As the winter season begins to dwindle to a close, you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel for dealing with the headaches of snow and ice management. If you’re in the Northeast, you have made it through four nor’easters this season, with two alone in late March. When you were building your snow removal contract back in September, your facility management job description suddenly included “fortune teller.” While there are many predictive tools that can give you a general idea of what temperatures and weather patterns an upcoming season might include, guessing how many snowstorms your area will experience is still largely up to chance. Here are three key takeaways after this season of snow removal.
1. Find the Balance of Cost and Service
In reviewing your budget spend and the quality of service you received, hopefully you feel like you made it through with a strong partner who did good work, charged a fair price, and supported you through every snow event you were affected by. Many facility managers, though, will reflect on the season and feel that they chose the wrong contract type, that they received poor service, or that they just had bad luck. If you had a per event contract in the Northeast, you are likely finishing the season having spent more than you hoped to. If you had a fixed rate seasonal contract, you hit the jackpot a few storms ago.
Of course, it doesn’t matter how much you spent if you received subpar service. If you had more than one storm where your providers were late and your customers were affected; if you had a slip and fall injury on your property due to your snow and ice management plan; if your communication was poor and your needs weren’t met, your savings are probably the last thing on your mind. If you are in a multi-year contract, make sure to use the off-season to communicate your needs more effectively, manage the partnership, and renegotiate if necessary. If you are planning to select a new provider for next season, remember that you get what you pay for.
2. Think Long-term to Increase Savings
A great way to ensure that your risk is managed while protecting your budget is to think in the long term. A long-term contract of three years or more allows you to spread your risk out over time. So, if this was the first year of your contract and you saved money because of the high number of storms, you may end up paying a bit more comparatively next year if it’s not a cold winter. But your cost is guaranteed for both seasons, and you usually end up winning out over the course of a few seasons. You aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket, so to say. You also save the cost and time it takes to go out for an RFP every single year.
3. Choose a Service Provider You Can Trust
Another benefit to a longer contract is the ability to really get to know your service provider and their team and hone your communication plan during snow events. By the second season of your contract, it should be a well-oiled machine. If you reflect on the past season and don’t feel you received good service, working with a facility management company can be to your benefit. You are free to request an alternative vendor without losing your customer service, guaranteed rate, and dedicated Account Manager. It allows you to be nimble to change throughout the season, while protecting your budget and developing a relationship of trust.
Hopefully, you are finishing the 2017-2018 season feeling like your tenants and customers were unaffected, your budget stayed on track, and your bosses were thrilled. If not, use the off-season to address issues, improve your plan, and consider better ways to structure your contract. Wishing you a smooth remainder of the season, and thank you to our clients for trusting us to manage their snow and ice removal