It’s always amazing how quickly the busy season seems to roll around again. Soon enough, you’ll need to have your snow and ice management strategies in place so you’re ready for that first big storm.
When you spend time prepping, you’ll feel confident you’re delivering the best customer experience for your clients. Use this quick guide as a refresher as you get ready to put your snow and ice preparation and response plan into action.
Prepare a Snow and Ice Prep and Response Plan
As you look ahead to the winter season, you can approach your snow and ice plans in two phases:
- Phase one: Getting your business ready for the season
- Phase two: The 24 hours leading up to a forecasted winter weather event
Phase One: Before the Season Begins — 3 Steps to Winter Prep
The most effective snowstorm response starts before the first snowflake flies. Preparing now will help you to avoid becoming overwhelmed when it’s time to respond as your community faces severe winter weather.
1. Review Your Client List
No matter how prepared you feel for the winter season, you won’t bring in revenue without an active client list. As the fall season begins, start reaching out to clients to verify their upcoming contracts or to suggest a plan for clients who have yet to commit. This is also an excellent time to place ads in local print publications and other marketing channels like social media networks.
2. Inspect and Inventory Your Equipment
Take stock of your equipment. Here are a few things to check:
- Visual inspection: Check hoses, welds, and plow edges for rust and corrosion
- Maintenance: Clean electrical connections, flush and replace hydraulic fluids, test and charge batteries, install plows, and retorque fasteners
- Quantity of equipment: Do you have what you need to meet expected demand?
- Supplies: Ensure you have enough consumable products like ice melt, winter gear for employees, and so on
3. Update Your Routes
Consider past years’ successes and try to alleviate any pain points caused by poor routing choices. Consider construction and transportation grid changes that could impact your drivers’ ability to complete routes as efficiently as possible. Don’t forget to account for new clients well ahead of the first winter event.
Phase Two: 24 Hours Before a Storm — 7 Steps for Readiness
Don’t procrastinate, even if you feel confident you’re good to go. Every storm is different, and every storm offers you a new opportunity to show your clients your value.
1. Final Equipment Prep
Spend some time greasing machinery and refueling every vehicle. Every machine and piece of equipment should be started and briefly operated in case you need to address minor repairs or take a broken piece of equipment out of rotation.
2. Stock Your Trucks
Check for all the equipment your team may need on each truck: shovels, snowblowers, extra gloves, hats and socks, and so on. Remember, many of your workers will wake up before dawn, hop in their trucks, and start running their routes as soon as possible. Stay ahead of the game.
3. Prepare for Equipment Problems
When you’re using high-powered machinery in harsh winter temperatures, you’ll need to make repairs midstream from time to time. Load up the cab of each truck with spare parts, and make sure drivers know how to call for roadside assistance.
4. Check Your Crew Capacity
As soon as you hear about a forecasted snow or ice event, let your crew members know they need to be on call. Texting is a great tool for instant, efficient communication. Make sure each team member understands their response role. Welcome their questions and provide quick, thorough answers.
You should also make a plan for how you’ll cover workers who become sick or can’t make it in.
5. Double-Check Supplies
It will become difficult or even impossible to re-up your supplies in the middle of the storm. Check all of your ice melt products, from salt to specialty products like pet-safe ice melt.
6. Track the Weather
Everyone knows winter weather can be extremely unpredictable. Weather forecasting is better than ever, but sometimes Mother Nature throws a curveball. Stay on top of changing conditions and communicate with your crew as needed.
7. Get Enough Rest
Remind your crew that they could be in for a very long day (or more) when the storm hits. Encourage healthy habits like getting enough sleep and eating healthily.
Deliver the Best Customer Service Experience
As you prepare for the cold season, don’t lose sight of why you’re in this business: your clients. Each time you respond to a severe weather event is a chance to show customers that you’re willing to put in the hard work it takes to keep their properties safe and navigable.
You can do several things during snow and ice events to keep your clients returning and giving you referrals. Start by focusing on these four topics:
- Communication: Stay in contact throughout the year: ahead of the season, ahead of weather events, and after you deliver services.
- Access: Build trust and loyalty by inviting your clients to learn more about your commitment to providing reliable, thorough service.
- Environmental commitment: Communicate with your clients about how your company considers the environmental impact of the materials you use.
- Billing transparency: Clients have little patience for confusing or surprise bills. Consider an automated billing system and commit to providing timely, accurate invoicing.
When you have passion for what you do, take care of your workers, and provide excellent communication and service, you’re sure to be rewarded with loyalty and a thriving business, no matter what the winter may bring.