How to best negotiate your snow removal contract

How to best negotiate your snow removal contract

UPDATE DAY

Not to make bad puns, but the snow plows are having a perfect storm right now. And it is, of course, the consumer who will pay.

Prices have been rising in residential snow removal for three years: between 25% and 50%, depending on the region, as illustrated yesterday's report in Le Journal.

With the shortage of manpower, snow plows are snapping up good drivers or snowblower operators. This is the case of mine, who had to give up his territory to a colleague. Snow plows disappear in series. Some buy others…

What happens when the supply decreases? Capitalism 101: Prices are rising. Especially since diesel increased last winter. The increase is partly explained by that of additives, which prevent the fuel from freezing. Some snow removal companies claim to pay $1 per liter more than last year.

Fuel clause

As a result, many have added a “fuel clause” to their contracts, which will allow them to pass on any eventual increase to their customers.

“If there is a significant increase or decrease in the price of fuel, the snow removal companies will adjust their prices accordingly,” explains Annie Roy, general manager of the heavy machinery owners association of Quebec.

This clause sets the price of fuel at the market price at the signing of the contract. If the fuel goes up, your final payment could go up a few tens of dollars. On the other hand, if the diesel drops, your snowplow could offer you a discount for the following winter.

Inflation

Inflation, that cursed word , is fully felt. Some players say they got through last winter without losing money on fuel because there was little snowfall in March. But it will be different this year.

Thus, it is not uncommon to see the cost of snow removal for a small yard, which was $400 last year, jump to $550, or even $700 this year.

This increase is largely monopolized by the increase in wages, which have increased from $20 to $33 per hour since 2019, depending on the region, including benefits. Snow plows even go so far as to pay their employees vacations in the South to keep them… Maintenance costs have also exploded, since the price of replacement parts has increased by 30% on average in one year mechanics are scarce. Tire prices jumped 40%, as did insurance premiums, which jumped 15% to 20%. 

But some snow removal companies did not raise their prices. Hence my advice: shop around.

TIPS

  • Ask your neighbors for references. Obtain an estimate from at least two or three snow removers before choosing.
  • Ask for a written contract, which contains the complete contact details of the snow remover (address, email, license number), a complete description of the services, the terms of payment, the dates of the installments, plus taxes, the start and end dates of the contract.
  • Some snow plows require payment in one installment, at the start of the season. It is beneficial if you get a discount. Otherwise, pay in installments: at the signing of the contract, in January and at the end of the season.
  • From reading: https://www.opc.gouv.qc.ca/consommateur/bien -service/home-renovation/outdoor-design/advice/snowplow/choice/