Success in the professional snow and ice management industry is not possible without overcoming challenges, and that is as true for the industry as it is for the individual contractor.
Five years ago, in a hotel conference room, nearly 70 of the U.S. and Canadian Top 100 contractors openly discussed the challenges the industry was facing.
Those in attendance cited among their grievances the state of the market, rising insurance costs, unfair hold-harmless agreements, lack of respect from customers, lack of understanding of the industry from the outside world and companies that take advantage of unsuspecting (or uneducated) contractors. While insurance was the clear winner to come out of this discussion, many of the issues deemed “problems” could trace their origins back to the same root.
After a year of thorough investigation and due diligence, we determined the root of the problem was not any of the issues named above, rather those were symptomatic of a much larger problem. This problem was multifaceted:
- The industry had not done enough to represent itself properly to the outside world:
- Many property owners/managers didn’t respect snow contractors.
- Property owners/managers and snow contractors had (and many still have) an adversarial relationship.
- Insurance carriers had little knowledge of the snow and ice management industry.
- Legislative bodies had absolutely no idea how often snow contractors are getting claims filed against them.
- U.S. and Canadian laws are unfair and unsympathetic to our industry.
- Insurance carriers had little knowledge of the snow and ice management industry until they dug into things and found they were losing $2 for every $1 in premium they brought in.
- Some companies were using these issues for their benefit, and ultimately harming unsuspecting contractors, and the trickle-down effect resulted in increased claims and skyrocketing insurance costs.
The ASCA was founded to address and resolve these issues. To date, we have experienced tremendous success. Member companies are performing well above the average snow and ice management contractor. Sales are increasing due to their ability to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Their certifications (ASCA-C and ISO 9001/SN 9001) helped them better managing their insurance costs (in some cases, just being able to be insured). They are getting more and more slip-and-fall claims dismissed. The ASCA and ASCA member companies have taken serious steps to improve the operating conditions for the professional snow and ice management industry. We have done so by:
- Developing the first ever set of industry standards, and getting the accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- ANSI is the first place attorneys go when they get a case. If they have a standard, it will help to defend those that have followed it, and it will likely hurt those that have not.
- Creating an educational certification, ASCA-C, that proves to the outside world you are educated on the industry standards and risk management:
- Currently, nearly 500 individuals have completed ASCA-C education.
- Creating a quality management system that ensures that you have the processes and procedures in place to ensure service quality, and that you have implemented the industry standards into your business:
- ISO9001/SN9001 is helping improve companies’ processes, increase sales, reduce risk and saving money on insurance.
- Initiing legislative change:
- Nationally, we have lobbied for legislation to reduce frivolous lawsuits.
- At the state level, our anti-indemnification bill has been introduced in a half-dozen states and has been enacted in Illinois.
That’s why I’m asking those of you who haven’t already joined to consider ASCA membership. Not only is it is the first step in taking a greater part in improving your business operations, but it empowers you to get involved and to start taking part in changing our industry for the better.