The Essential Commercial Snow Equipment Guide

Published on November 22, 2023

The commercial snow equipment you use in your business can make a huge difference in how successful you are this year!

Equipment affects everything: from fast jobs are completed, to the satisfaction level of your customers and much more!

We’re going to show you exactly which types of commercial snow equipment are best, and some tips to grow your business too, including:

  • Which snow shovels are best 
  • The right snow plow for your business
  • Investing in a snow blower
  • How to grow your team
  • How to win new clients
  • And more!

Tools of the Trade

While the needs of each snow removal company vary, here are some of the top commercial snow equipment pieces you should have.

Snow Shovels

Snow shovels are an important part of this commercial snow equipment guide because these tools are used by operations big and small.

Unlike the shovels bought by the average homeowner, commercial snow shovels are:

  • Ergonomic
  • Lightweight
  • Have very specific use cases

Shovel Blades

When choosing a snow shovel, you’ll want to pay close attention to the blade size and shape. 

Larger plow-style blades (think 24” or 30”) are great for pushing and scraping snow and can be used for shoveling powder too.

For wet heavy snow, a smaller 18” plow-style blade is ideal as it ensures employees don’t try to lift too much heavy snow at once.

When it comes to shovel noses, you’ve got several different options depending on your snow conditions.

  • Square nose: For scraping off frozen sidewalks and driveways
  • Round nose: For breaking up that frozen berm at the base of a drift
  • Scraper: A smaller square-nosed blade that can break up the tough ice

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Shovel Materials

Commercial snow equipment shovels are made of a variety of different materials - and this is often up to your personal preferences!  

While there isn’t a single material that will do it all, it is important to know some of the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

  • Wood: Cheap, heavy, and durable
  • Aluminum: Lightweight, won’t rust, but can scratch decks
  • Plastic: Lightweight, not very rigid, won’t scratch deks
  • Fiberglass: Most expensive, lightweight, and rigid

Shovel Shafts and Handle Design

Additionally, be sure to check out the design of the shovels too.

  • Straight shaft: good for pushing snow; not great for lifting snow
  • Gooseneck shaft: a more ergonomic option that is good for medium-use shoveling; not great for pushing or heavy scooping as it is hard on the wrists and can cause hunching of the back
  • Curved shaft: The sweet spot between the previous options - this is a good choice for a heavy-use shovel

Shovel Handles

While there are a few different handle options, the “D-Grip” is one of the best as it absorbs shock, works well with gloves, and provides more control overall.

If you end up choosing a shovel that doesn’t have a D-Grip, you can buy add-on handles that will allow you to add a D-Grip to your shovels. 

The T-grip handle is also an option that can help provide a comfortable and secure grip.

Lastly, some shovels don’t have an extra grip and simply have a straight handle. 

Buying a Shovel

While the price will vary based on your location and which model you choose, most decent shovels start at around $40.

While that can feel like a lot, investing a good shovel can:

  • Last for numerous seasons
  • Minimize injuries
  • Maximize snow removal efficiency

Remember - you need to have the right shovel for the right job. 

Trying to remove all types of snow with a single shovel is going to be tough, and it’s best to have several shovels you and your team can use depending on the conditions.

Shovel Recommendations

Here are some of our top recommendations that made this commercial snow equipment guide:

True Temper’s 18-Inch Ergonomic Mountain Mover: This plastic-bladed shovel has a curved metal handle, is great for pushing and scooping, and only weighs about 3 lbs.

Bully Tools’ 22-Inch Combination Snow Shovel: A fiberglass handle with a D-grip and plastic blade makes this shovel a solid option for scooping–plus it only weighs 3.6 lbs.

Bully Tools’ 22-Inch Snow Pusher: A big 27” plastic blade and long, straight fiberglass handle make this a solid choice for pushing snow.

Snow Plows

For the biggest snow removal jobs, a snow plow is a HUGE game changer.

If you are somewhere that gets heavy snow each year, you’ll probably want to make the investment!

When choosing the right plow for your business, you should consider:

  • Weight capacity of your truck’s front axel
  • Residential vs. commercial plowing
  • The blade’s material

New vs. Used Snow Plows

As you might expect, snow plows can be an expensive part of your commercial snow equipment lineup.

If you’re just getting started, it is easy to think that a plow is a good place to save a few bucks.

But like a used truck, it isn’t the best choice.

Plows literally get scraped across asphalt and concrete for the entire season… and you don’t know how well the plow was maintained either!

New plows are an investment in your business and also a chance for you to build a relationship with the dealer.

That way if you have any issues with your plow in the height of the snow removal season, you’ll be able to get them resolved fast.

Truck to Plow Size

The size of the plow you end up choosing has a lot to do with the size of your truck.

Be sure to do your own research based on your truck’s gross vehicle weight rating, but a good rule of thumb is:

  • Standard Pickup: 6’ - 7’ plow
  • ½ Ton Pickup: 7’ - 7.5’ plow
  • Full-Size Pickup: 7.5’ - 8’ plow

Plow Blades: Residential vs. Commercial Jobs

When it comes down to choosing the type of blade shape you need to decide if the snow removal you and your team are doing will be residential vs. commercial.

Simply put, most residential work would need a straight plow blade. 

Straight plows are great for clearing driveways and don’t require much training for your team.

If you’re going to be doing more commercial jobs (think complete neighborhoods, parking lots, streets, etc.) you’re going to want to go with a V-Plow.

Yes, these blades are more expensive than a straight plow and you’ll need more training.

But the upside is that they take less wear-and-tear during a storm, and can plow through heavy snow much easier.

Snow Plow Blade Materials

Like snow shovels, the blade material of your snow plow is important and has its own set of pros and cons.

  • Stainless Steel: Less susceptible to rust and corrosion, but has a higher cost
  • Traditional Steel: Great for pushing snow and budget-friendly, but more likely to rust or corrode
  • Poly (Durable Plastic): Natural, non-stick surface and budget friendly, can be heavier and weaker than steel.

Buying Your Snow Plow

Ultimately, you’ll need to choose the right plow for your truck and the types of jobs you’ll be doing. 

Here are a few of our favorite brands:

Snow Blowers

As part of your commercial snow equipment arsenal, you and your team should have snow blowers too.

Like the other snow removal tools, your decision will take into account your budget, average snowfall, and the sidewalks and driveways you’ll be working on.

Snow Blower Power

One of the biggest deciding factors is how much power the snow blower has.

For light snowfall and smaller areas, an electric snow blower can probably get the job done.

But when the snow is heavy and or wet, you’re going to need to go with something bigger…

You’ll probably want to go with a two-stage snow blower which is ideal for large drifts and when that snow shovel isn’t going to cut it.

Plus, two-stage blowers are easy to use and work well on hills and uneven areas too.

If you need to go through 3 or more feet of snow you may want to consider a three-stage snow blower.

Snow Blower Models

While there are a lot of great two-stage snow blowers out there, here are a few of our favorites:

Ariens 921046

The Ariens 921046 is a great blower that has power and is still budget-friendly.

It has a strong engine and its one-hand interlock makes it very easy to maneuver.

The only downside is that for commercial use, the warranty is only good for 90 days.

Briggs and Stratton S1227

If you’re typically dealing with small to moderate amounts of snow, the Briggs and Stratton S1227 is a solid choice. 

It has a clearing width of 27” which means that it is perfect for sidewalks and small spaces.

The Briggs and Stratton S1227 also has the same 90-day warranty issue as the Ariens 921046.

Honda Power Equipment HSS1332ATD

If you anticipate heavy-duty commercial snow removal jobs, the Honda Power Equipment HSS1332ATD is the right move.

It has a powerful 3889cc engine, 32” of clearing, and manual speed.

Although it does have a 3-year warranty, this model is considerably more expensive than the previous two options we shared above.

Growing Your Business

Who doesn’t love new stuff?

Getting new commercial snow equipment can be very exciting, but there are a few factors you should consider before you load up your shopping cart.

Snow Business Pricing

One of the biggest mistakes most snow businesses make is not having the right pricing.

Simply put, in order to ensure that your business is able to grow and generate profits you need to be charging enough.

There are a number of factors that you should consider when pricing including:

  • How long a job will take
  • Overhead (truck, tires, etc.)
  • Pricing structure (per push, per event, per inch, etc.)
  • How much you’re paying employees
  • Commercial vs. residential jobs

Once you’ve got a good idea about your pricing and profits you’ll have a better understanding of how much you should spend on new equipment.

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Scaling Your Client Base

Does it feel like you have a ton of happy customers and your team can barely keep up with the demand after a snowstorm?

If not, you may want to spend some time growing your client base.

One of the easiest ways to do that is with a simple client referral program.

Take your best customers, and offer them a small incentive (think free service or gift card) to provide you with a few people they know who would benefit from your services.

Additionally, you can always do some basic advertising for your service too.

While there is a cost to run Google Ads or Facebook ads, this is a proven way to get new leads fast.

Your Software

It is really easy to focus on the shiny new equipment, but oftentimes, one of the best fixes for your company can come from using the right snow removal software.

Service Autopilot helps successful snow removal companies just like yours by streamlining everyday tasks and freeing up their time.

Here are just a few of the ways You can use Service Autopilot in your business:

  • Instant invoicing
  • Automatic routing
  • Detailed reporting
  • Employee tracking
  • Flexible billing system
  • Pre-built master routes
  • Quick estimates from anywhere
  • Same-day automated payments

Ultimately, the right software can help you win more new business, stay organized, and GROW profits too.

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Better scheduling

Manage your clients and employees all in one system

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Your Team

While new or additional equipment can help them work more efficiently, it might also be time to expand your team.
Even though it might feel like a challenge, you can still hire great employees with everything going on with the economy.

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Start by doing a little marketing to find the best candidates.

You can run paid ads on social media, use flyers in your area, or post on major job sites (LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.).

Next, you’ll want to prescreen your candidates with a few basic questions that cover:

  • Their past experience
  • If they have any snow removal licensing or certifications
  • Why they want to work in the industry
  • What they could bring to your business

After that, you can do an in-person interview with your top candidates who made it through the pre-screening round.

You can ask similar questions in the in-person interview (to check for consistency) and a few of the questions below:

  • In the past, how have you dealt with an angry client?
  • Why do you want to leave your current position?
  • Can you drive a manual transmission?
  • What makes you different from the other applicants who are applying?

Before you make an offer, be sure to ask for references and give them a call.

And most importantly, you’ll want to make sure their wages are high enough to attract the right talent (and keep) them while still maintaining a profit.

Or else… your competition might steal your best candidates! 

Getting New Equipment

You’ve now got a good idea of what kinds of commercial snow equipment are out there.

Don’t feel like you need to rush into a decision, and some additional research for your specific situation will go a long way.

Related: How to Grow Your Snow Business

Originally published Nov 22, 2023 7:07 AM


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