Ask Steve

Ask Steve: What’s the Best Way to Work in Snowy Conditions?

With 16 employees and four truckmounts out there every day, I too dreaded the white stuff.

snowAh yes, Dreading, you are making me nostalgic for the mountains!

But the joy of a white winter? Not so much! With 16 employees and four truckmounts out there every day, I too dreaded the white stuff. (Actually it was more the ice on the roads instead of the snow that would make things difficult - I literally had my tow truck company on speed dial!)

So here are a few of the logistics we used to survive (and prosper) in the winters. Ironically, winter eventually became our most profitable season because that was when we mostly did high-profit restoration losses.

1. We always used the “inside man/outside man” approach: That’s with one tech carrying everything up to the front door and the other tech with clean shoes waiting to take it from there. We would always carry the hoses in instead of dragging them through the snow and mud. Or if you are working alone, use two sets of shoes (dedicated indoor and outdoor sets) to prevent the messy outside coming in.

2. Clean stuff before putting it into the van: When pulling in hoses to the van, always wipe them down when reeling them back up so that you don't bring in debris at the next house.

3. Always use a “door guard”: This will keep the cold out and the heat in the home you are cleaning. You would be surprised how many cleaners in snow country don't carry them on their trucks. This is a big mistake since homeowners don’t like all that cold invading their home! (And when the customer sees that you care enough to install a door guard, they will fall in love with your company.)

4. Set up protection in the entry area: We would cover the homeowner’s foyer with thick moving pads to absorb the slop as equipment comes in. Even if this protection technically wasn’t needed, just seeing us install this stuff made for a warm and fuzzy positive “moment of truth.”

5. Try to keep the towing bills to a minimum: Getting stuck is not only expensive, it also can destroy your schedule for the day. So we always kept good snow tires on the vans and carried chains and a couple of good "grain scoop" type aluminum snow shovels so the techs could dig themselves out (or shovel the walk to get the equipment into the house!).

6. Book extra time for travel between jobs: Most accidents (and winding up in the ditch!) are the result of driving too fast for conditions, so we preached “slow down” to our technicians. We also called ahead the day before to remind our customers of the need to have their driveways plowed. Then, especially if it had snowed overnight, we would also call the morning of the cleaning to verify that the drive was clear.

NOTE: If the entire driveway wasn’t visible upon arrival, our tech was supposed to get out and walk the entire driveway before he or she pulled in! (Don’t ask me how I learned this!)

Obviously cleaning in winter is neither fun nor easy. However, cash flow is important too and most good employees want year-round work. So winter was the time for us to work on our attitude, suck it up and get out there. Even so, I dreaded winters!

P.S. Another way to deal with your dreaded Dakota winters is to build a “critical mass” business, cash out of it and retire to some place nice and warm! For example, in the Dominican Republic where I have a home, a “chilly day” in February means it gets down to 70 degrees!

 NOTE: Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges!  Your help is on the way! A new “Ask Steve” will debut in the ICS eNews every week – register to receive it by clicking here

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