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What sort of winter work do you typically do to get you through those cold months?

Are you afraid of losing good employees? Maybe you’re just scared of cabin fever. Either way, these tips will hopefully give you some ideas of what you can do during the long winter months.

Some things that landscapers have done to keep working all year long

Selling Christmas tree lights, Christmas trees, or firewood can act as a supplement. You can also look into doing tree work, or some have even gotten into house flipping.

Some of the winter work, like tree pruning & trimming and construction, may require different business insurance, so check with your insurance company before you get started with it.

CLIP Lawncare LLC in Maryland has historically avoided the whole issue by using the H2B program, but that’s become much easier said than done in the last couple of years.

We want your business to be successful, so we gathered some tips from a few industry pros on what you can be doing to stay afloat during the winter.

Some tips from industry pros on making money in landscaping in the winter

“You need to offer more services during the winter. (i.e., Christmas decoration) Or better yet, have you thought about offering additional services that you could continue through the winter like parking lot cleaning.

I did this last year with some of the CVS Pharmacy stores in our area. If we had snow we would plow, if they did not have snow, we would clean up the parking lot when they had trash.

In our city, a large landscaper sells Christmas trees. They set up in about 4-6 areas around the city. They have their little, heated trailers and sell like crazy. Do you have customers that mow their lawns?

Offer to have their mowers serviced before they store them for the winter. (Change the oil, spark plug, sharpen the blade, etc.).” – Mark Evergreen

“This winter work is probably not for everyone, but one contractor buys wrecked up houses and then cleans and repairs them during the Winter. He sells them in the Spring and makes a healthy profit.” – Dave Tucker, CLIP Software

“To keep my best employees throughout the winter, I purchased a Christmas lighting franchise.” – Kevin Taylor

“Build a house through the winter by hiring a reputable builder, provide laborers to him at an hourly rate, and installing the landscape.

Pick a builder you’d always want to have done installs for and hire him with the understanding that you’re going to get his work from now on!” – Ian McCain

“We have spent years building and refining our snow removal operation and what was once a winter sideline has now become a major profit center in our company and, in many ways, supports other parts of the operation.

I am finding that commercial clients are having a harder time finding companies to handle their snow removal operations, and we have received many calls this season to take over properties at whatever price we ask.

There are even fewer companies willing to clear walks.” – Allan Davis, R.A.R. Landscaping Co

“The winter months are the best time for self-education and studying your business and looking at everything!” – Jerry

“We offer a seasonal contract to everyone in the neighborhood. This way if we don’t have a snowy winter, we still have winter work and the cash flow to pay our bills.

We then have our commercial accounts that are charged per push, so if it is a snowy winter, we still are making $$$$.” – Wayne A. Burkey, Northern Buckeye Lawn & Landscape

“We schedule leaf cleanups until the end of Dec. We also schedule hard-scape installs during winter. We let the guys collect for 2-3 weeks in January-Feb. if the ground freezes. Otherwise, we work.” – Christopher Oliverio, Mercury Lawns

“If you have your employees work on a housing or tree work project, you would have to have your workmen’s comp carrier change their classification. I can almost guarantee you that your WC rates will be higher for this type of work… your WC carrier will not just move your workers to another classification temporarily.

They will take the highest classification used for the year and charge you that amount for the entire year. So even if you just want your people to do the rehab during Jan. – Feb. you would have to pay the higher rate for the whole year.

Of course, if you have less than five employees (including yourself) and you have been taking the exemption from WC, then the WC issue is moot. But if you currently have WC, you should check this issue out thoroughly before proceeding.” Jan Walker, U. S. Lawns of Knoxville

Planning work for the offseason can be challenging, but with some creativity, it can be done!