If you offer commercial landscape maintenance services to your clients, another service that can be provided for a total package is parking lot sweeping.
Good impressions start the moment a customer or potential new employee steps on your client’s property and parking lot sweeping can provide the tidiness they’re looking for.
Matt Mientus, turf division manager for emi Landscape, based in Macungie, Pennsylvania, says they started offering the service four or five years ago after one of their biggest clients asked if they did parking lot sweeping.
Martin Landscape, based in Port Royal, South Carolina, brought their parking lot sweeping in-house over 12 years ago.
“After paying subcontractors a premium for sweeping services and receiving services that did not meet our standards, I knew that this was a service that I wanted to offer in-house,” says Wade Martin, president of Martin Landscape. “This allowed us to create new opportunities for our team members that they can take pride in, by delivering quality services that exceed the expectations of our clients.”
Mientus says they offer the sweeping service as an add-on to a customer’s maintenance package. Meanwhile, at Martin Landscape, customers can purchase sweeping services without a maintenance contract.
“However, 9 times out of 10, our sweep clients add additional landscape maintenance and enhancement services to their contract after experiencing the quality of sweep services that we provide,” Martin says.
Mientus says parking lot sweeping is one of their top three high-profit margin services. Martin says their sweeping service has a 35 to 45 percent gross profit margin.
While the work is profitable, the necessary trucks to do the job do not come cheap. The one truck emi has was bought used for less than $90,000, but Mientus says they can range from $90,000 to $120,000. He says they currently can maintain about 50 properties with their one truck.
Martin says their current fleet was purchased new in 2016, but they’ve bought used trucks in the past.
“The needs of our clients vary so we have multiple sweep vehicles of various sizes in the fleet to meet those needs,” Martin says. “The trucks range from $85,000 for a parking lot sweeper to $350,000 for a larger truck.
Martin Landscape has a sweep operations manager who oversees a team strictly designated to sweeping services. They currently have ten members on this team, including a fleet mechanic dedicated to maintaining and repairing the trucks. This team sweeps during the day as well as the night.
As for emi Landscape, they pull some employees from their mowing team to work overnight for three weeks, three times a year. Aside from having an operator for the sweeping truck, they also have crew members on foot with backpack blowers clearing out the corners.
“Typically, our schedule is we’ll do it right after snow season,” Mientus says. “That’s the one that takes the longest. Then mid-summer we’ll do a drive through and then right before the snow season, we’ll do a full one again.”
Mientus says they opt to do their sweeping at night as there are more wide-open spaces, even if some of their clients have a third shift working.
Advice for Others
If you have been asked if you offer parking lot sweeping or have been considering providing it as a service, here are some common mistakes to avoid.
It’s important to know your area’s local sound ordinances. If you choose to have a blower crew, they might be too loud, especially working at night. Mientus advises also checking into your waste disposal options as not every waste management company accepts certain types of waste and some even require permits. Martin says another common mistake is underestimating properties before pricing.
“Some properties need services more frequently than others in order to stay pristine and make a positive impression,” Martin says. “Most people don’t realize the amount of debris and foreign objects that parking lots can accumulate in a short period of time. It’s important to monitor properties, especially shopping centers, for a full week before pricing.”
Mientus encourages others to do their research and contact others in the area who provide the service for advice. He says they did it on their own and as a result, it took longer for them to figure everything out. Martin says it’s critical to know your numbers because if you don’t, you won’t know where you are losing and gaining.
Both Mientus and Martin recommend hiring a good mechanic and a reliable operator to take care of your equipment, as sweep trucks have a lot of moving parts that require service ahead of time and while operating.
“Definitely train your guy in the truck because it’s very easy to break something, especially the brushes that come out the side,” Mientus says.