Choosing the right Snow & Ice Management company to provide winter service for your property is often a difficult choice to make. After all, no two companies are created equally!
When deciding on which company to select for your winter grounds maintenance needs, you are essentially selecting which “contract” is best for you to accept, and therefore, you should feel comfortable with what that contract contains.
But what are the components of a “good” contract, and what should you look for before committing to your chosen winter service provider?
Remember, entering into a poorly written contract can leave you on the hook for not only sub-par service, but an increase in slip & fall insurance claims as well.
A good Snow & Ice maintenance contract should be fair to both the contractor and the property owner or manager, and should be highly detailed in regards to level of service, scope of the work (including detailed site maps), and explanations of the work that is to be completed.
Pricing of services and any additional costs should be clear, concise and with detailed payment terms.
The contract should be worded so that any “hold harmless and indemnify” clauses apply only if the contractor is negligent or fails to perform work in accordance with the contracted work. In addition, a good contract should not be open to “interpretation” through vagueness or lack of detail.
The following table provides a few quick “Dos” and “Don’ts” that can be referenced when deciding which service contractor is best for your property.
|1.Detailed “Terms & Conditions” that identify the duration of the contract (start & end dates)||1.Vague specifications that leave the scope of work open to interpretation|
|2. Contractor General Liability insurance of
$5 million or more and WSIB coverage (clearance certificate) for all workers
|2. An agreement that is little more than just an invoice or bill of sale, with no proof of adequate liability insurance or WSIB coverage|
|3. Detailed Scope of Service that clearly outlines the level & timing of service that is included as well as any additional service work that may be undertaken when authorized (in writing)||3. Entering into a snow & ice contract that does not clearly explain the timing of the service under any and all conditions could leave you open to a very slow service response without possible recourse|
|4. Detailed “site map” that clearly outlines the work to be performed, snow piling locations and hours of operation||4. A lack of, or poorly-detailed, identification of which areas are to be serviced could result in extra costs being applied without authorization|
|5. Clearly defined pricing and payment terms for work that is automatically included and for additional services that have been authorized to be performed||5. Hidden costs: look out for contracts with an attractive “base” price but with wording such as, “the contractor has the right to do what is necessary to keep the property safe at all times” which can lead to extra service calls and extreme, additional invoiced costs|
|6. Detailed description of what a “snow event” is, when and how the work will be performed, who is responsible for determining when services will be provided, and how & when melting products are applied||6. Lack of detail to when work will commence; for instance, “after it stops snowing” could mean anything, including 24-48 hours later, with application of de-icing products poorly timed|
|7. Identification of any areas or items that are to be excluded from the scope of service requirements||7. Without identifying these areas, you may be paying more than you should be if they were included in the pricing schedule|
|8. The ability for changes to be made to the contract with written agreement from both parties, as well as a “termination” clause (written notice) for both parties||8. Without a proper “termination” clause, you could be on the hook for those initial contract costs, even if a new contractor has been engaged to provide reliable service work|
In summary, a good Snow & Ice Management contract should be fair to both parties, and be accurate in describing the work to be performed. It should also provide detailed pricing for service costs that are included and for those that are defined as “extra” to the agreement.
Finally, the contract should specifically describe when and how snow removal services will be performed throughout the length of the contract.