How to Prepare Your Grand Rapids and Lansing Businesses for Snow Plowing

Parking lot in need of repairs

If you’re struggling with how to prepare your business for winter snow, you’re not alone. Many businesses in Grand Rapids and Lansing, MI realize the importance of preparing parking lots, walkways and sidewalks for snow and ice management during the off season. It may be summer now, but in a few short months the leaves will start to change, and once autumn hits winter is right around the corner and it’s too late to think proactively. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the impending West Michigan winter in 2016.

Hire your snow contractor early.

Michigan businesses who think proactively and are organized will start preparing for next winter as soon as possible. That means contracts for hiring the best Michigan snow and ice management contractor are currently being reviewed and signed, even in July. Booking your contractor early will help make sure they have the resources available to fully service your snow removal needs.  In fact, many contractors actually run out of the salt meant for preventing freezing. Contacting snow plowing companies early will give them time to stock up on cold resistance measures and hire staff as early as possible so that you are locked in with the best service possible.

Smooth out your exterior surfaces.

Harsh Michigan winters can destroy business parking lots after months of freezing temperatures, ice storms, snow plowing and constant thawing and refreezing. Summer is the time to fix up pot holes, cracks and heaving concrete and asphalt so surfaces are smooth and can be safely cleared of snow and ice next winter.

Weather-related accidents are significantly increased when road and walkway surfaces are uneven or cracked. This includes sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots especially. Asphalt parking lots should have cracks routed and sealed to keep water from penetrating under the surface – which causes more cracking and pot holes. Pot holes should be taken down to the stone base, inspected and replaced. Concrete parking lots and sidewalks that have cracked or heaved up from heavy frost should be grinded smooth or mudjacked to make level.

Inspect and fix water drainage or slope problems.

The perfect time to inspect water run off and drainage is during and after summer rains. If you have standing water on hard surfaces this summer, it will obviously create a dangerous ice patch this winter. Be sure your paved surfaces have at least a 1% slope moving water away from walkways to lawns and gutters.

Check and install proper lighting.

Being prepared to salt the ice is the main concern, but ensuring proper lighting in walking and parking areas is also crucial. If people can’t see the ice, they can’t avoid it. If poor visibility causes accidents, you may be found liable. Install additional lamp posts and lighting where needed this summer, to improve visibility in winter. This will not only help employees and customers see their way, but it will help your commercial snow and ice management company as well. The better your snow contractor can see the snow and ice, the better they are at removing it.

Be diligent about maintenance all season long.

Make notes all winter about issues that are easily fixed during the summer. For example, if you see ice formation on a railing, make sure to verify the railing’s structural integrity after the ice has melted. The additional weight could have compromised the railing. When customers track snow and ice inside–and they will–clean it up as soon as possible to prevent puddles and slips. Paying regular attention to these seemingly small issues and taking care of them right away is the key to avoiding accidents.

Train your employees.

Review the above practices with your employees, as well as teaching them the proper way to land if they do slip and fall (try to fall to the side, landing on forearms or shins instead of wrists). The more sets of eyes, the better.

The best way to prevent snow-related accidents this winter is to diligently apply common sense. The more attention you and your employees pay to possible hazards, the safer everyone will be.

We love snow – everything about it. And we’ve been keeping businesses safe for years. Contact us for more information on preparing your business for winter.

6 Tips for Hiring a Snow Removal Contractor in MI

Snow Storm from Car

Hiring the best commercial snow removal company may take a bit more research than you think.

When winter storms hit in West Michigan or anywhere in the north, you need to make sure your business will still be able to operate and serve customers even in heavy snow and ice to prevent expensive losses. But how can you make sure your snow removal contractor will provide excellent service for your investment? Here’s an essential checklist to make sure you are hiring a quality snow and ice management company based on our own experiences and the advice of the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA).

1) Get a Snow Removal Estimate Which Matches Your Needs

Companies often offer a variety of prices and services. Do your research to make sure you find a company that is offering what you need for a reasonable price. A “bargain” quote may end up costing you more in the long run with ineffective or incomplete service, a lack of proper equipment for efficiency or less insurance than needed. Do not forget to ask about special fees for unique conditions such as especially deep snow or additional services such as de-icing or detailing.

2) Check for Accreditation and Ask for References

Even though large commercial companies are often reputable, it never hurts to check references to make sure you are getting exceptional service. Make sure the company you are hiring is reliable, insured, and has a record of excellent customer service. You should also check the safety record of the company and make sure they are committed to safe operating practices.

We also recommend hiring companies that are affiliated with reputable associations like the Better Business Bureau (make sure they are accredited with A+ rating), Snow and Ice Managment Association (SIMA), International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA), Snow Fighters Institute and local associations and chambers of commerce.

3) Ensure Clear Contracts and Communication

As with hiring any contractor, you will want to carefully review your written agreement to make sure all the services you have discussed are included and priced appropriately. Check to see how the company will document work in progress and what contingency plans they have in place for potential problems. You should feel comfortable with the company you have hired and establish up front how to reach them by telephone, e-mail, and/or online services.

It’s also essential that your snow and ice management contractor has a specific communication plan of their own to keep you informed and updated. Look for statements like “24/7 weather monitoring” and “text or email alerts.” The best snow plow companies communicate with customers before, during and after the storm. You should expect this from your snow contractor.

4) Hire a Risk Manager, Not just a Snow Plow Company

Does the company you’re considering include zero tolerance ice management if that’s one of your goals? Do they treat sidewalks and parking lots before the storm even begins to stay ahead of the storm? Consider the level of service you really need and be sure the company can provide those services. Does your company provide custom ice melt mixtures that are specifically configured for the area being treated and the conditions at the time? Make sure your company has a plan and is prepared for every possible winter condition.

5) Make Sure your Snow Removal Company is Insured

This sounds pretty obvious, but a low cost snow plow option can be tempting… Companies that have adequate insurance can cost more than those that do not. However, just as you make sure your business has proper insurance coverage, make sure your commercial snow removal company does too. The risks associated with snow and ice are too great to gamble on a lower cost contractor.

6) Know your Snow & Ice Contractor’s Emergency Snow Removal Plan

The best snow and ice contractors have a detailed plan in place for a variety of snow or ice events. They have precise steps in place for minor snow, blizzards, ice storms and other snow events that might cause power outages or reduced resources and man power. Regardless of the storm, they will have equipment ready to go, routes scheduled and a plan in place to keep their customers informed and their sites clean.


At Sneller Snow Systems, we provide comprehensive commercial snow and ice solutions for businesses in the Grand Rapids and Lansing, Michigan areas. For more information or to put us to the test on this checklist, contact Sneller today.