Timely snow and ice management is important to the safety of your clients and it helps keep people’s lives moving and business going. When it snows, everyone is clambering to be the first business to get serviced so it is important that you understand what is included in your snow and ice management contract. You should know the answers to the following questions:

  1. Will your contractor just plow the parking lot or also shovel the walkways? Your contract should outline the full extent of services, which can include snow plowing, shoveling paths and walkways, and treating road and sidewalks with deicing products. Know exactly which services are in your contract.
  2. Will snow be removed or just moved out of the way? Much of the time snow is not removed, but instead is plowed into snow piles. It is important to think about where snow should be piled and it is a good idea to talk to your contractor about your plan and map it out ahead of time so that you can avoid snow piling up in places that create additional problems for you. In a cold winter, your snow piles might be around for quite a while.
  3. When can you expect to receive service? Most contracts define a number of inches of snow that needs to fall before services kick in, and they also detail a time frame when service will take place after the snow threshold is met.
  4. Who do you call if they don’t show up? You should have 24-hour contact information for your contractor.
  5. Does your contract mention extreme conditions? Sometimes snow events are extremely hazardous with dangerously low temperatures or high winds or very icy conditions. Does your contract mention that? It is good to discuss that with your contractor and understand how extreme conditions might affect your service timeline. Safety is a top priority for the contractor’s employees as well as your clients.
  6. Will you be plowed out twice in the same storm? For large snowfall amounts, make sure you understand if and when you will get additional service for continuing snowfall.  Also, some contracts charge a higher rate for a bigger snowfall amount, so understand that when agreeing to the contract.
  7. Is the contract seasonal or hourly? Most contracts are set up either as seasonal contracts that have a fixed rate no matter how much it snows or as contracts for service that follow a pay-as-you-go model. You never know if it will be a heavy or light snow year, so it is hard to predict which model will be the most cost effective. If you do pay for time and services, instead of using a fixed contract, make sure you understand all the costs of different equipment, over-time and materials costs so you can budget properly.
  8. Does the company have the right insurance? Ask your contractor to provide proof of liability insurance.

Understanding your snow removal contract before the first flake hits the ground will help ensure a solid partnership between you and your contractor and avoid any misunderstandings of how services will be provided.

Photo courtesy of Terracare Associates, Colorado, California, Texas and Utah.

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