Technically Speaking: Prepping Clients for Snow Season - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Technically Speaking: Prepping Clients for Snow Season

Setting clear expectations with clients is key to successful landscape operations and it is especially important when it comes to snow and ice management.

Properly preparing before the snow starts falling will allow you to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the level of service being provided and preferred communication methods.

Pre-preparation for snow season can change things from being chaotic and unprofitable to effective and in control.

Walk the Property

After signing a contract, make sure to walk the property with the client. Review all the key service points in the contract. You can stake the property as you tour it and be aware of the more difficult areas well before the snow has hidden any hazards. It’s also advised to take pictures of tricky areas to share with crews prior to snow season.

As you cover the property with the client, you can identify their high-priority areas and document those for crews or subcontractors to be aware of. This is also the time you can determine where on the property you can stage equipment and where snow can be shoveled.

Discuss with the property manager if there are any important events they are hosting or if there are any holidays they remain open for. Knowing months ahead about a client’s customer appreciation party in the evening will prevent your team from being caught off guard with last-minute requests.

Thinking through these spaces and providing as much information to your team as possible means that surprises are eliminated and they can go about their job safely and efficiently.

Clear Communication Channels

When meeting with your clients, give them a one-page document that covers all the key contacts at your company so the client knows whom to contact before, during and after a snow event.  

Explain your routing system to them so they understand that even once they call you, it may take a little bit of time to reach their specific property, but they are going to be taken care of.  

You can also let them know your preferred communication cadence. For instance, you may send out automated emails to customers in advance of anticipated snowfall that outline instructions for your crew’s visit. You can let them know they will receive a text message the day of when crews are on their way and a follow-up email will be sent out to make sure they’re happy with the service.

By letting the client know what to expect prior to a snowstorm, you’re less likely to get inundated with frantic phones from clients wondering if you’re coming at all.

Weather Data

Another aspect of snow and ice management that should be settled well in advance is your source for weather data. If you agree to refund a percentage of the contract when the seasonal snowfall does not come within a certain percentage of the average, you need to establish the average and where this source is coming from ahead of time.

Average snowfall may only occur one-third of the time, so having a thorough understanding of median snowfall, standard deviation, icing events, mixed precipitation events and lean or extreme seasons can offer a greater competitive advantage when building your portfolio.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.