Part two of this three-part article details how to determine what ice melt product to stock.

Since ice melt isn’t necessarily on anyone’s priority list after a mild winter, some end users may be looking to spend as little as possible. There are definitely reasons to look beyond finding the most product for the lowest price. By helping end users think long term, distributors can help them save money and make better choices overall.

Rock salt might seem adequate if the winter is mild again. But if there are longer periods of time with colder temperatures like the winter of 2013-’14, suddenly rock salt isn’t going to be effective anymore.

“Most of the time, the environment doesn’t really test the product accurately,” says Matt Schneider, operations manager of Schoenberg Salt’s De-icing Division, Lynbrook, New York.

Sales staff may need to remind their customers that ice melt is kind of like insurance. Most days, basic coverage will be fine, but when the tables turn, users are going to want the best coverage they can get. Getting stuck in the middle of a frigid winter with a mediocre deicer leaves users in a bind. It’ll be obvious to everyone if the deicer isn’t working.

“Remember that the lowest price leader isn’t necessarily best,” says Jensen. “If you have to throw more out there for it to work, then it’s not really a lower price.”

Additionally, institutional end users have significant investments in their structures that need to be protected. Buildings, landscaping and flooring can all be affected by the use of deicers. Choosing the cheapest ice melt solution may lead to costly damage to those investments.

“One of the things that a lot of people don’t take into account are the cost of rebuilding lost or damaged property. It’s far off in the future, and people don’t think about it. The wrong products will damage property and that property will have to be rebuilt,” says Chase Naisbitt, a chemist with CP Industries, Salt Lake City. “We’ve done the chemistry. We understand not just the chemistry of our product, but the types of materials that our product will come into contact with.”

Helping customers see the hidden cost of cheap ice melt products can help them save money in the end. It can also boost sales of deicers in a year when many property owners and managers may want to shrug off the whole thought of a hard winter.