We talked to Mike Stevens, Editor in Chief at Snow Plow News, about what he thought are the top ten reasons why to LOVE commercial snow removal. We think he came up with a pretty good list. Check it out!
10. You Get to Play with Big Toys!
I’m sorry, but moving snow with a Cat 950 is just plain fun!
9. You Get to Save the Day!
It is about helping people out. Snow removal at a single location can literally protect thousands of people. We have a noble profession right up there with firemen, police officers, and hospital staff.
8. Big Piles of Snow!
Admit it, you used to have fun making those big piles of snow when you were a kid. Now looking back, you think those 3 foot piles are nothing compared to your 20-foot high piles 100 feet long!
7. You Get a New Obstacle Course Every Snow Fall!
While some things stay the same, vehicles and people are always moving around you. You have to keep alert and focused to do a great job and to keep from hitting that shopper that thought it was a good idea to leap in front of you!
6. It’s Just You and Your Truck Baby!
Maybe it is a loader or a skid steer or something else, but you don’t have someone sitting next to you telling you how to do your job all day long.
5. No One Limits Your Coffee or Caffeine intake!
Whether your favorite is coffee, Mountain Dew, or something else, let the good times roll! Your Momma is not going to be asking if you really want that next cup.
4. You are Working While Others Are Sleeping.
There is something enjoyable about getting a whole lot of work done while Average Joe needs his beauty sleep.
3. You Have Time to Think About Life
While you have to stay alert, let’s face it, when it is just you, your machine, your cup of coffee, and Mother Nature, you get to think about life…or forget about it and just sing at the top of your lungs to the music you are blaring in the cab!
2. You are Tested to the Extremes
You feel like a Real Man (or Real Woman) when you are out conquering the snow Mother Nature has dished out over the last 60 hours. Bring It On!
1. You Never Get Pushed Around because You Do All the Pushing!
Need I say more?
Thanks for your input Stevens. Here is to the next snow season we all love!
Thinking about hiring a new commercial snow removal service? If so, there are details to keep in mind well beyond obvious factors like what it costs and a company’s reputation. We sat down with independent consultant, John Allin, who is the founder of the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) and Snowfighters Institute. He is globally recognized as the foremost snow and ice industry consultant. John also helped form the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) and worked on the committee which wrote and published the first ever set of written standards for the snow and ice management industry. Let’s look at what John had to say about the value of hiring a professional snow removal company instead of alternative options.
Every snow contractor has a different level of preparation & planning, a different investment in equipment & maintenance, and a different approach to training & education. And by following the latest best snow removal practices, a professional contractor can actually SAVE your business money. Here’s a quick list, then read on for details:
Truly Professional Snow Contractors ultimately save property managers money by:
Continuously educating their team so they are both careful and efficient
Using less rock salt and de-icing product
Pre-treating surfaces with liquid anti-icing product
Having ISO Certified processes & systems for quick fixes to issues
Reducing your risk of expensive slip and fall lawsuits
Taking time to develop a detailed snow response plan to prevent catastrophes
Want more details? Keep reading!
More Focus On Education Does NOT Mean It Costs Customers More Money
“In fact, it’s quite the opposite,” John said.
Snow removal companies who invest in training, ongoing education and certified snow removal systems actual SAVE their commercial customers’ money. You may think the bigger a snow removal contractor is, or the more they spend on training, the more they cost. But this is a major misconception! It might sound a little gimmicky at first – but in the end it makes perfect sense!
Educated Snow Professionals Use Less Rock Salt
According to John Allin, “The snow removal industry has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The efficient and effective use of rock salt is probably the most pronounced advancement.”
In the past, the standard rule of thinking was to use 1,000 pounds of rock salt per acre of pavement. However, through proper education and a close examination of this thinking, snow contractors have learned they only need 150-300 pounds of rock salt per acre to reduce ice to water. That’s a huge savings and boost for our eco-system! Professionally educated snow and ice management companies will save your company money by using less rock salt.
[blockquote author=”John Allin, Snow and Ice Industry Expert & Consultant” link=”” target=”_blank”]”The snow removal industry has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The efficient and effective use of rock salt is probably the most pronounced advancement.”[/blockquote] Using less rock salt will also save you money by reducing repair costs to grass and nearby landscaping, less pavement repairs and less corrosion to metal that comes in contact with the product.
How do you know if your current snow removal company is using too much rock salt?
“If you drive around after a snowstorm and you see white pavement, that’s indicative of over application of product,” said John Allin, SIMA founder & snow industry consultant.
Professional Snow Contractors Pre-treat Surfaces with Anti-icing Product to Further Reduce Rock Salt Usage
Another way a professional snow contractor can help customers and the environment is to pre-treat surfaces before the storm with anti-icing product.
According to John Allin, most contractors only use the equivalent of 35 pounds per acre of rock salt to pre-treat surfaces (so much less than the 150-1,000 pounds per acre used by others for treatment after the storm). John says educated snow contractors have learned that just “35 pounds of rock salt per acre will keep the bond from forming between the ice and the snow and the pavement surface. Even if you drive on it or walk on it, you can keep that bond from forming so if you go over the pavement with a plow, you get a much cleaner finished surface and you need much less material afterwards to reduce ice to water.”
Also applying anti-icing product in a liquid format instead of granular will keep it in place on the surface better. Granular rock salt is moved off the surface from traffic and more difficult to keep in place. When looking for a good contractor, keep in mind that one who applies liquid anti-icing product before the storm is actually saving you money, saving the environment and doing a much better job.
ISO 9001/SN 9001 Certified Snow Removal Systems Reduces Risk and Lawsuit Fees
ISO Certification is one way to tell the difference between a professional snow contractor and one that is less prepared. However, being ISO certified doesn’t make a company a better snow contractor. It means that contractor has detailed processes in place to fix what might go wrong.
If a professional snow contractor is ISO 9001/SN 9001 certified, they have a process to fix bugs in the system, a review process and a way to write a corrective action to fix what went wrong. Those systems have been audited and continue to be audited annually. “Many other companies will just hope and pray they got it right the first time,” says John Allin.
John went on to say, “Sneller is very very progressive and they want to be on the leading edge. They want to have the best. They want to provide the best service. They want their customer locations to be safe to the nth degree. So they figure out what they should use, how they should use it, and they make sure they are executing in a manner that is conducive to a safe environment. There are a lot of snow plowers out there. There are very few risk managers. And the professional snow contractor views themselves as a risk manager. Their job is to mitigate risk on sites under their control in order to keep the site safe for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. That’s the difference between Sneller and many of the alternative options.”
Professional Snow Contractors Reduce Slip and Fall Lawsuits
Michigan slip and fall lawsuits might be a bit tougher than some states for site visitors to prosecute, but it still happens. Snow contractors have to be careful to consider not only how well snow and ice is removed, but where it is piled. Snow should not be piled in areas that cause visibility issues, up against buildings where water can seep through, they shouldn’t cover up drains, pile snow in handicap spots, etc.
Hiring an ISO 9001/SN 9001 certified snow removal contractor helps protect property managers from slip and fall lawsuits because lawyers know it will be much harder to prove negligence when ISO certified systems are in place.
Snow & Ice Management Companies Invest in a Detailed Snow Response Plan
Having a detailed plan for how a snow and ice management company is going to respond to varying levels of snow is imperative. A good plan details the priorities, timeline, equipment to be used. A good example is how Sneller approaches Tanger Outlet Mall.
A detailed plan is in place to be sure snow is removed efficiently and effectively. Obstacles and drainage are carefully considered and special equipment is used to reach small areas and for more accurate placement of salt on sidewalks.
Professional Communication Saves Time and Energy
It helps a property manager to know when a snow removal contractor has been on their property and if it’s still snowing – when they will be back. The very best contractors realize that investing in technology for communicating with clients makes their services much more valuable and helps tremendously with customer satisfaction.
For example, Sneller uses Crew Tracker software that allows property managers to login and see what’s been done and when. This saves the property manager time they might normally have to spend contacting the snow contractor asking when they were there – especially if it’s still snowing and they can’t tell.
What to Look for in a Professional Snow Removal Contract
According to industry consultant, John Allin, here are details property managers should make sure they consider when signing a snow removal contract:
Determine how much snow you want to tolerate on your property.
What’s the trigger for services to begin (ask your snow contractor what’s best for safety).
Make sure a time frame is included for when services will be completed.
Where will excess snow be piled?
Should excess snow be removed off site at some point? What is that trigger?
How far away is equipment stationed from my property?
What happens if equipment breaks down, is replacement equipment quickly available?
How will sidewalk snow be removed?
See certificate of insurance from insurance agent only (do not accept a faxed copy, they are too easy to forge).
Advanced Technology in Snow Removal
Professional snow contractors are also on the forefront of the newest technology that helps with efficiency and providing the best possible service to clients. For example, according to John Allin, industry leaders are advancing quickly. He says eventually we are going to able to have RFID tags on either end of the snow plow that will tell you which direction a driver was going and which way the plow was angled when it was pushing the snow. This will help with further improving processes and efficiencies for property managers.
Also, smart phone advances in technology have allowed for more accurate tracking of what crews in the field are doing. This helps property managers know if a contractor has been to their site.
There are also breadcrumbing apps that can help streamline communications and improve efficiency. This can tell contractors which roads were taken care of by their crews, how fast they were driving, what time crews arrived, how much time was spent on site, if all sections were plowed, and more. All of this equates to making revisions to lower operating costs that can help reduce snow removal costs for property managers. There is also new technology that can track how much salt was being put down and how fast the spinner was distributing salt.
When hiring a professional snow removal company with technology like this, you can rest assured that the services you signed up for are being completed. It’s very difficult to fake services when technology is in place monitoring and documenting all the details.
Looking for Grand Rapids Snow Removal or Snow and Ice Management in Lansing MI?
Please contact Sneller Snow Systems to explore all the ways that we can actually save you money and reduce your risk when our professional services are compared to guys with just a truck.
Our team will visit your site and take time to develop a detailed snow response plan based on your precise needs. We’ll clearly document a plan to keep your property clear of dangerous snow and ice depending on which areas of your property are most important to target first, where it’s best to relocate snow, how much snow you wish to tolerate, obstacles to work around, best equipment for specific needs and more. We’re careful, focused on using only the very latest technology and absolute best practices. We also value ongoing education and industry certifications so our crews are the best snow professionals around.
Let us know how we can help you today by calling 616-868-4900 or by filling out the quick form below!
Globally recognized as the foremost snow and ice industry consultant, John Allin has spent over 45 years developing and testing snow management strategies in one of the most intense, lake-effect, snow-belt regions in the world: the south shores of one of North America’s Great Lakes, Lake Erie. As the cold Arctic and Canadian air whips across the lake, a snowmaking machine kicks in, stretching from the shores of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and into New York, dumping 150-300″ of snow each season. John saw this area as the perfect proving ground to bring snow and ice management into the modern age. With only one truck, and one plow, he began his entrepreneurship with Allin companies. After 20 years, he began Snow Management Group, which, in 2002, won the plowing contract for the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
John is North America’s top snow industry consultant, an innovator of snow management strategies, the industry’s leading snow management expert, and an expert witness for slip and fall lawsuits, among other titles.
Mr. Allin’s book, Managing Snow and Ice, 1st and 2nd Editions – is considered the bible for snowplowing contractors in North America who desire to grow and better operate their snow contracting business. A CD of forms is also available to the industry. Mr. Allin also wrote a 3rd book recently titled “Snow and Ice Management, A Look Through Time.” It’s available on his website http://www.johnallin.com. Mr. Allin patented a commercial snow melting machine (the Snow Dragon), and shares another patent for specialized deicing equipment.
He is the founder of the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA). Recently, he was instrumental in the formation of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA). He worked on the committee which wrote and published the first ever set of written standards for the snow and ice management industry. John is also the founder and Board Chairman of the Snowfighters Institute located in Erie, Pa.
In February 2013, Mr. Allin became involved with CrewTracker Software, overseeing day-to-day operations. This software allows snow contractors to keep abreast of what their field crews accomplish during any given snow or ice event. Invoicing times are expedited, so that what used to take weeks can be done in minutes.
If you live in the Grand Rapids area, then you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing the best snow removal Grand Rapids, MI, has to offer. Of course, not all companies are the same. And while we are certainly biased, we work hard to stand apart, so consider these differences that make Sneller unique:
First, we love snow. In much the same way that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so one man’s catastrophe is another man’s challenge. All year, we study, plan, and prepare. That way once winter strikes, all we need to do is execute our plan to keep our clients in the clear.
Second, we’re tested and tried. As longtime Michigan residents serving the communities in which we live, the men and women of Sneller Snow Systems have taken time to build a reputation for solid, dependable service. The expertise of our experienced crew has led to our being named as one of the top 100 snow companies by Snow Magazine We strive to be the best so when you need Snow Removal Grand Rapids, MI, can count on, Sneller is the answer.
Third, we’re family owned and operated. This is more than just a job for us; it’s a lifestyle. The ties that bind us together ensure that when you deal with us, you’re dealing with a tight-knit community of men and women who care about each other’s welfare. As one of our clients, you’ll join that circle.
Fourth, we’re a cut above the competition. In 2015, we became the first snow management company in Michigan to receive SN 9001 Certification. The SN 9001 is a quality management system standard specific to professional snow contractors, and works in conjunction with the existing ISO 9001 standard. Earning this certification means that we have met the rigorous standards set by objective, third-party auditors.
This last point is perhaps what sets us apart in the greatest way, because it brings our clients the greatest possible level of assurance. By contracting with an SN 9001 certified company like Sneller Snow Systems, you’re assured third-party verification that your snow company:
has implemented the best possible processes to ensure the job is done right
is under constant evaluation for improvement
is annually audited by a third party to ensure they are meeting your expectations
maintains the necessary documentation to build the best defense in a slip-and-fall case
As you may already know, slip-and-fall cases are so prevalent in Michigan that such cases encompass an entire branch of law, with settlements routinely falling between $100,000 – $1,425,000. Contracting with Sneller Snow Systems will do more than ensure safer conditions for you, your employees, and your clients; it will also grant you greater peace of mind as we head into the winter season.
If you live in or around Grand Rapids area (or the Lansing area) and are looking to contract with a commercial snow removal and ice management company, consider Sneller Snow Systems. Feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns that you might have. We look forward to making you part of the family.
It’s no secret that lawsuits can surround the snow removal industry. This is the pivotal reason industry standards have been carefully researched and set into motion for the very best snow removal companies. Standardized procedures and training help reduce accidents, lawsuits, and they also give clients faith that they are hiring the best snow and ice management company.
Slip and Fall Lawsuits
According to the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) in 2011, $500 million in insurance premiums were paid by snow and ice management companies nationwide. In that same year, the insurance industry paid out $1 BILLION in claims for those companies. Many of those claims were from slip and fall lawsuit settlements related to snow and ice management.
Just like the “Hot Coffee” McDonald’s lawsuit, many slip and fall lawsuits are considered frivolous claims. However, the insurance industry had little power to fight back and would usually wrap up these lawsuits with small settlements. Individually, $15,000 – $20,000 settlements make financial sense for the insurance carrier, however added together the sum total is a huge problem for snow and ice management companies and clients nationwide.
Originally ASCA created the first set of written snow and ice management Industry Standards. Then in January 2014, The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) — a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel — accredited these standards under ISO 9001 / SN 9001 certification.
Benefits to Hiring a ISO 9001 / SN 9001 Snow Removal Company
ISO 9001 / SN 9001 companies have:
Documented processes and procedures and can prove them
A quality policy, manual, and control their documents and records (vital in a slip-and-fall claim)
A management team committed to the quality management system
Effective communication policies in place
A process in place to review the quality management system on an on-going basis
A process in place to manage resources, service quality, and measure results.
An ongoing plan to continually improve
ANSI/ASCA Industry Standards
Hiring an ISO 9001 / SN 9001 certified snow removal company provides you the assurance that they have the processes and procedures in place to get the job done. And in the event of a slip and fall lawsuit, they will have the proper documentation in place to validate what happened on your property at a specific date and time. Sneller had it’s snow removal systems ISO certified in 2015, becoming the first Michigan snow removal company to receive certification. If you are looking for the best snow removal services in Grand Rapids or Lansing, MI please contact us.
Michigan winters can leave business owners scrambling to get rid of snow and keep their doors open for customers. Although it might seem simple to hire the guy next door with the snow plow, or crank up the old snowblower and take care of things yourself, Grand Rapids snow removal usually requires the attention of a professional. Snow and ice that is not removed and treated properly can cause devastating slip and fall injuries that could kill or injure someone, cost your Michigan business a lot of money and damage your reputation. So if you are in Grand Rapids or Lansing MI, contact Sneller to see how we’re different from other snow removal contractors. But if you’re somewhere else, here’s a checklist for hiring the best Grand Rapids snow plow company that should be helpful:
1. Check Insurance, Accreditation, Certification, and References
The best snow plow companies will be fully licensed and insured, and affiliated with reputable associations like the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA) or the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA). Check the Better Business Bureau for an A+ rating, and choose a company with outstanding certifications, such as the ISO 9001 certification. References from previous customers are a great way to gauge a snow professional’s performance as well. Previous customers can fill you in on quality of work, response time, communication and dependability.
2. Know Their Policies, Plans, and Procedures
You should fully understand a snow removal company’s policies, plans, and procedures for a variety of different situations that will affect your business. Walk through your property with your snow professional, and be sure to address each area that will require snow removal or ice control – ask exactly how the procedures will be completed and know the time frames involved. Ask about emergency response plans – a great snow removal company will have specific response plans in place for every potential snow emergency where snow piles up quickly and ice creates dangerous situations if not managed proactively.
3. Ask About Their Communication Methods, Timing, and Frequency
Excellent communication is essential when looking for the best snow removal company. It is important that the snow plow contractor can answer any questions you have regarding their services, and explain details in a professional and knowledgeable manner. Prompt attention to your concerns is imperative. A company that leaves you hanging for days when you have questions is likely unreliable. If they can’t even return a phone call to answer a question, how on earth can you trust them to show up during a storm?
The second aspect of communication is how they handle communication before, during and after a snow or ice event. Make sure you know when and how frequently they communicate with customers.
4. Learn Their Approach to Safety and Risk Management
Your snow removal professionals need to follow all current safety regulations and have the proper plans and equipment necessary to prevent potential snow and ice injuries. Snow and ice injuries can rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills and are a major cause of lawsuits, which adds up to a bad reputation for your business.
5. Understand All Services Included and The Final Cost
The first step to obtaining a reliable, accurate estimate is to assess all your needs. A good snow removal professional can help you decide which areas require work, and what services will be necessary to keep your property safe. Be sure to ask about the costs of any additional services such as deicing or zero tolerance ice control, and special circumstances such as incredibly deep snow or storms that last more than a day. Be leery of low estimates that seem too good to be true – they probably are. Unusually low estimates might indicate inadequate snow removal, a lack of experience or proper equipment, or a lack of proper insurance.
Proper snow removal is crucial for the safety of the customers and employees on your property. Ice and snow cause dangerous conditions that require the services of a professional. If your business is in the Grand Rapids or Lansing, Michigan areas, please contact us at Sneller Snow Systems to learn more about our ISO 9001 certified services.