Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Culture: If you build it, they will come

'Creating the kind of culture that shapes careers starts with a decision to make employees one of the top priorities in your company’s mission.'

The August issue of Snow Business is focused on Culture: If you build it, they will come. And, as an association, SIMA is focused on professionalism and success for organizations of all sizes and for individuals who may be looking at our industry as a possibility for their future. A positive and nurturing company culture can provide the right environment to grow roles typically thought of as temporary or seasonal jobs into careers that can last for years or even a lifetime. 

It’s human nature to feel good about being able to contribute as part of a team that’s working toward a common goal. When people feel like they are an important part of a productive team, loyalty builds; and as a result, they want to stay where they feel that they have a future they can count on. Belonging and the stability that comes from teamwork are important elements to help your organization become a workplace of choice, one that attracts, trains, and retains the talent that’s needed for sustainable success and helps you overcome the constant battle to build or rebuild your team.

Creating the kind of culture that shapes careers starts with a decision to make employees one of the top priorities in your company’s mission. Every owner, every company will take a slightly different path to success but there are some essentials that will help to form the foundation you need to continue to build. The resources you need are at your fingertips, starting with SIMA and Snow Business. We have the experts, professionals and networking opportunities to help you connect with others who have found the way and are willing to share what they’ve learned to help you build it, so they will come.

For more on building culture and a stronger workforce, visit www.snowbusiness-digital.com to view the online issue of Snow Business. If you’re ready to take the next step, join us for the Season Opener: Build Your Dream Team in Baltimore on September 19-20. Learn more and register at www.sima.org/dreamteam.

Monday, August 14, 2017

FCA US LLC Summer Clearance Time

Good Deals Come to Those Who Know Where to Look – It’s Summer Clearance Time!

Whether it’s for work or otherwise, buyers like to get the best deal possible on their sedans, vans, SUVs and pickup trucks.

Armed with that knowledge, FCA US LLC is careful to keep great offers available for customers, the goal of which, in part, is to reward repeat business and bring first-time buyers into the FCA family.

If you’re a small-business owner, for instance, and one loyal to Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram or FIAT® Brand vehicles, you might be familiar already with On The Job incentives. For those not yet in the know, these allowances help offset the cost of vehicle upfits, custom graphics, service plans and so on for qualifying individuals. Allowances in some cases can reach as high as $1,000 and – best of all – they can be used in conjunction with other offers and deals, further increasing your chances to save.

It’s also important to note that not all incentives are ongoing. Many offers, like those tied to Commercial Truck Season or the Summer Clearance Event (going on now!), are limited to specific times of year, in this case, fall and summer, respectively. Savvy shoppers should therefore make it a point to visit the vehicle brand websites to see the list of current incentives. After all, a simple click is worth it when there is money to be saved!

For your convenience, here are direct links to the “Incentives & Offers” webpages for all five FCA US brands and also to the FCA Fleet website, where you’ll find more information on these great incentives. Happy shopping!
Visit here for more information on the SIMA Savings program $500 vehicle allowance good toward the purchase or lease of select Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram and FIAT® Brand Vehicles. Connect with a dealer who understands your business here

Monday, August 7, 2017

Build your snow dream team

SIMA Season Opener: Building Your Snow Dream Team
September 19-20 in Baltimore, MD

By Justin Gamester, CSP
After much discussion and research, SIMA is launching a new Season Opener series that will take place each fall to help the industry kick off the season with passion and purpose. Each event will focus on real-world solutions, high-level peer engagement and expert insight. 

Our first event, focused on talent acquisition and retention, will take place Sept. 19-20 at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, MDRecruiting and retaining quality seasonal and long-term team members has become the number 1 challenge in our industry. We are confident SIMA’s Season Opener: Building Your Snow Dream Team will deliver tangible takeaways for attendees to start overcoming the talent challenge.

An all-star lineup
To create a dream team, you need all-stars - and we’re excited about our lineup:
  • Mark Eaton, former NBA Utah Jazz All-Star turned team-building expert, will kick off the event. Eaton will share stories and lessons learned through his experiences in team dynamics at the highest levels, and he’ll walk attendees through a facilitated discussion on recruiting methods and techniques being used by some of the most successful companies in our industry. 
  • Industry peers will lead an Employee Growth Round table, sharing experiences, examples and tips for building snow careers within your organization. 
  • Leslie Boomer, a Gallup-Certified strengths coach (and publisher of Snow Business magazine) will provide takeaways on how to develop talent within your organization. As an added bonus, registered attendees will receive a free StrengthsFinder assessment, a highly useful tool used by business leaders across the globe to develop balanced teams.
Lasting impact
The benefits of attending will not end when folks go home. Using information learned at the event, SIMA will develop two best practices guides tied to recruiting and developing careers in snow and ice management. In addition, attendees can attend a follow-up webinar on how to apply StrengthsFinder to identify talent in their organizations and how to nurture those talents for greater success.

Make plans to join us and share your insight by registering today at www.sima.org/dreamteam. Bring yourself and key leadership staff! Each additional registration from your company receives a significant discount. If you have questions on the event, contact Brian Birch at brian@sima.org. 

Justin Gamester, CSP, is president of Piscataqua Landscaping and current SIMA board chair. Contact him at jgamester@piscataqualandscaping.com.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

SIMA wants to give you $200

Annual training commitment offsets ASM, CSP program costs
Have you ever pulled out your winter jacket from its back-of-the-closet summer hibernation, put your hands in the pockets for the first time in a year and found money? Well, SIMA members, sign into your account because you just found $200. 
This bonus money isn’t just for anything — it’s the training commitment credit, a new benefit created last year when SIMA revamped its membership structure.
The training commitment is one way SIMA can help offset the cost a company incurs when it commits to training its employees to provide the best service to its clients. 
Once a year, companies can use the $200 credit toward one employee’s purchase of the following:
  • One of four courses in the Advanced Snow Manager (ASM) program 
  • $200 off registration for ASM University
  • $200 discount on the Certified Snow Professional (CSP) study materials for a supervisor or manager who has achieved the prerequisites.
What’s holding you back?
The training commitment offers a great opportunity for business owners and managers to set their company and employees apart from the competition. Yet, only 18% of our members have taken advantage of this benefit. You’ve already paid to be a member, why not reward someone at your company with the chance to start on a path toward increased knowledge and a professional designation?
How does it work?
You do not have to be a new member or renew your membership to request the credit. As long as you’re a current member, that $200 is yours — put it to work. The commitment also renews each year that you renew but does not accrue. Use it or lose it!
To request the $200 training commitment, visit www.sima.org/train. The credit will be applied to the designated contact’s training account upon purchase of an ASM training course or CSP study materials.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Work in progress: Training and certification

'SIMA is working on multiple fronts to improve the employment conditions in the industry. Our approach includes solutions that require dedication, skill and a bit of grit.'

By Martin Tirado, CAE
The last few years have seen major changes and challenges in the snow and ice management industry. But one issue remains constant and pervasive, and it has nothing to do with weather. It’s the difficulty in finding dedicated, hard-working people willing to commit to the work required to safely and professionally deliver service. 

SIMA is working on multiple fronts to improve the employment conditions in the industry. Our approach includes solutions that require dedication, skill and a bit of grit.

Sales and Management: Our Certified Snow Professional program has been the standard for excellence in business for the last 10 years. We have 180 CSPs today, but we believe a key reason limiting the industry’s uptake of the CSP is testing delivery. To adhere to above average standards, we have required testing at a qualified testing center approved by SIMA. In response to feedback regarding test delivery, a program review, and our successful rollout of online testing for the Advanced Snow Management program, we have moved forward with online delivery of the CSP exam. We anticipate a heavy increase in the interest and use of the CSP program as we pilot online testing. Learn more at www.sima.org/CSP

Changing the testing delivery is only one part of changes you’ll see for the CSP. As our signature certification program, we are revamping the entire CSP program. You will hear more over the next 8 to 12 months as we progress through the review process. 

Our vision is that more owners, salespeople, operations managers, and financial and administrative leaders will become certified. Together we can present a united, professional face to the consumers in the marketplace. 

Operations Management and Leadership: The Advanced Snow Management certificate program is our No. 1 priority for growing the skill and competency of snow operations management professionals. We have awarded over 1,000 certificates for the program’s four courses. We recently passed our annual ANSI audit, which guarantees the courses are relevant, fair, and effectively verify knowledge and skill. 

We piloted ASM University this spring and had a great class of individuals earn their full Advanced Snow Manager credential. The next ASM University will take place this fall. Enroll at www.sima.org/asmU. In April, we also launched the Advanced Snow Management Handbook, an interactive training tool provided to ASMs to help them become training champions for their organizations.

Administration: This area of the business is essential, and we are developing a new training initiative related to service verification and documentation. Our goal is to deliver quality best practices, tips and real-world policy examples to professionals charged with organizing billing, data collection, production management and office infrastructure - all key elements in quality verification of snow services.

SIMA is employing these strategies to help build a workforce in the industry, but we can’t do it alone. The Board of Directors has directed SIMA to work on collaborative partnerships to make service industries like snow and ice more visible. SIMA will share current approaches to that strategy soon, but we value your input and encourage you to reach out to share your thoughts.

Beefed-up training for your team
In addition to SIMA’s credentialed programs, we have amped up our offerings to help you effectively, efficiently and affordably train your team:
  • Training Commitment: The SIMA Training Commitment offers a $200 discount toward one person earning their CSP or ASM designation. Each year of renewal triggers a new $200 training commitment, enabling members to build their employee’s skills and marketability over time. Learn more at www.sima.org/train
  • Online Training: SIMA’s vision is to help make the snow industry more visible and a place where people can earn a good wage and do work that matters. That is a long-term strategy, but in the short term we have worked to make it as easy as possible to onboard and train new operations personnel. SIMA members can access training courses, guidelines and best practices to help. Learn more about available courses at www.sima.org/resources
  • New Videos:  SIMA is unveiling our new safety and training video program in mid-summer. Visit www.sima.org/snowtraining to learn more. 
Martin Tirado is SIMA’s chief executive officer. Contact him at martin@sima.org.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Building your network

SIMA peer groups build relationships in non-competitive environment

By Phil Harwood, CSP
Imagine you are trying to solve a dilemma or are facing a difficult decision in your business. You have been agonizing over this for days and have been losing sleep over it. Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to reach out to a group of trusted friends in the industry who completely understood your situation and who could give you sound advice? That’s the value of building your network. 

Perhaps you are trying to decide whether to add another key person to your team or how to compensate them. Maybe you are unsure about how best to set up a new truck. Or you may be working on a budget or updating your pricing matrix and you aren’t sure what gross margin you should be trying to achieve. Ask your network. They probably have the answer or at least can provide guidance. 

Networking events
There are many ways to build your network within the snow and ice management industry. If you plan to attend the 20th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium in Montreal, you will find a variety of networking opportunities. The Symposium schedule shows nine distinct networking events - receptions, snack and chats, and others - designed to bring together snow pros and build your network. 

For some people, the thought of attending a networking event brings hesitation or even fear. It can be intimidating for some to walk into a reception, for example, without knowing anyone, while it appears that everyone else has known each other for years. The good news is that there are other opportunities to build your network. One of these is to join a SIMA Peer Group.

Shared goals and support
Joining a peer group is probably the most effective form of networking available today. This is because peer groups are comprised of members having the same goals and desires as you do - one of which is to be part of a closed and confidential group of snow pros who are dedicated to supporting each other, giving and receiving ideas, gaining new perspectives, learning from each other and challenging each other at times to reach higher. This is where deep relationships are formed over time.

SIMA Peer Groups are formed with SIMA members from noncompeting markets. They meet in person and by conference call or GoToMeeting on a regular basis throughout the year. An overview of the SIMA Peer Group program and an interest form is available at www.sima.org/education/sima-peer-groups

New groups are being formed this spring for a June 1 kickoff. In addition, current groups are seeking new members to expand their groups, which range from six to eight companies. 

Is this a good fit for you?
Is a SIMA Peer Group right for you? If this article has piqued your interest, you likely are a good candidate for a peer group. 

Building your network is a key part of becoming a professional in your industry. It is my hope that you take advantage of the many networking opportunities afforded by SIMA, whether by attending the 20th Annual Snow & Ice Symposium, serving on a SIMA committee and/or by joining a SIMA Peer Group. 

Phil Harwood, CSP, is a managing partner of Pro-Motion Consulting Inc. and the SIMA Peer Group facilitator. Email him at phil@mypmcteam.com.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wanted: Policy standards that enable practice standards

'While progress is being made, if salt reduction is really going to be a priority, snow contractors cannot do it alone.'

By Phill Sexton
The past several years have seen increased finger-pointing at the private snow and ice management industry for the environmental woes resulting from the over-application and misuse of deicers. While snow removal contractors play a role, my research over the past year has led me to realize that faulty practice is only part of the problem. As complicit in this trend, and perhaps more so, are forces that are beyond snow contractors’ control.

The bottom line is the lack of comprehensive understanding about our services is hampering the evolution of standards of practice. Those who have taken the time to educate themselves on this topic know reducing salt use is better for the environment and can reduce costs while delivering the same level of service if properly managed. However, trends driving the snow industry are counterproductive to this concept. 

Policy cracks
Snow contractors are bound by policies at the client and legislative levels that drive an overly cautious approach to ice management. Slip and fall liability is a major factor that drives how clients define the level of service. In addition, a growing litigious society has moved slip and falls to the forefront. No one wants to be sued, and given that current contracts require snow contractors to shoulder the majority of the liability, the “more salt is safer” mentality is understandable.

While liability plays a role in salt use, according to my research and industry surveys, contract structure-related LOS and revenue/profit are actually the most heavily weighted drivers in salt use. 

From the client side, LOS tied to quality perceptions (more salt = better service) and budgetary pressures (salting is more efficient that plowing) drive salt use. From the contractor side, four of the five most common contract types incentivize the use of more salt. Snow companies whose business models focus on salt as a profit center have no financial incentive to use less salt.

Building on sound practice
Snow and ice management professionals are taking steps to reduce salt use by implementing better standards of practice (calibration rates, tracking, better equipment, adherence to best practices). 

SIMA and several members have spent the past five years funding and/or participating in research that led to the formation of our Sustainable Salt Initiative program and Salt Use Best Practices, both of which are designed to educate snow contractors on successful salt reduction. We have partnered with and engaged in conversations with groups in Minnesota, New York, New Hampshire and Ontario (to name a few) to see who we can work together to move the needle.

While progress is being made, if salt reduction is really going to be a priority, snow contractors cannot do it alone. All stakeholders – service providers, clients, suppliers and manufacturers, insurance, trade associations, environmental agencies and governmental bodies – need to work together to facilitate change.

If we are truly serious about this issue, it will require members of every stakeholder group commit to self-regulated standards of policy that enable standards of practice. Creating easily understood, accessible and affordable guidelines with all stakeholders’ input will have a better chance for broad adoption and successful implementation. 

Success starts with us
The first stage of sustainable salt use is measuring. Visit www.sima.org/sustainablesalt to learn how you can properly estimate the right amount of salt to use, automate tracking of your salt output and benchmark your improvements with other companies participating in the Sustainable Salt Initiative. 

Do your part to reduce salt use by following the Best Practices Guidelines for Sustainable Salt Use. Download now at www.sima.org/bestpractices

Phill Sexton is Director of Outreach for SIMA. Contact him at Phill@sima.org.