By Josh Nichols, Region Snow Manager
When it comes to contracting your fall and winter services, historically, proper timing has rarely gotten the attention it deserves. As a result, it ends up happening much later in the year than it should. Given the current environment of supply chain and transportation challenges, it’s more critical now than ever to be in front of traditional schedules. While most of the products we use are grown or manufactured locally, some of the containers, packaging, and other supporting materials are not. Whether you’re considering turf renovations, fall flower display installations, or snow removal services, now is the best time to begin those discussions.
In this article, we will use snow and ice removal services as an example. Waiting until September or later to start thinking about it could lead to higher costs or the potential for your ideal contractor to reach capacity, leaving you with a second-choice contractor that may be over-committed and therefore provide sub-par service. The following are just a few reasons to start thinking about your snow contract now:
- Planning – In general, an average sized job can take hours of planning and multiple site visits over the course of a couple of months to be properly set up for the season. This planning process incorporates:
- route creation
- pre-season site Inspections and walkthroughs
- snow staking
- staging of equipment and materials
- Procurement of Materials & Equipment – Supply chain challenges on parts and packaging have increased the lead times needed by material and equipment vendors to deliver on purchases, putting additional stress on their capacity. Ensuring we have secured the right amount of equipment and materials is critical to our ability to provide the best service. Purchasing these items early, or committing to certain quantities, allows us to negotiate the best possible pricing, which translates into the best pricing for our customers.
- Capacity – Every company has a limit to the amount of properties that they can provide service to with their current staff and equipment inventory. When ample time is provided, capacity can be increased to handle more sites through increased staffing, securing additional equipment, and engaging service partners.
- Fuel prices – In addition to the supply changing challenges, fuel prices have reached an all-time high, which will have a huge impact on costs given the amount of trucks and equipment used to perform all snow removal services. Locking these in early will only help secure the best value as prices will continue to keep pace with costs.
The time is now! If you are not already in the contract negotiation process for turf renovation, seasonal color display or winter services, please contact your area manager about customizing service proposals ideal for your property that meet your needs.
Don’t Believe Us? Trust the Experts
The Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) has developed a 52-week timeline that shares best practices in the procurement of snow services. This document was created by a group of facility managers, snow contractors, and SIMA staff who collaborated on the entire process from start to finish. The timeline captures both the buyers and sellers’ point of view, with the intent to provide awareness to all aspects of the process and what can wrong without timely planning. Note that the ideal time to begin contract negotiation is in summer, with contracts being awarded by the end of summer. For more information, visit www. sima.org/bestpractices.