As winter creeps closer and closer, brick-and-mortar business owners must begin to contend with the seasonal concern of snow. Snow can seriously impact a business—without removal services, you could lose customers, have to close for a day or longer, or even end up slapped with a slip and fall suit.
Weighing snow removal service cost against your business and the likelihood of snow, especially if you live in a region where large snow accumulations are rare or unlikely, can feel like a daunting task. With an understanding of opportunity cost, you can get a better idea of whether booking snow removal ahead of time is the right idea for you.
In this post, we’ll be covering:
- Factors to consider in opportunity costs
- Some examples of slip and fall suits
- The average cost of snow removal services
- Who is in charge of snow removal for a variety of businesses and residences
Opportunity Cost of Snow Removal
Finding the opportunity cost of a business venture, such as snow removal, helps you evaluate the possible risk and reward of a particular action. In simple terms, opportunity cost considers what you might miss out on by choosing one option over another. For example, if you were considering investing in one stock over another, you might use opportunity cost as a tool to compare the potential reward from investing in a higher risk stock with a higher return versus a low-risk stock with a smaller return.
Snow removal services can be considered in a similar fashion. There are many ways to think about this depending on what factors you’re evaluating when deciding whether to book snow removal or not.
Budget is a major one. Take a look at last year’s winter finances and evaluate your potential loss of revenue if you’re forced to close due to snowy weather without snow removal services. Would you be more impacted by a closure or by paying for snow and ice treatment?
Snow accumulation can also drive customers away even if your business is open. If your parking lots and sidewalks look as if they’re not maintained, people may not feel safe entering your business due to fear of slipping or getting stuck.
Also consider your employees. Not only are employees potential victims of slipping and falling, which could lead to an L&I claim, but you likely need them to keep your business running smoothly. If they are unable to make it to work due to unplowed lots, you may have to close down anyway. Further, the Fair Labor and Standards Act may require you to pay employees a day or half day’s wages if you close your business, even if they are not working. Are you prepared to pay for the closure and the lost revenue? How do those expenses compare to the cost of a snow removal contract?
Slip and fall lawsuits are a major concern for businesses at all times, but things get significantly worse in the winter. These lawsuits require proof of negligence or wrongdoing—many states have rules about natural accumulation, for example—but that means that business owners should put their best efforts into making their lots and sidewalks as clean and snow-free as they possibly can because not doing it could be construed as negligence.
A slip and fall lawsuit may include the recovery of multiple expenses, including the cost of medical treatment for injuries sustained during a fall, lost wages from time off of work, and pain and suffering.
In one notable case, a woman in New York settled for $1.5 million after slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk. This settlement is particularly high, but cases in the hundred thousands are not unusual. Some one million people are injured in falls every year, including falls on snow and ice.
It’s possible that no snow and ice will accumulate on your property, or that it may accumulate but nobody will slip and fall. However, the consequences of somebody being hurt due to improper snow and ice management are astronomical—you could pay $150,000 for a lawsuit, or some $500 per service per client for a snow and ice removal service.
That’s what makes opportunity cost such a valuable tool. Once you have these potential costs, you can weigh them against one another to figure out whether snow removal is right for your company.
Snow removal service varies in price. Most companies do not publish their rates online due to a variety of factors but can provide quotes on request.
Your contract may be “per push” or seasonal, which will impact how much you’re charged for services. Shop around for snow removal service well in advance so you have time to compare contracts and quotes to find the one best suited to your needs.
Keep in mind that snow removal is a legitimate business expense. Though you may not enjoy spending the money, it is recognized as an appropriate use of business funds and may help you stay profitable throughout winter.
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