By Collin Corso
The flow of information and paperwork is usually difficult to manage, especially during a snowstorm. When everyone is working very long hours, trying to keep up with record keeping and paperwork can be even more difficult. By assembling the information and paperwork that’s useful to (or required of) workers in the field in an easy-to-understand binder system, organization and follow-through is more easily promoted and practiced.
In my company, getting paperwork filled out properly and consistently always seemed to be a constant battle. There were times I had to search for and then text message physical addresses and contact information of vendors or repair facilities to drivers during a storm, adding to an already stressful situation. In an effort to make things run more smoothly, and make our employees more independent, we took all the useful resources and required paperwork and assembled them in a binder. The binder has become a valuable tool, enabling operators to perform their jobs at a higher level while enhancing organization.
Make your binder fit your needs
Having seen variations of similar snow resource binders from several other contractors, it’s apparent that they can range from simple to complex. We aimed for something in between, providing enough content to have value, but avoiding be-coming overly complex so it is easy to utilize. Keep in mind that a binder like this should be unique and specific to the needs of the company it serves.
While there is a bit of time required in laying out a system that works for you, it’s an easy, cost-effective and sometimes obvious way to get the crews and paperwork flow organized. When creating the binders, we were careful to keep ease of use and simplicity in mind. It was important to understand that many people would not use them properly, or be less likely to use them, if the approach and design was overly complex or burdensome. There was a strong effort to maintain a good balance of keeping it simple while still offering enough content for the system to have value.
We use standard binders with clear pockets, an index page for quick navigation, and inserted folders to hold good quantities of blank forms, such as the service log sheets, damage reports and quality control lists. Each section’s form has a number on it that corresponds to a bin at the shop located right next to the time clock. This allows for easy and consistent submission of service logs and other information.
The snow resource binder can also contain a section of frequently asked questions, troubleshooting techniques for common equipment issues, and company policies or procedures, depending on the desired complexity.
Achieve employee buy-in
Admittedly, unveiling a system to organize paperwork and information in the field is generally not the most exciting topic or a top priority for many employees. This can make the implementation process with certain individuals difficult. Some will assume it’s just more to keep track of and more paperwork to fill out. We aimed to maintain a positive attitude and approach to the implementation of this system by presenting it as a resource that enables operators, drivers and shovel crews to complete their jobs to a higher standard with less hassle and, most importantly, better organization.
Binder content examples
- Paperwork flowchart - A visual aid to help employees understand the flow of paperwork, which is useful during implementation or the training process. We put this at the front so it’s an easy reference all the time.
- Contact list - Include contact information for all employees, truck and equipment repair vendors, parts suppliers, backup salt vendors and customers (if applicable).
- Equipment or truck inspection list - A checklist that ensures operators do not miss any critical pre-use equipment inspections before a winter event.
- Equipment or truck repair work orders - A sheet that can be filled out with repair requests or to inform the office of a unit’s noticeably irregular operation.
- Service logs - Drivers/operators fill out service times, weather and pavement conditions, as well as services completed for each property visit. Binders should have an abundance of blank log sheets and an area to store completed sheets.
- Property damage report sheets - An incident report to be filled out if an operator damages a customer’s property.
- Site maps - These should include snow storage areas, high-traffic locations, handicap spots, fire hydrant locations, and other general information specific to each site.
- Quality control checklists - This can ensure that nothing is forgotten or missed on any site. We generally perform these during the final clearing of a property at the end of the storm.
- First aid log - Any time first aid is rendered, it should be recorded, and making these log sheets readily available enables that to consistently happen.
- Accident procedure and information form - Having a form that a driver can fill out in the event of a vehicular accident will formalize the information gathered during those first few moments.
- Employee warning notice - It’s important to utilize written warnings to employees when needed; this can be done immediately with the correct form at a foreman’s fingertips.
Collin Corso is CEO of Driveway Snow Blowing, Inc.