I think we can all agree that this winter, so far, has been a bit unexpected. For everyone who dreads the cold and frigid temperatures, this winter has been a welcomed surprise. For others, the snow couldn’t come sooner. But either way, we are looking at the forecast for the last week of January without the first real snowstorm of the season in sight.
So, we decided to take the opportunity to explain how we handle our contracts. We offer both seasonal and per-push contracts to our clients. Seasonal contracts cover the customer for as much (or as little) snow as we get all winter. The set rates are based on a number of different metrics, including when and how often you want us to plow, averages from previous years and the difficulty of your driveway. We need to first understand your expectations and then we will write a contract specific to your needs.
For a seasonal contract, you are paying for peace of mind – you will never need to wonder when your driveway will be taken care of, never need to call a contractor last minute and never worry that you under-budgeted for snow clearing this year. The rate is determined ahead of time and you can sit back and relax. Your contract covers the cost of our technicians to stake out your driveway prior to the season starting and that our team would take excellent care of your property all season long. Our Operations Manager designs a map for each property, outlining the driveway, pathways and any potential hazards.
In the middle of a snowstorm, the last phone call you want to get is that your snow plow contractor’s truck broke down and cannot service your account, so it is imperative we keep our trucks ready and in excellent condition. Every season, we ensure that we are properly prepared to handle whatever comes our way, as well as backup plans for the unexpected. Your seasonal contract promises that our trucks have been serviced, we have a supply of salt ready and we have the necessary insurance to cover any potential damages from a commercial plow truck. Additionally, we have a full staff of employees on standby 24/7 when there is a possibility of snowfall.
Per-push contracts are handled differently. We determine ahead of time your expectations and write a contract to determine when we would come to plow. For instance, if your trigger is 3”, we would come after any snow storm that accumulates 3 or more inches of snow. However these contracts are different because clients who choose this method pay each time we come. If we are expecting two feet of snow – and your contract states you need to get out of your driveway at any point – we may have to plow your driveway multiple times throughout the storm. If we get ten, twelve, fifteen, etc. snowstorms for that winter, you will be billed accordingly. These terms are determined in your contract but since we can never predict what we will get, the burden of a heavy year of snow falls on the customer.
We service over 85 plow accounts, ranging from apartment complexes to city driveways and we cater each contract to fit their needs. Both types of contracts have merit and depend on the expectations of the client. Since we cannot control the weather, we strive to offer the best options ahead of time for our clients.
At Lewis Lawn Care, we run a fairly seasonal business. In the winter, we would all be sitting by our windows waiting for a good snow storm to come if we didn’t have a solution. We currently have 7 employees, plus Brad and Lauren Lewis, whom all have families of their own to support. And about four winters ago, Brad realized he better come up with a solution or he would be putting every employee on unemployment for 4-5 months.
So, to keep our employees busy, we bid on a house off the foreclosure list in the city of Troy. In November, we closed on our fifth two-family house and had our first walk-through the next day. Going into it, we expect that we will be tearing the house down to the studs, running new electric and heating systems, gutting all the kitchens and bathrooms, and sometimes even adding additional support to the house. Even though we plan to update everything, the condition of the house is always a little shocking. Below are a few pictures of our first walk-through in November.
After we finished up our fall clean-ups, the Lewis Lawn Care team jumped into this project the first week of December. They suited up in hazmat suits and masks (you can never be too careful) and gutted the inside. We disposed of 30,000 lbs of trash over the course of six weeks.
Currently, we are waiting for our architect to draw up plans (since we will be reconfiguring both apartments) as well as focusing on some brick and foundation work. Since we have yet to have a snow storm, we have been able to focus almost entirely on the house. Although we are hoping for a few good snow storms (last February and March were brutal so maybe we will get hit in the next few weeks!), at least we can keep our employees busy in the meantime.
Despite the fact that the last few months have been uncharacteristically warm, we all know the inevitable snow will come. On average, the Troy and Albany area gets 64″ of snow per year. Our record low was 13.8″ of snow in the winter of 1912-13, which was over 100 years ago. So suffice it to say, we are expecting a few good snow storms in our future. Before it hits, take a few pointers from the Lewis Lawn Care & Masonry team to prepare.