By Grant Harrison
Throughout my 20+ years in the snow industry, I have always been curious about how other snow contractors were running their operations. I would drive by competitors’ yards and see what type of equipment they were using. I would drive around during snow events and watch how they completed snow removal during each type of snow event.
Early in my career, I remember watching a large snow operation use separate crews for each type of work that needed to get done. This was revolutionary for me because at that point in my career, I was the plow operator, sidewalk crew and salter operator all in one! I had been thinking that it didn’t make financial sense to have a truck with a plow and salter idling in the parking lot while I got out and shoveled the walks. So, seeing one of our competitor's service a site with multiple crews was eye-opening for me.
I started constantly asking, “How can we do snow operations more efficiently?” That next season we implemented a sidewalk team, a group of operators and eventually salt truck teams. I wanted so badly to sit down with other snow contractors and ask, “How and why are you doing the things you do? What’s working for you and what’s not?”
Tags: Peer Groups , Support , Sharing ,
A few years ago, I started to research adding liquid brine to our snow operations and soon realized that no one in our local area was offering this service. I knew I needed to find a snow contractor who was offering this service and ask them how to do it, what worked and what didn’t work in their experience.
While researching brine, I came across an article in Snow Business magazine about snow industry peer groups. I had never heard of an industry peer group before and was curious how it worked and what was involved. To my delight, the peer group format was exactly what I was looking for. It gave me the opportunity to dialogue with non-competitive snow contractors and ask the questions I had been wanting answers to. I signed up right away for the SIMA Snow Warriors peer group that I’ve now been a part of for 3 years.
The experience of belonging to a peer group of contractors who are like-minded and determined to improve their snow operations is emotional – not chick-flick emotional, but emotional nonetheless. It’s exciting to learn something new, rewarding to be part of someone else’s success (and your own), frustrating when you walk a tough path with another member, enlightening to draw on the wisdom of others, and it’s a whole lot of fun. When you openly share your experiences with others in a safe forum, you walk away from every interaction excited about the business and determined to keep moving forward. Business is hard and constantly changing, so we need to be creative as we look for fresh ideas and practices. These ideas often come from those walking a similar path. Perhaps they’re a little bit further along the path, or further behind. But the goal is the same: healthy growth. The ability to sit with a group of peers and ask questions, learn from them, let them learn from you and grow together…that’s priceless.
Because of my experience with the Snow Warriors peer group, we, at GrowTheBench, are passionately creating and facilitating peer groups to help companies learn from each other and grow better. If you are interested in looking at the type of peer groups we currently offer, please visit GrowTheBench Peer Groups or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to share with you how peer groups can change your business.