Nationwide Snow and Ice Management
Businesses and facilities managers who live in climates with temperamental weather conditions know all too well the challenges that come with snow and ice management. From dealing with clean-up expenses to worrying about customer safety, these dangers become increasingly more dangerous as winter storms become harsher each year. Commercial snow and ice management are among the most important exterior property maintenance services for buildings in the colder parts of the nation with some areas experiencing winters that last for half the year. Fortunately, good snow and ice management programs that are vital for commercial properties with a nationwide footprint exist to provide a turnkey solution for your business to ensure even your most challenging locations are receiving the proper services during the winter months – keeping staff members safe and your costs low. In this post, we’ll explore what types of services can be offered through a full-service snow and ice management company like Powerhouse, the benefits of a centralized approach to snow and ice management, what to look for, and some basic guidelines so that you can make an informed decision for your business when it comes to choosing the right program and provider for your snow and ice management.
Understanding the Basics of Snow and Ice Management
Effective snow and ice management are vital for the safety and comfort of commercial properties during the winter season. It is essential to understand the basics of snow and ice control in order to prevent hazards and maintain functionality. Knowledge of seasonal basics, appropriate techniques, equipment, and deicing materials is the foundation of a successful snow and ice management plan. This includes routine snow plowing, timely application of various deicing agents, and continuous monitoring of weather conditions. Understanding the basic elements of snow and ice management can help you make informed decisions that benefit your organization across all your locations. By mastering these fundamental aspects of snow and ice management, property owners and facility managers can effectively choose a provider that can address weather-related challenges and ensure the safety and accessibility of their premises throughout even the most brutal snow seasons.
Typical Commercial Snow Season
Best practices in a commercial snow service season begin in the spring months of the year with Vendor Qualification RFI (Request for Information). Typically the RFI process will go to mid-spring when the true RFP (Request for Proposal) process begins. The summer months are generally reserved for Q&A, Walkthroughs, contract negotiations, and legal reviews, with Contracts being awarded in a typical cycle in Early fall. In a commercial snow and ice management program, timing is key. Securing a contractor, routing, procurement, and equipment decisions generally have to be made ahead of time to ensure the best level of service and serviceability of your properties. Like in anything, “If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail” — Benjamin Franklin. Snow Season start dates vary by region in the U.S., with northern states kicking their season off in mid to late fall, with lower states kicking off service closer to the end of fall, the beginning of winter, and lasting in some places clear into the following spring when the cycle starts all over again.
Top services in a Snow and Ice Management Program center around the fundamentals with additional coverages bundled in more top-tier offerings like those at Powerhouse. Powerhouse snow and ice management programs provide snow and ice services that match your needs including:
- De-Icing Services
- Snow Plowing
- Snow Hauling
- Pre-Treatment Applications
- Sidewalk Snow/Ice Management
- Parking Garage Snow Management
When working with a top-tier provider like Powerhouse, you’ll also receive
- Efficiency Through Technology
At Powerhouse we use our technology platform, Atlas, to drive efficiency and communication with our vendor network and our clients. All location information, work order history, schedules, site visits, and pricing information is stored here. This becomes part of the site record and plan for each location and assists in driving decisions about future site activities. All snow removal partners utilize Atlas mobile technology in the field to provide photos and work verification. All information is stored at the site level allowing for detailed historical information to be used in year to year decision making.
- Regular Communication
Keeping our clients up to date about approaching and active winter weather is a key tenant of the Powerhouse program. Our experience has shown that constant communication is of high value. Our communication plan begins ahead of weather events, with real time updates on storm paths. As the event unfolds our clients are kept informed with regular status calls and reports. With Powerhouse, our clients are never kept in the dark about what is happening within their portfolio.
- Early Storm Response
When winter storms roll through, action and execution are the names of the game. The Powerhouse team subscribes to weather forecasting services and keeps our clients informed of upcoming storms. Properties are pre-treated to ensure the safety and security of tenants and customers before, during, and after winter storms. This approach keeps property owners protected from potential liability. This also minimizes property downtime and allows our clients to safely welcome employees, customers, and tenants into their location.
- Nationwide Service Providers
Powerhouse provides national snow removal services through our network of over 7,500 service providers. All Powerhouse service providers are fully vetted, operating under stringent insurance standard, and adherence to Powerhouse standards of quality.
- Economic Benefit of National Snow Removal Solutions
Managing individual local service contracts for hundreds or thousands of locations is tedious, time consuming and costly. Maintaining consistent service levels is difficult and challenging for local facilities or operational staff to manage. Powerhouse manages thousands of locations nationally and leverages our size and scale for optimal pricing, terms, and results. Put the power of scale to use when it comes to winter planning and let the experts at Powerhouse review your portfolio. Click here to get started.
Along with the variety of equipment options, de-icing and anti-icing chemicals can help managers ensure safe, snow-and-ice-free surfaces. What is De-Icing vs Anti-Icing?
- Deicing is the reactive application of ice-control products to driving or walking surfaces to melt existing snow and ice. Crews perform deicing after snow-removal operations to melt the remaining snow and ice. Anti-icing is the proactive application of melting products to driving or walking surfaces before a storm.
- Anti-icing helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, allowing workers to clear the surfaces more easily. Anti-icing can create safe winter conditions and is a cost-effective alternative to deicing.
- Sodium chloride is the most common deicer. But in very cold conditions — typically below 23 degrees — salt begins to lose effectiveness and either is eliminated or overused to compensate for reduced performance. A common practice is to mix sand and salt for deicing. Using sand is effective in improving traction, but it reduces the amount salt workers can apply to an area. So less deicing occurs.
- Calcium chloride (CaCl) is effective as an ice melter down to about minus-20 degrees. Calcium chloride is an exothermic salt that releases heat as it melts the ice. It melts ice faster than other common de-icers, but it tends to attract moisture from the air even after melting the ice, causing pavements to remain moist. If the moisture refreezes, it creates icy conditions, and the ice expansion can cause surface damage. Wet-dry and freeze-thaw cycles lead to spalling, which means flaking or chipping. CaCl also can be more corrosive to metals, and it can cost more than other materials.
- Magnesium chloride has many similarities to CaCl, including cost. It is exothermic and absorbs moisture from the air. This characteristic makes it fast-acting when applied as a solid and mixed with sand or salt. Crews also can spread it directly on the pavement as a liquid before a storm arrives. In temperatures ranging from 15- to minus-20 degrees, it is more effective than sodium chloride but less effective than calcium choloride.
Evaluating de-icing options and understanding ways to maximize the effectiveness of anti-icing and de-icing materials are essential for the success of snow and ice removal plans.
Per Season vs Per Service: What’s the Difference?
Business owners are sometimes surprised by the options available when hiring a Commercial Snow and Ice Management Company, especially when it comes to contracts. As you get estimates from various companies, you may be wondering what it means when they ask whether you want a pay-per-service contract or fixed seasonal pricing. Powerhouse offers two contracts to meet the needs of our commercial clients best.
- Per Service for Commercial Snow Service:
A per-service contract is available for commercial clients who prefer to pay each time they have their snow plowed, ice treated, walks shoveled, etc. In this type of service, you are charged for each visit to your property that is generally triggered by certain events, including the amount of snowfall. Heavy snows or precipitation that continue through the storm can often incur several visits to your property—services to open your parking garage or parking lot so you can get in and out.
This option is ideal for clients who want to pay for only the work that is done, which could limit overall costs or increase them based on the season. While overall costs for the season can be lower, per-service pricing is generally at a higher price point due to the additional time it takes to clear the snow as well as travel to the site because these clients are not on a regularly serviced, regularly scheduled route. Some contractors will also charge for their work by the hour once the snow has reached a certain depth.
- Per Season for Commercial Snow Service:
A seasonal contract is your typical contract that comes with a predetermined price for the entire season. This option is beneficial because the customer and contractor know what you’re getting and paying for. Seasonal contracts are typically 3 or 5 years long, so the cost is averaged over several years. There will be snowy winters and dry winters; however, with a per-season contract, customers find that this fluctuation balances out. A good estimation system like the one utilized at Powerhouse will utilize past data for your locations, sometimes going back 10-15 years to get the appropriate data to make an informed estimate of service. A seasonal contract makes it easier to plan a budget. Clients pay your snow removal service a fixed fee no matter how many times it snows. These contracts are usually three to five years to save time and eliminate a long vetting process every season.
Choosing the Right Provider: Benefits of a Centralized Approach
Selecting the right provider for your specific needs is a crucial task that requires careful consideration and evaluation. It is essential to conduct thorough research before making a decision, as this will ensure that you are partnering with a professional entity that can deliver excellent service quality and value for your investment. It is also important to assess the provider’s reputation, track record, and expertise in their respective industry. Furthermore, make sure to communicate your requirements and expectations clearly so they can align their services to your desired outcomes. Further, if your organization holds a national footprint with locations across the country, search for a provider with the infrastructure and scalability to handle all your locations seamlessly.
Powerhouse begins where your team ends. While we can provide individual trade services in specific markets across specific locations, clients find significant value in bundling our services. Our centralized management approach means:
- One point of contact for all locations
- Redundant resources to mitigate service interruptions
- Highly vetted field resources, ongoing capability verification
- Ensure coverage in challenging, remote markets
- Maintain scope consistency across all locations
- Limit the impact of the constant fluctuation in the labor market
- Reduce administrative costs with fewer invoices
- Limit risk and liability; we carry above-industry average insurance coverage
By following these steps, you will be able to choose the right provider that helps you achieve your goals and cultivates a lasting and successful partnership.
Implementing a Proactive Approach to Snow and Ice Management
In today’s world, unforeseen weather conditions can create chaos and affect daily routines, particularly in areas prone to snow and ice. Therefore, implementing a proactive approach to snow and ice management is of utmost importance. By staying ahead of the curve, businesses and property owners can ensure that they effectively mitigate risks and liabilities while optimizing resources, minimizing downtime, and ensuring public safety. Employing advanced weather monitoring tools, using technologically advanced ice and snow removal equipment, and adopting environment-friendly approaches such as eco-conscious deicers are some strategies that can help streamline this process. Moreover, well-planned and coordinated efforts of government agencies, local communities, and businesses can play an instrumental role in building a resilient infrastructure to handle adverse weather conditions, benefitting everyone in the long run. By being proactive, society at large can ensure a safer and more efficient winter season for all.
In order to create a plan for successful and safe winter weather, snow and ice management needs to be taken seriously. Understanding the basics of snow and ice management is important, preparing your property in advance, choosing the right provider for your needs, and taking a proactive approach. Taking these steps can help ensure that your winter weather plan goes smoothly and you are safe from the elements. If you are looking for a turnkey solution for your snow and ice management needs, contact us today for a quote. We can provide personalized options that fit your budget while helping keep your building safe this winter.