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Gratitude is crucial.

Just as there is no one way to show gratitude to your clients, the same is true in showing gratitude to your staff. While the what and how are not important, the doing is. With staff spending more time with you than they do their own families, it’s crucial that they feel respected and appreciated.

We asked a number of business owners how they show gratitude and generosity to their staff and here are a few of the things they had to say:

We’ve created a place that people want to be

“We’ve worked at creating a culture where grumpy employees do not fit in. We don’t have it all figured out, and a few less than ideal hires have slipped through, but we strive to make DICAM a enjoyable place to work.” said Brian (Dicam Landscaping). “Over the past number of years we have really worked on our culture. We hire mostly based on referrals, and attitude is a huge factor. If people complain or grumble a lot I hear about it quickly because we have such...

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Introducing the Nextra Network

When we were in business, we worked really hard but didn't make any money. 

At the time, we didn't know what questions to ask or who to contact to help us figure out where we were going wrong. Yes, we created beautiful landscapes and had excellent staff and customer service, but we drove ourselves - and each other - crazy trying to figure out how to make the business profitable.

We know our experience is not unique. This is why we started the Nextra Network. We want to provide landscape business owners with the tools they need to create strong and profitable businesses, not just beautiful landscapes. 

The Nextra Network provides business coaching, financial services, a buyers group, and education, along with health & safety and human resources advice. It’s kind of like "business success in a box". By helping ensure these elements are taken care of, the Nextra Network allows owners to focus on what they do best, and sleep better at night knowing that the important...

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Why are you really giving gifts?

"When you make a gift all about you, it's not a gift. Gifts are meant to be all about the recipient, from the timing to the personalization of the gift itself. When it's all about you and your company, it shows a lack of genuine appreciation for the recipient.”

So often in business the idea of generosity is believed to be a waste of money but John Ruhlin, author of Giftology, shares that it’s actually the opposite. During the short read you will find practical ways you can give back as an owner. John shares the do’s and don'ts of gift giving in an easy-to-understand and implement way - it takes time and effort to gift well.

Some tips:

  • DO make sure the gift is not about you, the giver, but about the person receiving the gift
  • DO make sure the gift is personal 
  • DON’T brand the gift to your company
  • DO budget how much you want to spend on gifts

Reading Giftology has made me take time to really consider the recipient and what would be special to them. This...

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Generosity & why it's one of our core values

“I left my first meeting with Grant and Marla knowing 2 things without a doubt: 1) Kindness and generosity are at the forefront of every interaction they have, and 2) I needed to be part of the Nextra team" (Jordan - Nextra Team Member)

Generosity and humility are two of our core values at Nextra. We believe in their power and strive to live them out in our professional and personal lives every day. We have been on the receiving end of much generosity and humility and we remember how good and thankful it made us feel. We want people to experience that feeling when they interact with us. 

Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. And it is so true. Generosity and humility are expressions of kindness. Did you know studies have linked kindness to physical and emotional health? They’ve discovered kindness lowers levels of stress hormones, leaves people feeling...

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Are you staff making a living wage through winter months?

If your staff are not making a living wage all winter long, chances are they will be looking for employment elsewhere. This can be challenging during winter months when you are reliant on snow events to provide them with hours. You’re going to need to get creative.

Can you work on a banked hours system through the summer? They wouldn’t make overtime but the banked hours could top up their pay throughout the winter months.

What about the SUB program we chatted about briefly at the end of last week? Look into it and see if your staff are eligible for it. You can read more about it HERE.

Can you set up an on-call schedule in advance (like some of our clients do) so that your staff know in advance when it’s their turn to watch the weather as opposed to being on-call all season long?

What about offering them new or late model equipment, training, employee events during the winter to maintain culture, regular communication? Whatever you do in the summertime for your...

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Liquids & Snow Operations

Have you thought about adding liquids to your snow operations? It can be a little daunting but the overall benefit far outweighs the learning curve.

A number of years ago, I attended a SnowEx seminar by Daniel Gilliland. He is a pioneer in bringing liquids to the forefront in Ontario. I learned so much through his presentation and I want to share what I learned with you. 

There are four main reasons to use liquid strategies for Snow and Ice Control:

  • Improve safety outcomes
  • Reduce the environmental impact/property damage and the amount of chlorides going into the environment.
  • Drastically reduce your materials, especially if you make your own salt brine.
  • Using liquids to anti-ice prevents snow and ice from bonding to the pavement which results in a significant reduction to post-storm labour, equipment, and material clean up costs.

Did You Know?

  • Slip & Fall claims related to winter maintenance account for more lawsuits than in any other sector except auto accidents.
  • ...
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Happy customers are returning customers

Happy customers are returning customers. 

We’ve talked about this before, but so much of what creates a positive experience for your clients depends on how you proactively communicate with them. 

Before you sign a contract, do your potential customers know what to expect? Have you completed site visits with all decision makers so they are able to review and sign off on the snow sitemaps? Do they know the invoicing schedule? It basically boils down to you creating an onboarding process that you follow with each client.

Be sure to find out your clients preferred method of contact and then use that method to  communicate before and after snow events. It provides you clients with peace of mind that will drastically lower the number of frantic calls you will receive during an event. I also recommend that you email a weekly operational update so they know when you were on site and what service was performed.  

It’s important to keep a log of all...

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Slip and Fall Readiness Tips

As a snow contractor, the possibility of a slip and fall on one of your properties is always in mind. Obviously, we want to take every precaution to ensure the safety of our clients. But what do you do when you receive notice that a claim has been filed? Do you have the proper information available in order to respond? 

Record-keeping is key to being able to respond to a slip and fall claim. Here’s a list of documents that you should have easy access to:

  • Time sheets 
  • Email conversations
  • Weather reports
  • GPS trail
  • Related maps and descriptors
  • Training modules
  • Training certificates
  • Truck sign-out sheets
  • Phone messages
  • Contracts
  • Snow maps
  • Previous contract dates
  • Pre-season site inspection form
  • Customer communications

Being prepared can make the process a lot smoother, less stressful and less costly.

If you need help with creating or sourcing these documents, or if you have questions about your existing process, give me a call. You can schedule a call by clicking HERE.

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Plan ahead for winter success!

One of the best ways to ensure winter success is to plan ahead regarding your fleet needs.

Your relationship with your suppliers will play a key role in this. You can help them out by getting your equipment ordered early and/or getting your existing equipment scheduled for service before the forecast is calling for snow. Setting up a system where they can call you when they have some time and they know what equipment needs servicing is a small thing that can make a huge impact.

I highly recommend working with local suppliers for ordering and delivery of trucks, equipment and small machinery. I would also choose a supplier that allows you to standardize the equipment you’re using, making it easier for budgeting and repairs. If you’re using all the same equipment (ie, same type of plow), you can order parts that will work for all of the pieces. You can also identify when an issue is a manufacturer’s defect rather than just a one-off. For example, if you use one type...

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Are you keeping potential customers engaged?

Earlier this month we talked about the importance of pre-qualifying your sales calls. It’s also important to remember that clients typically need 8-12 “touches” before they’ll make a decision. Phone calls, emails, online or face to face meetings are all things that count as a “touch”.

A few years ago Kevin Kehoe wrote an article in which he stressed the importance of being persistent and creative to keep potential customers engaged with each touch point until a decision is made. 

For example, he says, “sending an email asking, ‘Have you made a decision?’ isn’t creative nor does it advance the decision. It’s much better to send an email that states, ‘I’ve thought about our conversations. Let me suggest a way to solve your problem…manage your price concerns…handle your primary concern for communication…Here’s how we do this …’ This is advancement.”

We know...

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