Snow and Ice Management: Be Prepared

snow removal dc sterling
Contributed By: EEI Team Mary Follin
October 17, 2017

What crosses YOUR mind when you see snow in the forecast? Something about hot chocolate and bunny slippers?

Yeah, right.

For property managers, snowy days mean messy properties – and long hours on the phone. But winter weather isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s also dangerous. When the responsibility for keeping your tenants safe rests on your shoulders, you need a Snow and Ice Management team you can count on.

So, the first step in preparing for inclement weather is to line up a reputable service provider. While this seems obvious, qualified providers are often deluged with phone calls on snowy days when shoddy teams fail to show up. Managing snow services is a complex process that requires assessing the property, scheduling crews and equipment, and setting up a communications strategy. A well-executed plan is almost impossible to pull off without advance notice.

Securing the Right Snow Services for Your Property

So how do you choose the right Snow and Ice Management company for you? We suggest you consider these 5 key things:

  • Start early. Begin the process of lining up your Snow and Ice Management provider at the end of the snow season. Yes, that means spring. By the time fall rolls around, your contract should be completed, signed, and ready to execute. Challenge each company to describe their process and tell you why you should choose them. Ask for references and call them.
  • Take inventory. Make a list of fire hydrants, sewer inlets, loading docks, trash receptacles – anything that needs to be accessible for day-to-day operations. While your Snow and Ice Management provider should do this for you, you’re the one who knows what key areas keep your properties running smoothly.
  • Set up a plan. Know with certainty how your provider plans to tackle the work: what services are included, how jobs are prioritized, and what the timeline is. Your provider should be prepared to create a site map for you. What are the primary sidewalks? Secondary? Where will excess snow be stored? Which areas are most critical to access?
  • Be clear on liability issues. Make sure your provider is fully insured, and that safety controls are inherent in all Snow and Ice Management procedures. Ask them to tell you about it! Sometimes, providers who claim to have high safety standards can be a little vague about what that actually means.
  • Talk about communications. Ideally, your provider should contact you as soon as bad weather is forecasted to let you know they are preparing to mobilize. Set the expectation that you will be updated throughout the storm, and that your Snow and Ice Management team is not going to rest until the job is complete.

Keep in mind that the DC area experiences snowfall ranging from one inch to over two feet. During a blizzard, even a top-notch service provider will be unable to guarantee complete access at all times. But tenants understand this?as long as you keep them informed. Set up a communications system to keep your tenants in the loop.

Once you have considered these 5 key areas and secured a reputable Snow and Ice Management provider, you can rest easy. As soon as you see the first snowflake, put those bunny slippers on, make some hot chocolate, and have fun watching the snow fall.

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