And despite being in the middle of winter, now is a prime time to begin assessing your operation for ISO-Certification because snow and ice management is top of mind, and contractors are evaluating, rewriting or improving their processes and procedures as they attack winter work. After an initial assessment with an ISO coach, most snow professionals are 80 percent or more of the way toward complete compliance with only some minor issues that need to be addressed.
For those who might not be familiar with these standards, ISO 9001 is an international standard adopted by more than one million companies in 176 countries and is the most common benchmark for quality management. ISO 9001:2008 is a part of the ISO 9000 family of standards and is the document that lists the requirements an organization must meet to become ISO 9001 certified.
In its continued support of contractor education and certification, the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) created a quality management system specifically for the professional snow and ice management industry. SN 9001 –- a system exclusive to professional snow contractors -- works in conjunction with the existing ISO 9001. This program is based on ISO 9001 with additional requirements based on the professional snow and ice management industry and the Industry Standards.
Contractors earn ISO9001/SN9001 certification through an independent, third-party audit that focuses on processes and procedures that adhere to service quality, as well as the implementation of the Industry Standards for the professional snow and ice management industry.
While you can find more information on auditing companies and their certification processes by contacting the ASCA or by searching the ANAB directory, here are the top questions snow professionals have about becoming ISO9001/SN9001 certified.
What is ISO certification for snow?
ISO certification for the snow industry, SN9001:2016 is the international standard that is based on a number of quality management principles including a strong customer focus, motivation of top management along with continual improvement. Becoming certified ensures that customers get consistent, best quality services, which in turn brings business benefits.
Why should a contractor become certified?
By far the positives outweigh any negatives. ISO certification is the highest level of excellence and recognition to your industry that a contractor and its employees can achieve. It is an earned certification to be proud of for you and your team. And tour clients will appreciate the impact this certification will have on the services you provide them.
How long does it take and/or how much time does a contractor have to put into this process of getting certified?
Depending on the scheduling time from the third- party registrar, most snow contractors receive their certification within 4 to 6 months.
Once certified, does a contractor have to report to an organization?
No. You will have one yearly audit to maintain your certification and see that your processes/procedures are all in good standing or if changes are needed. Your auditor does this and will recommend any changes needed.
Are employees required to earn additional extra education?
No. Most snow contractors are ASCA and/or SIMA members, so they are already following industry guidelines. Employees should have normal yearly training on updated industry standards and equipment.
Does a contractor have to report financials to an organization after being certified?
No, never. Becoming certified is not about how much revenue you bring in. You will never be asked for financial records.
A frequent Snow Magazine contributor, Beth Savastano is the lead auditor at Beth Savastano Consulting. You can reach her at 734.548.4600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.