ISO certification was one of the many informative topics discussed at the ASCA Executive Summit in Hilton Head, SC this past August. At the event, I couldn’t turn down a request from Kevin Gilbride, ASCA Executive Director, for me contribute a guest column addressing how a snow and ice removal company goes about earning their ISO 9001/SN 9001 certification.
Contrary to popular believe, becoming ISO certified in the snow industry should not be intimidating for the business owner or their employees. There are no myths or secrets for certification. In facts, most contractors are already performing to Industry Standards. Certification simply proves you are truly committed to the industry and to your customers.
Here’s how certification works. Industry Standards set the requirements for a quality management system for snow and ice management, and they provide assurance to your customers that you will always be the most efficient and you will continually strive to always improve customer satisfaction.
Simply, you say what you do, and you do what you say.
ISO — or the International Organization for Standardization — is the international standard-setting body made up of representatives from numerous national standards organizations. It was founded, Feb. 23, 1947 in London, England, with the purpose of international standardizations. Today, it is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has 162 different member countries, with three official languages (English, French and Russian) and approximately 135 fulltime employees.
So, what does this all mean for a snow and ice management outfit in Wicom, MIch., or wherever you’re headquartered? The ISO standards along with the SN standards (snow industry requirements), requires a quality manual system, which ensures your company stays focused. This is due in part to the internal audits, registrations and processes. Your processes are designed and implemented by you, which make up your QMS. Your QMS ensures an improved level of quality for your entire organization to follow.
You contract snow and ice removal services, you seek, retain and continually educate and certify dedicated employees, your infrastructure is functionally safe and secure, and your equipment is well maintained and state-of-the-art. You conduct pre and post site inspections, make site maps accessible and maintain seasonal weather reports. Your processes are in place and working if you are a functioning business. You are compliant and more than half of the way to becoming ISO certified.
Some of the many benefits to becoming certified are industry recognition, customer retention, better insurance rates, and continual employee guidance and reference on industry standards. You will have prospective customers reach out to you noticing that you are an ISO compliant company and will want to do business with you specifically because of that. At the time I authored this column, there are only 26 snow companies ISO certified in the professional snow and ice management industry. So, who will be next?
My first introduction to ISO was in the year 2000 while working for the third largest electronics distributor in the USA. I was asked to become an internal auditor. After training and testing I became an ISO certified Internal Auditor and have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it to date. I have stayed educated and keep my certification to date with classes and online forums. Currently, I am employed with a snow industry leader, Troy Clogg Landscape Associates assisting Troy and his team in 2014 with the process of becoming an ISO-certified snow company who was also recently re-certified to the new standard this past September. If you have any questions, concerns or would just like to talk about ISO, please contact me at your convenience, the ISO process is not intimidating.