If you’re new to snow and ice removal, then you need to know about the importance of pre-season visits to your commercial or residential customers.
It’s also smart to take your crews with you since they’ll be doing the hard work during severe weather conditions where everything looks different.
7 Reasons Why You Must Perform Pre-Season Visits
Whether you’re a newbie to snow pushing or you’ve been in the business for decades, you still need to visit sites that you worked on for years because things change.
“In a big box store setting, there are numerous instances of property mishaps that occur from spring to summer,” says Jeff Kinney of Coastal Landscape Construction and Snow Services, located in Cumberland, ME.
“There are miscellaneous fender-benders, equipment leaks, accidents involving fixed objects and plant loss due to weather circumstances beyond our control. To be able to quantify pre-existing and evolving site conditions allows us, as the vendor, to better meet and protect our customers’ investment,” Kinney states.
The key goals for site visits include drainage area, site conditions and liability concerns.
Here are seven reasons to make pre-season visits:
1. Boost Your Team's Efficiency
When you visit the site, you can go over your standard operating procedures (SOP) with your teams and the property manager or owner.
Your SOP lays out your responsibilities for snow and ice management. Reinforce your procedures for productivity and efficiency for your crew, and for the property manager.
2. Get the Right Expectations
Learn what the property manager’s expectations are for removing snow from their parking lots and walkways. Your property manager may also give you their company’s SOP for snow.
Also, talk with the property manager or owner (pm/o) to see what he/she expects from you, and write it down to include in the contract.
One more thing: pre-season visits are vital to your bottom line. This is the right time to make sure your snow prices are profitable.
3. Protect Your Company
Protect your company and employees from liability claims.
You want to know what’s expected of you:
Where does the snow goes after it’s plowed?
You also need to show the pm/o where potential thaw and refreeze problems exist. Finally, remind your crews to document any of these hazards while working on the customer’s property. This last step will save you hours of headaches, and potentially thousands of dollars.
4. Discover the "Trouble Areas"
Survey where the snow pile will be and any drainage issues from that location.
You need to take pictures and document where you’ll be piling the snow. You need to imagine where melted snow will drain—does it flow back to the parking lot or does it go to a retention pond? If you see potential red flags, bring up them up to the pm/o during your visit.
5. Don't Forget to Look Up
Make sure you look up, down and all around:
- and roof styles...
...all contribute to slip and fall scenarios.
You should note where the snow falls on a roof or a canopy. If it’s a hazard to the people below—then you need to make it a part of your snow and ice removal plan.
6. Run it Dry
Brainstorm with your team about the possible problems that could arise with a particular property.
If you crew members saw a hazard or something that’s damaged, make sure you document it with a picture from your smartphone and let the pm/o know about it now.
Chris Payne of Medxcel Facilities Management in Indiana says, “I think pre-season visits are good to allow the crew/crews to see exactly what their area or site will look like (such as bumps in the sidewalk, broken curbs, raised manhole covers). It also allows them to see any possible hazards before it’s covered in snow. We actually do “dry runs” after our pre-season visit to give our team a full spectrum of what they’ll be dealing will—this allows us to be as safe and efficient as possible.”
7. Your Last Chance to See
Map the property for obstacles, drainage, and other hazards: Use mapping to note potential problems or damaged areas.
Use Google Maps or Bing to get an aerial perspective on drainage and other issues. This is especially with large properties or commercial clients.
It's a win-win-win.
When you visit a site in the fall, it not only protects you from frivolous lawsuits and other liability, but it also benefits your snow teams and the pm/o.
“Being able to quantify site setting and surroundings allows the team providing the care a more rapid chance to acclimate to its surroundings and provide the level of care the customer expects. Our maintenance contracts are a partnership. A partnership is a contract that states both parties agree to work together for optimal results,” states Jeff Kinney of Coastal Landscape Construction and Snow Services.
Indeed, pre-season site visits are vital to protecting your snow removal company from liability concerns. And yet, you and your team get to know the property manager and the property itself when you visit.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.