Winter operations can be challenging for existing and new businesses. If a company does not understand or prepare for the level of compliance required for winter work, it can only make matters worse. Being caught unprepared in this area can disappoint customers and lead to a number of other problems.
Here are five common issues that arise when managing winter road compliance and ways to solve them:
Challenge 1: Managing busy shifts
Nature is rarely accommodating. Snow and ice can appear overnight, causing dramatic shifts in workloads. Being able to manage your employees under changing or surprising weather conditions is an important part of running winter operations.
Solution: Operation managers are responsible for tracking their organization’s workload, so stay organized! Many companies use spreadsheets or software to track serviced and unserviced areas and efficiently dispatch employees. Organization is key because it allows a business to fulfill service obligations in an efficient manner.
Challange 2: Hitting contract targets
Most municipalities have specific standards for winter maintenance and reflect those standards in service level agreements. For example, the City of Ottawa in Canada allows four hours for clearing after the end. Maintenance crews are given 16 hours to clear residential roads and lanes.
Solution: Just like managing busy shifts, businesses need to stay organized in order to hit their contractual obligations.
Challenge 3: Choosing the right equipment
Even the most organized winter maintenance operation can’t finish the job without the right tools and vehicles to support their workers. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is underspending and leaving themselves open to failure when the unexpected happens. A truck might break during a job but you still have to honour your customer agreements.
Solution: Prepare in advance by investing in back-ups and spares. Keeping vehicles up-to-date on maintenance and fuel is also essential. After all, prevention is the best cure.
Challenge 4: Top-of-the-line customer service
Don’t keep customers in the dark. Keep the expectations of customers and clients in mind at all times.
Solution: Do research and be aware of the different ways your company can connect to customers and keep them informed about project statuses. Twitter updates or online portals are two small ways to keep the public informed of your work to let them know when the roadways are safe and clear.
Challenge 5: Maintaining accurate records
Accurate record keeping eases many logistical challenges and also helps mitigate liability risks. Companies engaged in winter maintenance are especially vulnerable to litigation due to contracted terms, compliance issues and the slip-and-fall hazards present on job sites.
Solution: Successful winter maintenance businesses keep a spreadsheet or use software to record all of their jobs. Recording elements like job time, employee responsibilities, vehicle locations and salt dispensed can ensure any issues can be quickly resolved with timely and accurate information. Records also provide an important back up if needed.
This 2021 winter businesses wield great revenue-generating power but in order to justify that power, they must take responsibility to overcome common winter compliance issues. Always remember, the most important part of any business is always working hard and staying true and honest to your employees and clients.
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