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Summer is snow removal time!

While we’re at the peak of summer weather, it’s hard to believe that we should be thinking about snow removal. But as long as we live in Canada, snow and ice management is necessary to ensure safe building operations. To make sure your building receives the highest quality snow removal service this winter, here are a few things to consider.

1. Buy early

Most quality snow contractors book their winter routes by the end of summer. Today, additional constraints such as limited availability of large equipment due to COVID-related supply chain issues, mean that planning for winter often needs to be completed by the previous spring in order to allow time for equipment ordering.

Why source a snow removal provider so early?

Besides having your pick of the cream of the crop, an early request for proposal (RFP) process has other advantages. An early procurement allows the property manager or owner to take a proactive approach to a service as sensitive as snow and ice management. It also allows for time to negotiate contract terms and service expectations.

By signing a contract early, your chosen provider will have time to procure the resources needed to service your property to the standards you have agreed on. Earlier procurement will avoid supply chain issues and demand-based price fluctuations. While large equipment and salt used to be available as late as October, today’s supply chain requires orders to be placed by the end of May to guarantee delivery dates in time for the Canadian snow season.

When a contract is awarded in the summer, it allows both parties sufficient time to plan pre-season meetings and activities, including site mapping, equipment staging, staking and clarifying communication protocols for the winter season.

2. Clearly outline expectations

To make sure you have a snow and ice management service which aligns with the needs of your building, it is important to clearly outline the scope of work and the service expectations.

A clear scope of work outlined in an RFP will include:

  • A site map with property boundaries, priority zones and snow stacking locations clearly identified.

  • A list of services expected on the site (ie: pre-treatment, snow plowing, snow hauling, salting etc).

  • A list of materials which should be used on the property (ie: environmental de-icers, rock salt, brine, grit, gravel etc) and storage locations if permitted on-site.

  • A list of equipment that can or cannot be used on the site based on site specifics (ie: weight restrictions, rubber blades etc) and storage locations if permitted on-site.

Service expectations outlined in your RFP should include:

  • Operations trigger – indicate whether you would like operations to start at a specific depth of snow accumulation or at a pre-determined start time

  • Key times – how quickly do you expect the property to be cleaned and what are the critical times for your building’s safe operation

  • Priority zones

  • End result expectations – clearly indicate what is an acceptable level of service for your service provider to leave the property (ie: all walkways are cleared and emergency exits are accessible, or all drive lanes have been plowed etc)

  • Extreme weather planning – state expectations for extreme weather events such as blizzards or ice storms

  • Post-storm requirements – identify work that needs to be completed 24 – 96 hours after the event (ie: snow hauling, clearing drifting etc)

  • Initiation of additional services – identify any additional services that require approval or client initiation (ie: snow hauling, additional de-icing)

3. Ensure insurance coverage

Snow removal is a risky business. Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association says some snow companies are reporting insurance premium increases “anywhere from 25 to 300 percent. Some cannot obtain insurance at any cost.” Many insurance companies have decided to exit the snow and ice sector entirely because of an abundance of slip and fall claims.

When selecting a snow and ice provider, it is important to clearly understand their status regarding commercial insurance. If a company receives its insurance renewal during the snow season and sees a significant increase, it may not be able to provide services for the duration of the season.

Requiring your snow and ice provider to add your company as Additionally Insured allows your organization to be insured under an insurance policy in addition to whomever originally purchased the insurance policy.

4. Get clean records

Record-keeping is the safest way to protect your property, your tenants and your company. Establish a record-keeping protocol with your snow provider when awarding the contract. Any intervention on the property should be documented. Will they be submitting records to you or keeping them? At what frequency will they be submitted? Do you expect digital or paper records?

The best documentation for proof of snow service will include at a minimum:

  • Name and location of the site

  • Name of snow provider’s employee

  • Date of service

  • Start and end time of service

  • Conditions of the site upon start and end of service (snow and ice specific)

  • Weather conditions

  • Services rendered including equipment used and materials applied (types and amounts)

  • Notes/special circumstances or conditions

  • Some optional information you can request be included with your proof of service:

    • Photos

    • GPS reports

While Mother Nature is a significant variable in our Canadian winters, preparation is the key component to managing a successful and safe winter season.

Strathmore offers coast-to-coast service to commercial clients in the snow and ice management industry.

Strathmore national commercial snow removal

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