Essential Elements to a Great Snow Services Contract
As the winter approaches and customers begin requesting quotes for snow plowing, keep in mind that one of the best ways to protect your business and ensure you are paid for your work is to have a great written contract. But it shouldn’t be the same contract you use for landscaping, lawn, or other services. So here are some essential elements that your snow contract should have.
Who is the contract between. Usually it is just your business and the property owner, but things may get confusing when homeowner associations, management companies, and other interested parties become involved. Make sure the contract is clear on what the roles of all the parties are.
Scope of Services.
What services are included in the contract? Be specific so there is no confusion. If the contract does not include any ice-prevention work, make sure that is explicit. List all of the services that are included such as plowing, snow blowing, and shoveling. What about snow removal and haul out? If it isn’t included in the contract price, make sure that is clear as well.
When will the services take place? Clear start and end dates for the contract should be included. Additionally, what is the trigger for the work? Is it 1 inch of accumulation or 1.5 inches, or even 2 inches? That part is easy enough to decide, but where it gets tricky is defining how that depth is determined. Property owners may find a depth of 1.5 inches on one part of their property and get upset when you don’t provide services. Define how the depth measurement will be determined and who will make the determination as to whether services will be provided. Finally, how long after cessation of snowfall will your company arrive to perform the services? Everyone wants their work done first and right away, but you will need to protect your company by giving yourself a generous window of time to respond after snowfalls.
A great contract will clearly explain the costs involved. Is it a per month contract, a per push contract, or are you charging hourly rates? Regardless of how you are charging, the amounts should be clear to all parties involved. Also, address when the payments are due, including how much of a down payment is required. What forms of payment does your company accept, and are there any additional fees associated with different forms of payment? If the customer is behind in paying for the work, you should give your company the right to stop performing service under the contract until the account is paid in full.
What are the costs for extra services not included as a part of regular services? Clearly outline what the charges may be for services such as slush plowing, salting, snow removal, so there are not unpleasant surprises for the customer. The contract should also address who has the authority to order additional work. This is especially important with commercial accounts and association management companies.
Give your company the ability to subcontract work according to your needs. Even if you don’t plan to use subcontractors, this is a good topic to cover so that you can call in some extra help during a big snow event.
While there are certainly many other important elements of a snow contract, these are some of the most important things to address. Make sure your contracts have these elements and that they are clearly written to avoid confusion between the parties.