Best Practices: Useful Tips Cover a Variety of Areas

At the National Pavement Expo there are always a number of good ideas that surface in a variety of topic areas. The following information is provided from the notes taken during one such NPE by WSA’s Executive Director, Ranger Kidwell-Ross.

Waste Disposal

There was general consensus that it is best to request a place to dump from the customer. Ideally, make arrangements to dump at each customers location prior to leaving for your next stop. Under no circumstances are you taking control or ownership of the debris; it always remains the customer’s debris. In some areas there are storm water rules to comply with. If you think this might be the case in your locale, be sure to get that information, document it, and provided to the customer. Do not deviate from the requirements. In some areas (the example cited was in New York) all debris collected must be deposited on site at the customer’s property. Under no circumstances are you able to take it elsewhere. One way to handle the situation is to purchase one or more rolloff trucks you can utilize to put rolloff containers on site. this becomes another profit center for you, since you are charging for the rolloff containers and charging for dumping the debris whenever necessary. Before you take on a new account, think about the composition of the trash just like any waste hauler would.  Then, consider and/or find out whether or not you need any type of licensing. If you incur a cost for dumping, educate the customer about it. Some contractors discussed what to do when debris is very wet and so makes the trash container heavy for the hauling company to empty. When you have very wet dumpsters, the consensus was to talk to whoever will be picking up the dumpsters about them using a rear loader. It was known by some that if you use a company for your rolloffs that has a rear loading pickup vehicles they can both pick up more and that they don’t usually have a scale on the truck. Tell the waste hauler what the debris will be first so they know ahead of time and are bidding based upon that. Another way to problem solve in this area is to increase the frequency of pickup; can also go with a 2-yard or 4-yard container, instead of larger.

Best Practices: Fueling Sweepers

There was not consensus on whether it was better to have drivers do it or to assign the task to a dedicated maintenance person during the day. One contractor said he has his drivers both wash out the truck and top off the fuel so as to keep water out of tank. One contractor said he clearly prefers having maintenance people refuel at their company’s fueling site. He bids his fuel refilling out to all interested delivery companies, who submit fuel cost bids weekly. Then, he purchases fuel from lowest bidder in following week. On the issue fuel of cards: To maintain accountability, some companies set limits on how often a card may be used; some require employee to enter in odometer reading. Other card types allow restriction of the type of fuel that may be used (i.e., so that gasoline may not be used on the card if it’s for a diesel sweeper). Some card fueling companies will send the customer an email whenever there are aberrations; must have a PIN number in some cases. In terms of mixing backpack and other two-cycle fuel: General agreement that it’s better to have a dedicated person always do the gas/oil mixing. Some said they use portable 100-gallon tanks and have mechanics do the mix; check local ordinances to see what is allowed.

Caution raised about signing a ‘maintenance contract’

Information was provided that it was okay to ‘be the eyes and ears’ of a property. However, one contractor said he had learned that signing a maintenance contract was, in fact, providing a cheap insurance policy to the customer covering whatever might occur on the property in terms of slip-and-fall and other injuries. To be sure, prior to signing ask your attorney about all aspects of any contract provisions you do not understand.

Company succession tips for when the owner(s) might get ‘hit by a bus’

Much of this information is also valid for when employees might be removed from the job for one reason or the other.
  • The point was made that having a succession plan in place is especially important when husband/wife teams travel together.
  • Might work with another business associate who have agreement to step in if needed when other dies.
  • Have company contact other sweeping company friends or Association members.
  • Get legally documented; different for all, depending upon who is in your business that might be able to handle it.
  • Get accountant involved if appropriate; the account might become CFO if needed.
  • Create standard operating procedures; download all info you have as company owner and document it. Put things like how to handle/log in to ServiceChannel into a folder in case employee leaves.
  • Get mechanic to provide an FAQ re: when hear this noise then I think it’s this, etc. Especially important with older mechanics; hire part-timer; cross-train another employee to do others’ jobs
  • Documents are in computer so get it backed up; cloud now a good option.
  • Have an IT person? Regardless, get all passwords in one place.
  • Purchase key personnel insurance as well as computer data loss insurance
  • Make sure systems set up well enough to protect from competitor who might try to get to your employees/customers/bank, etc. Have a protocol of an email or whatever system for all of these so all get notices right away.
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