If you own or manage a restaurant, office building, retail space, residential community, or other commercial space, then snow removal is an inevitable part of winter here in New Jersey.
Whether it comes and goes in small bursts, or blizzards around us all at once, snow can be everything from a minor inconvenience to a major safety hazard. As the owner or manager of a commercial space, you have a unique responsibility to provide a pleasant experience as well as to protect the safety of employees, guests, visitors, tenants, staff, and anyone who uses your lots, driveways and walkways.
You also have an investment to protect – and that’s your investment in the property itself, and especially the landscaping. Winter can be harsh on landscapes and snow removal can be worse. That’s why it’s important to choose the right snow removal contractor – one who understands your needs, prioritizes your property and values your peace of mind as much as you do!
These are some things you should be looking for as you choose your contractor, and how landscaping can play a role in your decision.
Choose A Contractor Who Is Fully Insured
Let’s start with a not-so-pleasant reality: sometimes things go wrong. Whether someone gets hurt, or property is damaged, you want to know that your contractor is insured against the unforeseen.
Without insurance, you may never be able to recover from failures or damages. What happens if your contractor drives a plow through someone’s garage door or rips up your expensive paving stone pathways? Insurance protects you – and your property – from these kinds of issues and more.
Besides, a contractor who isn’t willing to protect their own business, or their customers, is probably not one you want to work with.
Before you hire, ask for a certificate of insurance. Beware of “cheap” quotes – they can come at a cost, and that can mean cutting corners where it counts.
Ask For A Site Plan
There’s more to snow removal than driving a plow through an empty parking lot. Depending on your property, you may have multiple lots, driveways, sidewalks, and steps.
There may be other aspects to your space, too, including fire hydrants, sewers, lamp posts, islands and other features. If your contractor does not have a site plan that defines these features and their locations, you can’t be assured they won’t be plowed over or through, damaged, knocked over or blocked.
Having a plan also means that there are defined spaces for piling snow, where it won’t create line-of-sight obstructions or property damage. Haphazardly dumping snow in delicate areas, covering up light sources or risking dangerous and damaging thaw-and-freeze conditions will only result in headaches for you.
Make Sure Deicing Materials Are Landscape-Safe
Not all deicing materials are created equal. Yes, you need to put safety first and foremost, and that sometimes results in dusty, grimy roadways. But it doesn’t have to result in damaged landscapes and hardscapes.
When it comes to deicing materials, you will almost certainly prefer one that does its job with less of an application. You’d likely also prefer one that lasts and does not need to be frequently reapplied. That ultimately means less dust and grime on your grounds, and a cleaner property.
You’d certainly appreciate a deicing material that is environmentally friendly, which means it won’t leave residue on your driveways, sidewalks and other hardscapes, won’t harm plants and grass, won’t split concrete or paved surfaces, won’t leech harmful chemicals into water features, and won’t corrode features like door thresholds, carpets or other flooring.
Before you choose a contractor, ask about deicing methods and look for a contractor who takes proactive measures to protect your landscape and grounds.
Consider The Advantages Of A Multi-Disciplined Contractor
Your snow removal contractor should be proficient in snow removal – educated, professional, prepared and effective. But imagine a contractor who was proficient in snow removal and proficient in landscaping.
They may not seem related, but once you consider that your landscaping is under all that snow, you can begin to see why having a contractor who understands both can be a significant advantage.
There is an art to landscape design, and an art to removing snow from it without causing damage. There is a knowledge of how to move and pile snow to create safe spaces while putting the least amount of stress on the environment as possible. There is an understanding of how to protect pavers, cement and other paved surfaces beyond simply parking lot blacktop.
As you can probably see by now, there is more to snow removal than initially meets the eye. These are just a few ways that your choice of a contractor can affect the condition of your grounds and landscaping, but there’s a lot more to think about before you make your decision.
If you’re a commercial property owner or manager and you’d like to know more, visit our snow removal website to download a free Contractor Selection Guide and get a free snow removal proposal. We’re experienced in both landscape artistry and snow removal, and our goal is to make sure your winter is completely stress-free.