This winter saw unprecedented snowfall across much of the west — a boon for skiers (not to mention the business that support them), but also a huge operational challenge for those managing the guest experience.
How do you effectively manage an end-of-season shutdown or switchover, when the season is just so… long?
Here's a few tips we’ve compiled from our conversations with fleet managers as well as from our own experience —
1. Move Spring Maintenance to the Fall
Skis should be at a bare minimum dry and waxed, but beyond that, consider moving any of your traditional spring tasks to the fall. Every shop has a different set of season closing tasks, but for you this might include activities such as binding release tests, stone grinds, or bulk base repair.
2. Put off Non-Urgent Improvement Projects for Another Season
Take a hard look at your upcoming big lift projects such as shop reorganizations, software upgrades, or new machinery installation. These projects, while important for the long term health of your operations, often take more effort than anticipated. Consider the demands these have on staff, and whether they could wait just one more season.
3. Take Advantage of Off-Season Downtime
For many ski shops, summer season includes regular periods of downtime for the remaining staff. Consider holding off on some season-close tasks to prioritize getting summer operations up and running. Once summer operations are running, return to winter tasks that are left incomplete.
4. Proactively Plan for Increased Fall Staffing
If you've moved any spring projects to the fall, you'll want to make sure you've accounted for this in your hiring plan. If your shop has a hiring manager, coordinate with them now on a fall hiring plan that involves earlier onboarding of your seasonal staff.
In larger organizations, you may also need to get sign off from other stakeholders for the additional hiring. Work now on building your business case to justify the extra staffing expense. Focus particularly on ways your additional hiring will increase revenue or improve guest experience
5. Simplify Fleet Retirement
If you’ve traditionally hosted ski swaps or on-site sales for your retiring fleet equipment, consider working with a reseller instead this season. While the paycheck may not be quite as large as you'd receive selling everything yourself, many fleet managers find they come out ahead when the costs of self-selling are taken into account.
For the best of both worlds, a fleet consignment program allows you to earn more, closer to what you'd get with on-site selling, but with the simplicity of working with a reseller.
Look at the Big Picture
Despite all the stress the extended winter may bring, a prolonged winter is a great problem to have. The moisture is needed, the revenue helps folks stay employed, and in the end, with some careful planning and prioritization, the stress will recede and you can enjoy a beautiful summer.