You might think it’s obvious that a snow business would be prepared for a big storm. After all, blizzards are the bread and butter of snow removal. While that’s technically true, it does little to prepare you for the reality of a big storm; no matter your experience, if you fail to prepare for a blizzard you will find yourself in trouble.
Snow preparation is about understanding the reality of weather; it’s unpredictable and that lack of predictability makes blizzard preparation challenging. With that said, there are a few common items to take care of ahead of time that will make the surprises that much easier to tackle when they inevitably come.
Ensure an Accurate Forecast
You’re not in the game of meteorology. However, as the owner of a snow removal business, you must have an understanding of the weather in order to be sufficient at snow storm preparation. What does that mean exactly? We’d suggest you have an understanding of an “average” winter in your region so you have a general sense of what to expect.
Beyond that, listen to your local weather people. Luckily, blizzards offer up high ratings to your local news, so you’ll know about one well before it rears its head. We’d also suggest keeping tabs on what the National Weather Service has to say. They are a governmental agency with no-nonsense forecasting. Lastly, install a weather app on your phone so you can get weather updates while you’re on the road.
Communicate Expectations with Clients
It’s never as simple as plowing your clients’ properties. That is the least you are responsible for as their snow removal contractor. On the contrary, your clients will expect you to communicate with them, especially at the onset of a winter storm.
Keep your clients abreast of changing weather conditions. Assure them that you will be out ahead or right after a blizzard and give them a time frame. Communication is key when you’re on the cusp of a big blizzard.
Prepare & Supply Your Properties
The period before a storm is the perfect time to get yourself prepared before unfavorable conditions start making things harder. Depending on the client, you could consider applying de-icer to the property or even some salt to get ahead of the snow and ice accumulation.
This window is also a good time to line everything up that you need before it’s too late. Move your supply of salt to areas that are strategically located to your largest jobs to reduce the logistical challenge of transporting your materials.
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Check Equipment & Inventory
Whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end of the season, you must do a full equipment check before a big storm. We suggest creating a maintenance checklist for this very purpose. The last thing you want is to lose a truck or other piece of equipment on the day of a storm when every minute matters.
Your inventory is also important to keep up with. How much bulk rock salt do you have? What does your supply of liquid de-icer look like? What about the things that are easier to forget, like fresh batteries for your crew’s flashlight or even fuel for your fleet?
Review Your Snow Storm Response Plan
Benjamin Franklin said it best, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Improvisation might be great for a comedy club but it’s disastrous in the snow and ice removal industry.
You need to plan your route, prioritized by client size and location, and do so in a way that is most efficient to your business. During a big winter storm, timing is everything. If you fail to create an incident response plan to snow storms, then you’ll often leave clients hanging or miss them entirely when you’re suddenly needed by every single client at the same time. As you might already know, all it takes is one no-show to lose a client.
Prepare for Problems
A carefully laid plan is all and good but you should fully expect problems to come along. While optimism is an important ingredient to the recipe for success, a healthy dose of pessimism will keep you grounded and ready to react when things go astray.
Life has its way of knocking you down a peg but that doesn’t mean you don’t get back up. No, you stand back up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward. Plan for the best but prepare for the worst. That way, you won’t be surprised either way.