northern clearways landscaping snow removal business

Key Results

  • 81%

    Route Planning Time Saved

  • 85%

    Automation in Assigning Jobs

  • 90%

    Reduction in Communication Gap

The Challenge

Founded in 2008, Northern Clearways is a premier landscaping and snow removal service provider based in Duluth, Minnesota. Specializing in snow plowing, shoveling, salting/de-icing services, and emergency snow removal services in snow storms, the company has built a reputation for reliability, especially during intense snowstorms.

Northern Clearways is known for residential contracts and commercial agreements for clearing their driveaways, parking lots, loading docks, walkways, ramps, and stairs.

During the challenging snow season or extreme winters, with 550+ regular clients, Northern Clearways faced significant operational challenges. Some of the primary challenges were managing and providing on-time services across a diverse client base when it snows.

Not only this but to provide on-time services when heavy snowfalls hit, it is a must that route planning and optimization are done in advance. It also requires efficient job allocation among drivers and rapid response to sudden weather changes.

Each season, the task of route planning and optimization consumed hours of Maxwell and his admin team’s time. The unpredictable weather patterns in Duluth, particularly sudden snowstorms, necessitated a high degree of flexibility and rapid response capability in their operations. This unpredictability often led to workforce management and resource allocation issues, directly impacting visits.

Moreover, managing client expectations during peak snowfall periods became increasingly complex. Delays or miscommunication between Maxwell and drivers not only led to client dissatisfaction but also posed risks to the company’s hard-earned reputation.

The Solution

With a multitude of challenges while managing and providing snow removal services, Maxwell decided to adopt route optimization software, Upper, to automate all the routing operations. From route planning to optimization, one-click driver dispatching to real-time visibility of operations, and last-minute changes in routes to updating clients, everything can be managed with Upper.

Efficient Route Planning and Optimization in Advance Before Storm Hits

Weather conditions like snowfall and storms can happen any time of the day. It can’t be scheduled in advance like other services, such as landscaping, where you call the owner and fix the date and time for the service.

Snowfall is often associated with strong cold fronts, so traditional planning methods fall short. The sudden white-out conditions with falling temperatures produce icy roads, necessitating efficient response from snow removal teams.

So, Maxwell plans routes considering weather updates. If there is any update on the weather, like there will be snow on this particular day or time, he plans routes for that day. Using Upper route planner software, Maxwell and his admin team save hours of time when planning for routes. Moreover, this advanced planning capability has revolutionized Northern Clearways’ operations, transforming hours of manual, paper-based planning into a streamlined, efficient process.

advanced planning capability has revolutionized Northern Clearways’ operations, transforming hours of manual, paper-based planning into a streamlined, efficient process.

Schedule routes

With Upper, we’re not just reacting to the weather; we’re strategically prepared for it, saving us invaluable time and enhancing our service reliability.

Maxwell Sterling

Northern Clearways Inc

Effortlessly Managing Contacts

For Maxwell and his team at Northern Clearways, managing a vast database of addresses and customer locations is crucial for efficient operations. The ‘Contact Book’ feature of Upper has been a blessing in this regard.

This feature proved extremely useful for the Maxwell team, as they have the same clients every season, adding some new ones. Mostly, the team has repeat clients every season, so this is the main reason why the contact book plays an important role.

The feature allows the team to seamlessly synchronize addresses across multiple users, accounts, and devices, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

This feature is particularly useful for planning and optimizing routes, especially when last-minute changes are needed. With the ability to easily add new contacts, upload bulk contacts using spreadsheets, and integrate these contacts directly into route planning, the admin team has seen a significant reduction in preparation time.

Manage contact book

The Contact Book feature has transformed how we manage our customer information. What used to take hours now takes minutes, and we can easily update our routes with the latest contact data.’ This streamlined process not only saves time but also allows for better organization of contacts, with options to categorize them as favorites or recent addresses, enhancing the overall operational efficiency of Northern Clearways.

Maxwell Sterling
Maxwell Sterling

Northern Clearways Inc

Duplicate Route in a Click & Assign Pending Snow Jobs to Available Drivers

Maxwell and his team found duplicating a route in one click a game-changer feature as it helps them save hours of time and effort. Instead of planning a route from scratch and adding pending stops, Maxwell and the team duplicate a route with remaining stops and assign it to the idle drivers who are available.

Let’s take an example, there are two drivers (John and Richard) to whom Maxwell assigned equal stops to remove snow, but John was more experienced and completed his stops earlier, whereas Richard is new in the team and has completed 2 stops out of 10. So, Maxwell decided to ask John to help Richard in his job; therefore, Maxwell duplicated the route in a single click with the remaining stops, assigning John the duplicate route with pending stops to perform it. This way, Maxwell and his team perform duplication of routes and reasoning the pending jobs to available drivers.

Duplicate route plan

Real-Time Updates and Notifications to Clients

For Maxwell Sterling and his team, maintaining client satisfaction is paramount. This is where Upper’s real-time updates and client notification features have made a huge difference. By providing dynamic Estimated Times of Arrival (ETAs) and real-time tracking, they have elevated the service experience, keeping clients not just informed but also engaged and in control.

This feature has transformed client interactions, boosting trust and transparency. Clients get delighted if they are in the loop about the status of their snow removal service, eliminating the need for them to call in for updates.

Our clients have expressed how much they value these real-time notifications. It’s not just about informing them; it’s about giving them peace of mind during the hectic winter season.

Maxwell Sterling
Maxwell Sterling

Northern Clearways Inc

Real-time GPS Tracking of Drivers

Another major feature that did wonders for Maxwell and the team is the real-time GPS tracking of drivers. This capability allows Maxwell to monitor his drivers and assigned snow removal jobs with complete visibility over their routes. He can track the progress of each job with real-time updates, whether they are completed, pending, or ongoing.

This feature is crucial in managing the day’s workload efficiently. For instance, if a driver completes their assigned jobs ahead of schedule, Maxwell can promptly reassign them to other pending stops. This real-time visibility enables him to make quick, informed decisions, significantly boosting the team’s overall productivity. Moreover, this feature ensures driver safety and adherence to road regulations, which is particularly important during severe weather conditions.

The Impact

The adoption of Upper marked a turning point for Northern Clearways Inc., revolutionizing their snow removal operations and addressing their most pressing challenges. The transition from traditional, manual routing methods to Upper’s automated solution catalyzed advanced operational efficiency and expanded business capacity.

With Upper’s intelligent route planning and optimization, Northern Clearways experienced a significant overhaul in their workflow. This advancement eradicated the time-consuming and error-prone practices of manual route planning. The result was not just a substantial saving in time but also an improvement in the precision and coordination of their snow removal operations.

This enhancement in productivity was evident. The optimized routes, coupled with a digital dispatching system, minimized redundant travel and refueling stops. Consequently, drivers were able to service a larger area more effectively, increasing the number of clients they could handle during the demanding winter months.

Moreover, the integration of Upper’s system brought a notable improvement in customer service. Automated notifications and real-time updates provided clients with much-needed transparency and reassurance during snow events. This level of clarity and communication significantly reduced customer queries and disputes, leading to higher satisfaction rates.

Performance Metrics

Metrics Before Upper After Upper
Route Planning Time Over 400 hours/season Less than 50 hours/season
Driver Productivity 80 to 85% 96%
Smooth Communication 55% 95%
Time-Saving 53% 94%

Note: Northern Clearways uses Upper throughout the year as it is a landscaping and snow removal service provider company, so the team manages landscaping routing operations using Upper.