It’s almost that magical time of year, and for some of us lucky Canadians, the snow is already flying! Skiers are waxing up the boards, kids are looking forward to snow days and homeowners are dreading the inevitable shovelling of the driveway and front walk.
While city services make it out as soon as possible to clear roads and major thoroughfares, in many Canadian neighbourhoods homeowners are responsible for clearing the ice and snow from sidewalks adjacent to their properties within a certain amount of time after a snowfall. Additionally, clearing ice and snow from surfaces that people use to access your home will make it safer for everyone.
Removing snow from your property can be an unwelcome chore and an actual health risk for some people. Additionally, snow removal takes time and time is a precious commodity in many people’s lives. If it takes you more than an hour per snow fall to remove the snow off critical areas of your property, or if you have health issues that prevent you from doing the work, might be time to look at hiring a snow removal service.
Snow plow companies generally charge up front for the entire winter, and some have tiered packages for homeowners who require a different level of service, or even offer custom packages. If desired, talk to the companies you are interviewing to find out if they offer instalment plans.
We analyzed snow removal price data gathered from homeowners across Canada over the past 5 years and have found that Canadians on average spend $605 per year on snow removal services. Price varies of course, depending on size and configuration of your property. That’s a lot to pay upfront, so don’t be afraid to ask about alternative payment plans.
So what should you look for when hiring a snow removal company for the winter? Snow removal is a tricky business that requires a company to scale up very quickly to service multiple clients. For example, landscaping companies are also often snow removal companies in the winter, as they have machinery they can repurpose into snow plows to cover more territory. It can difficult for a guy with a truck to scale to this level, so be sure to ask what the capacity of the company is so you can establish whether or not they can meet your needs.
Make sure you do your research and read reviews for each company you’re considering before hiring and ensure they have an acceptable HomeStars Score. Talk with your neighbours. Verify any credentials or affiliations they have, and check out how long they have been in business. Ensure they have insurance and is licensed by your City. And finally, get a contract in writing. Make sure you carefully read the contract and are happy with the services you will be receiving, and the terms around them.
Once you do decide upon a company, here’s how you should evaluate their performance beyond just showing up.
- Attention To Detail
Make sure you very clearly determine what the snow plowing company will do for you when you contract with them. Generally, you will want the following services:
-Removal of snow from front and/or back walkways
-Removal of snow from sidewalk in front of home
-Removal of snow off front steps
Talk to the companies you interview about their plan to store the snow they plow. How will they deal with the snow they plow, do they have a plan if the winter is a very snowy one? Will they salt (or sand) sensitive areas as well? Will they make a second plow pass to scrape up the wall of snow the City creates when they plow the streets? If you’re not happy with the snow removal job they do, make sure you call them up and let them know. But wait until after the storm is over.
The very nature of the snow removal business means that inevitably, some clients are going to get frustrated when their snow is not removed as quickly as they desire. Make sure you ask about the ability of the company to scale up quickly to meet all their clients’ needs. Ask if they have an emergency back-up.
Some snow removal companies will provide a time guarantee which quite frankly, is not particularly realistic, especially if the company has an ill-defined emergency back-up plan. Beware of companies that over-promise and under-deliver.
Quiz the company you are considering to see what kind of communication you will receive regarding a storm action plan. Oftentimes, good communication can alleviate a lot of stress. Smart companies these days are updating customers via Twitter and other social media platforms.
Snow plowing companies are understandably very busy during and after a storm, so finding easy ways to update their clients is an important task. In this digital age it’s pretty easy to keep clients up to date, so make sure the company you hire understands the importance of communication.