How a Snow Removal Company Can SAVE Property Managers Money!

Snow Removal Company Snow Removal Plan
John Allin, Snow and Ice Industry Consultant
John Allin, Snow and Ice Industry Consultant

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

Too Much Rock Salt - Snow Ice MeltAccording 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.”

Deicing Truck Grand Rapids MI Lansing MIAlso 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.

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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!

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More about industry expert John Allin…

John Allin, Snow and Ice Industry ConsultantGlobally 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  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.

Read even more here or follow John on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Understanding a Commercial Snow Removal Contract

contract being signed - snow removal contract

You’ve decided to hire a commercial snow removal and plowing company to keep your business operating and managed safely during the winter months without having to devote your own resources to dealing with the snow and ice. That’s a good decision. And just like other business relationships, your plan calls for a formal commercial snow removal contract. 

According to the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA):

“A written contract, signed by both parties, is the best way to ensure that each party is aware of its obligations. This in turn protects both the contractor and the property manager and helps to define the relationship in clear and concise terms.”

Note the important points here. The contract protects both parties (property managers and snow removal companies) from lawsuits. It does this by defining the obligations of each party and by outlining the relationship between vendor and customer clearly. Neither party wants to be involved in a lawsuit, and signing a mutually agreed-upon contract prevents that.

When you discuss your snow removal needs as a potential client, you need to consider many elements of the relationship. Your vendor should be willing to answer your questions and discuss these topics with you:

  • What is the timing of service and what service level are you agreeing to?
  • What is the price for this level of service? Should you pay for a higher level of service even though no one is certain how much snow will fall in any given winter?

Be clear on the services you are receiving. If your agreement calls for snow plowing, the snow will be plowed, but it will remain on your property. If you need it removed, you are talking about snow relocation and hauling. Do you require ice management and de-icing? You do if you are concerned about slippery conditions even after plowing or if there is freezing rain.

Sneller Snow Systems can provide all of these services and more. If you’re located in Lansing or Grand Rapids, we’ll be happy to look at your property and discuss recommended levels of service and pricing with you. We are in the risk management business with ISO certified systems in place. We prepare for the worst so that you are covered no matter what weather conditions we see in Grand Rapids and Lansing, MI. Contact us to talk about your winter 2017 snow removal plan!

6 Questions To Ask If Considering Snow Removal Services in 2017

2017 written in snow

In our service area of Grand Rapids & Lansing, Michigan, business owners are no strangers to large snow storms. We can wake up one morning to find a foot or more of snow on the ground. If you have a large parking lot at your business’s location, keeping the equipment on-hand and the staff trained to quickly and properly do snow removal is not cost efficient. There’s more to snow removal than scraping away the snow. So as Winter 2016 wraps up and you start to think about what you might do differently next year, here are 6 questions to ask yourself if considering snow removal services in 2017.

First, it’s important that you get a company that specializes in commercial snow removal, and not just residential. Commercial jobs are typically much larger, and as such residential snow removal companies are not equipped to handle it. Larger commercial snow removal service providers also invest in their team’s training and certifications to keep your property from being damaged and to lower your risk of slip-and-fall lawsuits.

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself when trying to decide if you need a professional commercial snow plowing service.

  1. Will you have 24/7 snow removal? If a big storm hits during the night, will you have a snow removal emergency plan in place to make sure it’s cleared by the time your business opens? Professionals make sure you get that plan in writing.
  2. Is the job too big for one person? Big storms take big equipment and ice melt knowledge to make sure you have exactly what is needed for that day’s specific mix of snow, ice and cold. If you just have one person running a snow blower or snow plow on your property, will they have the knowledge and time to get the job done right?
  3. What’s the best efficiency? Is moving snow the best use of your employee’s time? Would their time be better spent doing work that is more pertinent to your business? Think about the time it will take for your employees to do the job, and whether or not this is a good use of their time.
  4. Do you really want to store and maintain equipment? Snow removal equipment takes up a lot of space and needs regular maintenance. Does it really make sense for you to take that all on yourself? And what if you break down during the storm? You won’t have back up like a professional snow removal company would have.
  5. Is there a potential for injury? When the ground is covered in snow and ice, this can make for dangerous conditions. Are you willing to be held responsible if someone slips in your parking lot because you did not clear it properly? Or if an employee injuries themselves while clearing the snow? You can avoid a lawsuit by letting a certified professional snow removal service handle it for you.
  6. Do you have experience with the right ice melt chemicals? Removing ice isn’t as simple as finding some rock salt and spreading it across your parking lot. You need to know which chemicals should be used based on the moisture in the air and temperatures – and how much ice melt is needed. Using too much ice melt is bad for the environment and your landscaping, using too little is dangerous.

After taking in all of these considerations, you should have a good idea if you need to hire a professional snow removal service. If the answer is yes and you are located in the Grand Rapids or Lansing areas, we would love to work with you! You can contact us at any time, and we can tell you about the services we offer.

5 Ways to Know If You Hired the Best Snow Removal Company

wild car tracks in snow covered parking lot

The 2015-16 winter might feel like it’s coming to an end, but we know from past storms in Grand Rapids that it isn’t necessarily over yet. However, as February wraps up, it feels like a perfect time to evaluate how your snow removal company is doing. Here are 5 ways to know if you hired the best snow removal company this year by asking these questions:

  1. Was the snow from your property promptly removed after the storm? That’s the obvious question, but we would take it one step further – did your snow removal company proactively treat your property before the first flake of snow even hit the ground? That’s a big difference in our book. Snow plow companies that wait for at least 2 inches of snow to fall before ever coming to your property are putting you at risk for costly ice related incidents.
  2. Did your snow removal company communicate with you before, during and after the storm? You should expect frequent and clear communications from your snow management company so you know exactly what is happening on your property. As a business owner, you should never be wondering if your snow plow company has been on your site or not yet. These days it’s reasonable to expect to know every detail of your snow removal plan and execution.
  3. Did your snow removal company have the equipment needed to stay ahead of the storm? It’s one thing to own a few snow plows, but true snow removal professionals have equipment to pre-treat parking lots with liquid deicer, they have front end loaders and dump trucks to relocate snow piles when needed and they have extra wide snow pushers for covering large surface areas in a snap.
  4. Did your contract cover every detail of your services without surprises? Your snow removal contract should have been complete and not hastily thrown together. And hopefully you DID sign a contract. Professional snow removal is nothing to take lightly – make sure your business receives the risk management services provided by the best snow removal contractors.
  5. Would you recommend your snow removal company to other business owners? That’s really the bottom line, isn’t it? Were your services so reliable and effective that you would share their name with others?

Where we are located in Grand Rapids and Lansing, Michigan snow removal is an essential part of every business plan. At Sneller Snow Systems, we know that, so we focus on snow removal 12 months a year. That’s right – 12 months a year. Why? Because during the warmer months, we are able to re-evaluate our systems, make lot improvement recommendations, provide training, renew certifications, execute route planning dry runs and do important equipment maintenance.

If you have any questions or if you would like to explore Sneller for Lansing or Grand Rapids snow removal services, please contact us today!

What to Look for in a Grand Rapids Snow Removal Company

Sidewalk Snow Shoveling - Sneller Snow Removal, Grand Rapids, MI

There’s a lot of advice rolling around out there regarding what to look for in a good snow removal company. We’d like to offer our two cents in hopes that it helps you make a wise choice, especially if you have a business in Grand Rapids or Lansing, MI. So here are some Do’s and Don’ts for finding the best snow removal company.

Do look over the website carefully.

Although occasional mistakes happen to the best of us, if you see obvious signs of neglect on the website (clear errors, glaring typos, misinformation, outdated material), this could be a sign that the company does not keep on its toes.

Don’t make your decision based on the website alone.

That being said, a slick website does not ensure good service. While a well-run website makes a good first impression, it shouldn’t be the only impression. Immediately start researching and asking questions to see if the company can back up its claims.

Do read online reviews.

Be sure to do your homework. Websites like Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau are valuable tools to help you glean information about reputation and customer satisfaction.

Don’t let one negative review shape your decision.

Even the best businesses have had a few customers walk away less than satisfied. Unless you have personal, inside knowledge, don’t let the presence of one negative review influence you unduly.

Do take all factors into consideration.

Deals are important, but sometimes rates are lower because the company offers fewer services or does not ensure a quick response time. Price is an important consideration, but be sure to take all factors into account when making your decision, like certifications and years of experience.

Don’t consider a service that does not offer contracts.

Because a contract mediates expectations and holds both sides to an agreement, it’s important that you only consider snow removal companies that offer contracts.

Here at Sneller Snow Systems, we know how important it is to offer the best services at the best prices. We always offer contracts as well, so that our clients are assured of quality service. If you’re in the Grand Rapids or Lansing areas of Lower Michigan and looking to contract with a SN 9002 certified, proven leader in snow removal and ice management, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to serving you.