The big job

The big job

Follow these tips to be better prepared for snow management on large sites.

August 15, 2014

Snow removal management is an intimidating task on even the smallest site. But the entire process is achievable if you combine the right planning, equipment and supervision. The real fun begins when you earn a contract. Then it’s time to roll up your sleeves, develop a plan of action and prepare to succeed.

Preseason planning.

Snow and ice management is hard to prepare for and even more difficult to execute.

Do you know any other business where you plan for the worst, invest thousands of dollars up front and then wait for something that may not even happen? That’s our business in a nutshell.

Regardless of the outcome, detailed preseason organization is a must for any successful snow response plan. Things to consider include:

  • Visit the site with area supervisors and property managers to discuss expectations.
  • Create a detailed site map that pinpoints all drive lanes, parking areas, sidewalks and priorities.
  • Assign equipment and manpower to the site.
  • Discuss onsite chemical storage and accessibility.
  • Generate a snow response plan and storm standard operating procedures for the operation team.


Equipment and manpower.

Even though mother nature alters plans without any advance notice, it’s best to secure as many variables as possible. This includes:

Parking lot operations.

Massive sites typically require more powerful equipment for successful snow removal operations. When developing your plan, remember to balance the right quantity and size of equipment to fit each site’s needs. Combine a mix of wheel loaders with 16-foot pushers, skid-steers with 10-foot pushers and a couple of plow trucks for large sites. All machines can be used for pathing and, when full plowing begins, the skid-steers can feed snow from tighter areas to the wheel loaders.

Plow trucks are perfect for clearing roadways and entrance areas. Pushers larger than 16 feet may be too enormous to use on drive lanes during business hours. Use the already present wheel loaders if snow pile relocation is necessary. Another must is employing experienced snow removal equipment operators to ensure efficiency.

Sidewalk operations.

One of our industry’s greatest challenges is finding enough hand crews to battle winter. There are many available options that include enclosed mechanical equipment with brooms and plows. These units will significantly reduce manpower while keeping crews fresh. Walk-behind sidewalk broom units are also very popular choices for large foot traffic areas.

Many contractors use ATVs or UTVs with plow blades for quick sidewalk clearing. Hand shovelers are often needed to clear tight areas near buildings and move the snow out to the mechanical units.

Lot and sidewalk deicing.

Nearby access to deicing chemicals is critical for quick response and application. Large properties often have room for onsite salt and sidewalk deicer storage. A common practice is setting up small bin block storage areas for salt, as well as keeping dedicated onsite wheel loaders and skid-steers onsite to ensure easy loading of chemicals throughout the winter season.

Mobile mini-storage boxes offer relatively inexpensive options for onsite bag product and small sidewalk equipment storage. There are many options for mechanically spreading sidewalk chemicals. ATV salters and ride-on spreaders can handle large sidewalk areas in a short amount of time. Dedicated salt trucks and sidewalk crews are crucial for application times, as well as the ability to handle severe winter storms.


The final key component is having the right amount of supervision in place to handle the property. If the site is large enough, multiple supervisors may be necessary. The best way to achieve maximum results involves separate sidewalk and parking lot supervisors. Technology helps track and document a crew’s progress throughout a storm. It also allows for ongoing communication and updates from the main office and property managers.


Managing a large site for snow and ice removal can be successful with the appropriate preseason planning, implementation and supervision.

Once you have a trained team in place, the key is keeping the same labor and operators on site to allow for maximum efficiency.


The author is business development manager at BSR Services based in St. Louis.