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How to Hire the Right Commercial Snow Removal Contractor

By December 15, 2022No Comments
How to hire the right commercial snow removal contractor for your Lehigh Valley business or commercial building

Hire the right commercial snow removal team for your Lehigh Valley business or commercial building.

Snow and ice events can wreak havoc on your property and your bottom line if not properly treated. During the late fall and winter months, slip-and-fall accidents are one of the most common injuries and liability issues on commercial sites, so if you haven’t already hired a commercial snow removal service, it should be at the top of your to-do list. To ensure your property is safe and in the right hands come winter, here are some tips for choosing the best commercial snow removal contractor for your Lehigh Valley business or commercial building.

Begin your search for a commercial snow removal contractor for your Lehigh Valley business or commercial building before the first snowfall or as early in the season as possible.

Don’t put off searching for commercial snow removal companies. You want to have time to select the right snow removal contractor for your Lehigh Valley business so that together you can figure out a plan of how they will manage your property throughout the winter season.

Your snow removal contractor needs to know which areas are top priorities on your site and where all of your entrances are so they don’t have to guess when your commercial property is covered in snow.

Do your due diligence in selecting a commercial snow removal contractor.

Not all commercial snow removal companies are created equal. There are so many to choose from. But your business depends on you choosing the best commercial snow removal services to meet your needs.

Before hiring a commercial snow removal company, it’s important to be informed so there are no surprises when the first snowstorm hits. Research now to save you time later when hiring snow removal services.

Here are some questions you should ask to ensure you get the best service for your specific needs.

1. How long has the commercial snow removal contractor been in business? 

It’s best to work with a well-established business versus a fly-by-night company or a guy-with-a-truck type of establishment.

2. Is the commercial snow removal contractor a full-service contractor? Can they handle the entire job from plowing to de-icing to shoveling? 

You don’t want to end up in the middle of a blame game if something happens – this is a possibility if you are using multiple contractors.

3. Will the contractor evaluate your property in person? 

This is the only way to determine the scope of the snow removal and the proper price.

4. Does the contractor have any Better Business Bureau complaints? What do their online ratings look like on Google?

It’s important to consider past client experience because history does usually repeat itself.

5. Does the contractor have the necessary equipment and employees to manage the site?

Having the latest high-tech snow removal equipment is an essential factor that you need to take into consideration when looking for a snow removal company. This is a testament to how much experience the company has as well as the fact that they take great pride in their work and are fully capable of delivering the best possible results for you.

6. Does the contractor have detailed plans in place for responding to a weather event? 

Your first concern is most likely how quickly they’ll be able to get to your property after it snows. What’s the company’s turnaround time? What’s the soonest they can get to work after it snows? Quick, efficient, and thorough snow removal is essential to implementing good and smart business practices in the winter, especially if you happen to own a commercial property. You’re responsible for ensuring the safety of everyone who uses your property and maintaining its exterior appeal of it to continue attracting potential customers.

7. Is the contractor fully insured in case of damage to property? 

If you choose to work with someone who simply hooks up a plow to their truck, keep in mind that they may not be correctly insured. Working with someone who is not insured puts your business at risk, so make sure they provide you with their proof of insurance, which should include liability coverage and workers’ compensation. You also want to verify that they do not have a snow exclusion on their policy.

8. Does the contractor have business references you can contact? 

Remember even if a business appears to be reliable, it does not mean that it is. When a company is reluctant to answer questions, won’t supply proper information, or is unwilling to offer references – there could be cause for concern.

9. Will the contractor provide you with a written agreement that clearly spells out all the expected services and pricing? 

Your snow removal contractor should provide you with a written agreement that clearly spells out all the expected services. Before you sign that contract, remember that not all snow removal companies provide exactly the same menu of services. Make sure to ask what they will and won’t do for your property after a snowstorm. In addition to the parking lots, do they clear sidewalks and entrances? Do they spray deicers? Do they haul any snow? Ask questions about what is provided so you know exactly what you’re getting.

If you’re talking to a company that can’t answer these questions, consider it a red flag and look elsewhere. Based on a contractor’s answers, pricing points, and liability considerations, you should be able to easily and confidently choose the right commercial snow removal contractor for your job.

Take advice from commercial snow removal experts.

Our friends at Kasel Rocks Landscaping Co. are the experts in commercial snow removal in the Lehigh Valley. Kasel Rocks was voted SIMA’s 2022 BEST Company to work for in Snow & Ice Management! Here’s what Scott Lesak, President/CEO of Kasel Rocks had to say!

“To make an educated decision, there are a few things we must understand. The first, and most important one, is when we purchase snow and ice management services (S&I) we are not in fact purchasing a service but a figurative “insurance policy.” The main priority of a qualified professional S&I provider is safety; safety for their team, safety for the public, and safety for the people performing the services. The liability falls on the contractor FIRST, then moves through the channels of the contracting party/entity, and eventually (potentially) to the property owner. A properly qualified snow and ice management company will know how to mitigate and limit risk by performing a certain level of service to maintain adequate safety.”

Scott provided some additional detail about different categories of S&I contractors.

“There are three main categories of S&I contractors. There are owner-operators (typically smaller operations), self-performing companies (typically medium to larger-sized organizations with adequate resources to handle any winter event), and snow broker/management companies who contract with the client direct and subcontract the services while retaining a percentage of the billable revenue. Of these three categories, the safest and most reliable service will come from a self-performing company. These companies train their employees to ensure best environmental and service level practices are being followed. These contractors will be the sole party responsible for choosing when and how to service the site since they are professionals trained in the field. They are in direct control of all human and mechanical resources directly required to provide the level of service that will maintain a safe site streamlining the process of communication and service.

Of these models, the one to watch out for is the snow broker model. These companies are inherently unreliable as they have no control over any of the resources used to perform the actual service. They are typically not local and have no local representation. The subcontractors used by snow brokers are typically smaller owner-operators that do not necessarily have the appropriate training and or knowledge to perform the services needed. The subcontractor is compensated with below sustainable rates making them deliver an inferior service all while the client is paying sustainable to even higher rates due to the middleman. Safety is not a concern, client relations is not a concern, and the subcontractors are largely abused through their lack of knowledge.”

And when we asked about safety, we hit a cord with Scott.

“Safety is the number one area to focus on. Our company operates and trains ALL employees to the OSHA standards of our industry. If you’re not sure that your contractor takes safety seriously, check your contract. Your contract should include a line stating something similar to “All personnel operating during snow and ice management services are trained to an OSHA-approved safety level.

We operate under the premise that safety is number 1, our clients are number 2, our team is number 3, and our pockets are last. That being said, our contracts say that dispatch for services is left to our own sole discretion. At the end of the day, we are the experts that understand the legalities, science, and operational performance of snow and ice management. The cheaper commercial snow removal service alternative can often cause you, the client, to be liable and negligent for incidents you are not insured for.”

Speaking of cost, Scott made this final point.

“Cost is important but should never be the deciding factor. A qualified contractor will not be the lowest bidder and will be able to explain the cost to you. The proper provider can be invited into the budgeting process and help place an educated value on the snow and ice management services required to safely maintain the site. These providers will be higher-level businesses that operate on an enterprise level and know the ins and outs of budget and overhead recovery. Use this knowledge to maintain your profitability even in the uncertain winter season.”

Become an expert in snow removal terminology.

As with anything in business and life, it helps if you can talk the talk. Here’s a great article that outlines all the terms you should understand when dealing with commercial snow removal service contracts.

Good luck!

Arbor Insurance Group provides business insurance, home insurance, auto insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and other business and personal insurance products throughout the Lehigh Valley, including Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Emmaus, Macungie, and surrounding areas.

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