Get It Right

Five essential components to every snow management contract.

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It’s never too early to think about next year, even when this year’s snow has just recently stopped falling. Before summer carries your mind to new directions, it is a sound strategy to revisit your snow contract strategy.

This practice is especially helpful when renewing expired contracts. This is your one chance of the year to rewrite the agreement language. However, the question is what parts of the contract are vital

As a helpful start, here are five things every snow contract should contain.

Trigger Depth

Every snow contract should have a basic starting point. In other words, at which point does the snow service begin? In the professional snow and ice management industry this is commonly called the “trigger depth.” The standard depths in the commercial realm are ½ inch, 1 inch or 2 inch. Keep in mind not all trigger depths are equal. Comparing a ½-inch trigger to a 2-inch is not a fair comparison because the level of service would be drastically different. For example, a service provider working a ½-inch trigger would probably have crews on-site as the storm begins, whereas the 2-inch trigger property might not see a crew for hours into a storm.

Level of Service

Every snow contract proposal should detail whether they are a low, medium or high (aka. zero tolerance) level of service. Higher levels of service might include added features like lot and sidewalk brining before every snow event. While still relatively new to the snow industry, brining has proven to be an excellent tool by not only minimizing waste and plant damage, but also janitorial expenses associated with granular deicers being tracked into buildings.

ISO Certification

Is your company ISO certified? By hiring an ISO-certified company, your clients can rest assured your company is being held to a higher standard of quality due to ISO’s relentless auditing process. ISO’s third-party method insures snow contractors adhere to strict standards related to documentation, customer satisfaction, and operations. We pride ourselves on being one of three ISO-certified providers in the Philadelphia market.


Snow plowing insurance has become increasingly difficult for contractors to maintain – due to an annual increase in costs. This raise is due in large part to the fact that many insurance carriers will not tolerate more than one or two slip-and-fall claims. Often, contractors are insured for “landscaping, general contracting, etc.” However, their policies don’t automatically include coverage specifically for snow plowing and this leaves property managers and owners liable for injury and damage claims. Best practices for your company would be to provide a COI that specifically states you are insured for “snow plowing services at job-site address.”

Pre- and Postseason Processes

Finally, every snow contract proposal should take into consideration what happens before and after the snow season. As a contractor you should walk your site with the property manager and survey for damages both before and after the season. During your walk through, confirm where the snow pile locations will be – and discuss any areas that need special attention. It’s also a good idea to require all postseason repairs completed by April 30th.

With a little work on the front end you can get your proposals in alignment so you’re presenting a comprehensive document that lines up with your client’s expectations.

Jason Ostrander is the marketing director at Sauers Snow & Ice Management in Philadelphia and a frequent Snow Magazine contributor.

May 2019
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