This December issue of Snow Business celebrates the All-Stars of Snow and Ice. The magazine recognizes these people because they provide the highest value to their companies, employers and clients. But how is value defined? This is more than a philosophical query; it has far-reaching impacts on every business in the industry.
Obviously employers seek to hire the most valuable employees and can learn the characteristics to seek by studying the 2015 All-Stars. Perhaps more interesting, though, is exploring how value is presented and received. This relationship is paramount to selling snow and ice services, and the most successful companies have learned how to present value to prospects on a consistent basis.
No discussion about value can be held without mentioning price. Value and price are clearly related; and the more valuable a service is perceived to be, the higher the price it may command. Looking at the All-Stars in this issue, their employers and peers have nominated them because they provide such high quality, innovative, time-saving or specialized work to their companies that the compensation they earn is justified. Similarly, some property managers will seek out the best services they can find and pursue value over price.
Above and beyond
One trait each All-Star exhibits is going above and beyond expectations. By finding a way to surprise their employers with outstanding work or great ideas, they separate themselves from the norm. As service providers, companies should seek ways to demonstrate value by surprising clients with unexpected outcomes. While high level of service immediately comes to mind, creativity can be crucial in this area because the best examples of going above and beyond provide value outside the expected business area.
For example, perhaps providing clients with a documented damage assessment can help them better understand their property and manage future capital investment projects. By repositioning the purpose of something that is already being done by many snow and ice companies, additional value to the client can be demonstrated. In some cases, consistent and detailed service reporting can help clients better work with their accounting departments to project costs and improve budgeting in the future. By helping clients better do their job and eliminate stress, the perceived value becomes much more than just great service in the field.
After some time brainstorming, it can become overwhelming to consider how to implement value-add services or even to know which ones clients will actually value. It becomes necessary to market-test ideas with property managers to understand how to gain the biggest return on the significant time investment that implementing such programs will entail. However, this does not necessarily mean that a formal process should be undertaken. Instead, testing can be done on an ongoing and one-on-one basis.
By simply asking clients to help describe their process for all things related to snow and ice, information can be gleaned about what value-add services would be beneficial. For instance, when word of a significant storm forecast reaches their office, what work is created for a property manager? Do they have report on the potential impacts and service plan? What details are required and how do they collect them? Can you, as their snow and ice provider, compile the information in advance or, better yet, distribute it directly to those who need the information? Would doing so save the property manager considerable time, stress and frustration? If so, an opportunity for a value-added feature becomes obvious. Otherwise, consider activities they must complete, including post-storm reporting, post-season repairs, budgeting, cost analysis, risk management or service audits.
Time well spent
By taking the time to fully understand the frustrations that clients face beyond service, successful snow and ice companies can sell on the value they provide instead of simply the costs their clients incur. As a result, their customers are more loyal, less price sensitive, and more likely to refer them to their colleagues. By having a clearly defined value proposition, standing out from the competition becomes much easier and clients will consider your company as an all-star asset.
- Be creative when considering ways you can bring added value to your service.
- Learn your clients’ challenges and see if there are ways you can tailor your service to help them succeed.
- Low price doesn’t always equal the best value. Show your clients why you’re worth the extra money.
Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM, is account executive for Case Snow Management. Contact him at email@example.com.