BCLS Snow and Ice Management of Central Virginia
With summer just ending and the start of the school year just beginning, most property managers are starting to think about the next round of services on their client’s properties. Outside of all the fall tasks such as over-seeding, final pruning, fall flowers and then leaves, the next big contract to make sure is properly secured is your Snow & Ice Management Contract.
WHAT YOU WANT TO EXPECT FROM A SNOW & ICE MANAGEMENT COMPANY IS ‘PEACE OF MIND’….
The last thing a property manager needs is to have his or her phone ringing off the hook wondering when the snow removal and or ice control will be taking place on a property. When you contract your winter services what you really are contracting is what we call ‘peace of mind’.
In the winter peace of mind comes in several important ways. First, responsiveness, will your service provider be responsive pre-storm, during the storm and then post storm. Second, experience, although pushing snow is considered by some to be somewhat easy, the real art is in ‘risk-management’. Does your service provider have the experience with understanding all facets of winter risk management? Lastly; Communication and documentation which actually takes into consideration my two previous points. Proactive communication between the service provider and the property management is imperative regardless of the level of service being provided. Documentation is IMPERATIVE! Having good site service records and a ‘certified’ snow report for conditions both pre-storm and post storm for very important. Remember, it’s not just what happens during the storm, what happens days after is just as important.
BEYOND PRICE; OTHER KEY FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN HIRING YOUR SNOW AND ICE SERVICE PROVIDER…
Like any type of maintenance services, you purchase for your client’s property, you’ll find out that there are various levels of service providers offer. What is critical to know is what level of services does your property require. Once you understand what you need, then you’ll need to know what you paying for, and how are you paying for it?
While most clients in Central Virginia opt for the standard ‘Time and Materials’ contract, let it be known that there are other contract options available. These options include the ‘Fixed Seasonal Contract’ or the ‘Per Push’ contract.
Unlike the ‘Time and Materials’ contract, whereas you pay for the equipment, labor and materials used as documented, the other two types of contracts allow you to dial-in more on your specific costs for budgeting purposes. Here is a look at those two contract types;
A seasonal contract is your typical contract that comes with a predetermined price for the entire season. This option is beneficial because you know what you’re getting and what you’re paying for. Seasonal contracts are typically 3 in length so the cost is averaged out over several years. There will be snowy winters and dry winters. With a contract this fluctuation balances out. I simply like to look at these as the ‘insurance policy’ for snow. You pay a set monthly fee and if it snows you’re covered and if it does not, it’s a fixed expense already budgeted with almost no variables.
A per push contract is available for clients who prefer to pay each time they have their snow plowed, ice treated, walks shoveled and so forth. In this type of service, you are charged for each visit to your property. Heavy snows or precipitation that continue through the storm can often incur several visits to your property. Services to open your driveway or parking lot so you can get in and out. Then after the storm has ended or several times in the middle of the storm, if snow continues to accumulate. This option is ideal for those who want to pay for only the work that is done.
Regardless of the type of contract you select to use, what is most important is the service, and the service provider you choose.
LOOK FOR HIRING RED FLAGS….DO NOT HIRE A SERVICE PROVIDER if…
- They do not use pre-season planning as a service strategy.
- If they do not offer a comprehensive and documented ‘snow plan’
- If the cost of services seems to good to be true, it probably is.
- Resources, Snow equipment is costly to acquire and expensive to operate, then there are materials to buy and people to pay or hire. Making sure a service provider has all the equipment, materials, labor, insurance and financial resources regardless of the type of winter anticipated.