Going “all in” with snow

May 15, 2018 -  By
snow. Photo: iStock.com/KajaNi

Photo: iStock.com/KajaNi

There are two types of companies when it comes to snow and ice management: One is “all in,” while the other is not, so there are dramatic differences in the way this segment of the business is handled. I believe fervently in strategic planning, that each company should determine its own fate and no two companies are alike. I also believe that many companies are missing out on a huge opportunity with snow and ice management simply because they’re not “all in.” Just having a toe in the water is much different than jumping headfirst into the deep end of the pool.

I understand why some may be hesitant to go “all in” with snow. I see two types of people when it comes to the winter season. One loves it, while the other does not. There are implications for each. Owners and managers who love the winter are more likely to embrace their snow businesses.

I grew up in the snow belt and was outdoors at every opportunity during the winter. Some of my best memories were made on the ice rink, at a sledding hill and building snow forts. I have always loved the winter, and I would imagine this has made it easier for me to also love the snow business as a profession. Others have had different experiences, which makes it more difficult for them to go “all in” with snow. A rare minority of people have learned to love snow after detesting it previously. Most people either love it or they don’t.

Going “all in” has many benefits. These companies function differently than the rest. They see their snow segment as a year-round business, not as a part-time seasonal service segment. They embrace the year-round approach and industry best practices. They dedicate personnel and financial resources to support this approach. Specific activities are accomplished each month of the year to ensure they are doing all they can do to take care of their snow customers.

During the spring season, one of the most important snow-related activities is to meet with each snow customer. This meeting involves a thorough review of the past season to listen and learn what went well and what didn’t. Even though this is a basic concept—account management 101, if you will—many companies involved in the snow business fail to hold these meetings. Without taking time to meet with customers, issues are not uncovered, problems are not solved and customers set out to find new providers.

The spring meeting is also the best time to either renew the agreement or lay the groundwork for renewal later in the summer. Many snow customers make their decisions in the spring or early summer time frame, which is great for the “all in” providers who are in sales mode during that period, but it’s not so great for their unsuspecting counterparts who won’t begin to sell snow contracts until the fall.

In addition to the spring meeting, the “all in” companies proactively perform postseason
inspections of all their properties. They are intently focused on their customers with high-level account management engagement. This is one small part of the year-round, ongoing approach to their snow businesses. There is something important to do throughout the entire year.

Those who are not “all in” never seem to have time to get back to their snow accounts, even to get a quick look around. They are woefully unaware of the condition of their properties and are left in a reactive position if a customer calls to discuss any issues. Instead of being focused on their customers, they’re focused elsewhere.

I’m just scratching the surface with this topic, but you get the idea. Is it time for you to consider going “all in” with snow? The last thing I’ll say about those who do so is they have much better results than those who don’t. If managed properly, the snow division may be the most profitable segment in your entire business. Are you ready to jump in the deep end?

Featured Photo: iStock.com/KajaNi

Phil Harwood headshot

About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at Phil@GrowTheBench.com. He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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