Jason Hollway, snow manager for Mountain View Landscapes and Lawncare, Inc., in Chicopee, Massachusetts, says when he first started out in the business 15 years ago, he and the other crew members would run a whole storm without taking a break or sleeping as long as 30 to 40 hours. But in time, Hollway says he’s learned that handling a storm “like a boss” doesn’t mean pushing through like a “tough guy.” It means shift work that allows everyone an appropriate break. Hollway says that running a storm with shift work has proven to be a much smarter operation and better for business.
“When I started out I was in my mid-20s and I thought it was fun to go the full 40 hours without going home or taking a break,” says Hollway. “I think we all thought we were tough guys and wanted to see how much we could do. But in time we learned that there was a much better way to do things.”
As the company grew, Hollway says it has become much more focused on being customer service-oriented. And Hollway says that in order to offer the best possible service, they must run snow management in shifts. That’s because with the “old way” of doing things, customers would often need a few last-minute services and nobody would be available.
“Once the crews go home after 30 or 40 hours of hard work, they aren’t coming back any time soon,” Hollway says. “That means if the customer suddenly needs one small extra — like a fire hydrant that wasn’t cleared — there’s nobody there to do it.”
For similar reasons, they now run management in shifts as well.
“By doing it with shifts there is always someone available — 24/7 — when the customer needs them,” Hollway says. “And we’re much fresher since we’re well-rested. You can get both physically and mentally drained from snow. But we’re communicating at our best with customers when we’re rested.”
Plus, with the crews being well-rested, Hollway says there are less mistakes and fewer accidents. Early on he says they had some minor accidents that probably could have been avoided with rest. Crews may now work for 12 hours but then get eight hours to go home and get some sleep. When they return, they’re ready to work.
“The crews appreciate it and it keeps them happy,” Hollway says. “They come back in much better moods and are ready to go. They’re doing much better work because they’ve gotten some sleep and have a lot more energy. They’re able to drive better, perform tasks better and have a better attitude.”
Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them.