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Don’t let snow and ice removal bury you this winter

When I was a kid, we looked forward to snowfalls. It meant snow days from school, snowball fights, and hours outside building snowmen. It also meant my dad handing me a shovel and pointing to the snow on the driveway. Back then, I would have given my left and right arms for a plow.

As an adult, I’ve been able to trade in that shovel for some heavy equipment. But now I know there’s more to snow and ice removal than my younger self could have grasped. And as a property manager, be sure to plan ahead for all of the costs related to surviving this winter.

Direct expenses

Even if winter brings just one or two accumulating snowfalls, removing the snow and ice involves a lot of time, effort and expense. For starters, let’s look at some of the direct expenses that come with removing snow and ice on your commercial property:

Truck or plow – No, a shovel won’t do. (Trust me, I know.) Having a truck, mount and plow is essential for complete snow removal around your building and in the parking lot. In addition to the cost of a truck, you’ll pay $3,000 to $6,000 for a plow blade, and an optional $1,000 mounting fee.

Labor costs – Someone MUST shovel the sidewalks and steps, and someone needs to be in the plow—potentially throughout the day depending on the storm. These are likely one or two of your unscheduled employees willing to arrive mid-storm or early morning, costing you overtime and risking injury. Be sure to budget labor costs for reliable help during a winter storm.

De-icing material – Plowing is only the first aspect of snow and ice management. Snowfalls in this part of the country often hide ice underneath. Addressing the ice with well-distributed ice melt – no matter which substance you choose to use – is vital to minimizing any safety issues. Beyond the cost of the product itself, if you’re fortunate enough to find and purchase enough quantity each time a storm hits, expect to pay about $3,000 to $6,000 for a rear-mounted salt spreader.

Indirect expenses

Of course, just like hidden ice beneath that foot of glistening snow, also beware of all the indirect hits to your budget and your time that come with snow and ice removal:

Liability insurance – Inevitably, someone will find the spot you missed, or that refroze during the day. Personal liability insurance covering slips and falls, property damage caused by snow removal equipment, and auto accidents that occur on your property from snow or ice run anywhere from $400 to $1,100. This doesn’t include an additional $500 rider you may need to carry as a “snow and ice removal” business owner, which you may now be. There is also the additional $900 medical coverage for owning commercial snow removal vehicles that may cause an accident.

Paperwork – After all the snow and ice has been managed, remember to log all snow and ice removal activity. It’s a lot of necessary record-keeping for a few snowfalls each year, but you’ll be thankful for that paper trail if you’re ever faced with a lawsuit.

Is it time to outsource?

Let’s face it: Your time is better spent focused on other areas of your job. Snow and ice removal can quickly absorb all of your time, and can often be an expensive job to tackle. Brian Birch with the Snow & Ice Management Association elaborates:

“A large winter storm bringing significant snow or ice will result in long hours, fatigue, equipment breakdowns, and potentially hazardous situations for the people on your grounds. Add to that the desired level of service that most individuals are accustomed to in our culture, and you are faced with removing snow and ice in the most efficient and cleanly method possible in order to perform and meet your defined goals.”

Instead of doing all this work alone, partner with a commercial facilities management firm with the proper equipment and experience to appropriately clear all of the snow and ice from your properties. Choosing to outsource will not be free, but it will save you time and money from the paperwork and indirect expenses noted above. It can be difficult to predict what your snow removal costs will be because it’s hard to predict the weather. But what is predictable is the time and hassle saved from hiring a service, and the peace of mind you’ll enjoy knowing the work is off your shoulders. SG360 helps minimize winter’s interruptions to your daily operations—which means you can look forward to snowfalls once again.

Bob Pastori is the director of special services & general contracting for SG360, a facility services company specializing in facilities management, janitorial services, restoration services and inventory management. How do you prepare your facility for the challenges of winter weather? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @ServiceGroup360.