Proactive Snow Removal Planning for Hotels: An Ounce of Planning is Worth a Pound of Cure
By Scott B. Brickman CEO, Brickman | October 28, 2008
Snow removal presents a significant challenge for hotel executives. After all, guests measure the experience of their stay from the time that they pull into the parking lot to the time that they leave. If your guests have difficulty navigating your parking lot due to a poorly-plowed surface, it will have a profound negative impact on their stay. Business travelers can be late to meetings, and recreational travelers may leave with a bad feeling about their hotel experience. Even employees may be affected, resulting in less efficient operations and low morale. All said, snow removal can be the source of many headaches for everyone.
So how can you, as a hotel executive, minimize the impact of snow on operations? The first step is to make snow and ice removal a top priority year-round, not just when the weather starts to turn cold. Hotels that experience the best snow removal efficiency are those that begin lining up contractors in the summer and fall. These hotel executives recognize that the best snow removal teams require a comprehensive knowledge of their parking lots - and traffic patterns - before it is buried under a mass of the cold, white stuff.
By negotiating a contract in advance of winter, hotel executives give their contractors and building superintendents an opportunity to build a communications strategy before such interactions become critical. At the start of the relationship, the contractor and superintendent can exchange emergency phone numbers and establish snow and ice removal procedures that can be fine tuned over time. Although each hotel will craft a plan that meets its individual needs, it is important to communicate expectations up front to avoid frustrations and potential future billing disputes.
One area of discussion needs to be how plowing will occur during a prolonged snow storm. If, for example, snow is coming down for an extended period of time, should your contractor make multiple trips to your site? If yes, it is important to agree on the scope of work ahead of time. Another important consideration is how to address the messy issue of removing snow under cars. Typically, plows will clear aisles of a parking lot quickly, but the snow can slide under parked cars. When those cars leave, hotel executives need to decide if they want the contractor to return to remove the excess snow.
If you need plows to come back, will you be billed again or will it be considered part of the original job? These are the type of "what-if" scenarios that need to be negotiated up front before signing any contract with a snow removal specialist. Clearly, the way your snow removal contract is structured will have a profound impact on short and long-term costs.
Once you are ready to take a proactive approach to your hotel's snow removal strategy, there are a few important steps to follow. First, you will need to prepare a list of potential contractors. When assembling your list, you should try to include a few different contractors and closely review past performance on hotels similar to yours.