Schooling your employees

Appropriately training a team of snow removal experts regarding standard operating procedures is the central component to business success. You are only as strong as your weakest link; therefore, standardized training is crucial.

At Callahan’s we provide a three-pronged training approach: a pre-season preparation program, on-the-job embedded training and continuous quality control training. These training programs consist of online videos as well as physical training to ensure the company’s standard workflow procedures are being adhered to.

Preseason training.

At Callahan’s, pre-season training for new and returning employees begins with reviewing the company rules and the employee’s job description. This includes reviewing their roles and responsibilities, expectations surrounding availability during snow and ice events, work to be completed, how to record work completed and repercussions for failure to follow through on their commitments.

Next, all employees begin the online video training series. The series begins with a segment on properly staking a driveway or a parking lot. The second segment documents the proper plowing technique that is to be utilized, including how to back drag, plow open areas and curb lines correctly, and includes proper snow stacking techniques.

Residential experts are also trained on proper placement of snow piles for safety and compliance with local laws. In the final step of pre-season training, new team members have the opportunity to practice operating equipment so they are comfortable when the snow flies.

All members of the team are trained in pre-season operations including sidewalk crews, truck, loader and skid-steer operators.

The use of the online training series throughout our training process has been instrumental in our success each winter. These training videos, which can be viewed by clicking,, have helped Callahan’s overcome the obstacle many companies face of having to wait until the first snow and ice event to begin training employees. The online training series guarantees that each of our employees receives some formal training prior to hitting the road during the first snow and ice event.

In-season training.

Once the snow flies and the ice accumulates it’s all systems go. New employees are now paired up with veteran drivers until they are competent enough to work on their own.

We are required, due to more sensitive trigger points, to plow commercial properties prior to residential properties. This allows our new employees the opportunity to be cross-trained. First, they ride along with our commercial plow operators and then train on residential properties without the stress of clearing large amounts of snow and pressing deadlines. Just like our plowing crews, we pair our new salt truck operators with veteran operators to ensure they are loading the hopper correctly and applying salt appropriately for the conditions.

But even the most experienced operators will tend to deviate from the standard workflow procedures at times. We, as managers and company owners, must continually train and encourage our staff to follow the set plan. Diligence in the areas of training and quality control during mid-season and end-of-season will deliver predictable results and desired production rate producing profits every winter.

Finally, maintaining control over documentation of work completed at this point in the season is essential. Without proper documentation of completed work, it becomes impossible to produce invoices and production rates and job costing will suffer.

Lack of documentation of work could also leave your company and your customer open to liability in the event of a slip and fall. These three simple steps to building a team of snow plow experts will save you time, money and lots of headaches during the snow and ice season.


Mike Callahan is owner of Callahan Lawn Care and Property Maintenance. He has been in the snow business for more than 15 years.

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