Dominate the Winter 2021-22 Snow Market

Online commerce has revolutionized the economy. As consumer expectations shift, both from a prospective client and employee perspective, snow and ice pros must remain nimble and change. Here’s what to focus on.

Electronic commerce continues to grow in scope and popularity. In keeping with this growth, your ability to communicate in an automated fashion is increasingly crucial. For the 2021 Snow Season, communication is the key to selling services, keeping customers satisfied and hiring enough staff for your routes. Three vital areas to focus on this season are:

  • Interactive Chat - responding to leads 24/7 using conversational marketing bots
  • Automated Updates - keeping customers informed through each snow and ice event
  • Online Recruiting - encompassing application, hiring and onboarding helps build your bench before and during the snow season

No doubt about it, companies like Amazon, Uber and Instacart have revolutionized the ability of consumers to shop and communicate online — when it is most convenient for them. In order to stay up to date with customer preferences, snow removal companies should engage leads all of the time, not just when you are open during the day. Deploying an automated chatbot on your website or social media site is an excellent way to engage leads at the point that they want to ask questions and buy services. A chatbot can work to your advantage to:

  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Qualify the prospect
  • Enter lead information into your CRM
  • Alert a staff member to hop into the conversation if needed
  • Connect your sales team to the hottest, most qualified leads

Depending on the services you offer, most residential services can be quoted, sold,and paid for all through interactive chat. For commercial services, an onsite estimate may still need to be scheduled and completed. Either way, being able to engage potential customers at all times is a must.

Automatic Updates.

Clients are becoming more and more accustomed to real-time tracking of services. Here are a few communication tools to create the same customer experience with your snow and ice removal services:

  • GPS Tracking - of your snow fleet and automated communication as your crews perform work is key to managing your resources.
  • Dispatch Notification - sent via text or email when their snow removal crew has left the shop with a login for them to see where they are in real time.
  • Geofencing - software has the capability to alert your client when crews are a few stops away. This is important, especially if cars need to be moved in advance.
  • Completion Confirmation - lets the client know that their job has been done whether they are home or not.
  • Quality Inspection - sends an automated text or email that can be triggered right after the completion of the post service inspection.
  • Customer Feedback - gives you survey data on how your crews are doing and what needs to be improved and can encourage positive comments to social media platforms.

As the bigger companies continue feeding customer expectations, our industry standards will keep rising. Get ahead of the curve and set the bar for your local market. By using tools to enhance the customer experience, you build in that sticking factor that is essential to cornering your arena. Don’t wait until the competition has started providing these elements to their business — playing catch up is always harder than leading the pack.

Online Recruiting.

The good news is that the market for our services is strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the demand for grounds maintenance workers — which includes snow removal — is growing at a rate of 10% over the next decade. This is a rate far higher than the average of 4% average for other occupations. Despite current labor challenges, the time to grow and scale is right now — before the first snowflake even forms. Chances are good that you are vying for the same pool of applicants as your competitors. Here are steps you can take to speed up the hiring process and give you a head start on your competition:

  • Online Processing - submitting job applications online, screening applicants and arranging interviews quickly streamlines the hiring process
  • Interactive Chat - just as a bot can help qualify your prospective clients, this technology can help you interact with and qualify applicants, especially those that are already working shift jobs
  • Social Media - communicating with new applicants through your website, social media in addition to email and text is huge
  • Nurturing Prospects - reaching out through an automated system to keep in touch with qualified candidates that applied but were not hired previously is helpful, as you may be competing for the same applicants with your competitors

There is no way around the fact that reaching out and connecting with prospective applicants is challenging and competitive. Creating communication systems that start now and continue throughout the season will help you to hire and retain good employees. Remember, waiting until the season is beginning may be too late to line up your bench.

By embracing new technologies and updating your methods before your competition does, you stand to increase your market share and strengthen both your company and your customer base. People want to buy on their schedule, and chatbots allow you to provide that access at all hours of the day. People want to know who they’re dealing with and feel like they matter. Automatic surveys and quality inspections, dispatch notifications and completion confirmations all work together to build that foundation for prospects and current clients alike. And your applicants want to get to work: Streamlined online recruiting gets you into the 21st century and helps build your bench before the crunch time.

Online commerce has revolutionized our economy as a whole. As consumer expectations shift, both from a prospective client and employee perspective, we have to remain nimble and change as well. Focusing on these three elements — interactive chats, automatic updates and online recruiting — will keep you ahead of the curve.

The author is the owner and president of SimpleGrowth, a consulting firm.

September 2021
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