How to find a winter services provider

In addition to keeping your lot of driveway plowed, will you need a deicer applied?
Do you want a provider that is equipped to handle high-accumulation storms?
Will you need to have a snow removed from the site?
All of these questions need to be answer before you begin your search.

Does your current service provider have the financial position to service economic blow periods, fix and maintain snow removal equipment, carry the necessary drivers and provide the necessary staffing to service your property?
Can they handle an unexpected storm or equipment breakdown?
Is your current level of service lowering your exposure to potential litigation due to slip an fall accidents?
if you answered “yes” to all of these questions, why change?
A long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with your service provider is in your best interest.

What Should you look for in a winter services provider?

The item should be non-negotiable. If they do not have the proper insurance coverage, their bid should not be considered. Why? You must consider the cost to you if anything should happen on your property and your service provider is uninsured or underinsured. It’s not worth the risk! Don’t be afraid to ask to see proof of insurance. Any professional service provider will be happy to show this to you.

You should look for a provider that is knowledgeable and keeps current on changes in products, equipment and technology. Do they belong to a professional organization? Affiliation with a professional trade association, such as Snow & Ice Management Association, indicates that the service provider is interested in excellence and keeping abreast of industry changes.

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When considering references, be sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Just because the service provider gives excellent service to a small restaurant does not necessarily qualify them to handle a hospital, which must be maintained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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If you call service providers for estimates, expect them to visit your property before giving you the estimate. Not only is it necessary to determine how they will approach the job, it is also necessary for them to note items that may be easily damaged if they don’t know exactly where they are, such as flowerbeds, fire hydrants, and mailboxes.

A contract should be used to clearly define the level of service provided, the pricing of those services, and the payment terms. It should also disclose the cost of additional services should they be required, such as stacking or hauling away snow.

Pricing should be one of the last areas for comparison of potential service providers. Unfortunately, it is often the motivating factor in awarding a contract. As a consumer, do you really want to know how much per hour it will cost you to have your lot cleared? Probably not, as this price would vary depending on the type of equipment that each service provider intends to use. What you are really interested in is how much it will cost to clear your lot to you specifications.

The four basic ways service providers price their services

Newcomers to our industry most often use this type of pricing. It is also a favorite among national accounts, as it makes the bidding process easier. This method requires a tremendous amount of trust between the customer and his or her service provider. While most service providers are honest and fair, some unscrupulous customer is not usually at the site in the middle of the night when the services are being performed. These providers always get caught eventually, which makes it that much harder for the honest service providers to generate a trusting relationship with customer.
“Per Push” pricing requires considerable expertise, as the service provider must know what their equipment product capabilities are in order to properly price the job. It should also be noted that all responsible contractors have a clause in their “per push” contracts that allow for additional charges in the event that the snow accumulation exceeds a certain amount. In addition, if a service provider has to plow a particular site more than once during the snow event, he or she must charge for each visit.
This type of pricing is usually tied into other services, such as landscape maintenance, parking lot sweeping, or complete grounds maintenance. It Normally includes at least a three-year contract. Since this pricing is based on the average number of snowfalls in a given season, a three-year contract allows both the provider and customer the benefit of the law of averages. With this type of pricing, customers don’t have to worry about increased costs in a season of above-average snowfall.

This type of pricing is usually reserved for very large accounts that are in areas of the country where snowfall totals vary from zero inches in one year to 65+ inches in the next. Universities, airports, and extremely large sites are prime examples of where “per inch” contracts are normally used.

Most service providers’ pricing structures usually fall in the per push, per hour/per truck, or per season categories. A mixture of these three may be used by the provider to allow for the unexpected forces of Mother Nature.

A professional will price his or her services to be competitive in the market, to serve the needs of the customer, and to generate the necessary revenues to grow his or her business.

Professional service providers may not be the lowest bidder,
but remember that they are:

  • Maintaining and paying insurance, payroll taxes, overhead and reinvesting into their business.
  • Committed to service and quality
  • Keeping their equipment operable and purchasing the necessary products to maintain their accounts and grow their business
  • Normally members of a trade association that keeps them abreast of the ver-changing industry

If you receive a low bid, use caution.

The business may not be properly insured and if they are underbidding the market, they probably won’t be around for a long as they won’t have the cash flow necessary to survive.

Don’t be fooled by a fly-by-night operation.

Always choose a professional!


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  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

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