Questions You Need to Ask Before You Hire a Snow & Ice Management Contractor
Snow and ice are a given in northern Illinois, it’s not a matter of “if,” it’s “when, how long and how much?” This resource guide has been created to help you better prepare for winter events and choose the best possible snow and ice management contractor possible. We hope you find this valuable and welcome you to contact us at Countryside Industries if you have any questions or would like to discuss your specific needs.
1) What’s the Best Type of Contract?
There are three options when contracting for snow and ice removal services:
Per Event Services are invoiced after every snow event. The benefit to this plan is that you pay for the services you receive every month. No events, no charge. But, with the variation of winter weather, it’s difficult to set a monthly winter budget and expenses can vary dramatically.
Seasonal Contracts are based upon a fixed price per month. Many companies prefer this option since they’re able to know their monthly expense whether we receive 10 or 50 snow events this winter.
Full Service Contracts are for companies with mission-critical services and require the highest level of safety and productivity possible. Detailed storm-management plans are written in advance with options for nearly every possible contingency. Additional services include pre-treating before winter storms with the use of the most innovative ice-melting products available.
In the long run, it’s not just about the type of contract you adopt, it’s about getting the job done professionally and to your complete satisfaction.
2) How Much Should We Pay?
Snow and ice removal is labor and equipment intensive. Equipment is exposed to brutal conditions, handle heavy loads and burn through fuel. Salt prices continue to increase and based upon your situation, snow removal may require manual labor. This isn’t to say you should automatically pay more, but keeping your company productive and safe require more than a plow and a truck. Getting a low price will mean very little if you don’t get the service you require- and if the price is “too good to be true,” it probably is.
Make certain that your contractor visits your site and be very leery of any proposals that have not included an in-person review of your property and your unique needs.
Please see the “Questions to Ask When Considering a Contractor” which will help you evaluate potential partners.
3) Dedication to Sustainability
Although you ultimately require timely and efficient removal of snow and ice, there are further considerations regarding the impact on your landscaping and the environment in general. For example, applying too much salt stresses the water supply and causes the deterioration of grass and plants on your property. Excess salt is also harmful to concrete, especially concrete that is less than a year old.
When considering a snow and ice removal contractor, be sure to ask about their sustainability practices and learn about any innovative products they use that are less impactful on your property and environment.
4) Protecting Your Valuable Landscaping
Unfortunately, many winter maintenance plans do not include methods to protect landscaping. Yes, snow and ice removal are important, but best-practice plans include a detailed understanding of methods to protect plants and grass from damage.
Salt pulls moisture from the roots and leaves of plants and can cause dehydration at a time when plants are already experiencing water loss through their foliage. Salt stress in plants also makes them more prone to damage from severe winter cold. Damage isn’t always apparent right away. Salt can build up in the soil over time and kill plants years later.
Be sure you select a progressive company that utilizes the latest products and techniques and discuss, in advance, methods to keep winter damage to a minimum.
5) Plan for Success
What’s the layout of your property? What are the mission critical areas that are vital to the productivity of your company and the safety of the people you’re responsible for? What paths do customers, employees and guests use for both driving and walking on your property? How large are your parking lots and what exact areas need to be cleared? What areas must absolutely be clear and free of ice or other winter hazards? What about delivery docks? Working with your contractor is best accomplished when you have clearly defined your unique situation and needs.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not a matter of if, it’s when. The questions above and more should be addressed before the first snow flake of winter drops. The last thing you need is an ugly surprise during a winter storm and pre-planning with your contractor will allow you to relax knowing you’ve done everything possible to prepare for the worst winter can bring.
6) The Most Important Questions to Ask
After identifying your priorities for snow and ice management you’ll be better prepared to discuss your specific needs with potential snow and ice removal contractors. The following list of questions are designed to help you better understand the potential value a new contractor can provide.
- What’s your service area? How far are you from my property?
- How large are your crews?
- What other services do you provide other than snow and ice management?
- Do you have a portfolio of your work?
- Describe the range of clients you serve and a list of them we can talk to.
- Are we the largest, smallest or in the middle of your client base?
- Describe your equipment and staffing.
- What is your equipment maintenance plan?
- What are your worker safety practices?
- What is your Experience Modification Factor?
- Do you sub out any of your work? If yes, what is the Experience Modification Factor of your subs and do you provide a certificate of insurance for all of them?
- What will you do to help protect my landscaping?
- Who will be my primary point of contact and can I meet him/her?
- What type of ice melting products do you use and how do you apply them?
- What’s your inventory of rock salt and other products?
- Where will you pile the snow in our lot? Can you haul snow?
- How often will you plow during a single snow event?
- “Today’s forecast calls for heavy snow and then frigid temperatures.” A forecast like this is not the best way to start your day but a trusted snow management service is the key to a relaxed, safe and productive winter.
Countryside Industries offers full-service snow removal and ice management services that are reliable, customized and quickly mobilized for any size storm, routine snowfalls or ice issues.
Regardless of the size of your roads or property, Countryside offers customized snow removal plans for commercial properties and institutions. We tailor plans for parking lots, roadways and sidewalks to safely manage snow and ice in an environmentally sound way that minimizes damage to your landscape.
Countryside offers the latest storm-management technology to ensure maximum efficiency, safety and reliability. We seek a proactive approach to storm management and snow removal and we pride ourselves in the management of each weather-related event and take your (and our) safety needs very seriously. Our staff has decades of experience and the breadth of knowledge and equipment needed to accommodate even the toughest of storms – keeping people safe and productive.
To request a quote or just ask a question, give us a call at 847-526-1909. You can learn more about us at countrysideindustries.com.
Our best, Bill & Bob Adelizzi, Owners.