To Our Valued Customers,
We are writing to inform you that there will be a price increase for the 2022/2023 snow season.
Our base price has increased to $1100, or roughly 38% for the average driveway. Long, challenging driveways or driveways in higher snow areas may be priced higher than our base rate.
The reason for this increase is a combination of factors. As you may know, our prices were locked for the last five years. It is not our desire to have such a dramatic increase but it is necessary to keep our business moving forward and to account for five years of inflation, cost of living increases as well as continuously rising operational costs (fuel, parts, equipment and labor) that we absorbed the past few years.
It is our goal to deliver the highest quality service and this adjustment is important for us to be able to do so. New operators and aging equipment are the most common cause for delays in your service. Our price increase will help us to invest in better equipment and retain better, more experienced operators, resulting in less tractor down time and faster, higher quality clearings.
This decision has not been made lightly. A ton of time, effort and thought went into this decision. We understand that it will be tough for some and we assure you that our goal was to land on a price that is both fair to you (the customer) and to us (Elements Mountain Company.)
Our promise to you is that we will continuously strive to offer a better service and take pride in our work. We will work with you to make payments manageable (longer payment plans, etc). And lastly, we will answer any questions about these changes openly and transparently so please feel free to contact us with any concerns or questions.
Thank you very much for letting us be your helping hand in Tahoe Donner for over 40 years. We are honored to be part of this neighborhood and community and look forward to serving you in the future.
Jaime Legare and Matt Warren
Common Questions & Answers
Why did snow removal rates jump so much in a single season?
Elements already offered the lowest snow removal rates in the Truckee/Tahoe area when a lawsuit was filed in December 2017 alleging price fixing within the Tahoe Donner market. This lawsuit was settled in June 2017 but one of the settlement provisions required us to freeze our snow removal rates at our 2017/2018 rates. Over the past five years increased personnel costs, needed equipment replacement and the inflationary pressures of running a business meant that the owners of Elements personally had to subsidize the business. This one-time price adjustment is needed to return Elements to a sustainable business that can afford to pay competitive wages, purchase new equipment and adapt to inflation in order to provide you with the level of snow removal you expect from us.
Will my rate increase by this much in future seasons?
Hopefully not, but there are always factors out of our control. While your rates are subject to inflationary pressures every year we do not expect them to increase by a double digit percentage in the future. We spent a lot of time modeling price forecasts to make sure that we priced ourselves fairly but correctly this year so that we can provide you with a high level snow removal service.
Will my service level increase with this higher rate?
Yes, but unfortunately not right away. When we merged we had a solid, achievable plan for aging equipment replacement with moderate, incremental price increases. We cannot make up for the last five years of constraints from the lawsuit in a single season. It will take a few years for you to see the benefit of our plan to replace old, tired equipment with new, more capable equipment. Additionally, this price increase will also allow us to be more competitive with wages and therefore employ and retain more experienced operators. We are also working to drop the number of homes each operator clears on a daily basis. We hope that you start experiencing better, more reliable snow removal as early as next season and that you continue to notice significant improvements over the next few seasons.
Can I break my snow removal up into more payments?
Yes. We now offer a payment plan that allows for up to five monthly payments. Previously we had offered the ability to pay with three installments.
I am paying more than $1100, why is that?
$1100 is our base (minimum) rate for an average driveway. About 63% of all homes in Tahoe Donner are priced at $1100. However, there are a number of driveways in Tahoe Donner that will be priced higher due to numerous circumstances. Square footage, the incline of your driveway, the risk your driveway poses for property damage and tractor damage, the time it takes to clear your driveway and the overall difficulty of clearing your driveway are factored into your snow removal price.
What are my other options for snow removal?
There is currently one other snow removal company that services Tahoe Donner. Most subdivisions in the area have between one and three service provider alternatives due to geographic constraints and individual company choice of where they prefer to operate. You can also contact a number of Truckee property management companies to see if they offer driveway snow clearing. You may also purchase a walk-behind snowblower and clear your driveway yourself. Lastly, you can hire us to clear your driveway on an as-needed basis.
Can I pay less for a lesser service?
The short answer is no. Our traditional service will remain the same as you’ve come to expect from us. We do not offer another lower performance option.
How has climate change affected snow removal?
Climate change has resulted in less frequent, but much more torrential snow storms. Three of the Four largest monthly snowfalls have occurred in the last five years. Larger monthly snowfall requires a different approach to snow removal, both operationally and financially. Due to overtime pay, emergency fuel prices, and employee fatigue, twenty feet of snowfall in one month affects our company much more than 20 feet of snowfall over the course of two or three months.
How has inflation affected our pricing?
Like most things you have encountered in your day-to-day life, we have been greatly affected by inflation. Fuel costs, labor costs, parts costs and the cost of new equipment have risen astronomically in the last 5 years and even more so in the last 24 months. We are priced where we need to be in order to pay our employees competitively, maintain our equipment and provide a quality service.