January 9, 2019
- Grounds Management
By Brad Caton
There’s no doubt about it, winter is here. Temperatures have dropped, with some areas going from warm to freezing weather seemingly overnight. For property owners and managers, having a good snow and ice management contract in place is essential.
If you’ve never worked with a snow and ice management company before, the cost may surprise you. Many property owners and property managers don’t budget enough for the winter. Weather is unpredictable, and it’s better to err on the side of caution. You’d rather have money set aside in the event of one, or several, snowstorms, than to be in the middle of a snowstorm and realize you don’t have enough money to deal with the aftermath.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate depending on what region you’re in. Those in areas that usually get a lot of snow will pay less per hour than those in areas that receive less snow, because of supply and demand. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow each winter, there are going to be a lot of contractors available and vying for your business. In order to get that business they will try to woo you with lower prices. However, if you live in an area that doesn’t get much snow, chances are there aren’t many snow contractors available, so the few that are around can charge more because they know you need them and your options are limited.
For example, in Vancouver and other parts of the Pacific Northwest, which don’t get much snow in the winter, property owners can expect to pay an average of $200 per hour. Typically, a half-acre of snow is cleared per hour, per inch of snow. In other parts of North America, where snow fall tends to be more frequent and heavy — for example, Vermont, New York, Maine, Alaska, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, Massachusetts — expect to pay less.
However, before you can go searching for the best deal, you need to narrow down the list of companies you’re choosing from. Not all snow and ice management companies are created equal, and to help you identify the best, here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Do they have the right equipment? Anyone can add a plow to their truck, but you want to work with a company that’s equipped with an arsenal of snow management equipment that includes heavy duty loaders, plows, snow removal equipment and ATVs.
• Are they ASCA trained and certified? The Accredited Snow Contractors Association developed written industry standards and an education program that help snow and ice management companies correctly document their work, improve their operations and reduce risk. Make sure the contractor you work with has received this training and certification.
• Are they ISO9001/SN9001 certified? That’s a quality management system created specifically for the professional snow and ice management industry. Contractors earn ISO9001/SN9001 certification through an independent, third-party audit that focuses on processes and procedures that adhere to service quality, as well as the implementation of the industry standards for the professional snow and ice management industry.
• Are they properly insured? You may not be aware, but the industry is changing and it’s becoming harder for those who work in snow and ice management to get insurance. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure your contractor is properly insured so you’re not stuck with the liability in the event of an accident.
Remember to trust your instincts. If a price seems too good to be true, chances are it is.
Also, don’t forget to set aside budget for ice melting. Ice is dangerous, so salting after a snow cleanup is a necessity. Plan to spend approximately 1 cent per square foot.
Finally, don’t worry if you don’t use all the money you budgeted for this winter. Most companies will let you pre-purchase for the following season, so you can roll this year’s leftover money into next year’s budget.
Brad Caton is the founder of Invictus Professional Snowfighters, LTD, a snow and ice management company. Learn more at www.invictussnowfighters.com.