A Day in the Life of Snow at Greenwise

Written by Greenwise Team
Published on December 2, 2021
Greenwise puts a lot of thought into snow removal, so you don’t have to. Our team is constantly talking about snow, meeting about snow, and working together to figure out how to do it better after every single snow event, big or small.

Snow Is All Hands on Deck

Everyone on our team plays an important role during our snow season:
  • Client relationship managers and designers act as operations managers, helping during and after snow events. They are each responsible for two routes. Before our snow season begins, they’ve looked at each property on their route, read through the notes to make sure they are clear, and have addressed any issues, such as where to put the snow or making sure the crew understands the scope. They are our clients’ go-to person when questions arise. Every client gets an email, explaining who is on their snow team and how to contact us during a snow event.
  • Client Relationship Administrators are on call every weekend and holiday to ensure you reach a real human being when you need us.
  • Our President and Vice President are responsible for the snow hotline, which we activate during every snow event, giving our customers 24-hour coverage when the snow hits.
  • The Marketing Director sends out emails to our clients, letting them know when we are activating our snow routes, so you know when to expect us.
  • Our Branch Manager for the Western Suburbs is responsible for our go-back crew.
  • Our Horticulturist is one of our snow foremen, which means he leads the crew for two snow routes.
  • The Design Coordinator takes care of all the snow billing.
  • Our Mechanic takes care of keeping all our equipment and trucks in great shape.
You get the picture. Snow is not a time when we slack off. And, if you’ve lived in Chicago long enough, you know snow can be brutal. Obviously, snow requires you to work in the worst kinds of weather. It also requires you to be ready at any hour of the day or night. And we definitely are.

Why Would a Company Focused on Organic Lawn Care Get into Snow?

When you think about it, snow makes a lot of sense for us. By working in snow removal, we can give our field employees a stable working environment 365 days a year, which in turn helps us retain our most valued workers. We pay fair wages and above industry standards for both our snow and green season labor, and almost half of our crews are year-round employees.

Lightening Our Footprint Applies to Snow, Too

Our snow season also helps us invest in new technology for our green season. Our focus these past few years has been to increase our electric fleet—more electric mowers, leaf blowers, hedgers, and trimmers—and snow helps us reach this goal faster. Plus, we don’t approach snow the same way everyone else does by reacting to it. Our approach to snow removal adheres to our mission: Lighten Our Footprint. We do this by using ice melt that is safe for the environment, your plants, and your dogs’ paws. We have found that when our first step in snow removal is to apply our eco-friendly ice melt, it is better for everyone. It’s better for you because we use less ice melt, which means less impact on our environment. And, using ice melt helps prevent any back-to-back snowfalls from sticking, creating a safer walkway all winter long. Beyond ice melt, we thoughtfully design snow routes that efficiently cover our snow service territory, which means we aren’t driving our plows and trucks more or farther than necessary. We also purposely restrict how many properties we service. That way, we can reach your home in a reasonable amount of time once a snow event begins. We also want to ensure our crews are as safe as possible, so we only create routes that are easily accessible from our shop in Evanston, making it safer for our workers in hazardous conditions.

How We Plan for Snow

When we experience big snow events, there is a lot of planning that goes into how we service our properties. First, our team meets and discusses the upcoming forecast, what type of service the snow event will likely require, and how many crews and routes we need. We alert our snow workers that we anticipate a snow event and to be prepared (i.e., go to sleep early, so you are well rested when that storm hits at 2am!). As the snow event gets closer, we decide on our exact activation time for our crews to start their routes.

Here’s What a Typical Snow Day Looks Like

  • If a snow event is scheduled to begin at 8pm, our crews arrive shortly beforehand to ensure they get as much sleep as possible.
  • We send you an email letting you know when we are activating our routes
  • When the crew shows up at your door. They have looked at photos and instructions about your property. Earlier in the season, our team has already staked your property, especially if we are using plows or the property is large. This helps us avoid damages and increases visibility so that we are as efficient as possible.
  • We thoughtfully decide on a start time during a snow event that gives our crews adequate rest and ensures your property is clear and safe for you. If a snow event is scheduled to start at 10pm, but won’t end until 5am, then we’ll most likely start just before 5am to ensure our crews get a good night’s sleep and that your property will be cleared by the time you wake up.
  • Each crew is made up of two to three workers and has a supervisor who answers questions and is their point person for any issues that arise during the snow event, including needing more material or mechanical breakdowns (we have a dedicated mechanic on staff all year to help us keep our fleet in tip-top shape).
  • Our crews use plows, shovels, and snow blowers. They choose the tool to match the need of your property and according to the type of service you requested.
  • Sometimes, especially in the city, our crews can’t even park in front of your property but must park down the street. As Chicagoans, we’ve all dealt with neighbors who shovel out their parking spaces and block them with chairs when they leave. Imagine contending with that when you are driving a plow on your snow route!
  • We strive to minimize mistakes, but mistakes will happen and that’s why we have one designated crew who’s responsible for dealing with any “go-backs.” For example, if a portion of the sidewalk was missed, we’ll send the crew back to fix it.
  • At the end of the snow event, hopefully not longer than 8 hours, the crews return to the shop, drop off their equipment, and head home for much-needed rest!
  • If we get a back-to-back snow event, we need to balance what’s best for our crews and what’s best for our customers. Understandably, after 10 hours of pushing and lifting snow, our crews need to rest.
Sometimes, Mother Nature throws a wrench into our best-laid plans by either over-delivering or under-delivering on the forecast. Snow means we are always on our toes, ready to pivot at a moment’s notice. Snow also forces us to run a tight ship. The lessons we learn during the snow season benefit us during the green season, which of course benefits you by serving you better.