Preseason maintenance

Try these items of routine maintenance to perform on your snow ops before winter sets in.

I can tell the seasons are beginning to shift from the contents of my mailbox. In particular was an oversized flyer that, in an equally oversized font, claimed I needed to take action now to winterize my car or… well, suffer the consequences, I guess.

It got me thinking, though, this time of year is the perfect time to address some basic maintenance issues on your winter operations. I’m not talking oil changes or lubing connections with dielectric grease. Don’t get me wrong, that’s important, too. But what I suggest runs a little deeper to the core of your business operation.

Training & Continuing Education.

Think of this as the oil change and lube to your operation. Without it, things could seize up mid-winter. There is a wealth of educational information available to the snow and ice management community. From the ASCA alone, you can complete online coursework to earn or renew your ASCA-C certification (more than a 1,000 certified and counting). You can attend one of the half-day Snow Academy dates – Buffalo, Sept. 30; Philadelphia, Oct. 2; and Chicago, Oct. 8 – which puts you in the room with three of the industry’s top business coaches to learn about team building, overcoming labor issues, and strengthening the bottom line. You can also catch up on your issues of Snow Magazine. Likewise, check out your local public library for books on professional development. Just because you’re at the top of the hierarchy doesn’t mean you don’t have room to learn new skills and improve as a leader.

Talk To Your Clients.

Carve out an hour or so from your schedule every day to visit and talk to every owner and manager on your client list. If you can’t hit the road, then work the phones. Ask them how they’re doing and how business has been for them in 2019. Then inquire how they’d rate your performance the previous winter and if you’ve met their expectations. Educate them on the investments you’ve made to improve your overall operation and how these will impact snow and ice services. You may be able to rectify game-changing issues over the course of an afternoon visit, and some of those issues may have nothing to do with snow removal. Finally, don’t forget to thank them for their business and their continued support as you conclude and depart.

Have A Cup Of Coffee With Your Team.

Yes, you may have to switch to decaf to do this successfully. Ideally, you have the ability to individually meet with everyone who cashes a check with your signature on it. But depending on the scope of your operations, you may have to limit it to department heads, supervisors, foremen and team leaders. Talk to them honestly. Are they happy? Are their people happy? What would make their jobs easier, more efficient, and/or more profitable. Ask them the all-important: “If you had the power to change one thing, what would it be and why?” Reinforce with them that your door is always open.

So, heed this warning and address these maintenance issues today. Fail to do so and, well, you’ll suffer the consequences.

Kevin Gilbride is executive director of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association.

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