IN THE HEAT OF THE SUMMER, IT’S TIME TO FOCUS ON WINTER PLANS FOR PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
While there are upwards of 100-degree temperatures rolling across the country, where do your thoughts turn? If you said you’re planning for snow removal, then you are in the minority. Yet, as the mercury rises, this is the time of year to start focusing on the upcoming snow season. Many property managers do not like to think about snow until October or even later. The smart property manager should think ahead, and plan ahead to have a great winter.
When choosing a snow contractor, the property manager must look at many factors. Service level, can the company handle my site, price, etc. But after weighing all the options presented to them, it still comes down to whether the snow is cleared in a timely manner, and in a way that is up to proper standards. In order for the snow plow company to achieve the level of service required, they need proper lead times to make sure everything runs smoothly.
The process of snow plowing and setting up all the people behind the scenes is quite time consuming. Most people think that snow plowing is snow plowing, how hard can it be. But there are many training and setup procedures that go into running a smooth snow plowing event. The snow season: starts for most snow plow companies in late April. At this time, managers should be getting a good feel for how many renewal customers are going to resign, and start to layout the plan moving forward with how much new work they are willing to take on. Based on that planning, equipment purchases are made and budgeted for. Without getting the commitments from the existing customers way back in early spring, it leads to longer delays with ordering the equipment, which means that it might not be useable by the first snow fall.
The next step in the planning phase would be the hiring process and laying out the routes. This process usually starts in mid-September. Decisions are made on how many people will need to be hired, and if enough equipment is available to plow what has been sold. It is certainly possible, especially after the heavier winter the Chicago region received this past season, that a company will only take on a certain number of new business, and start turning away possible clients. As hard as it might be to believe a company would turn away business, it does happen. The reasoning is a certain level of quality is required with the snow plowing, and if a company spreads themselves too thin, then either the quality will be sacrificed or the timeliness. In either situation, the end result is not a good solution for either party.
In an ideal world, by late September, the snow contractor will know what their sites are going to be that they will have to service for the upcoming winter. At this point, or early into October, contractors can start doing the necessary training on the individual site. Each site is very unique in their service levels: the way it needs to be plowed; where the snow is pushed; which areas are top priority. Follow up meetings and final walk thrus should be set up so that the information is given to the salesman.
Then all of this information needs to be transferred from the property manager, to the salesman, to the route managers and all the way down to the people actually doing the plowing. As most snow companies know, with multiple sites, there is a plethora of information that needs to be passed by the first storm in order to present issues with the second snow storm.
The final step in the snow plow process before one flake has fallen is the dry runs. Most snow plow companies should make multiple dry runs in the middle of the night. The reason for doing it so late at night, is that is when 90 percent of the snow falls occur, and it is best to try and find the sites and go over the plowing process of each in its current conditions they will be plowed.
So there it is, a little behind the scenes of what happens with your typical snow contractor. Obviously, if the decision process is put off until October, then each step above is pushed back that much further. What does that mean to the property? It could mean that the contractor does not have enough equipment ready for the first storm. Possibly the first storm has issues with where the snow is pushed or where it is piled. The real important areas will not be done in the order is needed to be done because that information did not have enough time to be passed through the proper chain of people.
And lastly, perhaps the worst outcome would be that the great contractor that promised you the world when it comes to snow plowing, will tell you on October 15th, it is too late and we are booked. Now you would have to scramble and take a second rate contractor to take care of your site. A number of property managers have said that their worst days at work occur when it is snowing outside. If that was the case, then why would you not make that decision a priority, and make sure that the level of service promised to you, has the chance to be delivered to you with the proper training and planning that is needed in the crazy world of snow plowing.