How Much to Charge for Snow Removal

June 2, 2023
Time to Read: 
17 minutes

Knowing what to charge to compete in your area for snow removal jobs is a challenge. You have to weigh the competition, price according to your local economy, and cover costs like wages, fuel, equipment, and vehicle maintenance. Figuring out the right way to price jobs to maintain a customer base and maximize your profits is critical.

Snow plowing and shoveling can be a tough yet very rewarding job. But, of course, a pat on the back is not going to be enough to keep your lights on and snow removal service operational. You need to get paid for your hard work. If you’re just getting started in the snow removal business or want to take another look at your pricing model, understanding how much to charge for your snow removal service is a great start.

Services of a snow removal business

Snow removal companies focus most of their services on removing snow in the community. They might clear driveways, walkways, streets, alleyways and more for area business, residential and municipal properties. Using snowplows, shovels, salt, sand and snow blowers, they remove snow safely and keep areas clear of ice and elements that could result in injuries or accidents. 

Common snow removal services include: 

  • Shoveling
  • Ice control and salting
  • Snow plowing
  • Snow blowing
  • Roof snow removal
  • Sanding

Because snow removal is often necessary only during the winter months, many offer additional services like landscaping, holiday light display and decoration installations.

The importance of snow removal

While snow is exciting for many, winter weather conditions can be extremely hazardous. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), 24% of crashes related to weather happen on pavements that are slushy, icy or snowy. Worse, more than 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,000 are injured annually in these conditions. 

Reduced visibility, slower speeds and road obstructions all play major roles in winter weather accidents. Since more than 70% of the nation’s roads are found in snowy areas (those that receive more than five inches of annual snowfall), keeping these areas safe is extremely important.

So, how does snow removal help? It does the following:

  • Reduces the likelihood of slips, falls and vehicle accidents
  • Improves mobility and travel capabilities by maintaining clear pathways and roadways
  • Prevents snow build-up that could turn into ice
  • Avoids damage to buildings, sidewalks and driveways from snow and ice build-up
  • Helps homeowners and businesses stay on top of local or state laws requiring snow removal from walkways and other surfaces

What it takes to run a successful snow removal business

Operating a snow plow business requires completing several initial steps, including meeting local and state licensing and permit requirements. Here are a few things a snow removal service might need to get their start:

  • Snow plow permit: Depending on the snow removal business’s location, some communities require either a snow plow operator’s license or permit to plow snow in the vicinity. This is usually acquired via the city or town clerk’s office.
  • Commercial driver’s license: Some states require snow plow drivers to pass both the written portion and driving portions of the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exam. 
  • Minimum age restriction: For many areas, the minimum age to acquire a CDL is 18 years old, which means this is also the minimum age to operate a snow plow.
  • Background check: A common requirement for snow removal companies is to successfully complete a criminal background check.
  • Vehicle licensing: In order to operate a snow plow in the community, snow removal companies might be required to register and license their commercial vehicle. Licensing might mean agreeing to an annual inspection to ensure ongoing operational safety.
  • Other business and tax needs: Operating a professional snow removal business often requires forming a business entity (ex. LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship), registering the business name and securing a business license or permit and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), sales tax permit and certificate of occupancy.

Benefits of professional snow shoveling and plowing vs. DIY

Professional snow shoveling and removal services bring benefits to the table that often outweigh the perks of DIY snow removals. Here are just a few benefits of professional snow removal:

  • Convenience and peace of mind: Clients can relax knowing their snow plowing and shoveling needs are taken care of every season.
  • Injury prevention: Snow removal companies help clients avoid the risk of injury, which is particularly important for older adults who are more prone to slips and falls and are at greater risk of long-term injuries.
  • Greater effectiveness and efficiency: Snow removal companies typically have higher quality equipment and products, enabling them to remove snow and manage ice faster and more effectively than clients who are doing the work themselves.

Determining how much to charge for snow removal

Whether you’re just getting your snow removal service up and running or you’re looking to make adjustments, it’s important to know how to price your services. You always want to make sure you’re securing a profit while not overcharging your clients. Here’s how to get started:

Look at average prices businesses charge for snow removal

To gauge the price you might charge for your snow removal services, you’ll want to look at average prices. According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of snow removal averages $123 with a range of $50 to $204. A client with a long driveway, several sidewalks or roof cleaning needs might expect to pay $400 or more.

Here are additional costs: 

  • Single plow job: $30 to $50
  • Sidewalk clearing: $25 to $75 per hour
  • Seasonal contracts (in snowy areas): $350 to $450

Keep in mind that these are national snow removal price averages. To make your prices even more accurate, try to align them with average snow removal prices in your area. Consider checking the websites of your competitors in your area to get some ideas. Of course, you don’t want to use their exact pricing models, but researching what your competition is doing helps you determine the price local clients are willing to pay snow removal companies.

Snow removal services, profit margins, time and overhead

Service offerings

Examining the snow removal services you plan to offer is important in determining your prices. Will you focus on snow shoveling, snow blowing, plowing and ice removals? Will you offer landscaping, decorating, tree trimming, gutter cleaning and lawn winterization? Making a comprehensive list of these services makes it easier to price them based on how you plan to offer them (more on that later).

Time commitments

Factor in the amount of time you’ll need to complete your snow removal jobs. While you might have a general idea of the time it takes to clear a residential driveway or plow the streets of a medium-sized apartment complex, you might have to visit the site locations for a better gauge. Taking this step also helps you determine how many workers you’ll need, making it easier to calculate your labor costs.


Before making any pricing calculations, it’s crucial that you go over your operational costs to make sure you’re charging enough to cover them. Overhead costs commonly include worker payroll, gas costs, vehicle maintenance, driving time, snow plow/equipment and attachments costs, building utilities and insurance.

Profit margin

If you want your business to survive and thrive, it’s crucial that you ensure you’re earning a profit each time you complete a snow removal job. This means adding your desired profit margin to your calculations when pricing each snow removal service. Profit margins vary but often range from 20% to 50% over your operational and service costs.

When determining your profit margin, you usually don’t want to go too high or too low. To help you decide a profit margin that is fair to your snow removal business as well as your clients, conduct market research to find out how homeowners, businesses and municipal entities in your area respond to snow removal costs. 

Other removal cost factors to consider 

There’s a lot more to consider when deciding the amount to charge for each snow removal service. For example, some of your services might require more equipment and manpower and merit a higher rate while others qualify as quick and easy one person jobs. Here are some additional factors to think about when pricing your services. 

Will your snow removal service:

  • Haul snow from the property?
  • Work on larger surfaces or long driveways?
  • Clean curvy or steep lots?
  • Work on days when snowfall is heavier?
  • Use additional snow removal equipment or supplies when needed? 
  • Offer additional salting, sanding or de-icing services?

You might add additional fees for these services to account for the extra labor hours, energy and/or time commitment necessary to get the job done.

Snow location

It’s always important to think about the location where snow falls. Some areas are easier to get to and remove snow from than others. If you’re asked to remove snow from hard-to-reach places or areas that present a greater risk (i.e. remote locations or roofs), you might ask for a higher rate.

Geographical location

The geographical location of your snow removal business also matters. If you’re located in a region that experiences a lot of snowfall like Colorado, snow removal companies likely charge a different rate than in areas with less annual snow like Missouri. It’s important to look at average rates in your area to make sure you’re not undervaluing your snow removal services or overcharging your customers.

Snow removal method

The method you choose could also impact the rate you charge for your snow removal services. The most common methods are:

  • Snow plowing: This method requires a snow plow truck and allows you to clear more snow with less effort and in less time.
  • Snow shoveling: This traditional method of snow removal requires you to remove snow using a shovel. Shoveling is more time-consuming and requires more energy but is usually more effective when removing snow in hard-to-reach or narrow areas.
  • Snow blowing: Snow blowers are common for smaller and mid-sized areas and don’t require as much time and energy as shoveling. But keep in mind that snow blowers are more expensive pieces of equipment than shovels when calculating business costs.

Snow totals

If a snow event has resulted in only two inches of snow, you’ll likely charge a different rate than if you're asked to clear 14 inches of snow since you’ll need more equipment and workers to complete the job. Typically, the amount you charge increases with the amount of effort and time you must dedicate to snow and ice removal, so keep this in mind as you set your prices.


Some snow removal services focus on offering affordable options. Others promote high-end specialty services and are more willing to go the extra mile to clear difficult or hard-to-reach spaces, which requires more expensive equipment or larger teams. Whether your reputation leans toward affordability or higher quality, you’ll want to charge in relation to your offerings.


Accounting for your equipment needs is crucial when setting your price. Buying and maintaining snow removal equipment – particularly items that operate on gas – can be quite expensive, but is necessary to fully operate your snow removal service with great success. Compensating for your equipment costs is a must. Common equipment used for snow removal include shovels, snow plows, gas or electric snow blowers and pushers and ice choppers. You might also need special equipment to clear snow from roofs or rental equipment for one-off removal jobs.

Special services

If you trim trees in order to effectively access and clear a roof or clear debris from pathways to reach specific areas before removing snow, be sure to appropriately price these special services.

One-time/immediate snow removal vs. contract

When determining your profit margin for specific jobs, consider whether your client wants a contract or simply seeks one-time/immediate snow removal since contract pricing might differ from immediate removal. Generally, immediate snow removals are priced higher because you’re given less time to prepare for and provide your service.

Weather unpredictability 

A challenge in pricing for snow removal services is that snowfall can be unpredictable. Even areas known for a lot of snowfall occasionally have less snow than expected. Weather unpredictability means pricing in a manner that ensures your overhead costs are still covered during slow seasons while delivering fair prices to your clients.

Snow removal pricing methods

Now that we’ve looked at the factors you might consider when pricing your snow removal services, let’s look at common pricing methods:

Per push

Per-push snow removal doesn't mean a client pays each time you push a pile of snow. It does mean, however, that they’ll pay each time you show up to remove snow. If you’re charging your clients per push, this means they'll usually pay a flat rate with every visit. This option is common for customers who typically manage their own snow removal but would like help when snowfall is particularly heavy. But if a client doesn’t manage their own snow removals and opts for per-push during a particularly busy snow season, they could find themselves paying out of pocket more than expected. 

Per event

Per event is slightly different than per push. Let's say a weather event reaches the area that drops snow for several days. Paying per event means you’re willing to come clean as much as needed during this event for a fee. It’s quite common to charge a flat rate to cover removals within a 24-hour window; however, longer events might require you to come back more than once during the event time frame, which differs from the per-push method, which would mean you’d get paid each time you arrive to remove snow.

Per hour

Per hour is one of the easier ways to bill your customers for snow shoveling, plowing and other snow removal services. You’ll simply bill your clients on a per-hour rate that you determine based on factors like the number of workers you need for the job, your hourly rates and the number of hours you believe you’ll need to finish the job.

Per inch

This is a popular option for snow removal pricing. You’ll get paid for each inch of snow you remove. So, if it snowed 3 inches, you’ll likely be paid a different amount than if it snowed 8 inches. When billing per inch, you’re usually charging a flat rate combined with a per-inch rate. For example, you might charge a specific amount for the first 6 inches of snow and then an extra amount for each additional inch.

Per season

When clients are billed per season, they agree to use your services each time they need snow removed – and they’re usually willing to pay a fee either via installments or a one-time payment. Ultimately, once they pay, they’re free to enjoy your snow removal service over a predetermined period of time. 

When offering seasonal contracts, be sure to look at trends over several years to make sure you know how much snow falls so you’re not being underpaid for frequent snow events. You’ll also need to be clear about when billing cycles begin and end for transparency with your clients.

It’s good to note that some clients are willing to secure multi-season contracts if they live in high snowfall areas and enjoy your services. It’s good to offer incentives like a reduced price for agreeing to multiple years (but don’t forget to implement an annual rate increase to account for inflation). Multi-season snow removal contracts are most common with commercial clients, but residential clients sometimes enjoy this type of plan, too.

Creating a snow removal price formula

Once you’ve determined factors to include when pricing services, you can set up a snow removal pricing formula. Here is one way to price your services.

Let’s say you’re going with a predetermined rate per hour. In this case, your formula would be:

Rate  x  Number of workers  x  Number of hours  =  Cost of snow removal service

When calculating your rate, make sure it accounts for payroll, other overhead and your profit margin. Also, you’ll want to decide whether to include your taxes in your rate or add taxes to your client’s bill. Additional equipment and services should have separate line items on your estimate and invoice.

Note: If you’re not sure how many workers you’ll need, find out how much snow you’ll remove (a site visit might be required) and then, calculate the work time based on hours an individual would need to complete the job on their own. If the job would take one person 4 hours to complete, you might assume two people can finish the job in 2 hours.

Snow removal pricing example

Suppose that you have been contracted for snow removal from a large municipal parking lot. With a team of two using your snow plows, you estimate that your workers can get the job done in approximately two hours. 

With payroll, overhead and other considerations, you charge $100 per hour. Now that you know your rate as well as your labor and hours needed, you can calculate your rate for this job:

Ex. $100 (rate)  x  2 (number of workers)  x  2 (number of hours)  = $400 (removal cost) 

Of course, this is just an example. Your rate might vary based on factors like snow totals, average snow removal rates in your area, whether your client has a contract or is requesting one-time service, etc.

Deliver professional snow removal estimates in a snap with VIIZR

Each time you’re approached for a snow removal estimate is a fantastic opportunity to grow your snow removal business. But every action you take following a quote request matters – including the estimate you deliver. If you’re eager to secure a new client, you might be tempted to quickly draft an estimate using a generic template – or worse, deliver a bland email listing a few service and removal cost details. This isn’t the way to go. You want to make the right impression from the time you receive a quote request until you complete your snow removal job.

Enter VIIZR.

Our dynamic web-based estimating platform is designed for trade businesses like yours that are interested in getting professional estimates out to clients fast. We know your time is limited. You’re taking calls from clients, managing your team of workers, scheduling snow removal jobs and marketing your business to garner exciting new opportunities. 

You don’t have time to sit in front of the computer for hours and produce the quality estimates your clients deserve. Our estimating software does the hard work for you. 

With a few clicks, it’s easy to itemize a full list of snow removal service and cost details. Share details on materials, number of workers, the billing method (per hour, flat rate, per push, etc.), inches to clear and everything that will help your client rest assured that they know how they’re being billed. Even add relevant photos to showcase your work. 

When ready to deliver, convert your snow removal estimate into a professional PDF with your company logo and header, then email in seconds. You can track your estimates and receive customer approvals right on our platform. Creating high-quality estimates and securing more business for your snow removal service is a breeze with VIIZR in your corner.

Try VIIZR with a free 14-day trial today! 

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