Save Money and Time on Commercial Snowplowing
A-1 Evans Snowplowing service has been providing commercial and residential snow and ice removal in the Mansfield, Ohio and Richland County area for 17 years. I will try to give you some helpful hints to save you money and time on your snow and ice removal needs.
When getting bids on commercial property try to start the process in August and make your deadline by the end of September. Be very specific when writing up your scope of work to be performed on the project. And last but not least, I would use an online auction to get the lowest bid. Do these three things and you will save yourself money and time.
Every snowplow company has a limit on how many contracts they can take on per year. Some companies keep all of their contracts from the prior year and cannot provide service to any new customers. Other companies might not have the equipment or “know how” to satisfy your contract. Every job has to be placed on a route and time-table to serve you properly. So the quicker you document your specifications, more companies will be able to participate in the bidding process. If you have any questions about what should be specified in the bid, call area plow contractors and ask. The key is to start the bidding process as soon as possible. The more companies involved, the better the price for you.
Being more specific on the scope of work is best for everyone involved. You need to list where you want your snow after it has been pushed and what you want cleared if it snows during business hours. We also need to know all business hours, including weekends and special circumstances (i.e., loading docks). Other issues that need articulated are if any sidewalks or entryways need to be cleared and when. The type of ice melt is also important. Some jobs do not specify ice melt, others use rock salt, and still others mix sand with rock salt on parking lots. Most use calcium chloride, but there are those that use rock salt on sidewalks and entryways. You need to list your trigger (when snow and ice removal services should begin). This is usually anywhere between two (2) to four (4) inches of snow. Getting a price on having snow hauled away is also important for those years with continuous heavy snowfalls where the snow does not have a chance to melt.
Be sure to include what types of insurance the contractor needs to carry. We carry both Workers’ Compensation and liability insurance. Some contracts require both, while others just require liability insurance. Commercial snowplow contracts should specify the limits of liability insurance required. Last but not least, the contractor should be instructed on where to send invoices, a time-frame in which the invoice should be sent, and an approximate period of time in which the contractor can expect payment.
Now we get to talk about the auction. I have only participated in this a couple of times, but if I was the customer it is what I would do. Send very specific bids to as many contractors in the area of your business as possible. Have each snowplow contractor send a proposal, then check references and insurance to make sure they are a legitimate company. Now call each company that you have vetted to verify that they want to be involved in your internet auction. Next, a decision would be made about the date and time your project would be placed on the internet for auction. Lastly, give the contractors instructions and any needed logons or passwords and get the auction started. Hopefully the companies would get into a bidding war, but the worst case scenario is that you would end up accepting the original lowest bid. I have seen this process work and it can save you money.
The bigger the job, the less snowplow companies there will be to bid. Even on smaller jobs the best snowplow contractors fill their schedule quickly. It is never too early to get started, but it is often too late.
I could talk for days about scope of work misunderstandings. If snow cannot be pushed to certain parts of the lot, then I need to know. I’ve had customers change where they want their snow in mid-season. I also need to know what your priorities are in the middle of a storm. Some clients want entryways done first, others want loading docks cleared as priority one. As you can see the specifics of every job is important. The more things are documented equals less misunderstandings.
Last but not least is the auction. As a snowplow contractor, I do not like other contractors to see what and how I bid a job. But on the other hand I do enjoy seeing how they bid jobs. Sometimes the auction turns into a competition, which can save you a lot of money.
I wrote this article as a business person looking for the best price on snow and ice removal; as a contractor, not so much. So use these tips and let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.