Winter is on its way, and many landscape professionals are looking for ways to retain their employees and make additional revenue during the off-season.

While adding a new service can seem a daunting task on its own, subcontracting can be one way to provide the service more quickly by using outside labor to get the job done while testing it out as a permanent addition.

Snow and ice management is one such winter service that can be done via subcontractors.

Steve Jomides owns Westwood, New Jersey-based Lawns by Yorkshire, a $5.5 million snow removal operation serving more than 75 contracted customers, including large commercial and industrial accounts and several massive homeowners’ associations with several hundred units each.

To get the job done, Jomides brings in more than 300 seasonal employees and subcontractors for snow removal annually. Only 80 to 100 of that total are employees; the rest are subcontracted. To find these subcontractors, he taps into other seasonal labor pools in his market, such as independent painters, roofers and carpenters, to ensure he has enough quality workers. He pays out high premiums for winter laborers compared to seasonal labor during the traditional growing season.

While subcontracting can seem scary since you’re bringing in an unknown labor force, solid interviews and the right subcontractor agreement can help ensure success.

Subcontract Agreement Tips

  • It’s important to define the expected response to weather conditions clearly so the subcontractor will tend to clients in a timely manner.
  • It may be tempting for a subcontractor to try to create business relationships of his or her own while working for you. This stipulation will legally prevent him or her from doing so while working for you.
  • Although Article 7 would allow you to terminate your agreement with a subcontractor, it’s wise to keep track of poor workmanship or other issues to have evidence to support this termination, if needed.
  • Specifying the type of insurance the subcontractor must carry will save you from being liable for incidents that occur while the subcontractor is working with a client on your behalf.
  • NALP recommends these as minimum coverage requirements for workers compensation and auto insurance.
  • Keep a file on all subcontractors you work with, including copies of their insurance paperwork explaining the scope of their coverage.
  • Requiring the subcontractor to submit invoices is a good bookkeeping tool for your tax purposes. It will also show a record of the work completed on your company’s behalf.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) recently shared an example of a snow removal subcontract agreement that contractors can use to ensure they don’t leave anything out of this important document.

Get your agreement in line and plow smoothly and safely through the winter.