Whether you’re hiring for snow season, gauging worker availability for the week, updating your workers on shift times, or asking for updates on progress in the field—texting is typically the most convenient way for snow removal workers to communicate with dispatchers and management. But back in the office, managing the inflow of information from the entire snow crew on a cell phone is inefficient because:
- Access to the information coming in on that singular device is limited to one person, making it difficult for management to support each other.
- Continuously typing out a high volume of messages on a cell phone is tedious and prone to error.
- It’s difficult to document and retrieve information when it’s stored in hundreds of individual text threads.
- Standard group messaging burdens the recipients with an onslaught of irrelevant replies from others in the group.
That's where Team Engine becomes an invaluable resource, allowing you to segment employees into groups (e.g. sidewalk team, equipment operators, and subcontractors) so you can send targeted text announcements and updates to groups, as well as manage 1:1 messaging—all from your computer. Even better, the entire management team has visibility to it via their account and dashboard in Team Engine.
Here are some real-life examples of common ways our customers are using Team Engine to manage their snow removal operations.
Communicate with Groups of Employees
High volume snow removal generally requires fast-paced, high-volume hiring, scheduling and orchestration across a large number of roles and regions. Ensure individual team members get the information they need—without it getting lost in the information they don’t—by tagging team members by role, region, experience, etc.
Whether you are nailing down your shoveler prospects for the season, dispatching your heavy equipment operators to the sites they’re most needed at, or making sure your big snow contract has enough labor, you can use Team Engine’s ‘Groups’ feature to organize the way you communicate with your snow staff and prospects.
Here are some examples:
- By role or equipment (operators, plows, sidewalks, skid steer)
- By location (east vs west, city names)
- By experience level (new hires, new to snow, returning, substitutes)
- By interest level (prospect, expressed interest, completed shift(s))
Tags can even be used to track end-of-season bonus eligibility on an individual basis.
Gauge Worker Availability Week-to-Week
Due to the time-sensitive and on-call nature of snow removal, communicating with employees to confirm their availability is an ongoing and never-ending task, and one of the biggest hurdles to selling snow removal contracts.
Striking while the iron is hot is key. If someone says they have availability, that can change quickly. By keeping accurate track of your workforce’s ever-changing availability, you can minimize the risk that one of your snow contracts doesn’t have enough labor.
Here, a customer used our text message survey tool to gauge this week’s availability from their full time snow operators.
Sending this survey on a weekly basis via Team Engine provides them a number of benefits including:
- Not needing to copy and paste the same text message over and over again to dozens or hundreds of employees
- Not needing to make phone calls to every employee on the snow shoveling team
- Not burdening employees with a large group text (and all the irrelevant replies it will generate)
- Automatically following up with anyone who doesn’t respond after a predetermined amount of time
- Compiling replies in real time, viewable directly in Team Engine, or in a downloadable spreadsheet
Automatically Translate Incoming & Outgoing Messages into Another Language
Many of our customers—and especially those in the landscaping and snow removal industries—employ workers whose first language is not English, which creates a significant (and, unfortunately, common) language barrier in the workplace. This language barrier has historically caused delays in the hiring process, and created a sense of disconnect between employees and their managers.
Building on the above example of the availability survey, the customer also used our language translation tool to compose two versions of the same survey question—one in English and one in Spanish.
This translation feature is accessible anywhere you message an applicant or employee in the software, and it offers accurate and immediate one-click translating capabilities for both incoming and outgoing communications.
One of our customers, Rey Cervantes at Sebert Landscape, says that their workforce at their seven branches is primarily Latino, so they used to rely on a small group of bilingual supervisors to communicate between the office staff and the staff at those branches.
But now, with the help of Team Engine’s language translation tool, Rey is relieved to give his entire team the support they need to keep communication flowing, adding that “This feature is great for non-bilingual users, especially to take the pressure off me and other bilingual employees during high communication periods, such as our snow season.”
Schedule Mass Texts to Arrive at the Best Time for Your Operators
Because snowfall doesn’t exclusively happen during regular business hours, removal crews often work long hours late into the night or start early in the morning when office management hasn’t yet clocked in for the day. That’s why it can be helpful to schedule text messages to arrive at the most convenient time for those snow workers, when they’re most likely to see it and respond.
In this example, a customer has scheduled a text message to send early the following morning, right around the time that the Snow Contractors will be wrapping up their overnight shifts.
Get Updates and Work Completion Photos from the Field
Managing snow removal operations across dozens of sites, crews, and pieces of equipment requires constant communication between the office and the field. Here, dispatch is getting real time updates on our employee communication platform about the work that's been done, what still needs to be done, and even receiving photos of the completed work.
Heavy equipment operators appreciate the convenience of texting in these updates, which allows them to respond safely and conveniently when they’re done with a job, and without loud machinery running in the background of a phone call. They’re also able to send those updates as soon as they’re done at the jobsite, instead of back at the office at the end of their shift, or whenever they get around to turning in their paperwork.
As an additional benefit, back at the office, Team Engine makes it fast and easy to retrieve all this information when it’s time to cut checks or provide updates to customers since it’s all in the software and accessible to everyone, not hidden away on one person’s cell phone.
Build A More Sustainable Snow Season Workforce
Just as it’s more efficient to upsell an existing customer than it is to acquire an entirely new one, it’s wise to do all you can to stay in touch with temporary workers when the snow season ends so that you can invite them back again next year.
Team Engine helps facilitate this in a number of ways:
- Move seasonal workers from the ‘Active Employee’ pool to the “Rehire Eligible” pool at the end of the season and recognize their hard work
- Pre-schedule messages to seasonal workers to check-in on their interest in returning throughout the year; remind them to update you if they change their number; ask for employee referrals, etc.
- Continue to include seasonal workers in employee messages about company events and updates throughout the year
Our partner Neal Glatt at Grow The Bench said it best:
Most companies ignore the communication with snow staff outside of snow events, and that is where they are losing touch. If you (the company) treat this relationship as transactional, your shovelers will too. But if you are proactively nurturing this group, you can go a very long way to creating a more sustainable workforce.
These are just a few examples of the most common ways that our customers in snow removal use Team Engine to support their daily operations and retain their seasonal employees. Our hope is that they inspire you to think creatively about how you can use our text message communication tools to better support your snow crew. If you have ideas but aren’t sure how to implement them, reach out to our customer support team (email@example.com) for assistance!