Winter can bring a wide range of weather conditions here in the Greater Chicago area.
Sometimes it’s calm and quiet, and you barely experience a dusting of snow or even a bit of a cold wind.
And, other times, Old Man Winter delivers non-stop snowstorms and cold temperatures that keep the piles rising high and the ice thick.
This makes maintaining commercial grounds on any type of facility – educational facility, office park, industrial site, homeowner’s association, warehouse, or healthcare facility – challenging during those cold weather months.
But you have to be ready – no matter what kind of weather comes your way.
You might be asking yourself what you should do to prepare your property for impending snow and ice, how you should choose the best commercial snow and ice management company, what kind of contract is best for your property, and when you should take care of all of this to ensure you’re ready for the earliest storm.
In this guide, let’s review the reasons why hiring a professional commercial snow and ice company can make sense for your business and what steps you should follow to find the right business partnership and the right contract that can save you time and money, improve your liability concerns, maintain a neat and tidy site, elevate your business’s reputation and professionalism, and exceed your facility’s needs.
Table of Contents
- The Importance of Snow Removal for Commercial Properties in Chicagoland
- Understanding Chicagoland's Winter Weather Patterns
- The Basics of Snow Removal for Commercial Properties
- Designing a Safe and Effective Snow and Ice Management Plan
- Cost-Effective Snow Removal Strategies
- Hiring Professional Snow Removal Services in Chicagoland
The Importance of Snow Removal for Commercial Properties in Chicagoland
Without adequate commercial snow and ice management in Chicagoland, you can risk quite a bit on your property.
Your entryways can become blocked and impassible. Your parking lots can become ice rinks, while stairs, walkways, and entryways become slip-and-fall hazards.
In fact, there are a number of reasons you need professional commercial snow removal services.
You Want To Reduce Liability Concerns
No one wants liability issues from visitors slipping and falling on ice. And no one wants damaged buildings and vehicles as a result of heavy snow causing tree branches to break and fall.
By hiring a commercial snow and ice management professional, you don’t risk having to micromanage your liability problems during a busy and stressful winter. Your commercial professional watches the weather for you and is ready to tackle your snow and ice accumulation to keep your site ready to receive visitors without risk of injury or damage.
Plus, a professional company with educated personnel will have the proper equipment and training necessary to do the job while ensuring the safety of everyone moving in and out of your site on a daily basis.
If you operate or manage a large commercial site in Greater Chicago, for instance, then you likely need larger equipment to handle massive amounts of snow and ice. This means skid-steers, loaders, and even sidewalk snow removal units. You also need larger amounts of salt, calcium, and deicing agents.
As you seek out snow removal services in Chicagoland, you want to find a company that has enough equipment and resources to be able to service a property of your scope and size. They also must have the experience and knowledge necessary to use that type of equipment.
You Want Signed Leases At Your Multi-Family Property or HOA
People don’t want to live in areas where they can’t get in and out and are always worried about snow.
You don’t want to give potential tenants reasons to pass your place by for a better one.
Efficient and experienced commercial property snow removal can ensure you recruit and retain tenants.
You Want to Keep Employees Happy At Your Office Park
You want employees to get to work on time and be productive throughout the day.
If your parking lots are slick with snow and ice, this can create hazardous work conditions. Nobody working at an office park wants to risk their safety every day just getting to work; it’s hard enough to get to work on top and focus on the job at hand and the long list of deadlines.
Securing a solid commercial snow removal contract ensures your employees can reduce their worries about the weather and focus on work.
You Want To Boost Your Customer Service
When you manage a retail facility, it’s not OK when potential or repeat customers can’t see your signage, get into a parking space, or safely enter and exit your stores.
They have a lot of options, so this can make them choose a different retail center at which to spend their money. That doesn’t help your business thrive at all.
Hiring professional snow removal services in Chicagoland can ensure they choose your facility over others, driving repeat business.
You Want Less Stress As a Property Manager
Do you like waking up at 3 a.m. to ensure snow removal is getting done on your commercial site? Do you like skipping your favorite television program in exchange for constantly screening all the weather channels?
When you trust a skilled and reputable commercial snow and ice management company with your winter services, that can reduce these headaches for you and give you a chance to focus on your other major to-dos.
You Want Your Facility To Be Considered a Priority
Since commercial property snow removal is technically an emergency service, similar to police, fire, and emergency medical professionals, snow and ice clearance must happen with a sense of urgency because it eliminates safety issues and concerns.
A commercial landscaping and snow removal company can do this work effectively and efficiently because they prioritize their year-long clients, so they never take on too much work that would risk yours not getting done in a timely fashion.
This helps limit your business delays and any unsafe conditions that can result if snow and ice clearing doesn’t happen fast.
Understanding Chicagoland's Winter Weather Patterns
As a Chicagoland project manager, you know Chicago is infamous for having one of the harshest winters in the country.
In fact, according to Northwestern University, Chicago gets an average of 28.1 inches of snowfall and has an average temperature of 26.4 degrees Fahrenheit each year. But the wind that comes across Lake Michigan can make it feel even colder. But, in general, seasonal snowfall in Chicago ranges from 9.8 inches to 89.7 inches.
Cold, snowy winters are pretty typical for Chicago. But the city typically sees less snow in winter than other major Great Lakes cities like Buffalo, but more snow than major cities in the East Coast like New York City. Chicagoland can see more snow because of lake-effect snow that falls in its nearby communities.
Climate change, though, may be altering winters in Chicago.
Warmer winters, for instance, are a lot wetter. This means more precipitation and even heavier precipitation.
Climate change can also cause winters where a large area of low-pressure and cold air circulates, which is called a polar vortex. In 2019, this created the coldest temperatures Chicago has seen in 34 years, which amounted to a temperature of negative 21 degrees Fahrenheit and wind chills of negative 51 degrees Fahrenheit.
Different types of winters can have different impacts as well. An El Nino winter, for instance, can bring about a mild or heavy winter.
Even though strong El Nino years are supposed to bring about mild winters, some of them have shown more inches of snow despite temperatures that were approximately 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer. So the results can range from a milder, drier winter to a moderate winter with more snowfall and cooler temperatures.
This is why snow and ice management in Chicagoland is so important. The unpredictability can keep your head spinning as a property manager, and you can’t always plan for what kind of winter you’re going to get.
The Basics of Snow Removal for Commercial Properties
Winters in Greater Chicago can certainly bring a wide variety of conditions. One day, you’ll get a dusting of snow, and the next you get multiple inches of snow with a thick sheet of ice to boot.
As such, managing the ice buildup and snowfall on your commercial grounds is a big priority on your property management to-do list.
Knowing these snow removal contract basics can help you better tackle this task.
First, You Need a Plan
Life moves fast. So, it can be natural that you get to winter in Greater Chicago before you even know it.
But if you haven’t come up with a plan to handle commercial snow and ice management on your site, that could be a huge snow plowing mistake. What if a massive snowstorm arrives before the official start of winter? And once you’re ready to make a decision, what if you can’t get the provider you want?
On top of that, making a hasty, quick decision could cost you more or limit the number of services you can get.
One of the worst feelings as a property manager is to be surprised by an unexpected snow storm that will leave you stressed out and scrambling to keep your business operational.
Focus on Experience
Hiring a commercial snow removal service company with educated personnel who know snow and ice management best practices can make a big difference in how your winter progresses.
Every snow and ice storm is different, and your professional will use various techniques and tactics to ensure the job is done efficiently.
For instance, maintaining regular employee training helps companies like KD Landscape maintain quality control and customer service levels. Our training includes regular meetings where we review best practices, weather updates and weather predictions, as well as important safety reminders.
We also send account managers and field supervisors into the field each day to check on snow removal crews and point out snow and ice removal techniques for improving efficiency and effectiveness.
Understand Scope of Service
In Chicagoland, a commercial snow removal contract typically runs from December 1st through March 31st every year.
Once you have a signed contract in place, your service provider should be able to accommodate you during storms that fall outside of this window because it’s part of the season and part of creating a long-lasting partnership with you.
In addition to timing, there are two types of snow removal contracts you’ll usually find: a per-occurrence contract or a seasonal contract.
A per-occurrence contract means you pay each time we plow or salt the property. The contract can also deem how high that snow needs to be for plowing to happen. Typically, this is set at 2 inches or above, but if you are particularly worried about the safety hazards that snow and ice can cause, you can discuss 1-inch snow heights with your provider.
An all-inclusive or seasonal contract means you pay a monthly rate for four months and you are covered no matter how many snow and ice events occur.
Then there are times during harsh winters when snow piles get especially high. For such instances, your commercial snow removal contract should include a stipulation that dictates an hourly rate for these above-and-beyond services.
The reason these services are excessive and cost extra is because your service provider will need to bring in extra equipment, such as skid-steer loaders or a front end loader, and a dump truck, to actually get that heavy snow off of your property.
Your contract may also list an hourly rate for hand-chipping ice on your property; this would be necessary if the ice gets so thick that it can’t be melted using other methods.
Some companies will even offer combinations of the two contract types to fit your specific property needs and budget. For example, you might need an all-inclusive contract for snow removal but would prefer to use salt only after each plow versus during other times. You can customize a contract to fit your needs.
Ask About Capacity
Since commercial property snow removal is considered an emergency service, it needs to be performed with a sense of urgency and always considering safety of not only the team members performing the work, but also everyone on your property.
This is because snow and ice has a tendency to cause liability issues if not taken care of correctly.
To do this work properly, the snow and ice removal company you hire must not take on too much work or else they won’t be able to take care of your snow and ice management in a timely fashion. This can result in business delays and unsafe business conditions.
Confirm Availability of Specialized Equipment and Resources
When you manage a larger commercial property in Greater Chicago, you probably need larger equipment like skid-steers, loaders, and sidewalk snow removal units to handle snow and ice. You’ll also need quite a bit of salt and other deicing products.
For that reason, you need to detail a snow removal contract with a company that has enough equipment and resources to service a property of your scope and size and the skills to operate said equipment.
They also must have backup equipment and mechanics in order to service that equipment in the case of emergency snow storms or equipment breakdowns so they can keep your property open.
If your site is big enough, you may even include provisions in your contract to keep some larger equipment on site to streamline snow and ice management. In your contract, this might be called a monthly “ready fee” that ensures equipment is ready to use when needed.
Prioritize Responsiveness and Communication
When you’re a property manager juggling multiple areas of your commercial facility, you want to know you can count on your service partners to get work done.
Keeping you in the loop can ensure fewer worries and give you confidence that you know what’s going on and that snow and ice is being handled.
Your property has many moving pieces and parts, as well as many people who move about all throughout the day. You need a commercial property snow removal professional who knows how to work with and respond to inquiries from people on your site, as well as keep in touch with you about this feedback and any suggested next steps and budget impacts.
Additionally, having the same crew members working on your site can help them learn about your property specifics and build great working relationships, ensuring they remember your main concerns.
Communication is important when it comes to commercial snow and ice management. You don't want to wonder if and when something was done. That’s why you’re hiring a professional.
Communication also includes watching the weather. Weather reports for upcoming storms allow your commercial snow removal contractor to plan for the predicted weather and communicate the proactive plan to employees and customers.
Designing a Safe and Effective Snow and Ice Management Plan
Safety is essential for everyone when it comes to commercial snow and ice management.
Consider these safety tips when coming up with your ideal commercial winter maintenance plan.
Don’t Assign Interior Maintenance Employees to Snow and Ice Management
As a property manager, you need to keep your facility operating smoothly all the time – winter included. And using your current inside maintenance crew to handle snow and ice removal may be a solution you’re considering.
This means they must shift their focus from their regular duties to snow and ice management any time the weather shifts. This can negatively impact your entire facility because it can mean both the inside and the outside of your business don’t get enough attention to get the job done.
This is also risky for your employees since snow and ice clearing is considered an emergency service. Those performing the work must be on top of their game and familiar with how to dress when exposed to long periods of cold temperatures to do the job right.
And when things pile up, you notice things aren’t getting done when they should, and everything falls apart. This is why commercial property snow removal is usually best performed by professionals focused on the task.
Don’t Neglect Customer and Visitor Comfort to Save Money
How many employees would complain if you kept your office heat turned low during the winter month? Probably quite a few. How many customers would show up to your shopping center if you didn’t plow the snow or melt the ice in the parking lots or on the walkways quickly?
This elevates not only safety for people on your property but also comfort. This focus on the details can have a huge impact on how people feel when they are on your site, and it can also keep them coming back.
Many times, you may do this in order to save budget dollars. But when you have to manage your own snow and ice removal – not to mention equipment and supply costs and maintenance – you can end up paying more than necessary. Hiring a commercial property snow removal expert can help you manage all these associated costs and keep prices in line.
Don’t Ignore Proper Timing or Weather Forecasts
When snow storms come through, timing is incredibly important. Everything from when to apply salt, when to arrive for snow removal, and how to manage both forms of precipitation before and after they arrive is crucial.
You have to understand snowfall and at what temperatures ice forms and how salt works to truly perfect this timing.
You must also pay attention to multiple, trustworthy weather forecasts to know what kind of precipitation and which forms are coming.
And if you hire a commercial snow and ice management company to tend to these services on your site, you need to be able to know they are ahead of the weather.
Don’t Forget About Proper Communication
Poor communication can ruin everything where commercial property snow removal is concerned.
Because your property has many moving pieces and parts, as well as many people who care about access and movement on the site, you want to hire a commercial snow removal professional who will let you know what’s coming, share feedback, and offer any suggested next steps and budget impacts.
You don't want to guess about what was done or not be able to reach someone when a snowstorm hits.
Cost-Effective Snow Removal Strategies
Commercial property snow removal, like other landscape services, costs money. But sticking to your budget during wild winters in Chicago can be a challenge.
Let’s review some key ways to save money on commercial property snow removal so you can make a smart decision as a facility manager and ensure easy access to your property when you need it most.
Understand Your Property’s Needs
You should consider the specific snow removal services you need on your property during Greater Chicago’s coldest months. Having a great understanding of what your site needs can help dictate your costs, and then you can work from there to figure out how to trim your price, if necessary.
To keep costs in line, you must have a plan and be specific about your property’s needs and priorities. Does the whole property need to be serviced every single snow and ice event? Are there areas of the property that do not see much traffic on certain days that do not need to be serviced every single snow event?
Build a Solid Relationship With your Commercial Property Snow Removal Company
Since there is always a guess when it comes to weather predictions for the winter season in Chicagoland, forming a relationship with your professional service provider is essential in figuring out your commercial snow removal services requirements.
To do this, be open with your provider about your service expectations and needs.
Then, your service provider should be asking you questions to learn your facility’s traffic flow patterns and get an understanding of your busier areas to understand what snow and ice service package would best meet your needs. The right contractor will make sure they are always adding value for you.
This quality, communicative relationship creates a partnership where there is a lot more room for discussion on how to budget more creatively.
Consider Storing Equipment and Materials On Site
Snow and ice is heavy and thick, so the right equipment is necessary to get the job done quickly and efficiently. And getting this equipment to your site takes a sturdy trailer and some time.
If you have a large commercial site, a way to save money on commercial property snow removal is to allow your service professional to store some snow and ice removal essentials on your property. A large loader or bin of salt can make service more efficient and lower your price tag a bit.
Sign a Multi-Year Contract
Commercial property snow removal equipment and material prices vary from year to year. This can have a huge impact on the cost of a snow removal contract.
This is especially true if you’re only signing a one-year contract, as prices can increase a lot from one year to the next.
But if you sign a multi-year contract, the only increase you have to encounter will be specified in the contract details and is typically never more than 2 percent (unless there are huge fluctuations in salt or material costs).
Manage Above-and-Beyond Needs
Some winters can be especially snowy or bring excess ice. This is when snow piles get too high to handle with no melting in sight or when ice is so thick, it seems like it will never melt.
If your snow piles get too high, you may actually need the snow removed from your property for safety purposes or to keep your facility traffic moving.
Your service provider can include an hourly rate for above-and-beyond commercial snow and ice management services. These services cost extra because your contractor will need to bring in extra equipment, such as a skid-steer loader or a front-end loader, as well as a dump truck, to actually remove that heavy snow off of your property.
For ice, they’d need to hand-chip thick buildup to get it off your property. Hand shoveling sidewalks can also be an above-and-beyond need that you can opt out of if you know it's unnecessary.
While these types of extras are rare, knowing your costs up front, in case a bad winter storm hits, is a way to stay updated on costs and not get a surprise bill.
Hiring Professional Snow Removal Services in Chicagoland
You may find yourself looking at several bids on the table when it comes to creating your commercial snow and ice management contract, detailing maintenance plans for your commercial facility during winter.
At the end of the day, you want to hire a landscape firm that becomes an extension of your property management team during this stressful time of the year.
Let’s look at some things you should pay special attention to when planning your commercial snow removal contract.
Details Are Important
Make sure your landscape professional knows what’s most important to you and your commercial facility during this exploration process as you factor your snow removal contract costs.
You Need Experience & Communication
The professional landscape crew members who perform commercial snow and ice management on your commercial facility are the most essential parts of keeping your site clear and accessible. You want to know you are getting experienced professionals. Keeping in touch with you is also crucial to understanding your changing challenges and needs.
You Need The Right Commercial Property Snow Removal Partner
The last thing you want to do is research many businesses and then be dissatisfied with your decision or the results. You don’t want to waste time or budget dollars choosing the wrong landscape service provider and then have to go through the process all over again or suffer a nasty winter storm without the help.
As you compare snow removal services in Chicagoland, we hope you’ll consider KD Landscape in your search. We provide our clients with year-round service instead of two contractors for landscaping and snow removal needs. Our goal is to make your job as a property manager easier. Let us help you do that in winter … and all year long.
Doing your research on which landscape company in Greater Chicago is a good fit for your commercial property is important. Having trouble with this process? We’d love to help you and learn more about your facility. Get started today with a free quote. We’ll review your options together so you can feel confident and make a great choice.