Winter is coming and so is snow removal season. While the quiet beauty of winter can be pleasant on the eyes, it can be hard on the hands. Individuals and businesses alike should be planning their strategy around dealing with the inevitable snow dumps that happen all around North America. 

Living in Vancouver, British Columbia, the chaos of even a small snowfall is fairly immediate. In a city that is poorly equipped to deal with snow dumps on the ground, it is necessary to think ahead about how to deal with this year’s snowfields. 

Not only can winter shoveling be a drag of a chore, but it can also be dangerous, especially for the elderly folks who may still be trying to maintain their own property. On top of that, dealing with snow removal can eat up a ton of precious time which is an important and scarce commodity in most of our lives. 

Hyland Landscapes, which services the Greater Vancouver Area and beyond, can assist builders and designers, homeowners, and property managers to cope with snow and ice removal, salting, and de-icing. This allows tenants, customers, and employees to stay safe and focused on their day to day needs. 

In Vancouver, we are legally obligated to clear all of the snow and ice on our property for the safety of automobiles and pedestrians. Failure to do so can result in a fine or worse, a dangerous incident on your property. Snow removal is a serious commitment and one that you should look into outsourcing. 

What makes Hyland Landscapes such an attractive option to Vancouverites? We’ll outline that below as well as the ten simplest tips for finding the perfect snow removal contractor in your city:

1) Understanding the Snow Removal & Salting Business 

Do your research on what types of snow removal procedures are needed for your property. While a professional company like Hyland Landscapes can offer an assessment, it is always helpful to do your own research and try to understand the types of services you might require. This is a great conversation starter for your potential contractor. 

Companies often use plow trucks and heavier equipment to remove snow dumps in parking lots, sidewalks, roads, etc. These types of procedures happen after or during a snowfall. 

Once the snow is removed, salt should be poured on the cleared path to ensure no slips happen. Ice builds in sub-zero temperatures and is often invisible, or better known as, black ice. This is probably the most dangerous hazard to the public. Salting black ice melts the ice, lowering its freezing point, turning it into a liquid. This is an essential step for snow removal and can be missed by the naked eye so it is best to trust a professional to take on this task. 

A common path that customers need to choose between is whether to go with de-icer or salt. De-icer is like a pre-treatment put on pavement before the snow fall. It keeps snow from bonding to the ground so that when the snow is removed, ice doesn’t reform as quickly. Liquid deicer causes less damage to the ground but takes longer to work. Salt is a faster way to melt the ice and can applied in a quicker manner. However, it is more likely to cause erosion on the ground. It’s best to discuss which methodology will suit your needs with your snow remover.

By familiarizing yourself with how snow removal should happen, you will feel more empowered and educated when selecting a snow removal contractor. 

2) Shop Around and Get A Free snow removal Quote 

Consider any contracting work as an interview in which you are the person hiring. You should shop around. Snow removal companies often offer different types of packages based on your needs. Commercial business owners may want to have more frequent snow clearings as they have more traffic, and need to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. 

Contractors can offer one time deals for a single snow clearing but packages are likely more enticing as snow rarely falls once a season, and a greater discount can be struck on multiple services. 

 Call around to the different companies and get a free quote based on your needs. If the company offers a free consultation, take them up on it so that you can build the type of in-person relationship that will suit you best. 

3) Communication 

As mentioned above, interviewing your snow removal contractor can help you get the best deal but it can also help you understand how the contractor communicates. This is especially important to establish in case of a storm emergency. By having conversations with the contractor early on, you will have a clear understanding of how their snow removal action plans work and how they will communicate with you when you are in need of their services. This is also the opportunity to understand what actually initiates a service call. How much snow needs to fall to have your contractor come out?

Good communication is essential to having a calm and stress-free experience. Because snow removal contractors can get extremely busy during and/or after a storm, it is important to understand how you will receive updates from them. As we are in the digital era, you should expect that a company is able to communicate with you effectively and quickly. 

Again, interviewing your potential contractor is essential to being able to gather information on how they operate and what to expect. 

4) Availability 

When selecting a snow removal contractor, it’s important to work out their estimated time of arrival for snow removal. This is often written into a contract and should be your standard for when you need to call them in.

It is, of course, inevitable that some storms can slow down service so this should be kept in mind when looking at estimated times of arrival. Be wary of “guaranteed” arrival times. When working with nature, these are impossible to guarantee completely. Regardless, you should look for a contractor that has a good reputation for timeliness. 

Additionally, you should check if the contractor uses GPS in their vehicles. This is helpful for giving you live schedule updates. 

5) Professionalism 

Your interview process should be able to inform how professional a contractor is. The traits you are looking for are strong communication skills, someone who is well versed in the industry with at least a few years of experience, and someone who delivers on their promises. 

Aside from the professional manner in which the contractor should carry themselves, they need the paperwork to back it up. It is important to ensure that they offer insurance coverage. This way if someone is injured on your property during snow removal, you will not be held responsible. Without insurance, a lawsuit and financial consequences might fall to you, the customer. 

Double-check that their employees are covered by the appropriate Workplace Safety organization. Some municipalities issue licenses for snow removal. It’s best to check that the contractor has this on record and that all of the vehicles are registered. 

Lastly, the contractor should be able to provide you with a written contract of the services you are purchasing. Don’t trust a simple verbal agreement. You should have a legally binding signed agreement. All of the details should be in writing and reviewed by you before you sign. These contracts also often outline any cancellation fees that may apply. One last thing to keep an eye out for is whether the company sub-contracts to smaller companies. While this isn’t necessarily harmful, it can confuse the communication lines. It’s best to deal directly with your contractor. 

Read all portions of the contract closely so that you are fully informed. 

6) snow removal Machinery & Methodology 

There are two types of plows – a straight plow and a v-plow. The blade of a straight plow is what you’d expect it to be. A V plow shaped blade allows the plow driver to angle and direct the blade in more meticulous ways. Straight plows are easier to use but less versatile. 

Regardless of the type of plow, any and all machinery should look well maintained and operate normally. You can also ask to whom the equipment belongs to. Professional contractors invest in their own equipment and keep it well maintained. 

In terms of methodology, snow removal often starts while the snow is still going. If this is possible to do, it helps to avoid snow accumulation. Many contractors mark the area that they are planning on plowing and will put up markers around obstacles to ensure they don’t harm the surroundings or their machinery. If the snow is being pushed into a nearby area, a seasoned snow removal contractor will leave enough of a clearing to load on a pile for the second wave of snow. 

Aside from plows, there are so many other tools to be used, skid-steer loaders, snow blowers, etc., so don’t be fooled by flashy machinery either, it’s about how it’s used.

7) Pricing  

If it seems too good to be true, then it is. Snow removal won’t come dirt-cheap but there should be affordable pricing available. Typically, snow removal contractors either charge per-removal or per-season. Some companies will even split the payments as installments to keep it more manageable if need be. If all fees are expected upfront before a snowfall, please reconsider the company you are going with.

8) Attention to detail 

While storm conditions may slow down snow removal schedules, great contractors are still extremely timely and plan well ahead. Snow often falls throughout the night, ending before the sun is up. Snow removal can be very effectively done in those early morning hours. 

The best snow removal contractors keep a very tight reign on how much time is spent on each property so that the job is done efficiently but the team is able to move on to the next customer quickly.

On top of the above skills, attention to detail separates the men from the boys. 

Logistically speaking, snow removal laborers need to be a few steps ahead at all times, especially when it comes to thinking about the best place to push the snow. They need to be mindful of traffic and keeping their presence to a minimum so they’re keeping lanes clear. They need to be paying attention to the property around them, mindful of any hazards nearby. 

Lastly, shoveling your own snow can produce nice results but a contractor will ensure almost every little bit of snow is off of the ground. Contractors make the plowing look pretty. They are able to create a much nicer, industrial aesthetic for your property. 

9) Reviews and References 

Word of mouth goes a long way. While researching the best fit for your snow removal needs, it’s a good idea to read any available online reviews of the company’s services. 

While interviewing potential contractors, feel free to ask for references. Professional contractors should be able to provide you with clientele feedback from their regulars. 

10) Happy Employees

Make sure that you are hiring a company that treats its employees well. Happy employees are more reliable, productive, and are a representation of the core values of the company. 

Snow removal is a very physically demanding job and it asks for its employees to be on call. The landscapers deserve good wages, rest, and a safe work environment. Trained and well cared for employees are more likely to follow safety standards and be mindful of the areas they are in. 

Vancouver’s Hyland Landscapes is led by a team with an impressive depth of experience. Integrity is at the core of the Hyland company values. They are committed to delivering the best results for each client and keep themselves and their team members accountable to providing excellence. 

Evolution is also prized by Hyland. They encourage the growth of their staff and help them develop professionally and personally. Well-being is at the core of the company, a healthy lifestyle is encouraged for the whole team so that everyone is performing optimally, at work and in life. 

Wrapping it Up

The snow removal contractor that you decide to hire should be experienced, have an enthusiastic and professional team, and carry the right equipment. 

Once you’ve done all of your homework and feel confident in your snow removal contractor, make sure that you review them yourself. Word of mouth is the best way to support small businesses. If you’re pleased with the services, consider becoming a customer next year as well. Repeat and loyal costumers are more likely to be offered discounts.