Volume 2, Issue #03
November 14, 2000
Chuck's Snowplowing Newsletter
The Internet is a great place to find information on your occupation, hobbies, and other interests. It is also a great business networking tool. Do you realize how much information and how many resources are on the Internet for those in the Snow & Ice control industry? Do you realize how quickly new products and techniques are being developed? Did you know there is a trade association for those in the "snow plowing business". It's called SIMA, (Snow & Ice Management Association) and I suggest you all join, for a multitude of reasons, but I'll address that in the future. It is the only international organization currently representing those in the Snow & Ice Control business. That is important representation. We need to set standard techniques and practices. We need all the valuable educational resources we can get, and SIMA provides a multitude of them.
The Internet is full of mailing lists, newsgroups, message boards, discussion forums, and E-zines. Mailing lists are typically about a common interest all the recipients share. It could be cooking, jokes, or even snowplowing related, such as my Snowplowing Newsletter. E- Zines, short for Electronic magazines, are much like newsletters, only in E Mail. They can be quite long, depending on the subject. There are also many magazines available for reading online. The Landsculptor (www.landscape.org) is one magazine that is online each month. They have some great articles. SIMA has an official magazine that is now available for reading online too, it's called "Snow Business". All of the common trade magazines that focus on the grounds and property maintenance business have web sites now.
There are even some companies that offer free Internet access. Most of the larger ISP's (Internet Service Providers) already offer the first 30 days of use for free. There are others that offer free access all the time. The free ones do it because you are at their mercy in the sense that they can bombard you with advertisements the entire time you are online. If you want to try the Internet, they may be a good choice. Once you begin to spend more time online, then it's good idea to pay for an ISP, so you don't have to deal with the advertisements.
Many contractors have web sites themselves as well. A website is a great way to show prospective customers what your company has to offer, as well as the fact that you keep up on technology and new developments. A website allows you to reach a greater audience too. You would be amazed at where people hear about web sites, and how they find them. You can have tips for your customers, to help "educate" them about your company's practices. You can offer tips for them to make the services you perform run smoother. One site that comes to mind has instructions for customers to help them water their lawns properly. You could tell customers that you would like them to pick up children's toys, lawn furniture, or pet toys, the evening before you are scheduled to mow their property. You could tell them when snow is forecasted, that if possible, you would like them to have no cars parked in their driveway. You could advertise a "Spring Clean Up Special", or a fall cleanup, flowers for the summertime, the possibilities are endless. You can have "Internet Coupons" that customers can print out. This will prove to you your website is visited by your customers, as well as new ones. You have nothing to lose, if they print them out, you get additional work in most cases, if no one sees them, then you lost nothing. Another thing to consider, is that a Yellow Page listing costs more than many websites would cost to have built. Maybe you could even design a web site yourself. Web sites can be expensive, yes, but only if you want a lot of features, or a lot of pages.
Yet another great thing about web sites, is images. Photos look great on the Internet. If prospective customers can see samples of your work, they may be much more interested in your services. You can post "before" and "after" photos. You can post photos of regular maintenance accounts. The best available discussion forum on the Internet for those in the Snow & Ice Removal industry today, is right here on my web site, www.snowplowing-contractors.com, I now have a Chat Room. People can discuss snow and ice removal, and anything related to it with others in the industry. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only snow and ice removal Chat Room on the Internet today.
The Internet is full of discussion forums. Much like a bulletin board per say. A person "posts" a question. Other people read the "post," and reply with their thoughts, or answers, leaving them for even more people to read and respond to. This is how "threads" get started. Threads are all the replies to a post. You get many different opinions, and learn a lot in the process. Occasionally arguments occur, but they usually settle down. This is a great place to network with other contractors. Chances are, they are 5 states away, and are no threat to you as far as taking away business. You also are willing to talk more about pricing and other "hush hush" topics. It may be the first time you ever talk to anyone about your business. Confiding in strangers is oddly very beneficial as far as discussion forums go. You can remain anonymous if you like to, and still discuss issues.
There are also Internet Chat Rooms for those in the Lawn Care industry, as well as the Snow & Ice Removal industry. In these rooms you can interact with your peers "real time", and have great informative discussions on just about any topic. You can discuss the benefits of different brands of equipment. You can discuss pricing. You can get opinions from your peers. You can get help finding what machine would suit your needs best. You could get help when you need to repair a machine. At the same time, you have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences with others too. You can ask a group of your peers about new equipment before you buy it. All of this helps shorten the "learning curve". This allows you to learn from others mistakes.
Computers are not just for billing. They already are the "lifeline" of many companies, in many ways other than billing and designing. Remember, the Internet can be a fun place, and you can also learn a lot about your business there, just like any other business, you just need to know where to look!
©2000 Charles D. Smith
All Rights Reserved
May not be reproduced in whole or in part in any format,
without the author's express written permission to do so.
This issue I encourage you to print out, and give to your friends that are missing out on all this. Feel free to copy this issue and pass it around, just please don't edit it, or alter it. We, as Snow & Ice Professionals need to unite, and educate each other, and this newsletter is a step in that direction.
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