but it wasn’t bringing the cash fast enough. So, I tried something different.

In 2003, I had an apartment in the middle of the old business district of the town I lived in; as opposed to the three mile long stretch of chain stores along another road farther west. I had already made an agreement with my landlord to take on the building manager slot for reduced rent; that’s another story I’ll get into someday. But that job is what started me thinking about this idea.

I was already shoveling snow off the sidewalks around the building I lived in. Since I went out early to do this (so I could get to work later) I noticed other sidewalks didn’t get shoveled out until much later. This got me to wondering about seeing if other shop owners nearby would want their sidewalks taken care of. And of course, it was a good idea that got me a few extra bucks.

Here’s how I did it.

I made up a sign up sheet. Use a simple form with the name and address of the business along with a place for the owner to sign. Then I went from store to store; yes this takes work getting customers. If you’re already working in a retail environment this shouldn’t be a problem. But this idea does take effort to get off the ground.

Don’t expect major money from the start. Take this as a building stone; as a baby step to getting to bigger and better work later on. Trust me it works. Start out at something reasonable, like a dollar per foot along the width of the shop face. Estimate the number by walking it. You can make about $10 per shop, which makes about $10 per hour doing this. Aim high, but don’t expect massive results either. Number the sheet down to around twenty, but be happy if you get half that many. Remember, it’s a start, not a race.

The next thing to do is to reinvest the money. Always reinvest the money, or at least half of it. In this case you start out with a cheap shovel. Keep sign up forms available. Ask the businesses if they would let you place a form at their store. Seriously, this is how I got more clients. A flower shop, a ceramic store, and a restaurant became my best places to get new people.

Aim for the older people. No, that doesn’t sound as bad as you think. There are lots of older people who just can’t handle the maintenance like they used to, and considering professional companies charge way more than $10 per hour, you can get going fast in this area. If you get one or two older persons, usually you will find a lot more coming along behind them via word of mouth if you do good work. Church members and senior centers are great for this. Again, not a joke; ended up with fifteen people by the end of my first year.

Keep yourself on top of the weather; be ready to get up should there be overnight snowfall. Your customers will be wanting things taken care of early if possible; especially if they are a business. Wear warm clothing and definitely get a good pair of boots.

If you do well during the winter season you can often find deals on used snow blowers for the next year. I found an old White 20 hp for $50 and it lasted another couple of years afterwards.

After winter is over you want to target your customers again for spring clean up and lawn mowing. That will be the next post.

William Swan, writer

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{ 1 comment }

Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter December 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm

You’re smart for picking up all of these side trades and making extra cash My brother used to shovel our neighbors driveways; sometimes our neighbors would hand him a $5, but he mostly did it as a favor. Especially for the elderly neighbors.
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