My Thoughts On…

Columns - Editor's Note

May 12, 2022

Our industry is facing a litany of issues that it must come to terms with this offseason. I have consulted numerous industry leaders to get their insights on these topics and how they plan to approach them. Here are the pressing issues you need to face in 2022.

Price Increases. You must approach your clients about price increases. So many contractors avoid this conversation because they fear they will lose work if they increase their prices. Whether it is higher fuel prices, cost spikes due to supply chain shortages and delays, or labor-related expenses, your clients are experiencing the same financial stressors. In fact, your clients are half expecting to field a call from you about an inevitable price increase before the start of Winter 2022-23. They fuel up at the same pumps. They shop at the same stores. They experience the same sticker shock. They will understand. And when you do approach them about price increases, do so armed with data. Share with clients where and how much your costs have risen over the last eight to 12 months. Provide them with compelling proof. And be sure to do this in a face-to-face conversation, and not through a form letter.

Equipment and Materials. The global supply chain is a real problem that lacks a near-term solution. COVID brought these issues to the forefront and recent financial and societal pressures have only exasperated the problems. Like it or not, we are part of a global economy that sources raw materials and manufacturing components from every corner of the world. Therefore, you must buy materials like rock salt and deicing chemicals aggressively, and you must get creative in your approach to equipping your operations to meet your contractual needs.

Labor. Discard those outdated, preconceived notions of how to hire and retain employees. Gone are days of hanging a Help-Wanted sign, collecting resumes, and conducting cattle-call interviews. Employers who are overcoming the labor issue are doing so by getting creative with their approaches. Instead of simply offering a job, offer a clear career path within your organization. Highlight the benefits of the training and opportunities you supply to better themselves professionally. Show them your company’s culture and let existing employees share their experiences under your employ. Today’s employee seeks a job where they feel like they not only belong, but that their work has a purpose and makes an impact. Share the vital role your services play in the community.

Timing. It is nearly June, the year’s half-way point, and if you are just planning for Winter 2022-23, then you may be too late and will find yourself out in the cold. Snow professionals have been gearing up for next winter long before the temperatures changed on this past one. They have been finding materials and securing equipment. They approach hiring as a full-time endeavor. They are strategizing how to overcome the immediate obstacles and anticipate how to approach the unknown in the months ahead. Do not let another day go by before devising your plan for the next snow season. The only assurance I can offer about 2022 is to expect the unexpected. Plan for what you can control and expect there will be challenges along the way.