Snow removal has been around as long as snow has been, so it's only natural that snow removal contracts have been established to ease the whole process.
A snow removal or snow plowing contract, whatever you might call it, gives any business an opportunity to grow without worrying about hiring a new snow removal crew each time it snows. Whether it's for your parking lot, your restaurant, or your commercial property area, a reliable snow removal contract is crucial for effective commercial snow and ice management.
Snow Removal Contract Terms to Know
Snow removal contracts, like any other legal contract, can be filled with industry jargon. On the surface, this jargon may sound straightforward, but if you're not careful, your business might not get the best possible service. To get around this jargon, you need to know some basic snow removal terms and conditions, which is exactly what you'll get from this article from our experts at Earth Development, Inc.
This snow season, you'll be able to distinguish between a good and a deceptive contract. So let's go through these terms, so you make an informed decision when choosing a contract.
Snow removal, as the name suggests, refers to the removal of snow from the property. This means that the snow is first plowed and then removed from the property to ensure smooth operation without any snow piling on the sides.
When we talk about snow removal services, we're actually referring to snow plowing services. In the contract, if you see that the contractor wants a snow plowing agreement, that means they'll plow the snow and pile it on the sides. This is ideal for your business if you have large commercial properties and want to save money.
An emergency plowable event refers to a heavy snowfall that requires plowing. In your contract, you must have a clear understanding of what your contractor refers to as a plowable event. Getting serviced as soon as possible could make a big difference for any business. Plus, it can prevent any accidents from happening. If the contract says that any snowfall is a plowable event, then you'll end up paying much more than needed. Similarly, a heavy snowfall of 4-5 inches can also be referred to as a plowable event. In this case, you'll be exposing your business to unnecessary danger. Strive to achieve a proper balance, which depends upon your business type.
Estimate tonnage refers to the required amount of salt or deicers in tons to keep the surfaces of your property from becoming icy once the snow has been removed. Like everything else in the contract, you need to have a clear idea of how much is good for your business. If you go too high with the amount, you'll add a significant amount to your cost. Similarly, ordering a low amount could lead to a shortage on the spot and cause your business to lose some customers in the process. A healthy balance is always required here, which you can ask your contractor about.
Essential Elements of a Snow Removal Contract
When creating a detailed snow removal contract, you should include the following information:
- Property Address: Clearly state the address of the property where the snow removal services will be performed.
- Customer Contact Information: Include the customer's name, email address, and phone number for easy communication.
- Company Information: Provide your business name, contact name, email address, and phone number for the customer's reference.
- Date of Signing: Include the date when the contract is signed to establish its validity.
- Term of Agreement: Specify the start and end dates of the contract, outlining the duration of the snow removal services.
- Definition of a Snow Event: Clearly define the amount of snowfall required for services and when the snow removal services will be performed.
- Property Description or Map: Include a detailed description or map of the property, highlighting all areas covered in the contract, such as driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, and building entrances.
- Scope of Services: Provide a comprehensive description of the services to be provided, including snow blowing, snow plowing, shoveling, ice removal services, and any other relevant tasks.
- Additional Services: Specify any optional or additional services that are available at an extra cost.
- Cost of Services: Clearly state the rate and payment schedule, indicating whether it's a flat rate, seasonal price, or hourly rate for the snow removal services.
- Payment Terms: Outline the payment terms, including any upfront or recurring charges, payment due dates, and accepted payment methods. Including these details in your snow removal contract as a service provider helps avoid misunderstandings and establishes a solid agreement between you and your customers.
Outline of Snow Removal Services in Your Contract
When creating your snow removal contract, it's important to include an outline of all snow removal service requests. This ensures that both parties clearly understand the specific tasks to be performed. Include details such as snow plowing, shoveling, de-icing, or ice removal services.
Specify the frequency of these services, whether it's on-demand or scheduled. Outlining all snow removal service requests ensures a comprehensive and efficient snow removal plan that meets the needs of your clients while maintaining transparency in the contract.
The Importance of Legal Review for Snow Removal Contracts
We highly recommend finalizing your snow removal contract with a legal consultant or a lawyer, especially if you're a professional snow removal service provider. They can review the contract to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. Additionally, they can help incorporate clauses regarding liability and insurance coverage to protect both parties. Having a legal professional involved in the finalization of the contract provides peace of mind and minimizes potential legal issues in the future.
Types of Snow Plow Contracts
There are mainly five types of snow removal contracts that you can get. Each comes with its own specification.
Your business may find per push contract while another might prefer per event contract. To determine which one is better for you, let's discuss each type briefly.
A per-push snow removal contract is ideal if you want to pay for each time you have snow plowed, ice treated, or any area shoveled. This means that your business is liable to pay the contractor each time they plow your property. This is optimal if you're not expecting too many visits, or you expect a low snowfall. However, this can backfire if you have like snowfall each day, and you need to pay each time the snow is plowed. The billing per push can either be by the inch, or by the hour after the snow has reached a certain height and it'll take additional work. For this situation, going with a seasonal contract might be better.
Like per push, a per-event snow removal contract also gives you the freedom to pay whenever the snow is plowed. The difference with per event is that you pay typically per storm, in a 24-hour window. As with per push, if the storm requires multiple visits, the billing may increase as it'll take more work than anticipated. However, you need to clarify payment terms with your contractor about the extra payments they may ask for. This is because a storm or an event can be severe and lead to multiple rounds of plowing, which means extra hours and extra expenses. Per event is ideal if there's severe winter weather in the forecast.
A time-based snow removal contract is a popular choice for commercial snow removal contracts. As the name suggests, this type of agreement allows clients to pay a predetermined fee for a specific timeframe. This ensures that their premises are consistently cleared of snow during the winter season. Time-based contracts provide convenience and reliability for businesses, as they can rely on the snow removal company to handle their snow removal needs on a regular basis, without worrying about fluctuating costs.
A full-service snow removal contract is a comprehensive agreement that encompasses all types of snow removal services. This snow plowing contract ensures that clients receive a complete package, including plowing, shoveling, de-icing, and ice control. By opting for a full-service contract, clients get peace of mind knowing that their premises will be efficiently and thoroughly cleared of snow. This type of contract is convenient and saves clients the hassle of coordinating multiple snow removal services separately.
For seasonal snow plowing contracts, you pay once and enjoy the benefits for a certain amount of time. This option is extremely popular as it relieves all the tensions that come with a snow removal contract. Usually, these contracts can last for 3-4 years, which means you don't have to worry about a light snowfall this year, and next year will compensate for it. When coming up with the pricing for a seasonal contract, companies will take many things into account from the past 10-15 years of snowfall, to set a reasonable price. However, it's also important to ask what the billable cycle of the contract is, so you know exactly when you are paying for your snow removal services, and how often.
Why Seasonal Snow Contracts May Be the Best Value for Your Money
Have you considered seasonal snow contracts? They're also referred to as flat-rate snow removal services, and they're an increasingly popular offering across landscaping companies. This offering typically extends from March through November, and many commercial snow removal companies seek multi-year contracts for this type of removal.
Seasonal snow contract benefits are multi-layered:
- They allow for budget predictability as the cost is consistent regardless of how much snow comes down each season.
- Property managers don't have to worry about going over budget or negotiating contracts for multiple years.
- If you live in an area that often receives tons of snow, seasonal snow contracts provide high value for your money.
- Even if you don't receive a ton of snow one winter, the next winter's snow storms can help level out the average costs.
- Avoid monitoring the weather to ensure your business remains functional year-round.
If you're interested in exploring seasonal snow contracts, you'll want to be proactive. Many companies have hit their limit of signed contracts by the time November hits. Start considering if this is a viable option for your commercial business.
Contracts by Property Type
Different properties have unique needs. Retail centers, condominiums, offices, and shipping depots each require tailored snow removal contracts to ensure efficient and effective snow management.
Retail Shopping Centers
Shopping centers often opt for either seasonal or per-event snow removal contracts to ensure the safety and accessibility of their entryways and walkways during winter. For seasonal contracts, the shopping center pays a fixed fee for the entire snow removal season. This contract provides predictability and peace of mind as the property will be consistently cleared of snow throughout the season.
On the other hand, per-event retail store snow removal contracts involve a charge per visit. This benefits shopping centers with unpredictable snowfall, as they only pay for the services needed when there's snow. Snow plowing services are typically included in both types of contracts to facilitate the efficient clearance of parking lots and walkways. Ultimately, commercial property managers can choose the contract type based on their budget, snowfall patterns, and specific needs.
Condominiums and Apartments
Your needs might be somewhat different if you own condominiums and apartments, either as a homeowner or a landlord. The best snow removal contract for condominiums and apartments, or even an HOA snow removal contract if you’re looking for snow removal across an entire street, depends on your needs.
All three contract options bring a host of benefits, and it’s up to you and your fellow homeowners to decide the right approach. Remember that seasonal and per-event contracts ensure that your roads and driveways are always cleared without even a call to your snow removal team. They’ll be there as soon as you need them, without fail.
The fact that offices are typically closed on the weekends is a variable that you should consider when choosing the right commercial snow removal contract for you. In this event, a per-event contract may work for you, with the condition that snow plowing only takes place on weekdays and on Sunday evenings.
Similarly, you could negotiate the best times to perform deicing and snow removal work – perhaps when your employees are at home.
Seasonal and per-event contracts are perfect for offices, while per-push contracts may be less convenient.
Finally, when it comes to finding the right snow removal contract for shipping depots, logistics hubs, and other 24/7 businesses, there's no question that a seasonal contract is your best option.
Our teams of local snow removal experts work with expert meteorologists to accurately predict bad weather and take action before it can cause disruption for your business.
This way, you’ll never have to pick up the call or count on your employees to keep vehicles moving.
Common Snow Removal Equipment
In your snow plowing contract, you'll see the mention of the snow removal equipment your contractor will use. You'll need to know about some commonly used equipment before committing to the contract to save money and time during the plowing process.
Let's talk about some of the most commonly used snow removal equipment.
A plow, or snowplow, is simple equipment that's attached to the front of the vehicle. It's used to remove snow and ice from roadways and other surfaces that are used for transportation. It pushes the snow to the sides and clears a pathway for your customers.
A snow blower is another machine used to remove snow from any unwanted surface. Like a lawnmower, a snow mower (or snow blower) cuts through the snow. The snow comes in from the front and is collected on the side or taken on another vehicle so it can be removed. Snow blowers can be small and something you keep in your garage, or they can be attached to large vehicles, depending on how much snow you're clearing.
A skid, or skid steer loader is the machine that a snowblower or a plow can be attached to. This allows for fast and smooth plowing of snow without needing extra labor. A skid steer is a type of loader.
A loader, or a front loader snow plow, is a type of plow that can be used to collect snow from the snowblower or collect snow from the side. Once collected, it can be driven to a remote location to dump the snow.
A spreader, or a salt spreader, is used to evenly spread the salt faster and in larger quantities on snow while being pushed by a human or a vehicle. It makes the whole process a lot easier, and the snow melts evenly for quick removal. If rock salt deployment is a service in your contract, then you need to ensure they're using a spreader to efficiently manage your parking lot and sidewalks.
How Much Does a Snow Removal Contract Cost Each Year?
The cost of a snow removal contract each year can vary depending on several factors. Snow removal contractors usually factor in the size of the property, the frequency of snowfall in the region, and the required services. Generally, the cost of a snow plow contract is determined by a combination of factors, including the length of the contract, the size of the area to be cleared, and the complexity of the snow removal tasks. On average, the cost for snow removal contracts in the Midwest can range from $150 to $500 per visit, but this is a rough estimate. We encourage you to contact snow removal contractors directly to get an accurate estimate based on your specific needs and location.
Why is it Beneficial to Have a Snow Removal Contract?
Having a snow removal contract is highly beneficial for both clients and a snow removal business. For clients, a contract offers peace of mind. It guarantees timely and efficient snow removal services throughout the winter. It ensures that their properties remain safe and accessible, reducing the risk of accidents or disruptions. On the other hand, a snow plowing business benefits from contracts as they provide a stable source of revenue and consistent work. Contracts also allow for better planning and resource allocation, enabling the business to deliver high-quality and reliable snow removal services to their clients.
Reliable Snow Removal Services from the Experts at Earth Development
Stop shoveling snow on your own and instead rely on our team. Earth Development is your go-to for commercial snow and ice management. With over 20 years of experience providing snow removal services through contract agreements, Earth Development has the expertise, equipment, and dedicated crews to keep your property and parking lots clear, safe, and accessible all winter long.
For reliable and professional commercial snow removal, contact us today to discuss your snow removal needs in Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, or Iowa and get started on creating the perfect contract for your needs.