retrostar | adobe stock

As professional snow and ice managers, we prepare for anything that winter has to throw at us. Our late summer months are spent attaining a surplus of deicers, securing labor, and renting and purchasing equipment to fulfill our winter service contracts. We have trained our employees and service providers; briefed the customer on what the next event will bring, and placed our resources on site for a quick response.

We are as ready as we can be. This is what we live for.

However, are you prepared for the other events that can affect our organizations? As a company, do you have plans and contingencies in place for when life happens? There are numerous scenarios that can and will put an ill-prepared business on its ear in the absence of an action plan being in place.

Accidents and Injuries

These incidents have a wide range; from industrial accidents that may involve equipment or shop operations, motor vehicle collisions and to a lesser degree medical emergencies. Industrial and motor vehicle incidents become far more impactful when the general public is involved in the situation. Once a person from outside the company is involved, you will likely be introduced to the media.

Social Media/ News Media

Anyone and everyone has a “voice” in the arena of social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, MySpace, Yourspace … they all spread like wildfire and the originator can spin it to suit their own narrative.

Perception is the reality in this realm of mass communication, so get used to it but have a plan to take it on. The local media will be sure to watch social media for their next story, which leads direct to footage at 9 p.m. A few years back, in Kansas City, a large convenience store chain had a fuel tanker rollover at an intersection. The news chopper had the live footage at 6 p.m., the tanker laid on its side with the company logo staring right at the camera. As the pilot was reporting over the scene, a couple employees of the company showed up on scene with cans of spray paint and began to cover the logo. They were quickly removed by police and fire officials.

Was this in the corporation’s action plan for tanker accidents? Hopefully not, however, the obvious conclusion is there was no plan and the absence of a plan breeds chaos, but the whole city watched it live and joked about it for days after.

Owners Death/Partnership Separation

Passing of an owner is an unavoidable, yet easy to prepare for scenario. By simply training your staff from top to bottom and bottom to top, this unfortunate and potentially devastating situation’s cure will already be woven into your day-to-day operations. Staff should know the jobs of the people above and below them. Laborers should know the responsibilities of crew leaders. Crew leaders should know the role of area managers, just as the ops manager knows the job of the owner/CEO and back down.

In the event of a separation of ownership, make sure a legal document is on file with a plan, reviewed by an attorney and signed by both parties. Should either situation occur, your customers will hear of it quickly. Top priority needs to be contacting them first with a message of reassurance that operations are smooth and contingencies were in place and have been implemented.

Adverse Weather

While we are well versed in preparing for winter weather events, there are other weather-related risks out there. Thunderstorms bring the potential for strong winds that can knock out power and flooding rains may potentially ruin materials stored on site. Have a backup generator and verify that any products are secured and weatherproof. Can your crews and staff make it to work safely for snow and ice events? A nearby municipality built a new public works facility recently, placed high on the hill it was top notch with all the newest tech and the equipment was ready to go. A problem occurred when an unforeseen ice event coated the roads and the on-call employees couldn’t get up the hill to put the salt trucks in to service. Eventually, the parks and rec department brought a tractor out and drove employees through a field and climbed the hill successfully.

Fire Loss

This can be the most damaging scenario to any business both financially and physically. Insurance will help you replace and rebuild over time, but your customers can’t wait that long. The best way to prevent this is to have your local fire department come out and perform a fire prevention inspection. This will also help them pre-plan their actions in case of an emergency at your location(s). Working smoke detectors monitored by an alarm company are invaluable as are evacuation plans and preventive measures.

Divorce

Chances are you and your spouse don’t have an agreement in place that addresses the future of the company nor the division of assets in this situation. Let’s face the truth, this is not a very romantic subject. Bring it up over dinner at your own risk! Divorce is unpredictable, other times unavoidable, has no time line and the outcome is not the same for anyone. My best advice is if it can’t be avoided, then be amicable, be patient and pick the best representation you can find.

Kyle Rose is the president of Rose Property Maintenance in Shawnee, Kan., and a regular Snow Magazine contributor.