Do I need a Winter Maintenance Contractor?
As annoying as it might be, Christmas items are already in the shops which means the countdown to winter is well and truly on. It’s time to make sure you have plans in place to deal with the winter weather.
If your thinking of taking on the task yourselves, be warned, there is a lot to consider; getting the staff, getting the materials, getting the equipment, training the staff how to use the equipment, servicing the equipment and that’s just the start! But before you dive straight into the paperwork and planning you might want to consider letting someone else do all the hard work for you? Here is how a winter maintenance contractor could benefit your business this year:
There when you need them!
Good winter maintenance contractors will undoubtedly use a weather forecasting tool. This means they will be there when you need them to be. Most will offer an ‘opt out’ service whereby the contractor will automatically come and clear your grounds when the forecast predicts ice or snow unless you instruct them otherwise. Very handy on those hectic days when gritting and snow clearance is the last thing on your mind.
Still, it’s important to understand exactly what forecasting tools they use. Any reputable winter maintenance contractor will use a dedicated Road Surface Temperature (RST) forecasting model. However these tools are only available via subscription and so some will try to avoid using them. Instead they will use publicly available air temperature forecast information which is not a reliable forecast for a winter maintenance contractor (as you can imagine, surface temperature is much more important for gritting than air temperature). They should be using a recognised RST forecast (the Met Office’s Open-Site service for example), and should know how to correctly interpret the data. Don’t just take their word for it; ask for examples and evidence to back up their claims.
When cold weather arrives and surfaces become icy there is always the danger someone will fall and injure themselves. If this happens you will likely find you have a personal injury claim on your hands. This is where a good winter maintenance contractor can really help! At the very least they should take an active role in the handling of any personal injury claims. But some will be able to provide you with the necessary data to show you did everything you could to avoid an accident.
Some may offer more but don’t be fooled by those who offer an apparent indemnity from any claims. In practice such indemnities are not workable and if the claimant thinks that the terms of the contract itself are not sufficient to protect them from harm, then they’ll pursue the client – indemnity or not. Make sure that your gritting contractor is prepared to take a hands-on role in the event of any claims and check that their T’s and C’s don’t leave you out in the cold!
Getting value for money
Whether you’re looking for a nationwide service, or something more localised, you will need to get your hands on some salt. Now I know it may not seem like it, but buying up enough salt to cover your grounds throughout the winter period could end up setting you back a tidy sum. There is also the worry of being caught short if we get a particularly cold year and supplies run low. This will not be an issue for a good winter maintenance contractor. They will already have the contacts and a preferred supplier. Moreover, their reliance on the white stuff and the large amounts they will purchase every year means they will be able to get the best price. You should always take advantage of the buying power a winter maintenance contractor can offer.
Talking of taking advantage, you will also be able to enjoy the benefits of the best and most advanced equipment in the industry. There not a cat in hells chance it would be cost effective to invest in cutting edge equipment, only for it to be used through the winter. This becomes even more costly if you have multiple sites spread across the UK. For winter maintenance contractors this is their bread and butter. Most contractors will have a wide range of equipment and you should have no trouble finding one with the equipment that suites your needs.
If you would like Mitie Landscapes to help with your winter maintenance needs, or are interested in finding out more about what we offer, just visit our Gritting Services page or Snow Clearance page today.