For our industry, this is the prime time of the business year. Companies are getting their snow ops into shape with preseason training. Equipment is being checked and rechecked before being assigned to clients’ properties. New technology is being put through its paces. And everyone’s excited about the prospects of a new winter, one that is safe, profitable and with billable snow and ice events spread evenly over the next four to five months. Everything just feels so promising.

And at this time of year, we publish our annual State of the Industry report, which we’ve been doing every year for the last 15 years I’ve been editor of this publication. It’s an awesome tool because not only does it provide snow pros with key business benchmarks to gauge their companies against, but it also provides insight into the issues important and vital to their colleagues throughout North America. I really encourage you to check it out. It begins on page 24.

While I’m the State of the Industry Report’s biggest cheerleader, I’ll be the first to admit that it has its limitations. We can only cover so much ground with 25-30 probing questions, which is the limit the average person is willing to stick with the survey and answer honestly before getting distracted or bored and opting out. One of the areas I wish we could explore more deeply is that of professional development and the issues you – the owners, top managers and frontline pros – are dealing with within the context of a winter season and beyond.

So, I wanted to share some quick insight I’ve found to be extremely valuable. It comes from Dan Coughlin, who is a frequent contributor to Snow Magazine. Dan is a seemingly unending well of management knowledge, which he’s happy to share with the professional snow and ice community. A while back he passed on three powerful phrases that have the ability to strengthen relationships, increase civility, express gratitude, and accept responsibility for your words and actions. The bottom line is they make you a more effective leader. Here they are along with Dan’s logic as to why they’re so vital.


“Every business is a relationship business. Civility is an important part of a relationship. And saying please is the shortest and simplest way to convey civility and to demonstrate treating the other individual with personal dignity.”

Thank You

“Saying thank you is a way of conveying gratitude. You don’t say thank you once at the beginning of the day and be done with it. You don’t say thank you once at the end of the day to cover the entire day. You just simply say thank you whenever the situation calls for it.”

I’m Sorry

“There are big moments and there are small moments when saying I’m sorry is the right thing to do. Any time you realize you’ve done something wrong, take responsibility and simply say, ‘I’m sorry. That was my fault.’ You can’t control how the other person or the group will respond to your apology. The relationship might be severed, and you won’t be forgiven. However, you can still take responsibility for what you’ve done.”

So, take these phrases to heart and make them a part of your leadership portofolio as you begin this snow season.