The mandatory questions to ask when searching for next season's service provider

SMS Assist Blog Post

The unexpected nature of a snow season can leave a facility maintenance executive on edge when approaching a new snow season. Huge blizzards can strike a facility and leave budgets unbalanced and facility executives scrambling to find last-minute service providers. If a disastrous snow season occurs, frustration can arise and poor decisions are made, which is why a fresh approach is necessary when entering the next snow season.

Post-season frustration can also influence facility managers to publish RFPs in search of new service providers. However, reexamining their snow removal strategy before entering next season and answering the following questions is another solution.

1. What are my goals for next snow season?

The end of a season is a beneficial time to reflect on the areas that have room for improvement. Small changes could help streamline the process and drive significant savings even if last season’s snow and ice process didn’t fail. Setting new goals for the upcoming season can also lead to powerful updates moving forward.

Goals for snow and ice season can be driven by different factors. Some goals can be a derivative of your business industry. For example, a facility maintenance executive who manages facilities that receive high consumer traffic during blizzards might decide to make a goal to improve service quality control or store communication. Executives that struggled in the recent years to manage their snow removal budget might decide that budget control or minimizing the risk of overpaying is a helpful goal for the organization next year.

Setting goals help executives strive for year-to-year and season-to-season improvement. By gaining a firm understanding of next season’s goals, major shifts in an FM strategy can occur. Fortunately, there are plenty goals that a facility executive can strive for during snow and ice season.

2. What are my contractors’ performance histories?

Staying aware of a contractors’ performance history is crucial when planning for the upcoming snow season. Comparing a contractor’s cost structure to their quality of work can lead to an informed assessment of their performance.

A facility maintenance manager should be able to break down a contractor’s cost structure and understand the material and labor costs associated with a snow season. Understanding these small details can help an executive realize the costs they spent on the services they received.

Comparing the materials and labor costs to the quality of service allows a facility manager to quantify the value of their past contract and decide if it is a decent fit for their facilities in the future. However, it is difficult to get measurable statistics on the quality of work provided, so facility executives have begun to collect ratings for performance history.

Involving store personnel is an effective way to collect measurable data on service quality because they are affected by the performed services. If a service provider does not perform quality work, the store personnel or the store manager must take on the responsibility of keeping the store accessible when snow or ice occurs. The best-in-class operators encourage store managers to rate each snow service and use these ratings to identify performance history and improve facility maintenance strategies.

3. What is the best pricing strategy for me?

A facility executive should be able to identify compatible pricing strategies after creating goals for next snow season and understanding their contractor’s performance history. Mitchell (2012, p.5-6 and 8) states there are six industry-accepted pricing strategies. These pricing strategies vary per facility because the needs and goals are different for every facility.

For example, a seasonal variance pricing strategy would be effective for a facility manager who makes a goal to minimize the risk of overpaying for snow services. In this pricing strategy, the premiums that a provider may charge for potential risks are not as high due to overage clauses in the contract. Facilities with locations across the country may also allocate money from an area that received little snowfall for a location that incurs heavy snowfall.

On the other hand, a fixed seasonal pricing strategy would be well suited for an FM executive who has a goal to control their snow seasons’ budgets. A seasonal pricing strategy includes a fixed price for snow removal services during an entire season. This strategy is best for locations that have predictable and light winters because if a store requires more services than what is included in the contract, the facility manager must pay for additional services.

How Can Answering These Questions Affect My Business?

A facility executive can make improved decisions before entering the next snow season by answering these questions about last snow season and getting an understanding of their goals. Rather than moving forward with a service provider based on emotions, using measurable data and goals can lead to fact-based and profitable decisions.

Mitchell, G. (2012). Creating Best-In-Class Snow and Ice Management. [ebook] Dallas, TX: Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association, pp.5-6 and 8. Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].