A written contract, signed by both parties, is the best way to ensure that each party is aware of its obligations. This in turn protects both the contractor and the property manager and helps to define the relationship in clear and concise terms.
All SIMA members have access to template contracts for both residential and commercial services. These contracts can be customized by either the property owner or the snow removal contractor to fit the needs of each relationship. SIMA recommends that any snow removal contractor be involved in the contract process, whether the property manager simply uses a contract from the snow removal service provider, or works with the contractor to develop a suitable contract for the relationship. Remember, most contractors already have contracts that work; it is often times easier to work with those than to write a completely new contract.
In general, a contract:
- Helps protect property managers and snow removal companies from potential lawsuits
- Creates specific guidelines for each client/contractor relationship
- Helps ensure responsibility for both parties
A contract, no matter who creates the initial draft, should be a reflection of a relationship between both parties. If you have a template contract that is not specific to snow, asking a snow removal specialist to sign it is a mistake. if you have a snow-specific contract, be prepared to work with a good provider and allow for some modification of the language. This will ensure that both parties clearly define the relationship and the level of service for a property.
If you work with a contractor and sign their contract, make sure you understand all the information related to pricing, level of service, etc. This will help answer questions before the winter weather hits, and will create a better communication and billing process down the road.
In addition, service levels and who controls the timing of service is important. Are you allowing the contractor to use his own judgment when to salt or sand? When will the snow service provider be able to begin operations? Or do you plan to tell the contractor when you want services performed? Defining your service expectations and determining who will control when operations begin and end is important to ensure a clear understanding of service. If you wish a final inspection to be done by the foreman or the owner, be sure to state that requirement and be willing to pay for the added services.