Northeast Ohio winters are never very predictable. Old Man Winter likes to shake things up each year.
A harsh and heavy winter can especially wreak havoc on a commercial property that needs to clear ice and snow from its entryways to ensure seamless traffic flow on its property throughout the day and night. For instance, commercial sites like hospitals and healthcare facilities have to be extra careful because many times the people navigating the entry pathways are moving more slowly or need extra help and attention. Or healthcare workers are using wheelchairs or gurneys to transport patients, and they need to do so safely.
On most commercial sites, sidewalks and parking lots need to be open and accessible to keep employees, customers, tenants, and visitors safe throughout the winter season. A retail center during the prime holiday shopping season, for example, can’t lose business at this key time for revenue just because snowfall caused impassable entryways.
In fact, when a snow or ice storm hits in the middle of the night, you want to know you did everything you could while planning in advance to ensure the property is functioning smoothly come morning rush hour.
Has your commercial snow removal service company underperformed for you? Do you feel ignored or that your provider doesn’t communicate well with you when storms are imminent? Maybe you keep making lists of concerns, but your provider doesn’t address them. You certainly don’t need these headaches.
Listen to your gut. It might be time to find a new commercial snow removal partner. But the last thing you want to do is make a poor decision. Workers, tenants, employees, and visitors rely on you to keep your commercial facility safe and welcoming.
You should begin your search armed with the right questions to be sure the commercial snow removal service provider you choose is the right one for you. Here are the major 6 subject areas on which you should target your questions.
What Questions Should I Ask a Snow Removal Company?
Choosing the right commercial snow removal services company is not always an easy decision for a property manager. After all, no two companies are the same, and the weather forecast can change all the time. How can you make sure your needs and your budget align in an unpredictable season?
Regardless what time of day the snow storm hits, you want to make sure your site is protected and ready. You might be wondering where to start to get the result you’re looking for.
These questions can help guide you to gathering the right information for securing a commercial snow removal partnership that will work best for you and your business.
Ask About Professional Commercial Snow Removal Experience
While any able-bodied person can hop into a truck with a snow plow attachment and clear your property of snow, this doesn’t ensure the job is done right. You want to make sure the commercial snow removal professional you hire considers your property’s specific needs and your preferences for the best management and safety of everyone moving about your site each and every day.
HIring a commercial snow removal service company with educated personnel who know snow and ice management best practices can make a big difference in how your winter progresses.
Every snow and ice storm is different, and your professional will use various techniques and tactics to ensure the job is done efficiently.
For instance, maintaining regular employee training helps Turfscape maintain quality control and customer service levels. Our training includes regular morning huddles where we review best practices, weather updates and weather predictions, as well as important safety reminders. We also send account managers and field supervisors into the field each day to check on snow removal crews and point out snow and ice removal techniques for improving efficiency and effectiveness.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
1. How many years have you been offering commercial snow removal services? What types of sites in Northeast Ohio do you have experience servicing?
2. Do you offer regular training to your employees to ensure they stay up-to-date on the best snow and ice management techniques?
Inquire About Commercial Snow Removal Capacity
Since commercial snow removal is considered an emergency service, it needs to be performed with a sense of urgency and always considering safety of not only the team members performing the work, but also everyone on your property. This is because snow and ice has a tendency to cause liability issues if not taken care of correctly.
To do this work properly, the snow and ice removal company you hire must not take on too much work or else they won’t be able to take care of your snow and ice management in a timely fashion. This can result in business delays and unsafe business conditions.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
3. What is your snow and ice removal capacity?
4. How can you ensure you can take care of my property in a timely fashion?
5. What is your deployment and/or emergency response plan when a winter storm is on the horizon?
Check On Specialized Equipment & Resources
When you manage a larger commercial property in Northeast Ohio, you probably need larger equipment like skid-steers, loaders, and sidewalk snow removal units to handle snow and ice. You’ll also need quite a bit of salt and other deicing products.
For that reason, you need to detail a snow removal contract with a company that has enough equipment and resources to service a property of your scope and size and the skills to operate said equipment.
They also must have backup equipment and mechanics in order to service that equipment in the case of emergency snow storms or equipment breakdowns so they can keep your property open.
If your site is big enough, you may even include provisions in your contract to keep some larger equipment on site to streamline snow and ice management. In your contract, this might be called a monthly “ready fee” that ensures equipment is ready to use when needed.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
6. What is your salt availability?
7. What kind of equipment will be dedicated and used on my site? Do you have enough equipment to allocate and store on our site? If not, what is your plan to roll out trucks and report to our property?
8. How can I be sure my property will be plowed on a consistent basis through the storm?
9. How often can I expect a plow on our site during a storm?
10. What have unique hours and are open on holidays; can you accommodate our needs?
11. Do you have any satellite locations that can assist with salt reloads or supply extra equipment and labor?
Get Information on Responsiveness & Communication
When you’re a property manager juggling multiple areas of your commercial facility, you want to know you can count on your service partners to get work done.
Keeping you in the loop can ensure fewer worries and give you confidence that you know what’s going on and that snow and ice is being handled.
Your property has many moving pieces and parts, as well as many people who move about all throughout the day. You need a commercial snow removal professional who knows how to work with and respond to inquiries from people on your site, as well as keep in touch with you about this feedback and any suggested next steps and budget impacts.
Additionally, having the same crew members working on your site can help them learn about your property specifics and build great working relationships, ensuring they remember your main concerns.
Communication is important when it comes to snow and ice management. You don't want to wonder if and when something was done. That’s why you’re hiring a professional.
At Turfscape, because we know this is a priority for you, we guarantee same day communication with our customers. This doesn't always mean we can solve your problems in 24 hours, but we will text, email, or call you back (depending on your preference) to let you know we’re aware of any issues and that we’re working on it.
We also take this level of communication very seriously internally. We won’t mark a job as complete until it’s communicated to you. This aspect of “closing the communication loop” ensures communication is not forgotten or neglected.
Communication also includes watching the weather. Weather reports for upcoming storms allow your commercial snow removal contractor to plan for the predicted weather and communicate the proactive plan to employees and customers.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
12. What will the communication be before, during, and after a storm?
13. Do you consult with a meteorologist firm to monitor the weather?
Ask About Scope of Service
In Northeast Ohio, a commercial snow removal contract typically runs from December 1st through March 31st every year.
But once you have a signed contract in place, your service provider should be able to accommodate you during storms that fall outside of this window because it’s part of the season and part of creating a long-lasting partnership with you.
In addition to timing, there are two types of snow removal contracts you’ll usually find: a per-occurrence contract or a seasonal contract.
A per-occurrence contract means you pay each time we plow or salt the property. The contract can also deem how high that snow needs to be for plowing to happen. Typically, this is set at 2 inches or above, but if you are particularly worried about the safety hazards that snow and ice can cause, you can discuss 1-inch snow heights with your provider.
An all-inclusive or seasonal contract means you pay a monthly rate for four months and you are covered no matter how many snow and ice events occur.
Then there are times during harsh winters when snow piles get especially high. For such instances, your commercial snow removal contract should include a stipulation that dictates an hourly rate for these above-and-beyond services. The reason these services are excessive and cost extra is because your service provider will need to bring in extra equipment, such as skid-steer loaders or a front end loader, and a dump truck, to actually get that heavy snow off of your property. Your contract may also list an hourly rate for hand-chipping ice on your property; this would be necessary if the ice gets so thick that it can’t be melted using other methods.
Some companies like Turfscape will even offer combinations of the two contract types to fit your specific property needs and budget. For example, you might need an all-inclusive contract for snow removal but would prefer to use salt only after each plow versus during other times. You can customize a contract to fit your needs.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
14. What type of snow removal contracts do you offer?
15. Can you supply references of current customers?
Commercial Snow Removal You Can Rely On
No matter what type of snow removal contract suits you best, remember to ask your service provider a lot of questions so you can properly vet them about their work. We hope this list of questions help you better prepare for this conversation.
Communication and partnership are very important with winter services for Northeast Ohio commercial properties. Part of that is getting answers to your questions.
We know you have a lot of options. We hope this information helps you make a better decision. If you need help sorting out the specifics of snow and ice management for your site, give Turfscape a call. We can help you navigate this unpredictable season.
Turfscape would be happy to discuss some specific ideas that can ensure safety on your site this winter. Request a proposal today. We’ll review your options together so you can make the best choice.