Common winter contracts

The unpredictable nature of New England winters makes snow and ice management contracts an absolute must for commercial properties. A written contract, signed by both parties, ensures that both you and your contractor are aware of your obligations. It’s a clear definition and reflection of the relationship and partnership you have with your contractor.

With that in mind, let’s look at the two types of winter contracts that are typically offered to commercial clients by snow and ice management contractors, and what exactly can be expected for each one.

Seasonal lump sum contracts

Most companies offer these all-inclusive contracts for a flat monthly rate. All snow and ice management is covered up to a predetermined cap amount of snowfall. If you’re a property manager, you won’t have to worry about a thing. Just wait for your crew to show up and clean up!

You probably have some questions about the “predetermined cap” of snowfall. Does this mean that after this cap of snow is reached, there’s an extra charge? Is it an all-inclusive contract? How likely is it for this cap to be reached?

I’ll cut the legalese and tell you straight up what we mean. Let's say the lump sum contract was for up to 60 inches. If 60 inches of snowfall is reached during the season, there would be extra charges for any services after that initial 60 inches. This extra fee is charged at a rate agreed upon between the firm and the client.

These contracts might end up costing more certain years, but costs even out over an average span of three to five years. The most attractive benefit is that seasonal lump sum contracts are predictable — it’s easier to budget when you know how much you’re going to have to pay your contractor!

Incremental contracts

Not so sure if you want to go all-in on a seasonal lump sum contract? The second option is an incremental contract. At Landscape America, clients who opt for these contracts pay a certain amount of money depending on how much snow we get. If we get a lot of snow, you might end up paying more, but if we get little snow, you could save money.

Here’s how these contracts are set up. For general snow plowing, we define the prices by increment before you sign the contract. Think of the contract like a ladder, with each increase in snowfall as another rung on the ladder.

Typically, our contracts go by these increments:

  • 1 inch to 2.99 inches
  • 3 inches to 5.99 inches
  • 6 inches to 8.99 inches
  • 9 inches to 11.99 inches
  • After 12 inches is reached for the season, we charge by-the-inch for any additional snow

Each of these increments has its own price bracket. Additional services, like salting and deicing, are charged per application. Snow removal has its own by-the-hour pricing that is predetermined for each type of machine or truck needed for the site.

As you can probably tell by now, there are pros and cons to these contracts. Few, small snowfalls means a smaller price tag for snow removal. If you think a mild winter with little snowfall is on the horizon, opting for an incremental contract will save you money. However, weather isn’t predictable, and if you sign one of these contracts and the winter ends up being intense and snowy, you’ll pay a lot more than you may be expecting. Plus, without the guaranteed income of a lump sum contract, your contractor may not be able to properly plan for the expenses that certain snowfalls will warrant.

Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what to expect when looking for a snow and ice management contract. While our New England winters can be temperamental, you have a choice when it comes to how temperamental your contract fees will be. If you opt for an incremental contract, the final price could vary wildly. But if you opt for a lump sum contract, you’ll not only have a better idea of what you’ll be paying when all is said and done — you’ll have some peace of mind, too.

As always, if you’re looking for a snow and ice management provider, you can always ask us to learn more about our services. We’re here to help. And if you’d like to learn more about what to look for when you’re looking for a snow and ice management company to work with, check out our blog post with some helpful questions to ask!