7 Ways Commercial Snow Removal Companies Prepare for Winter

A parking lot clear of snow thanks to a commercial snow removal companies

Successful companies don’t fly by the seat of their pants, they prepare. And successful commercial snow removal companies prepare for winter well in advance. Here are 7 solid ways companies prepare their snow removal crews to take care of customers’ contracts during winter.

1. Have a Rock-Solid Feedback Loop with Crews

At successful companies, everyone is on the same page. And the most successful snow companies have a solid communication flow from crews to account managers.

Why? Because crews onsite are a company’s first line of communication with customers. A strong communication process ensures management finds out about complaints customers make on-site fast, so the right person can respond. 

2. Map Out Contracted Properties in Advance

Another way successful companies prepare for winter’s commercial snow removal contracts is to map out their contracted properties in the fall.

A Map’s Purpose

Creating a map lets a company document the property’s entrances, exits, hazards, handicap spots and curbs. This gives drivers a way to know what’s under the snow once it falls. The map can also show drivers where to pile snow and which walkways need to be salted.

Maps eliminate the unexpected for drivers, customers and the company. They also protect the company from potentially costly damage claims down the road. And, should damage happen, maps provide a way to see that the customer’s claim is valid.

Hazards to Document

Hazards commercial snow removal companies indicate on property maps include:

• Fire hydrants – it’s mandatory that they be cleared

• Parking curbs

• Speed bumps

• Signage

• Islands

• Mailboxes

• Garbage bins

• Water and gas meters

How to Map Properties

Mapping out properties is easier than many think. 

Many contractors start with a screen capture of the site from Google Maps. Other companies use GoogleEarth to quickly zoom in on the property and capture an overhead or street view – or both. They use the captures and a photo tool or 2D or 3D autocad program to add hazards and site-specific information (FreeCAD and TinkerCAD are easy-to-use general-purpose autocad options).

A snow contract site map and instructions as crews see them in the LMN mobile field schedule app. The map can be used in Greenius as part of a custom training course to prep winter crews.

Successful companies store and share the maps with crews using a landscape business management software, like LMN

3. Document Site-Specific Commercial Snow Removal Instructions

In addition to a map of the property, snow companies prepare for winter before the snow flies by documenting site-specific needs and instructions.

Instructions include anything specific to the contract, such as documenting:

• If a property has to be cleared by a certain time. For example, schools need to be cleared before the bell rings. 

• High priority properties. For example, hospitals and care facilities require access 24×7. 

• Any unusual areas that need cleared. For example, clearing a walking path through a grassy playground area at a school to offer access from a back gate.

4. Identify and Document the Property’s Current Condition

In addition to using a map of a property to protect against potentially costly damage claims, successful companies document a property’s condition before crews go in.

Companies send someone onsite to document any and all any existing damage and the condition of:

• Buildings

• Curbs, speed bumps, islands and signage

• Walkways

• Turf and landscaping

• Meters

• Mailboxes

When companies have prior documentation, they can easily prove that the crew didn’t cause the damage. They can also share the documentation with the account, so they know the property’s condition before work begins.

5. Create Site Videos to Prepare and Train Crews in Advance and for Use On-Site

Pictures are worth a thousand words. And a video tour of the site, its hazards and special instructions is another way commercial snow companies familiarize crews with the job and job site in advance. It’s also a great on-site reference. Whether a crew member is out sick or moves on, a video gives the company and crew leads an easy way to get new or stand-in crews up to speed.

A property map can be complemented with a site video. The video can capture everything in the map. The map serves as a great 2D reference, while the video gives the driver and crew a complete real-world look at the job site along with needed instructions.

Why Create Videos?

Training videos or courses are a valuable way snow removal companies train and prepare employees in advance. Crews also use the video course as a reference while on-site to save time, prevent damage and ensure customer needs are met.

Video courses are also used as a new hire training tool. Even commercial companies struggle with turnover. And when a driver is hired in November, fully trained and then quits in December, a video course makes it fast and easy to bring on someone new to take over and ensure the jobs get done and done right.

Videos are also critical for ensuring jobs are done to customers’ specifications and needs when a crew member gets sick or is on vacation.

Lastly, commercial snow removal companies use a system that includes training videos as proof that they’ve done their due diligence should they ever need it to fight a liability claim.

How to Create Site Videos

There are a variety of ways to create site videos for crews. Here are a few ideas:

• The crew lead can host a Zoom meeting with themselves and record it. They share their screen with the site map or Google Earth open on the screen. And they go through the property, the hazards and special instructions during the recording.

• The crew lead uses a GoPro or similar tool or mounts a cell phone with a suction cup mount on a truck’s dashboard. They go to each property and drive it. They talk as they drive to point out – and record – hazards, need-to-knows and special instructions.

• The crew lead or dedicated staff member uses a drone to do a flyover of the property.

• The company can hire a videographer or lean on a talented relative of an employee to produce videos. A knowledgeable crew lead will still need to be involved to ensure needed information is captured.

Once the video is made, the crew lead uploads it to YouTube or Vimeo. Many commercial snow removal contractors also use a more robust training tool, like Greenius, to build custom courses. 

They then simply share the Greenius course link with their teams to review before the season starts and on-site when doing jobs. With Greenius, they can track who has, or hasn’t completed the course and easily have new hires/substitutes take the course.

How to use Google Maps, a drone and on-site footage to create video for use in a training course.

6. Optimize Crew Prep with Quizzes and Field Checklists

Another way successful snow removal companies ensure crews are prepared is to create quiz questions with a, b, and c answers for crews to take. Fifteen questions is ideal. 

Quizzing crews ensures they’ve watched the video and have gone away with what they need to know. When companies use a tool like Greenius, they can easily embed quizzes in each property’s course.

Commercial snow companies also typically prepare a field checklist for each property. The checklist includes hazards and special instruction for the driver and crew to check off on-site and use as an easy reference. Companies that use Greenius can easily create and embed quizzes in each property’s course in the program.

7. Use Greenius to Create a Custom Site Course for Each Property

Snow removal companies that use Greenius use it to easily create custom courses specific to their own properties and needs. 

To create a custom course, crew leads simply take the site video or Zoom recording and import it into YouTube or Vimeo, log in to Greenius and set up the course. See the video below for how it works.

Greenius has the advantage of letting crew leads build their checklist right at the time they create the video and include their quiz at the end. The whole process takes five minutes or less per property but delivers significant return on investment.

The course’s link is distributed right in Greenius by simply assigning crew members the training within the platform. Leads can view crews scores and know that courses have been taken.

How to quickly and easily use video in Greenius to create a custom course to prepare crews for snow removal work.

Companies can try Greenius for free and access 5 ready-to-use course and field checklists. Learn more about available options on the Greenius pricing page.

More Resources for Commercial Snow Removal Success

Looking for more tips on how the pros prepare for winter? Check out the Greenius Commercial Snow and Ice Removal Ebook and Checklist Downloads that includes checklists and processes a business can use right now.