As budgets are slashed and bottom lines diminish, it’s common, even necessary, for decision makers to treat once value-based services as commodities, selecting them based solely on price. Snow removal is not exempt from this scenario. While it’s true that, by and large, a truck is a truck and a plow is a plow, there’s much more than equipment and warm bodies that go into make a snow removal company reliable and effective.
In this article we’ll explore why the lowest bid doesn’t always result in the lowest total cost in winter services. Many unforeseen costs are incurred as a result of trying to cut costs unreasonably low at the onset.
We’ve compiled a list of things to think about and questions you should be asking snow and ice management professionals. Being informed and learning how different companies work can help you make the most informed choice for your property and customers.
General Company Questions
1. What is their dedication to the industry and to you?
Ask how long the company has been in business. Companies you can count on have been in business for more than just a few years. According to Snow Business Magazine, 50% of snow industry professionals have been in the business at least 16 years.
What percent of their total revenue is from snow removal? What is their total snow related revenue? A small number of accounts or a low percentage of total revenue from snow removal may indicate low dedication or little experience performing winter services like snow and ice removal.
2. How do they prepare before the snow season?
A snow removal company who knows what it’s doing should provide pre-season walk-throughs and damage reports as well as a detailed Snow Response Plan. They should meet with you at your property for on-site meetings to assess any areas that are first priority or may need special attention during a storm.
3. Are they Industry Certified Professionals?
Ask if any of the employees has certification from SIMA (Snow & Ice Management Association). A CSP (Certified Snow Professional) has passed a 6 hour test covering all aspects of the snow industry from snow and ice sciences to operations management. True North Outdoor has two CSPs on staff, one located at our Kansas City and one in St. Louis.
4. What documentation do they provide?
Ask what details are provided with your contract and billing invoices. For your liability protection, you should be provided a detailed recap of the weather event timeline as well as a breakdown of the services provided.
Find out how quickly the snow removal company will send invoices to you. Companies that aren’t either adequately staffed or have efficient accounting processes may not be able to provide quick turnaround on documentation.
5. Do they have insurance coverage?
Make sure the snow removal company and all operators are insured.
6. Do they have available back-up in case of emergency?
Ask if they have operators and equipment in reserve in the event of a problem. Find out the percent of standby crews out of total crews available. A reputable company will have an extra 10% of crews and equipment ready to relieve the working crews in the event of a breakdown or a multi-day snowstorm. If extra crews are not available, it is possible that crews may be pulled off your property to help another property, thereby delaying the speediness of service on your property.
7. Are their crew’s trained in safety and production?
Ask if they require and/or offer any formal training to their crews. Companies should make all crews attend a training program to ensure levels of service are similar throughout the company and the standards of operation are set to the level you need. Companies should also provide tips for best practices and inform their crews of resources to learn more about safety, maintenance and other snow-related issues.
8. What does their quality control management look like?
Does the snow removal company have a way to double check that properties were serviced and completed to your standards? A company should offer a quality control service for monitoring properties, and if need be, a Site Manager, to direct operations on larger properties.
As you can see, much more goes into a snow removal service prouder than the cost. When you do your homework, you can feel good knowing that you have your bases covered. A reputable company will be able to answer all these questions for you and will be happy you took the time to understand what is important for the safety of you and your tenants or customers. Click here to get in touch with a snow removal professional from True North Outdoor and find out just how well we measure up. Or you can give us a call at (888) 478-9470.