While most people would love spending their snow days like this, business owners and property managers have more serious thoughts on their minds.
Everyone knows it’s a good idea to save money for a rainy day. Business owners should know it’s also wise to put some money aside for a snowy day.
What happens if a big snowfall hits and your customers spend a couple of hours digging their cars out of a snow drift? After all that work they might want to come to your store for an item to enjoy on a wintry day. If snow removal has not been scheduled, the customers might arrive at your store location to find the parking lot has not been plowed so neither employees or customers can get in. The result: the customer is angry and his money stays in his pocket instead of going into yours.
One large strip mall in Northern Virginia neglected to hire a snow removal company when a large, one-day snow storm hit. The store contained a large grocery store, a McDonald’s, a busy coffee shop and specialty stores. Because of a parking lot full of snow none of the stores were accessible to customers for two days.
Non-profits are not immune either. One church in Anne Arundel County had two large snow storms hit in consecutive months. The church service was cancelled both times and the offering plate was empty. Income to the church was down over 20% during those two months.
What do you look for in a snow removal company?
- Don’t shop on price alone. Anyone can put up a price on the internet. Look for a company that has been in business for a while and has a reputation for dependability. Often a company does landscaping and hardscaping in the summer months and snow removal in the winter. These companies frequently have well-maintained vehicles and dependable workers who are used to operating in adverse conditions. Research them. Don’t settle for your brother-in-law’s pickup armed with a blade that has been rusting in the back yard for three years.
- Agree with the company ahead of time on procedures. Does the snow removal company automatically show up after 3 inches of snow has fallen? Do you call first? What happens if there is a second snowfall the same day? Is the snow removal company responsible for that as well? Discounts? Be sure and get it all in writing; that’s best for you and for the snow removers.
- Insurance. Snow removal can be tricky with partially buried cars and a yard gnome or two obscured by snow. The snow removers have large snow blades and powerful trucks. They can accidentally inflict damage on your property.
- What to do with the snow? Designate a place in the parking lot to put the snow or better yet behind your building. You might need those parking places! Obviously, you don’t want to dump snow out into the street where the snowplow might pile up the snow around the entrances to your parking lot and make it difficult for your customers to get to your business.
- Don’t overlook the obvious. Will the company plow your sidewalks as well? How about the mounds of snow or ice that collects on an overhead awning? You don’t want that falling on a customer entering your business.
- Make sure to comply with city ordinances. Most cities require snow to be removed within 24 hours, others require it to be taken away in 12 hours. Check with your local government to be sure.
Be sure to budget for potential snowfalls so that they will not disrupt your business. Pick a reputable company to work with. Your customers and suppliers are resourceful, but try to make it easy for them to visit your business.