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What should you look for in a Winter Service Provider?
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Does the service provider carry proper insurance?
This item should be non-negotiable. If they do not have the proper insurance coverage, their bid should not be considered. Why? You must consider the cost to you if anything should happen on your property and your service provider is uninsured or underinsured. It's not worth the risk! Don't be afraid to ask to see proof of insurance. Any professional service provider will be happy to show this to you.

How long has the service provider been in business?
You should look for a provider that is knowledgeable and keeps current on changes in products, equipment and technology. Do they belong to a professional organization? Affiliation with a professional trade association, such as the Snow & Ice Management Association, indicates that the service provider is interested in excellence and keeping abreast of industry changes. Is the service provider able to provide you with comparable references? When considering references, be sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Just because the service provider gives excellent service to a small restaurant does not necessarily qualify them to handle larger, more intricate properties.

Get an estimate.
If you call service providers for estimates, expect them to visit your property before giving you the estimate. Not only is it necessary to determine how they will approach the job, it is also necessary for them to note items that may be easily damaged if they don't know exactly where they are, such as flowerbeds, fire hydrants, and mailboxes.

Does the service provider use contracts?
A contract should be used to clearly define the level of service provided, the pricing of those services, and the payment terms. It should also disclose the cost of additional services should they be required, such as stacking or hauling away snow.

Do you understand the different ways in which service providers price their services?
Pricing should be one of the last areas for comparison of potential service providers. Unfortunately, it is often the motivating factor in awarding a contract. As a consumer, do you really want to know how much per hour it will cost you to have your lot cleared? Probably not, as this price would vary depending on the type of equipment that each service provider intends to use. What you are really interested in is how much it will cost to clear your lot to your specifications.

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