SIMA has seen an increase in phone calls expressing concerns regarding the availability of and prices for salt in the market. Following are best practices and resources to consider as you plan for winter and believe salt availability may become an issue.
- Talk with your suppliers now to understand current and forecasted supply so you know where you stand and can plan appropriately.
- Review your contracts, scope of work and client expectations and determine whether you can adjust your service and still meet your obligations while conserving salt. As the contractor, it is your responsibility to deliver on your obligations, so be up front with your clients and let them know how you plan to address any supply shortages.
- We recommend locking in pricing early and purchasing 50-75% of your needed supply based on your projected client roster and service areas. If you have not already finalized contracts for salt supply, now is the time. Salt is a bulk commodity subject to price fluctuations based on supply and demand. Your business model should take this fluctuation into consideration so that you can plan accordingly.
- Your contract language should include provisions that insulate you from the extreme cost fluctuations associated with supply shortages. If you must raise your prices, have a conversation with your clients and negotiate any changes to the scope of work they might request to offset those costs before the start of the season.
- The private snow and ice management market stands in line behind departments of transportation and municipalities for availability. Understand that once that supply has been taken, it could leave little in the way for the private markets. We recommend securing no less than two vendors to ensure you have access to mitigate risk due to fluctuations in supply and price. This should be done as early in the year as possible.
- Review your application rates and make targeted decisions where you can reduce overall consumption without negatively impacting your risk. Ensure you know how to properly calibrate your equipment so you are not spreading excess product.
- Implement or increase your use of liquids for storm event operations. Pre-wetting at the spinner or your stockpiles can stretch your existing salt supply. Anti-icing before the storm can also help reduce the amount of rock salt that must be applied to achieve your contracted level of service.
Many of these suggestions and more are included in the SIMA Sustainable Salt Use Best Practices, which is free to download at www.sima.org/bestpractices