Facility Management

Comparing Commercial Snow Removal Options: Buy, Rent, or Hire?

Comparing Commercial Snow Removal Options: Buy, Rent, or Hire?

Comparing Commercial Snow Removal Options: Buy, Rent, or Hire?Removing snow from your parking lot each winter is no small task. Back-to-back storms can dump snow in uninterrupted accumulations. Facility managers must have a reliable plan in place to ensure that parking lots and walkways remain clear so that, to the extent possible, business can carry on as usual.

When considering costs for this type of maintenance, evaluate these possible options: buying equipment, renting it, or hiring a snow removal professional. Several factors can influence your decision.

Owning your own equipment

A snowplow attached to a three-quarter-ton pickup truck will cost between $6,000 and $8,000. If your parking lot is small and can be cleared quickly, purchasing your own equipment can be a cost-saving option over renting or hiring a plowing contractor.

However, for large parking lots and in areas with frequent snowfall, equipment breakdown caused by persistent use can eliminate any cost savings. It’s important to consider the scope and size of your operation and to determine if it’s worth purchasing one or more trucks, as well as to evaluate the issue of storage off-season.

Renting equipment

A main benefit of renting snow removal equipment is that you won’t incur any maintenance costs. A particularly rough storm can cause extensive wear and tear on plows, tires, and the truck’s mechanical equipment, but these costs will be borne by the rental company and not by your organization. In addition, you won’t have to worry about equipment obsolescence, as snowplow rental companies pride themselves on providing top-of-the-line products.

One downside to renting equipment is administrative hindrances. If you choose to rent, you need to know how fast you can obtain the equipment in the event of a storm. Will a truck be delivered onsite or will you have to visit the rental office to obtain it? Will one be available on the days and times that you require it?

Another factor to consider is your region’s location and how often snowstorms occur in your vicinity. If your area gets hit only once a year, rental might make sense. But several back-to-back snowstorms might make you wish you owned the equipment. A compromise might be to find a company that rents snowplows by the season rather than by the day.

Snow blowers

Whether you decide to purchase or rent a snowplow, a snow blower will be necessary for areas that plows cannot access. According to Consumer Reports, you’ll pay around $875 to buy a gas-powered unit, along with the added expenses of approximately $10 a year for fuel and $100 for maintenance. A recent search of snow blower rentals in Michigan and New Jersey showed an average rental cost of $580 a week. Considering the relatively minimal cost, it probably makes more sense to purchase a snow blower than to rent one.

Hiring a snow removal contractor

If you decide to hire a snow removal contractor, evaluate how costs are assessed. Some companies will charge you by the inch after a heavy snowfall, but the rate cited may be for the nearest municipality rather than the accumulation at your facility. This can work in, or against, your favor.

In addition, make sure the contract is clear on how quickly a truck can be dispatched onsite after a snowfall. You will incur business-interruption costs if your facility has to remain closed while you wait for a plow.

One last thing to consider

Walkways to your building and other areas that snowplows can’t reach need to remain free of snow and ice. Heated outdoor mats ensure that these areas remain clear by melting snowfall on contact and preventing ice from forming.  Heated snow-melting mats are a reliable and cost-effective solution to dangerous conditions that can increase the risk of slip-and-fall accidents

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