Before you hire a snow removal contractor there are a few things you need to consider. Snow removal services come in different forms. Are you looking to clear a large public area like a shopping mall parking lot or the roads in a private subdivision complex?
If you are a business owner or property manager, you need to look for a reliable and experienced snow removal contractor to clear pathways, parking lots, sidewalks, and other large outdoor surfaces quickly and safely. You’ll find yourself in a slippery situation when it comes to liability if these areas remain covered in snow or ice, even for a short period of time.
Snow and ice removal and liability
Snow removal is a deceptive term, because clearing snow is about more than just pushing it around in big trucks. It is also about ice removal and prevention, salting, sanding, and adding grit. Most importantly, snow removal is about protecting people and reducing your liability. That being said, big trucks and equipment are what it takes to get the job done so you should ask for an equipment list from your contractor to make sure he is up for the job and can get to your property in reasonable time.
To demonstrate that you have taken full precautions to reduce the risk of accident or injury hire a certified contractor who offers a full range of snow removal services. Look for companies that are ISO and ASCA (Accredited Snow Contractors Association) certified. ISO Certification is the top designation a snow removal contractor can receive.
Only a handful of contractors have guaranteed salt supply also, which can make the difference between managing the worst of storms with ease to falling desperately behind. Ask about guaranteed salt supply and other salt options and choose the contractor that has the best options for your property.
Consider your environmental impact
Remember, as a property manager or business owner you also have a responsibility to the environment, and so too should your snow removal contractor. Salt keeps our roads, parking lots, walkways, and driveways clear but it can also damage the environment (not to mention your landscape) if used improperly. Choose only a contractor who has their Smart About Salt certification and can demonstrate their attention to detail in managing their salt solutions.
Communication is hugely important when it comes to snow removal contractors. When a major snow event hits you’ll want to know exactly what’s going on, when you can get your snow cleared and what to expect in the coming hours and days.
Choose a snow contractor with an active communications centre so that when the next big snowstorm arrives you aren’t left in the dark.
Your snow removal contractor should also be available for contact 24/7 during major snow events – after all, snow removal is a matter of safety.
Four questions to ask your snow removal contractor
- “Are you insured and what does your insurance cover?”
This should be your first question. If the answer is “no” then walk away. Saving a few dollars on snow removal isn’t worth the risk of using an uninsured snow removal contractor. You should also require your contractor to submit proof of their insurance as part of your contract terms.
- “Is your company licensed/do you require a licence to operate in my city?”
Depending on where you live snow removal companies may require a licence from the city. The purpose of the licence is to protect customers like yourself from fraudulent or bad practices. Research your municipality’s bylaws, especially regarding how quickly snow has to be removed after a snowfall (this varies by municipality).
- “How long have you been in business?”
The longer the better. Good snow removal contractors stay in business by offering the best services year after year. There is always room for competition but younger contractors should spend some time being mentored in the business before taking on large properties themselves. Ask how long they have been around and how many properties similar to yours they look after.
- “Do you have references?”
The best companies can easily find a client willing to speak on their behalf.
Taking the time to fully investigate a prospective snow removal contractor is time well spent and an investment you will never regret. Ask them for a list of companies they work with or other property managers you may know.
POSTAL CODE CHANGE: Please note that the Garden Grove Landscaping postal code has changed to L8B 1K5. Our 136 5th Concession location remains unchanged. Please edit our contact information accordingly.
Written by Paul Lammers
Paul Lammers is the vice-president of operations with Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. Paul may be contacted at email@example.com or 1-866-996-1099.