The mission of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) is to establish programs for snow and ice management companies to influence those who affect this industry. Those outside influences include the insurance world, where rising premiums make it difficult to do business in our industry; legislative bodies, where poor laws allow for these crazy insurance claims and lawsuits are the driving force in the rising insurance premiums; and of course property owners and property managers, who are our customers, and cannot differentiate (or don’t care to) between professional snow and ice management companies and those that are not professional.
To accomplish these goals, we needed to create a way for snow and ice management companies to prove they had taken their industry back, taken control of their destinies, and proved they were managing the risk they should be controlling.
This is the first of the four pillars the ASCA is based on. It was the creation off the first-ever set of written industry standards. The ASCA’s Industry Standards committee worked diligently over a two-year period, and not only created the Industry Standards, but also earned accreditation by the American National Standards Institute. ANSI standards are the most credible standards in the US and this stamp of approval gives the industry a credible document to draw from, which it desperately needed.
The second pillar was ASCA Certified education (ASCA-C). This education proves to the outside world that you and your employees have been educated on the Industry Standards and the topic of risk management. To date, more than 300 individuals have become ASCA-C, a number growing on a weekly basis.
The third pillar was a third-party verified quality management system to prove not only that you were educated on the Industry Standards, but that you implemented them into your business model. We worked with ANSI again, through a partnership they have called the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). Through ANAB we used the ISO 9001 Quality Management System and added the customize snow industry requirements. The snow portion is called SN 9001. Together, they prove you have the processes and procedures to ensure service quality and that you have implemented the industry standards into your business. ISO9001 and SN9001 are the ultimate proof you are managing risk in your business; that you are doing things to protect yourself, your company, your clients; and in the event of a claim you can provide the insurance company the information to defend you.
At this time, 10 companies have earned ISO 9001 and SN 9001 certifications. However, there are dozens more actively working through the process. Those that have taken on this process have found they are already 80-95 percent of the way to compliance when they start.
There is an assumption that this is a complicated process. However, many contractors have found they are already doing most of what is needed to comply. These three pillars are about the snow and ice management industry taking control of its destiny.
The first sign this was working came last August when an A-rated insurance carrier began providing credits on their snow insurance policies to companies that were ASCA-C, and even deeper credits for ISO and SN 9001 companies.
The fourth pillar is working toward positive legislative change. To influence elected officials to enact legislation to protect this industry, we have been working diligently at the federal level to support tort reform and reduce frivolous lawsuits. We are not the only professional organization supporting this.
As a matter of fact, organizations across the country, including the NFIB, actively support this legislation. At this time, it is in committee at the House of Representatives and beginning to move. We are working at the state level to enact change there as well.
We are seeing the industry take advantage of our work to get the insurance world and legislative bodies to recognize snow contractors for responsible business practices and an elite level of professionalism. To be more effective we need more of you involved in representing your industry.
As we continue our quest to influence legislative bodies on the state and federal levels, the more professional snow and ice managers involved, the better our chances of achieving success.
The author is executive director of ASCA.