Winter is coming, so we are saving you the hassle of finding a reliable seasonal maintenance company by giving you easy access to quotes and information on snow clearing and other winter services.
You’re no expert, so how do you really know you’re getting a good deal from your snow clearing contractor in Ontario or Alberta?
Well, we think we’re the best deal out there; the perfect balance between budget and excellent service. So we’re going to give you the questions to ask every contractor you approach for a quote, and you can start by asking your local Gardener.
Make fair comparisons – apples to apples
Compare apples to apples. Many services may quote you specifically on driveway plowing. But you might need something more, like shoveling off your steps and clearing walkways or other access pathways on your property.
Some contractors don’t offer hand shovelling and if you need it, you need it. When comparing costs, make sure you compare similar services to avoid unwanted surprises.
Insurance actually matters
Ask your potential provider about insurance, and if they don’t have any, you shouldn’t work with them.
We’ve seen careless residential snow plows crash into garage doors and pull up chunks of driveway. For added peace of mind, ask for proof of insurance before signing a contract or hiring a plowing contractor.
Who does the equipment belong to?
A serious contractor invests in his or her business and owns the gear they use. It’s not unreasonable to ask who the equipment belongs to.
Don’t expect reliable service from a part time contractor
For the best results and the fewest headaches, avoid hiring someone who has a “regular” job and plows snow for extra income on the side.
Choose a company focused entirely on winter services when the show falls. Dedicated contractors stake their livelihood on the ability to provide excellent, dependable service through the entire plowing season.
Part time contractors treating snow plowing as a source of extra income may be tempted to drop jobs and are rarely willing or able to perform middle-of-the-night services or multiple visits in response to overnight storms.
Like everything, buy in bulk for better value
Look for a company offering a “flat” or seasonal rate rather than per-visit charges that can substantially increase your overall costs over the winter.
A flat rate with a contract also lays out expectations for both parties from the start, a good way to make sure the contractor is held to your expectations.
Stagger your payments
Find out about potential installment plans so you can make smaller payments throughout the season rather than paying the full amount upfront before any work has been done.
Installment plans help you manage the cost of a full winter of services without taking a large financial hit. Most of us do it with our cell phones, cars, homes. It makes sense to pay in installments for your snow removal too, especially considering how expensive the holiday season can be for many families.
Find out about the rep
Look at reviews online and ask the contractor for referrals. They’ll refer you to their best customers, but at least you’ll get to watch the highlight reel, see the best scenario for your winter services.
Telltale sign of a questionable contractor: no website.
What about companies that offer “guaranteed” arrival time?
In addition to “rock-bottom” pricing specials, many companies seeking to profit from the winter weather advertise “guaranteed” plowing times. These promises are neither realistic nor attainable.
Every snowfall varies, and that means the time it takes a contractor to complete one person’s property – as well as a complete run – varies. Maybe this snowfall is heavy and wet. Maybe it’s icy. Several factors converge to lengthen or shorten a full run.
Consumers should beware of companies offering a guaranteed service time.
At The Gardener, our snow removal experts strive to complete their rounds by 7 a.m. for overnight snowfall and 5 p.m. for daytime snow arrival all season long. We’re always at the mercy of weather, but we always endeavor to meet these goals.