Fall is upon us, and winter is fast approaching. Heading into the upcoming season here are three things I’ve been pondering as of late.
Within Your Control. Supply chain. Weather forecasts. Material costs. Inflationary prices. Economic recession. These – and I’m leaving a few out – are all pressing business issues that are out of your control. The most you can do is prepare your operations for the worst-case scenarios, communicate what you can to clients to bring them into the loop, and hope for the best.
One thing within your power is hiring and making sure you’re operating this snow season with enough people to fulfill your contractual obligations. I suspect that too many of you have staffed your winter ops to the bare minimum. If it was go-time, then you’d have the personnel to get the job done. However, we all know there’s a monkey wrench or two lurking out there waiting to throw your best-laid plans into chaos.
Therefore, whether it’s you or a dedicated manager, employee attraction and retention must be the priority. This means reflecting inwards and taking an honest look at your operation through an employee’s or prospective employee’s eyes. What makes people want to work for you? Or more importantly, what aren’t you doing or providing that is driving them to other options? Nail down and invest in those things that build or strengthen your culture. At the very least, develop a progress map that shows employees how they climb the ladder at your organization. Remember, people want a personal journey, and they want reassurances you’re just as invested in their professional success as they should be in your company’s success.
Double Down On Training. Your people can’t be overly prepared this winter. When you believe you drilled them enough on snow removal and ice mitigation techniques, then move on to interpersonal communications and client interaction. Run scenarios with them on how to react appropriately to various real-world problems and situations. Provide instruction on in-the-field equipment troubleshooting along with how to practice preventative maintenance. Review process and procedures to help improve their identification of what’s expected and what to look out for on individual client’s properties.
Work On Yourself. One thing is certain, there will be ample waiting around time this winter. So, take that time – or a portion – to improve yourself. Start this with gathering reading materials. Go to Amazon and find out what the top-selling business books are right now. Tune in and become a regular listener of a business- or management-focused podcasts (for example, The Snow Magazine Podcast, which you can find not only on our website, but also through popular podcast hosting sites like Spotify and Google Podcasts). Check your local library. There’s probably a display of popular business management books. If not, hit up a library who’d be happy to direct you to the right stacks. And finally, ask industry colleagues what their reading. Post the question to social media (start with LinkedIn). You’ll get more suggestions than you can read in a year, but it’s a starting point.
Remember, while there’s a lot of issues that are out of our control there are also a few areas you can direct your attention to this winter. Starting with these three topics outlined above will have a positive impact on not only your snow ops, but also strengthen your overall business.
Good luck and have a safe and profitable winter.
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