Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Growing snow management return on investment...

How do I invest in education and relationships professionally, while not sacrificing too much time away from my home and family?
-Brian K. Birch, CAE, Chief Operating Officer, SIMA

Over the past 9 years, I have traveled and spoken with hundreds of snow professionals in my role with SIMA. I've learned so much from these folks, and have been truly humbled by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our industry.

One thing that I have heard consistently over the years is that the world is changing rapidly, and adapting to such change is a major challenge. In our industry that seems to be the case - liability is up, costs are up, and competition is too. Even the most efficient snow professionals are challenged in this environment. Even more so, a recent survey we conducted indicated that the single biggest personal challenge snow pros face is balancing work vs. home. So the basic question comes to mind; How do I invest in education and relationships professionally, while not sacrificing too much time away from home?

These central questions helped to frame SIMA's planning of the annual Snow Strategies Forum for 2013. 

Our dream is to build a high-quality, time-sensitive event targeted at snow professionals AND facilities/property managers. We are actively attempting to create a safe, collaborative place where these two groups can learn together and talk more effectively, in the space of about 48 hours.

There are numerous snow-specific events this year available through a number of private companies and groups, and SIMA is excited that snow professionals have so many options to choose from this year. I honestly feel that we have created the most well-balanced snow-specific event of the year. I truly think that the Snow Strategies Forum: Growing Snow Management ROI, will offer the best return on investment, both in money and time, for these reasons:

Leadership matters
We have created an environment at the forum that rewards and recognizes leadership in the snow industry. We'll be honoring the 2013 CEO of the Year at the forum this year, and we'll also be working with attendees to brainstorm and influence the next Impact of Snow campaign, building on the wildly successful awareness campaign we conducted this past year. These networking events will encourage leaders in the industry, and hopefully leaders in the facilities management world, to continuously improve and grow.

Diversity matters
The challenge of identifying two audiences for the forum forced us to be more thoughtful about the educational component. I think you'll find this year's forum to be the most diverse in its educational lineup and array of speakers, including speakers from the US Chamber of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and more. Our goal is to provide new insight and opinions to attendees; we feel the best way to adapt in a changing world is to understand new trends and information. Topics range from conflict resolution, to leading with values, to deicing and its impact on concrete, to best practices in snow management service, to building quality RFP's to manage snow removal costs, to the potential impact of climate change on winter weather in North America.

Location matters
The choice of Washington, DC this year was not only made due to the vast array of things a person can do there, although that is important. Its a symbolic decision tied to SIMA's growth as the only national non-profit trade association for the industry. 
For two years SIMA has been discussing and internally organizing itself to advocate more powerfully for our members and the industry, and holding our forum in DC is a commitment to our long-term goals in advocacy. But don't forget, DC is a great place to bring a family and make lasting memories tied to the history of the US and its place in the world.

We are actively working to create a space for leaders in the snow industry to meet and network together, along with a group of facilities professionals we hope will engage in this endeavor. Either way, please take a  little time to think about investing in the Snow Strategies Forum this year.

Special thanks to Ventrac and Meyer Products for sponsoring this year's forum, visit www.sima.org/forum for more information on the 2013 Snow Strategies Forum.

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