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.

 More...

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.  

 More...

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:

  

More...

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.)

More...

Thoughts on Safety and Snow Removal

by John Allin 19. November 2013 11:56

When we think of “safety” with regards to snow removal, there are some significant considerations that have to be taken into account.  The timing of the work that is required comes into play.  The vast majority of work done in winter snow removal operations is done at night.  This presents some challenges that don’t normally incur during landscape operations.  Additionally, a good portion of the work is done “behind the wheel”, and this too is different than most landscape/tree care/irrigation/excavation work.  

 More...

Use Outside Service Providers to Grow Your Business

by Marge Lang 5. November 2013 11:32

Growing your snowplowing business to the next level often depends on how much equipment and manpower you can muster to deal with the increased business.  Additional equipment requires a substantial capital investment, but you can reduce those costs by using outside service providers to supply both the manpower and equipment to serve your customers during peak times.  If you aren’t familiar with securing and organizing outside help to grow your snowplowing operation, here are some suggestions and guidelines to assist you.

More...

How to Prepare Your Snow Plow Crew and Have the Best Winter Ever

by Marge Lang 9. October 2013 16:00

You have already done your pre-season equipment check to prepare your vehicles for the mechanical demands of the winter season but another asset you need to prepare is the members of your plowing fleet crew.

Even if you have seasoned plow veterans on your staff, there are several important health, safety and productivity issues to pro-actively address to keep your team's efficiency high throughout the demands of the winter season.

 

Prep you snow plow fleet with these health, safety and productivity tips.

More...

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.

 More...