Trigger Depth: The Reason Mimi Broke Her Back

It’s a beautiful winter morning. Your aging mother decides to bundle up and take a walk in the sunshine … unaware that disaster awaits her.

Spotting a thin layer of snow on the ground, she’s careful on that first step. So far, so good. But by the time she reaches the bottom she’s gotten too confident.

Her foot slips. She turns on the way down, but fails to catch herself with her hands. When her backside makes contact on the walk she feels a horrible crack.

She calls for help. A neighbor, just pulling out of his garage to head to work, jumps out of his truck and rushes over. He calls 911.

You’re at your desk when you get the call. Your mother is at the hospital. You tell them you’ll be right there.

Her MRI results are in. It’s a compression fracture in the hip, and they’re recommending surgery. They say it’s a very common procedure. She’ll likely need to spend the night but can go home tomorrow.

You do some research. This isn’t going to be cheap. After waiting on hold for an hour with your mom’s Medicare supplement provider, you get an estimate.


On your way home, you think about how you’re going to tell the kids that Mimi broke her back without making them cry. You wonder. Why did this happen? She’d never fallen before.

As you pull into the driveway, you notice how deep the snow has gotten. You call your snow removal provider.

“It’s only snowed about half an inch today, Sir,” the young man says. “We come whenever we get at least two inches of snow.”

“But there’s more than two inches here,” you say.

“That’s including previously fallen snow. Would you like to purchase an additional session, Sir?” he asks.

No. You don’t want to purchase an additional session. You just want them to keep the properties safe you’ve hired them to plow: yours, and your mother’s, so nobody ends up in the hospital.

You ask him if that’s too much to ask?



“I’m so sorry you’re upset, Sir. Would you like to upgrade to a deluxe package … ?”

You hang up.


It’s pretty standard in the snow removal business to employ what’s called a “trigger depth”, a standard amount of snowfall that triggers a visit. Generally that’s two inches. Makes sense, right?

Not always.

During an average Indiana winter, a light dusting of snow isn’t a major concern. The temperature will rise, the snow will melt and there isn’t much need for a plow to come through. The logic behind the two-inch trigger is that only a significant snow event dumping over two inches will require a visit.

At the time of this writing (January 2018), we are not having an average winter. Temperatures were above freezing before Christmas, then dropped way down and stayed there. Moisture froze, snow fell on top of it to obscure dangerous ice, and none of that snow and ice went anywhere.

Guess what happens when you get an inch of snowfall in those conditions? It piles on. The sun may come out after, but the front steps are still dangerous to walk down.


We believe the better solution is a snow removal plan with flexibility and a human touch. The goal for snow removal providers should not be to meet the conditions of a trigger-based contract to the letter, but rather to keep customers safe.

That means having a discussion at the start of the season about expectations.

  • How many properties do you need us to take care of?
  • Who lives there? Do they have special needs we should know about?
  • Are you salting your own walks or do you need us to take care of that?
  • What is your work schedule? By when do you need the way cleared?

This is how we can get on the same page about just what exactly you expect from us, and what exactly you can expect to invest in the service.

In other words, it’s about relationship. Your snow removal provider should know Mimi might want to go for a walk and look out for her safety so you don’t have to.

Don’t have a snow removal provider? Yes, we do that! Get a snow removal quote today.

Clean Cut Lawn & Landscape
7415 W Jackson St
Muncie, IN 47304-9759
(765) 759-8575

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