Northeast Ohio winters can be a mixed bag. Mother Nature likes to keep us guessing.

A harsh and unpredictable winter can especially wreak havoc on a commercial property that needs to clear ice and snow from its entryways to make traffic flow seamlessly on and off its property throughout the day. Sidewalks and parking lots also need to be open and accessible to keep employees, customers, tenants, and visitors safe throughout the winter season.

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.

That’s why when a 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.

Not sure how your commercial snow removal contract could help you best prepare for what’s to come? Here are some essentials to include so you’re not left adrift when that big snow and ice storm hits your property.

What To Look For In a Commercial Snow Removal Contract

Commercial property snow plowingChoosing the right snow removal services company is not always an easy decision for a facilities 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?

The commercial snow removal contract becomes a very important document for you to create to prepare for any eventuality that comes your property’s way based on your needs and desired spend level. So, naturally, you want to feel comfortable with what that contract includes.

Here are some contract components to consider to help you choose the right winter services provider.

Timing

In Northeast Ohio, commercial snow removal contracts typically run from December 1st through March 31st every year. This should be stipulated in your contract and should fall naturally in line with when your regular landscape maintenance services begin and end.

However, as “Snowtober” and other snow and ice storm occurrences in the area have taught us, the weather can begin and end at any time.

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 satisfactory, long-lasting relationship and partnership with you.

Scope of Service

The specific services you need on your property during these colder months is also a natural and essential part of a commercial snow removal contract.

Many companies offer snow removal services in different ways: a per-occurrence contract or a seasonal contract.

A per-occurrence contract means that you pay each time we plow or salt the property. The contract can also deem how high that snow needs to be for them to plow. 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 no matter how many snow and ice events occur, you are covered. Your snow removal services provider will be there.

commercial snow removal at night

Some companies like Turfscape will even offer combinations of the two contract types to fit your specific property needs and budget. For instance, maybe you need an all-inclusive contract for snow removal but would prefer to only have salt for removing ice after each plow versus at other times. You have this option of customizing a contract to fit your needs.

The goal here is you want a clear idea of service expectations. Your contractor should be asking about the traffic flow on your property and what you want done and when, as well as what areas are most important to clear first. Those answers will help dictate the best plan for you.

Equipment Needs

Some larger commercial properties find it is even more important in their commercial snow removal contract to include provisions for equipment that is kept on their sites to streamline snow and ice maintenance even further.

Contracts focusing on this will include what’s called a monthly “ready fee” for equipment to sit on their site “at the ready.” Crews then just show up to the property and equipment is ready for them to use.

Above-and-Beyond Stipulations

large equipment for snow removal

Some winters can be especially harsh. There are times when snow piles will get too high. At that point, you may actually need the snow removed from your property for safety purposes and to keep your site running smoothly.

This is when 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.

A contract may also list another hourly rate for hand-chipping ice on your property. The crew would need to do this if the ice gets so thick that they can’t melt it using other methods.

While these types of extras are rare, knowing your costs up front in case a bad winter is on its way is important so you’re not caught off-guard later.

Snow Removal Services You Can Count On

A clearly worded commercial snow removal contract is a great document to have in place before those storms start rolling in.

No matter what type of contract suits you best, remember to ask your service provider a lot of questions so you can properly vet them and their work. This way, you also can best understand every option that’s available to you and get an understanding of how they work. Communication and partnership is very important with winter services. If a contractor doesn't respond to you when it’s mild out, then how can you count on him or her when the snow is falling?

Does it sound like a lot to take in? We know having so many options can be overwhelming. We’ve offered snow and ice removal services for over 30 years in Northeast Ohio, so we have experienced quite a few different winters and can help you navigate this unpredictable season on your commercial property.

Turfscape would be happy to discuss some specific ideas that can ensure safety on your site this winter, as well as fit within your budget. Request a proposal today. We’ll review your options together so you can make the best choice.

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