In most years, the vast majority of US states will get blanketed by white, fluffy snow. While they may not all be the most populous areas of the nation, millions of drivers will set out for work, recreation, errands, or school in wintery conditions for months out of the year. That includes both dealership staff and the customers that visit auto retail locations.

Whether your store gets three-foot-tall drifts in front of the service overhead doors or there’s a higher likelihood of freezing rain that makes walking and driving treacherous, a plan should be in place to address the effects of winter weather on the lot. A lack of preparation can put customers and staff at risk of getting stuck, slips and falls, or dangerous health conditions from trying to clear snow on their own. Around 11,500 people are treated in the emergency room every year from shoveling snow.

Preparing for winter at the dealership isn’t difficult or time-consuming – it just has to be done. Here are some strategies for prepping your dealership for winter.

Assign a point person

There should be one person who is the leader when it comes to assessing winter clean-up, and perhaps a backup if the primary person is unavailable. Their role is to understand the extent of the clean-up needed and to deploy their resources efficiently. This person should be someone who typically is among the first to work, a shop foreman for example, and can be trusted if they don’t have supervision.

This is not the person responsible to clear the lot themselves necessarily. They should be great at delegating and a calm, collected leader.

Have sand and salt on hand

Even for light dustings of snow or just a bit of freezing rain, traction is severely compromised for car and foot traffic. By each entrance, a barrel or pail of traction sand or melting salt should be available to sprinkle around, enhancing traction to walk near the doors. The lot should get a generous amount of salt and sand to prevent accidents between customer cars and pedestrians or between drivers and your coveted vehicle inventory.

Hire a snow-clearing company

snow shovelA contracted snow-clearing company will often be on the lot and clearing snow before the lights come on in the morning. However, they’re in very high demand and may not be available for days or weeks if you haven’t put them on contract. If you don’t have someone contracted for the winter as yet, that should be a high priority.

Provide the tools and equipment to assist

Showroom entrances and man doors all around the building will need a bit of attention. It’s usually someone on staff that will clean up these areas but they should have the equipment they need to do it properly. High-quality shovels, ice chippers, a warm jacket, hat, and gloves would all be good to have on hand.

For clearing snow off of cars, snow pushers and brushes should be in good supply. For areas that get lots of snow, a “rocket pack” or gas-powered leaf-blower is an excellent investment for lot attendants to use.

Equip shuttle vehicles with winter tires

Winter tires are in short supply, but transporting customers safely should never be in question. Every vehicle that is on the road consistently throughout the day should be equipped with a full set of winter tires. In addition to shuttle vehicles, your parts drivers should have winter tires installed.

Related: Four ways to maximize customers’ tire satisfaction

Winter sticks around for months, and much of the nation deals with the effects of winter storms. Protect your staff and your customers by having the preparations laid out well before the weather hits hard.

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