Winter is always a wild card here in the Mid-Atlantic.
Sometimes it crashes in with multiple storms and treacherous ice slicks
Other times, you wonder why you bothered spending so much time searching for your boots. (Next time, maybe don’t store them in the garage behind the beach umbrella.)
It makes it tricky to prepare your property for commercial snow and ice management, right?
You have to be ready, no matter what nature throws at you.
What should you do to prepare? How do you choose the best commercial snow removal company? What kind of contract is best for your situation? And seriously, where are your boots?
Check out this guide to managing snow and ice on your commercial property — before the flakes start to fall.
Table of Contents
- Why Proper Snow and Ice Management is Important
- Constant Communication When You Need It
- What’s Involved in Snow and Ice Removal?
- Different Types of Snow Removal Contracts
- Liability Concerns with Snow Removal Services
- Environmental Impacts of Snow Removal
- The Importance of Snow Removal Safety
- Choosing the Best Snow & Ice Management Company in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia
Why Proper Snow and Ice Management is Important
When you advertise all the great amenities at your mixed-use development, HOA, or apartment community, chances are they don’t include an ice rink.
But without proper snow and ice management, you’ll have one.
Same with your data center, your shopping center, or your warehouse.
You don’t want to set up an ice skate rental in your parking lot.
But there are plenty of other reasons you need commercial snow and ice removal, too:
If your property isn’t safely prepared for a winter storm, you could be liable for any accidents or injuries on your property, including to employees, customers, and visitors. (More on this in a bit.)
You Want Signed Leases
Nobody wants to move into a place where snow piles up by the door and the parking lot is treacherous.
The real estate market is competitive enough around here. Don’t give potential tenants a reason to pass your place by for that one across town.
Good commercial snow removal in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia can make all the difference.
You Want to Keep Your Employees Happy
If your parking lots and walkways are slick with snow and ice, that adds up to hazardous working conditions. Nobody wants to risk their safety just making the trek to work. It’s hard enough getting up at 6 a.m.
Less Stress and Worry for You
When you trust a skilled and reputable commercial snow and ice management company with your commercial snow removal, that’s one less big worry on your mind.
That leaves more time to focus on your business. And, if you feel like it, grab your skates and head to an actual ice rink.
Customer Service Matters
If customers can’t see your signage, access a parking space, or safely make their way to your door, they won’t show up. You can’t blame them. Their couch is pretty cozy.
Constant Communication When You Need It
Snow piling up on your property and ice coating surfaces causes a lot of anxiety.
Good communication eases it.
Five days before a predicted weather event, we send customers an email about the impending weather. It’s your first heads up.
Then, 48 hours before, we call or email commercial snow removal customers with an update. Another call goes out 24 hours ahead, to let you know our latest plan of attack for your property.
Meanwhile, we keep an eagle eye on the weather, so we can keep you informed.
We have our own meteorologist we can call for the latest weather updates. Team members also monitor several online weather resources, using the same models and data meteorologists use.
We’re constantly monitoring the forecasts and the ground temperature, alerting our crews and updating our battle plan. Then we communicate that to you.
You’ll stay updated throughout the storm with phone calls from your account manager and photos crews take photos of their progress on your property.
The next day when the sun is shining, you’ll still hear from us.
If the temperature drops down to the 20s or low 30s at night, all those leftover puddles freeze.
Treating that new ice is essential to keep people from slipping. We’ll keep you posted on that, too.
And because we tell you, you have all the information you need to tell your tenants, customers, delivery people, employees and anyone else who needs communication updates.
What’s Involved in Snow and Ice Removal?
It’s a great feeling to look out the window and see your commercial snow removal service hard at work, clearing snow and melting ice.
Phew, right? Your property is safe.
But there’s so much you don’t see — behind-the-scenes details that happen year-round to ensure you get expert, timely commercial snow and ice removal once the snow flies.
Here’s a peek at just a few examples:
We use the latest technological advancements to monitor the weather, plan our attack and track snow crews so our customers have the best and safest commercial snow removal in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia.
We don’t wait until the first snowfall to show up at your property. Pre-season customer site visits are a crucial part of snow season preparation.
Where will we pile the snow? What are your priority areas? Where are the manhole covers that could catch the edge of a snow plow blade? Where are all the drains that need to stay clear?
Now’s the time to make note of your property’s details.
These important visits help us create helpful site maps, overhead maps of your property that show us exactly where to plow, shovel, de-ice and pile the snow.
Your property has unique needs, so you’ll get your own custom snow and ice management plan that includes snow binders for each truck that include all the important details about your site.
There’s a lot to safe and effective commercial snow removal. So, Level Green managers and crew members get comprehensive training on everything from how to operate all snow removal equipment safely to liability concerns to how to mix brine. (More on training and its impact on commercial snow removal safety in a bit.)
There’s a lot to get ready. So equipment preparation starts in our shop in the summer.
Mechanics start working on commercial snow removal equipment, checking countless details, from inspecting the rubber on pusher boxes for wear and tear to lubricating salt spreaders.
While Level Green owns a whole fleet of snow and ice management equipment, we rent a lot, too, to ensure we have everything to meet our customers’ snow and ice removal services needs. We arrange that rental well ahead of time, before the other guys snap everything up.
Planning for Snow in Summer
While you’re wiggling your toes in the sand and flipping burgers on the grill, we’re already thinking snow, attending industry education conferences; hiring reliable subcontractors to work with us for the upcoming season; talking to vendors about new equipment; and brainstorming ways to improve our snow and ice management services.
Sure, watching big snow plows at work is fun. (It brings out your inner 5-year-old, right?)
But it’s the year-round planning and attention to detail that makes sure your snow and ice management service is on top of all your commercial snow removal needs.
Different Types of Snow Removal Contracts
Bottom line: you need your commercial property clear of snow and ice.
But there are a few different ways to get there.
Let’s assume you in furry boots with a big shovel isn’t an option.
How to pay for snow and ice management services in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia?
Choose your contract:
Time and Materials
Sure, it’s simple, and everybody appreciates simple.
No snow? No cost. Yay!
Tons of snow? Big cost. Big headache.
If you’re a property manager here in the Mid-Atlantic, you’re probably used to this pretty basic snow and ice management situation.
But it’s pretty nerve-wracking, right? How much will you actually pay? You don’t know the exact cost of your commercial snow removal until the end of each snow event.
Your cost depends on how long it took crews to clear your property and how much ice melt product was actually used.
It’s pretty tough on your budget, especially if a huge storm blasts in that buries your property under 30 inches of snow. Yikes.
Time and Materials with Readiness Fee
When it comes to commercial snow removal, readiness sounds good, right?
But what exactly does a “readiness fee” mean when it comes to your contract?
It means you pay a bit of your commercial snow removal cost up front, to help cover the many costs Level Green has to get ready for the snow season, from equipment maintenance to crew training to buying ice melt materials.
We estimate your total cost for the season, based on past years, and you pay a small amount of that up front, by December 1st.
In return, we reduce your hourly and materials costs for the season by a significant percent.
Seasonal Snow Contract
Customers with a seasonal snow and ice management contract pay a set amount for snow and ice services for the season — no matter how much snow falls or how many visits to your property are needed.
No nail biting.
Your cost is set based on snowfall amount averages taken over past years.
If you sign a five-year contract, those low snow years and high snow years will even out over the span of the contract.
Then, you and your budget can rest easy. You’ll always know exactly how much to budget for snow and ice management services.
Bonus: a five-year contract also protects you from rising prices each year. Inflation is another big budget buster, especially lately.
Meanwhile, your snow and ice management company can effectively plan, too, because they have the money up front to make sure they have the equipment, materials and trained crews to take care of your property.
There’s a lot of overhead costs for your commercial snow removal company — even when it doesn’t snow.
A seasonal contract is less stressful and fairer for everybody.
Big bonus: You’ll know exactly what your commercial snow removal budget is from the minute you sign your contract.
Pay a set price, then relax — snow and ice management crews will be there as often as it takes to keep your property safe.
Liability Concerns with Snow Removal Services
Slick snow and ice can quickly turn your commercial property into a skating rink — except nobody’s wearing knee and elbow pads and there’s no railing to grab onto.
Slip-and-fall accidents are one of the most common injuries and liability issues on commercial sites, and a huge worry for property managers and owners.
Snow can pile up fast, quickly drifting over parking lots.
When an ice storm hits, sidewalks and parking lots quickly glaze up in a treacherous slick. That means potential slips, falls, traffic accidents and property damage.
A reputable commercial snow and ice management company can help you limit liability by keeping your property’s parking lots, sidewalks and walkways safe.
At Level Green, we have strategic snow and ice removal services to prevent ice before it forms and melt it when it starts to accumulate.
Crews continue to check for ice after a storm, contacting our commercial snow removal customers to see if they want us to continue to police their site for ice.
Liability issues aren’t just underfoot. When frail or damaged tree branches are coated with heavy snow or ice, they can crash to the ground, posing a safety hazard on your property.
Level Green crews can prune and thin your commercial property’s tree branches before winter, so remaining branches are sturdy enough to hold up to winter weather.
If you have trees that pose a risk factor, we let you know throughout the year, so we can help prevent liability issues.
Communication is key.
Level Green managers stay in touch with property managers to see if they have extra snow and ice management needs as the snow moves in.
We know commercial property managers or owners are often based out of town and can’t be on site during snowstorms.
That’s why our account managers are on site, checking commercial snow removal crews’ progress, making sure everything is clear and safe. Then, we‘re in touch with you about the details. Extra peace of mind.
You’re never caught off guard.
Environmental Impacts of Snow Removal
You might remember your dad tossing handfuls of rock salt on the driveway and front porch in the morning as his robe whipped around in the frigid winter wind.
Rock salt has long been the standard solution for melting ice, but there are newer formulations today that do a better job with less harm to the environment.
At Level Green, we limit our use of straight rock salt by using other methods, too, including an engineered ice melt mixture that’s less corrosive than straight salt and friendlier to the environment.
Brine is another way to limit the environmental impact of commercial snow and ice management.
Brine uses one quarter of the amount of salt as traditional rock salt, which means it’s better for the environment.
Snow and ice removal services crews can treat a larger area with less salt per square foot.
Why is this so important? Salt, while it’s great on hot fries and around the rim of your margarita glass, makes its way into area lakes and streams, where it can kill
the creatures who live there.
The environmental impact of salt used in snow and ice removal services is a big concern.
Too much salt and other products can damage lawns and plants, too.
Too much of these products will burn the lawn, leaving ugly brown patches of dead grass.
Level Green crews work to keep these materials on hard surfaces so the chemicals don’t damage your turf and plants during your commercial snow and ice removal.
Math plays a part here, too. Crews measure all your sidewalks and hard surfaces then calculate the exact amount of ice melt products needed — then they only use that amount.
No offense to your dad, who tossed handfuls of rock salt out into the yard like a farmer feeding seed to a flock of hungry chickens.
But careful use of snow melt products is crucial to help the environment. Make sure you partner with a snow and ice management company in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia with a track record of caring for the earth -- and a company that’s ready for increased salt use regulations.
The Maryland Department of the Environment has been increasing its efforts on best practices for salt application, including working more closely with municipalities to reduce salt use.
Efforts include issuing stormwater permits to large municipalities that call for reducing winter de-icing materials used. Efforts are underway that involve private property and facility managers, too. The department is developing a curriculum for online and in-person training for these salt users.
All this means rock salt usage will be regulated by governments in the near future. It’s important to partner with a commercial snow removal service that understands this is coming and is prepared to deal with the changes.
The Importance of Snow Removal Safety
You want a commercial snow removal crew that works safely and efficiently to clear your property. That doesn’t just happen automatically.
The Level Green team puts safety first, offering extensive snow and ice management safety training on multiple levels.
A full day of snow removal training happens each year, as crews rotate through training stations learning about walkway clearing, plow safety, and other winter skills.
Managers and crew members each have snow-specific training, on issues from liability to safe equipment operation to mixing brine.
Snow and ice management safety training goes beyond equipment operation to topics like keeping warm on the job to avoid frostbite.
Drivers are trained in safety protocol provided by the Snow and Ice Management Association.
Snow crews are also trained extensively in the precise Level Green protocol for clocking in and clocking out, to ensure accurate billing for our commercial snow removal service customers.
Level Green subcontractors are included, too, meeting with us to train and prepare for the season.
You play an important part, too, by inspecting your property for potholes, cracked sidewalks and clogged storm drains before the snow flies, to keep everybody who visits your property safe.
Any damage to curbs, concrete, or asphalt can pose a danger once it’s hidden under the snow.
It all adds up to commercial snow removal crews who operate safely and efficiently on commercial properties, with the skill and expertise to keep your property safe.
Choosing the Best Snow & Ice Management Company in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia
First tip: don’t put this off.
Sure, it’s more fun to plan your annual snowman building contest, but you need to lock down your snow and ice management company waaay before the first flake flies. A lot of planning goes into expert commercial snow removal.
Other tips for choosing the best commercial snow and ice management in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia:
How Prepared Are They?
You want snow and ice removal services that prepare year-round.
While you’re on the golf course (or finally cleaning out the garage) the Level Green team is already reserving extra snow removal equipment, training crews, and working on the snow map for your commercial property. That means everything is in place well before you’re looking for your ice scraper.
The Super-Important Property Walk
A pre-season walk through with your commercial snow removal company — before the snow falls — is crucial.
This inspection helps us prepare comprehensive overhead site maps of your property so our crews tackle your commercial snow removal efficiently.
Do They Measure Your Property Exactly?
At Level Green, we measure each area of your property so we know exactly what it’ll take to do the job.
We quantify everything.
How much asphalt do you have? How many sidewalks?
Precise formulas help us determine exactly how long it will take to complete each commercial snow removal job, exactly what equipment is needed, and how many crew members should be on board.
What Are Your Contract Options?
Remember, the typical time and materials contract most
DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia snow and ice management companies offer doesn’t do much to keep you from popping antacids. It’s pretty stressful on your budget, because you don’t know your exact cost until the end of each snow event.
Does the company offer a better way to pay for snow and ice management services?
Ask if they offer a seasonal snow and ice management contract, where you pay a set amount for snow and ice services for the season — no matter how much snow falls or how many visits they make to your property.
Then, relax. You always know exactly how much to budget for snow and ice management services.
You Might Already Have the Best Snow Removal Company
When one company handles all your commercial property’s landscaping needs, from turf care to fall clean-up to snow and ice removal, it’s easier on you.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have one place to call, whether your grass looks stressed or you need extra fall cleanup, or a big snowstorm is rolling in?
At Level Green, we love maintaining your commercial property’s landscaping during the spring, summer and fall. It just makes sense to trust your property to us during the winter months, too.
Our goal: protect everybody who spends time on your commercial property, and minimize your risk of liability due to slips, falls, traffic accidents, and property damage.
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers.
Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.
We’d love to hear from you.