By Neil Butara, Exscape Designs

 

It may be hot in Cleveland now, but before you know it, Old Man Winter will be knocking on the door. When that time comes, the last thing any property manager or building owner wants to be is the person shoveling sidewalks due to a no-show or late-arriving snow and ice management contractor. Or, the person dealing with a slip-and-fall accident in his or her parking lot.

Avoid these situations by hiring a reliable professional winter services contractor well before the first snowflake flies.

Smart facility owners and managers know they need to hire safety-focused, dependable contractors with well-communicated snow and ice removal plans for their properties. Here are some tips for finding the right snow and ice management firm for your facility.

 

Communication

When it comes to how to communicate with your snow and ice removal contractor “early and often” are good rules of thumb. A well-prepared facility has its winter services agreement in place by Labor Day, so its snow and ice management contractor can hit the ground running as soon as winter begins. Waiting until late October in Northeast Ohio—or worse, after the first snowfall—before engaging a contractor does a disservice to the customer-vendor relationship. You don’t want a plan assembled in a rush. You want to have a transparent, thorough conversation about your snow and ice removal pain points, so your contractor can put together a thoughtful, effective plan for your property.

Once an agreement is in place, ensure you understand the communication process for snow and ice events. Who is your point of contact? How will he or she communicate with you? A professional firm will establish and document the communication plan well in advance so you know what to expect before, during, and after a storm.

 

Reliability

Prepared and professional snow and ice management providers will have a written process in place for responding to a variety of winter events, ranging from average accumulations to blizzards and ice storms, according to the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA), a Mequon, Wis.-based national trade association for contractors. Good Cleveland ice & snow management firms will have equipment ready, routes scheduled, and a dispatcher coordinating vehicles and equipment to necessary areas.

Look for a company with a team of trained snow and ice removal specialists—not just one person in a pickup truck. A well-staffed firm helps to ensure better responsiveness to your business during heavy snow events or rapid changes in weather. Also seek out a firm with a fleet of equipment and technology, like GPS-tracking, capabilities. These features ensure reliable, efficient snow removal even in the face of the toughest circumstances.

 

Safety

A professional snow and ice removal firm is your partner in risk management. The first step to working with a safe, reliable snow contracting firm is to verify that it is insured for snow and ice removal specifically and not just landscaping, paving or its other line of business, according to SIMA. If you hire a contractor who is not insured, and someone makes a claim against you or that contractor, you may be held liable. Don’t get caught being negligent by hiring an uninsured contractor and putting employees or customers at risk.

Preventing accidents like slip-and-falls or fender benders is on most facility professionals’ minds during the winter—and it should be on your snow contractor’s mind too. Reputable firms make it their priority to keep front entrances, sidewalks, and parking lots clear to an agreed-upon level of service, so your customers and staff are safe on your property at all times.

A contract outlining guidelines and expectations for both parties helps protect property managers and snow removal companies from potential lawsuits, according to SIMA.

 

Finally, when it comes to hiring a snow and ice removal firm, it’s important to remember that you often get what you pay for.

A properly insured, well-run company with the team and equipment to tackle the worst of what Mother Nature throws at Northeast Ohio isn’t going to be the cheapest option. But, it may save you time and money and protect you in the long run.

At Exscape Designs, we operate by a set of core values to ensure our team acts with integrity, professionalism, and accountability every day. Our purpose is enhancing lives through positive interactions, and our promise is “no client left behind.” We will always stand behind our work and resolve any concerns. Like any team or organization, we sometimes make mistakes. However, when you hire us for snow and ice management, know that communication, reliability, and safety are our priorities, and we will always make it right.

Neil Butara is the Commercial Division Manager for Exscape Designs, a full-service landscape design/build and maintenance company serving the Greater Cleveland area. Learn more or contact us for your snow removal plan at ExscapeDesigns.com.