ISO Mythbusters

ASCA Update - ASCA Update

ISO auditor, educator and consultant Beth Savastano sets the record straight about earning certification.

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Sometimes myths take on a life of their own. Generated from misinformation, myths become fact through the sheer act of sharing them from person to person. Consultant Beth Savastano knows this all too well when it comes to preparing companies for ISO 9001/SN 9001 certification. As a critical first step, Savastano works with snow professionals to assess gaps in their standards and procedures in preparation for third-party ISO certification. She addresses the popular ISO myths circulating throughout the snow and ice community.

MYTH: I’ve missed my window of opportunity. I should have started the ISO process back in January.

Savastano: Frankly, there is not a “perfect” time to engage the ISO certification process. When you’re in the middle of winter you’re focused on servicing winter events and meeting client needs. When winters over, our industry switches over to landscape, lawncare and other duties, which seem to start almost immediately after the last snowfall. The good news is you can begin the ISO process at any time. I tell clients the best strategy is to plant their flag and declare from this point forward you ‘re focused on ISO certification. Just know ISO certification is, on average, a four to sixth month process, in addition to booking the final audit. So, you can commit at any time, but once you commit stick with it to its conclusion.

MYTH: My snow and ice management operation is too small and the cost is too great to consider ISO certification.

Savastano: This is a huge myth in our industry. No snow and ice management company is too small to pursue ISO certification. In fact, I’ve just started working with a company that has two employees. Granted, the owner came from a company that was ISO 9001/SN 9001 certified, so they wanted to continue operating in compliance with the Industry Standards. As for the cost related to certification, I get this question all the time. My response is that snow professionals make substantial investments in new equipment and technology with the end goal of greater efficiency and improved customer satisfaction. So, why not invest in the premier certification for professional snow and ice managers that shares those same end goals? And while “cost” is a matter of opinion, I can say ISO certification does not require a huge upfront cost from the average snow and ice management operation.

MYTH:Starting the certification process is confusing and requires a substantial time commitment.

Savastano: This is another big myth in the community. Our work focuses on the processes and procedures you have in place for snow and ice management and preparing you for the ISO audit. So, there are no wrong answers to my questions. And about the time commitment, yes it requires an investment in time, but it’s not as much as you think. And nowadays we do much of the work virtually, which cuts down on the time substantially. And if this helps to put it into perspective, I’ve been told that going through and ISO audit was a lot easier than going through a tax audit.

MYTH: I’m not comfortable with outsiders having access to my financial data.

Savastano: Let me be clear: I do not ask for and I don’t look at your financial data. The only thing I ask about are your growth expectations. ISO certification is not about a snow contractor’s financials. It is about the policies and procedures you have in place and whether you’re following the Industry Standards. In a similar vein, contractors sometimes say they’re uneasy working on ISO because I have or may in the future work with a competitor. There is a concern that contract specifics will be leaked in the process. This has never happened, and what I can tell you is that when we look at winter service contracts, we’re looking at dates and signatures and not pricing or servicing specifics.

MYTH: I’ve ha a slip-and-fall claim filed against me in the last year. I probably don’t qualify for ISO certification.

Savastano: Your past record with slip-and-fall incidents has no bearing on ISO certification. In fact, ISO certification provides you greater leverage when you are fighting a slip-and-fall claim because it provides assurances that you are following established Industry Standards intended on mitigating risk. However, I should mention that what may influence your ISO certification is a recent bankruptcy claim or a lawsuit against your business that is not slip-and-fall related.