Insurmountable bureaucracy, miles of red tape, ponderous bickering and jockeying for political gain. These are the hallmarks of big government. But what if I told you government – at the federal or state level – could increase your efficiencies, streamline your processes and make you more money with your snow and ice management operation. And no, I’m not talking about some sort of government grant or financial handout.
There are valuable and innovative lessons professional snow and ice managers can learn from the government. First, I worked as a firefighter in Kansas City for many years while managing my fledgling snow and ice operation – Rose Property Maintenance. During my time as a fire fighter I learned all levels of processes and procedures that city, state and federal entities adhere to, such as ISO ratings, accreditation, FEMA response to emergencies and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) – a standardized approach to incident management developed by the Department of Homeland Security.
What’s important about these various emergency response management systems is that they focus in on how an organization – such as a fire department – handles an incident or emergency. I learned processes and procedures for events like hazardous material spills, fire scenes and tornado aftermath, all under the guise of emergency preparedness.
Most importantly, these proven processes, for the most part, allows an organization to accurately and effectively respond to an ever changing emergency scenario where not two events are the same. They involve things like span of control, logistics, pre-planning, in-event documentation, post-incident debriefing, or just when to regroup and come up with a new innovative approach and plan.
What a second… back up. Does this at all sound familiar to anyone?
Yep, that’s was I thought, too. In the snow and ice management industry we often – and accurately – refer to our work as an emergency winter service. Very often snow contractors are “first responders” to a snow and ice event. In fact, the states my company operates in treat snow contractors and their equipment as disaster-response workers that are exempt from states’ departments of transportation restrictions. In short, we are recognized for the important role we play in public safety.
So I put my emergency response training into practice for snow and ice management, and following the first season of implementation I increased profit margins by double digits. I was ecstatic with these numbers. Likewise, my subcontractors and customers were happier getting routes completed 10 percent faster than before implementation.
Why not learn from the operational systems your tax dollars have already funded. It is free to you and has been implemented, tested and adapted for any event that involves teams working towards a common goal and in changing conditions.
Kyle Rose is the president of Rose Property Maintenance in Shawnee, Kan. He is a former ASCA board member and frequent Snow Magazine contributor.
NIMS (National Incident Management System) is a great resource to learn how to effectively manage labor, equipment and other resources on a large scale or when operations need to be evaluated constantly. Check out 1.usa.gov/1FLbUQZ where NIMS provides tools and aids that address specific content and processes to ensure that whole community partners are enabled to build and sustain emergency management capabilities.