What’s the Most Efficient Crew Size for Sidewalk Snow Removal?

by Pete Robison 18. March 2014 10:06


Since sidewalk snow removal emerged as a separate specialty business, finding the most efficient crew size has been the subject of heated debate.  Given today’s competitive labor market and the need for higher productivity and increased quality, we should take another look at sizing sidewalk snow removal crews.

 

If you break it down, sidewalk snow removal is really a series of solo, one-person tasks which don’t always benefit from the addition of another worker.  Unlike landscape installation or construction, sidewalk maintenance crews don’t handle heavy or awkward equipment requiring more than one person to improve efficiency.  Given this lack of synergistic benefit on a per task basis, we should think of our teams as combinations of one-person crews.

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Plowing in High Winds- Why This is the Worst Factor to Fight

by Pete Robison 11. February 2014 09:17

The snow stopped. You should be able to get in your plow and clear the roads easily, right? 

Not necessarily. High winds and drifting snow can sometimes make the task a challenge.

 

“Snow Drifts” by amandabanana87 CC BY 2.0

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Be Ready to Quote Potential Customers All Year Long

by Pete Robison 28. January 2014 10:54

 

When potential customers call for a plowing service quote, most contractors ask why they’re looking to change vendors.  It’s a fair question.  If customers are unhappy with the service they’re getting, it’s worth taking time to find out the root of their unhappiness.  It’s possible the contractor is undercharging and needs to shortcut the job to turn a profit.  If so, be frank and explain that they are not paying enough for the service and that you’re more expensive – but the quality of work will be better. 

 

Customers who want better service at the same price aren’t looking for quality and dependability – they’re looking for the impossible.  If they’re just “price checking,” you might want to pass unless you need practice quoting work without getting anything in return.  Price shoppers are a fickle group, and they’re likely to change contractors on a whim just to save a buck. 

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4 Tips on How to Plow Bridges Safely

by Pete Robison 14. January 2014 08:10

For many reasons, plowing a bridge is not like plowing a road. To make sure you clear snow and ice from a bridge effectively and safely, we’ve compiled some tips below.

 

Plan Ahead

Inspect the bridge(s) before snowfall for potential hazards, and make a note of snow that will have to be removed from trapped areas. Although hauling is expensive, it may be necessary to prevent snow and ice melting materials from being pushed into waterways or onto motorists below. A recent crash in Canada shows the danger of leaving snow buildup on guard rails.

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Better Management of Production Workers Can Maximize Their Potential

by Pete Robison 23. December 2013 10:29

Worker removing snow and ice from a sidewalk.

As an industry, we need to reevaluate the importance of production workers in sidewalk snow clearing operations.  This group – usually part-time employees and often the lowest paid – should be the focal point of our management systems, beginning with the crew leaders who supervise them.  

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How to Effectively and Safely Plow Icy Roads

by Pete Robison 10. December 2013 08:10

Heavy snow can present many difficulties for your plow team, but icy conditions present an entirely different set of challenges. Icy roads are one of the most dangerous and unpredictable places for your drivers to clear safely and successfully

However, plowing icy roads, while difficult, can be done effectively and efficiently by following these guidelines:

  

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Be Good to Subcontractors and Grow Your Business

by Pete Robison 3. December 2013 11:07

Take care of sub contractors so you can grow your snow and ice removal business.The way subcontractors are paid is a big deal.  They’re the lifeblood of our industry and you need them to survive, so they should be paid on time and in full, always.  Stretching them out will give you a bad reputation, and that’s hard to shake.  These guys know who’s paying on time and who isn’t.  Good companies have service providers waiting to work for them because they’re always dependable. 

 

When paying subcontractors by the hour, consider a "differential system" depending on the type of equipment they use.  Start with a base rate that’s fair, and pay more for larger and better plows (such as a ‘V’ blade, snow wings, or capture blade).  Increase the compensation for their second and/or third year.  Offer more to drivers with an automatic transmission instead of a manual.  (No matter how much they plead, drivers simply can’t back up as fast with a standard transmission.)

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7 Ways Your Team Can Effectively Plow Driveways this Winter

by Pete Robison 12. November 2013 09:07

Plowing residential or shorter commercial driveways is a huge source of business for many snow removal fleets.  Your drivers may have dozens to plow during a single sweep, making quality and efficiency a must. 

 

Plow your residential driveway accounts quickly and effecienty this season.

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13 Plowing Tips for Commercial Snow Removal

by Pete Robison 22. October 2013 08:00

Business owners expect and rely on your snow plow drivers to be quick and efficient when clearing their commercial properties. An unplowed driveway or parking lot means customers and employees can't access a business, which can cause missed opportunities in productivity and negative reviews for your service.

Parking lots and other commercial spaces may appLearn the best ways to snow plow commercial areas this winter.ear to be a fast job but there are important considerations to make as you prepare to service these accounts this winter. 

Preparing Commercial Accounts

·         Before the season starts, inspect the entire area for potential hazards such as holes, speed bumps, medians, low landscaping, fire hydrants and other obstacles that will be covered with snow.

·         Position markers or stakes with reflectors at least three feet off the ground to indicate boundaries, ditches, medians, shut-off valves and other areas that could cause damage when plowing.

·         Request a map or blueprint of the area to determine where to begin, open areas where snow can be stacked and other strategies to achieve the most efficient removal plan.

·         Ask for any restrictions as to where snow can be stacked or areas that the owner does not want plowed. 

·         Plan your removal so you are driving forward as much as possible.

·         Be sure you have the right equipment and vehicle to handle the demands of the job.

 

Plowing Commercial Areas

·         Always turn on warning flashers when plowing to alert any customer or employee that plowing is in progress.

·         Back-drag snow away from the front of buildings first, then push the cleared snow to the outer edges.

·         When plowing areas of 100,000 sq.ft. or more, it is usually most efficient to plow at right angles to the main artery, piling up windrows by back and forth passes in alternate lanes.

·         Create a large enough space to be able to accommodate cleared snow from future storms without blocking highly trafficked areas.

·         Do not pile snow close to handicapped spaces.

·         Begin plowing at the suggested accumulation for your property type: 1" for commercial and institutional areas; 2" for industrial establishments.

·         Avoid creating large piles near the end of driveways as they create visibility problems for vehicles entering and exiting the parking lot.

Inform your snow removal team of all the new account layouts and the strategies you have developed to ensure they can quickly and confidently clear each commercial property. Snow plow experts also recommend having your team ready to act when snow is expected as actual snowfall frequently exceeds the forecasted conditions.

Having a well-planned snow plow removal plan for commercial accounts greatly reduces the chances of having to implement expensive emergency actions and establishes your company as a leader in the snow removal industry.

What tips do you have for plowing large commercial properties?

Target the Customers You Want – Where You Want Them

by Pete Robison 1. October 2013 11:23

 

One question that comes up often among plowing contractors is “How do I get new customers when I’m competing against cutthroat one-truck operators who give away their time?”

 

Maybe that’s the wrong attitude.  Maybe as a contractor providing a service, you are in the position to interview the customers you want instead of quoting work “hit or miss.”  Target marketing is a key to success in any business.  Why should it be any different for snowplowing?

 

Learn how to target the customers you want.

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