Finding the best commercial snow plow for your business is arguably one of the most important things you’ll decide on.
After all, your snow plow is one of your business’ most important assets.
However, finding the right one can seem like an impossibly overwhelming task…
Manufacturers make all the options dizzying, hoping you'll wander unprepared into a dealership and get sold more plow than you need.
That fancy V-plow with a touchscreen, hydraulic controller seems like it’s got all the bells and whistles (and the price tag to go with it).
Depending on the kind of work you do, you may not even want all those bells and whistles.
Figure out what you need to do for the jobs you can get, which is exactly what this article will help you do.
After reading this article, you’ll feel confident you made an informed decision instead of a “go with your gut” decision.
Let’s get down to brass tacks: Picking a snow plow for your snow removal business isn’t as hard as online forums and Facebook groups make it seem.
You really only need consider these three factors:
Once you answer these three questions, you can go find the best commercial snow plow for your business. Really, it’s that easy.
FInding how much commercial snow plow you can handle is pretty straightforward.
Find the Front Gross Axle Vehicle Weight Rating (FGA VWR) for your truck.
You should be able to find it with a quick Google search or by consulting your owner’s manual.
In general, a standard pickup can carry a plow that’s 6’ to 7 ½’. A ½ ton pickup can carry 7’ to 7 ½’ and a ¾ or full-size pickup can carry a plow 7 ½’ to 8’.
Plows are made from three materials, and each has strong pluses and drawbacks:
Stainless steel is the tried-and-true plow material.
It has a finer finish than regular steel and is usually coated to help snow slough off more easily.
Even though stainless steel snow plows are generally more expensive, they’re less susceptible to rust and corrosion than a traditional steel plow.
Traditional steel is strong, and it effectively pushes snow.
However, traditional steel snow plows are more susceptible to collecting frozen snow than a stainless steel or poly plow.
Also, they’re more likely to succumb to rust and corrosion.
That said, their biggest strength is that they’re moderately less expensive than stainless steel or poly.
You’re going to have to replace them more quickly (because of rust and corrosion).
If the budget is not your primary concern, this is probably not the right snow plow for your snow removal business.
Plastic? For a snow plow?
It’s not a joke.
Poly snow plows are being made in droves.
They’re slightly less expensive, and they don’t have to be coated to slough off snow - they do it naturally.
But here’s the drawback: Plastic is weaker than steel.
Manufacturers overcome this material weakness by reinforcing the poly with intricate steel frames.
However, these frames usually make the plow heavier than a similarly sized steel plow.
You’re weighing the added efficiency of snow not sticking to the plow against the fuel costs of a heavier plow. It’s approaching a wash (a plow covered in snow is also heavier than a dry plow).
You have two options here: straight or v-plows.
If you’re doing mostly residential work, there’s almost no reason to buy a V-plow, unless you’re plowing a neighborhood with gargantuan circle drives.
A straight-blade plow will easily clear driveways.
V-plows are designed for efficiently cutting through caked on snow in large areas. So if you mostly do commercial work (parking lots, streets, etc.), you’ll want a v-plow.
The point of a v-plow is that it acts like a wedge and easily moves through those low, icy layers of snow on extended flat surfaces.
They’re way more efficient than a straight-blade plow in that situation.
Also, you’ll put less wear and tear on a v-plow in that situation that you would on a straight-blade.
Using a v-plow is typically more complicated than a straight-blade plow. However, you’ll have to learn to use it.
Employees will need to be trained and there will be a learning curve. A straight-blade plow requires a few minutes of training but (forgive the pun) is straight-forward to use.
There’s finesse. You have to get a feel for it with a v-plow.
Straight-blade plows are typically cheaper than v-plows because they’re less complicated to produce.
Depending on the kind of service you provide, you can determine the right snow plow blade-shape for your business.
You should consider the lighting provided by your plow.
Many plows have attached work lights (similar to offroad lighting for 4x4s).
This will help you see since your headlights will be obscured, most of the time, by the plow while you’re working.
If your commercial snow plow doesn’t come with lighting, you should consider aftermarket lighting kits for your truck.
In our article about purchasing a truck for your snow removal company, I strongly cautioned owners against buying a truck+plow combo used. I also recommended not buying a used vehicle from a business.
That’s true here as well.
The only time I’d buy a used plow is if it was privately-owned.
You can purchase a small plow from someone who intended to plow their own drive… Heck, you might even get a customer out of that transaction.
But business owners abuse snow plows MORE than they abuse their trucks.
Plows are left to soak in salt water and melting snow. They’re literally scraped against concrete and asphalt for hours on end.
Hydraulic systems aren’t maintained properly, and then they sit for months at a time.
In many cases, a used snow plow is going to be a broken snow plow in a week.
Aside from getting a plow that you know hasn’t been abused, purchasing new plows gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with a dealer.
Plus, you’ll need that dealer when something inevitably breaks during the snow season.
People are busy during the snow season and a positive, existing relationship with a dealership can be a lifesaver in a pinch.
It's more than just finding the best commercial snow plow, you've got to get it from the right people.
Manage your clients and employees all in one system
The best commercial snow plow is largely dependent on what kind of properties you service.
Residential providers are better served by nimble, easy to use, less expensive straight-blade plows.
Commercial providers are usually better served by larger v-plows, which offer greater efficiency in their big, open service areas.
The commercial snow plow material is usually limited by budget and which trade-off you’re interested in (snow sticking or weight reduction).
Now, you have all of the information you need to get out there and buy the best commercial snow plow for your business today!
Originally published Dec 19, 2017 6:00 AM, updated Dec 22, 2020 11:18 AM
Tags: Business Operation