If you own a business in northern Illinois or Chicago, you know the importance of finding a good Chicago snow removal company. Especially this year! The "Chiberia" cheer of the polar vortex arrived before Santa did this year when Chicago got a chilly December blast. 2016’s early arrival of the polar vortex was a reminder of the infamous cold weather Chicago endured in 2014. As the Tribune recorded this month, temperatures plunged to subzero levels in mid-December, though it was not as severe or prolonged as 2014 when the real Chiberia occurred. The uncomfortable event served as a good reminder that having a reliable snow removal company keeping your business open, safe, and inviting for customers is critical when severe conditions like the polar vortex strike. For this reason, it’s crucial to know what to look for in a snow removal company, especially when so much depends on their effectiveness. Here are five must-have things to remember as you’re assessing your Chicago snow removal company:
1. Productivity (Not Just Price)
When you assess a Chicago snow removal company, ask about the tools they have at their disposal and don’t just go by price. Ask how long it will take them and why. If a company is small, they may charge a lower price but have inferior equipment. Their work ends up taking three hours instead of the efficient one hour it takes a more expensive company with more tools to do the same job. In other words, ask the right questions until you can really determine what the bottom-line price will be when the job is completed.
2. Ease of Communication and Responsiveness
No one needs to tell you how urgent a snow job can be when the success of your business depends on it, but it is incredibly frustrating when you have to remind the snow removal company of that urgency. What’s even more frustrating is when the company’s poor communication infrastructure makes it difficult to correct scheduling errors or let them know of a job’s urgency. In this context, nothing is worse than finding out your snow removal company was a no-show, and when you try to contact them to get them to your business ASAP, they are not responsive. For that reason, observe carefully how responsive a company is in basic communication and make note of what communication options they make available to you. Email? Live chat? Text message? A responsive phone line where you always get a live body? In addition, make sure the company seems well-organized with their calendar. If they seem poorly organized or in a haphazard state of operation, they may have a bad habit of confusing their appointments or missing start times for jobs. It is imperative that your snow removal company is available for you when you need them in a prompt manner and able to organize themselves quickly and efficiently when you have an urgent snow removal job.
3. Detail-Oriented Work
A good snow removal company always has a detail-oriented plan laid out for every property they work. They have a detailed strategy for where they will push snow to cause the least amount of disruption to the flow of cars and pedestrians going in and out of your business. Their plan also takes into account safety, and they never make sloppy decisions that cause new hazards for employees and customers. A good Chicago snow removal company also makes a plan to protect the properties surrounding your business. The last thing you need is a lawsuit of some kind because your snow removal company caused damage to a property next door or worked in a careless, chaotic way that endangered drivers and pedestrians. Everything above falls in the category of detail-oriented preparation that a company should do before they begin the job. The company also does a good job of communicating any of these details that you need or want to know.
4. Engaged Management
An effective, reliable, safe snow removal company has managers and owners who are actively engaged in the day-to-day operations. Look for signs of this when assessing a company. Is the manager or owner present enough that it lends a "face" to the company and ensures you that the company isn’t being neglected and left to run itself? SBA.gov makes this point about actively engaged owners and managers: One of the biggest reasons that small businesses fail is because of the persistent absence of the business owner. You only need to look at a few episodes of business makeover TV shows like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Tabatha Takes Over to witness what can go wrong if a business is left to run itself. Without an actively engaged owner, employees lose motivation and structure, which can quickly lead to sloppy service, a poor product and customer churn. This doesn’t mean that the owner or manager has to be there at all times, micro-managing the employees. It simply means the people running the show should demonstrate effective engagement and awareness about what’s happening.
Another terrible aggravating pain point for businesses: the snow removal company worked too slowly on the job or didn’t arrive early enough in the morning. What happens next? Your doors open, customers arrive, but they can’t access you so they go elsewhere. Make sure the snow removal company has a good reputation for speedy delivery of services and sensitivity to your business hours.
Conclusion: Chicago Snow Removal is Too Important for Companies to Get Wrong
Winter weather can cause huge pain points for many types of businesses. Perhaps the one trait that sums up everything above is this: a good snow removal company is keenly aware of this pain point, and they take the importance of snow and ice removal for your business as seriously as you do. Contact us at Brancato for more helpful tips on what to look for in a good Chicago snow removal company.