Contract Sweeping Can be Your Ticket to Financial Success
Contract Sweeping is by no means a 'get rich quick scheme.' However, it is a down-to-earth, very viable business that is expanding at the rate pavement is being put in around the country. Many power sweeping contractors have attained independent lifestyles, multiple employees and much more through power sweeping.
The following is designed to provide you with some basic information about becoming a power sweeping contractor. Using this general information, you will be better able to decide if sweeping is an industry you'd like to get involved with. We suggest you study the examples and use them as a guide in your home town area.
Here are some very important steps you must first consider:
Step #1 — Who are your prospects?
||Grocery Store Lots
||Office Parking Lots
||Plants & Factories
||And Other Paved Surfaces
Remember: Anywhere people gather and leave unsightly litter is a prospect for your sweeping services!
Step #2 — Whom do you call on to offer your services?
In most cases, you will need to see the manager or the person in charge of grounds, typically called the "property manager." We suggest you call on some property managers prior to purchasing your sweeper. Best is if you choose properties that look as though the pavement areas are not maintained very well.
Ask them questions about their current sweeping arrangements. Here are some example questions you might ask:
- Do they own their own sweeper or contract with someone to handle the service for them?
- How long have they had their current contractor?
- Does their current contractor provide additional services besides pavement sweeping?
- Do they know how long it takes their current contractor on an average cleanup? (This information will help you in determining how long it takes to clean different types and sizes of parking areas.)
- Are they 100% satisfied with the work of their current contractor, in terms of quality, service and pricing? (Since you are not yet in the business, it would not be unethical to ask what they pay for services.)
Step #3 — Consider what you've learned
Based upon what you've learned, you should have a good idea if becoming a sweeping contractor is a good idea. If you still think it would be, you will want to familiarize yourself with the rest of the information on this page.
- Do you have enough prospects close by who might want someone to help solve their cleaning problems?
- Most parking lots are swept at night. Is this a problem for you? (Many startup contractors continue with their day jobs for the first months as a sweeping contractor, then go full time when business will support the switchover.
- How many hours do you want to work?
- How much do you want to earn?
Step #4 — Computing your business costs and doing basic record keeping.
As a business person you need to set up your books so you can monitor your growth and profits. You need to establish the monthly cost of operation for your company so you can plan for the future and for tax information.
Here's a place to start:
Some of your costs are 'fixed costs' i.e., remain the same whether or not you sweep; and, some will be 'variable costs,' i.e., dependent upon how much sweeping you do. The following are some examples of fixed costs in your business:
Here are some 'variable cost' examples:
- Sweeper and insurance costs, which occur whether or not you do any work.
- Phone, internet connection, rent/lease costs
- License costs
As an example, let's assume you have a sweeper payment of $1,000/month, insurance of $200/month, and maintenance and fuel are the percentages shown above. If you establish contracts for $6,000.00 in monthly billing, in a very general sense your costs might be:
- Cost for fuel and oil, which might be about 10% of your billing amount.
- Maintenance on your sweeper, which might be about 3% of your billing amount.
||$1,000.00/month in Fixed Cost
||$200.00/month in Fixed Cost
||$500.00/month @ 10% Billing
||$150.00/month @ 3% Billing
|TOTAL ESTIMATED COST
If you divide the number of hours to do $5,000 in billings, approximately 100 hours, by your estimated cost of $1,850; your cost would be $18.50 per hour for operating your sweeper.
To figure your actual hourly rate, divide $5,000.00 (billings) by 100 hours (time to sweep), equals a total gross income of $50.00/hr. As your monthly billings grow and your fixed cost remains the same, your profit increases.
You may want to consider hiring a driver after you get established. Here is an example to help you determine your hourly cost with a driver:
|Hourly operation cost
|TOTAL HOURLY COST
If you charged $50.00/hour and your costs were $29.50 per hour, your gross profit would be $20.50/hour using the above example.
Step #5 — How much do you charge for your service?
Most sweeping contractors price their service by the hour. The only way to do that is to estimate your total expenses, which will include such items as:
- Your sweeper payments
- Insurance on sweeper and liability coverage
- Fuel/oil expense
- Purchase of a backpack blower, gas can, shovel and similar items
- Estimated cost of operating the sweeper, in terms of standard wear items you'll have to replace.
- Business licenses
- Phone number and, if you're not working from home, an office and/or sweeper storage area.
One of the advantages with working with Used Sweepers of America is that we can help you come up with reasonable estimates for all of the above.
When you purchase a sweeper from Used Sweepers of America, LLC, you'll be able to call on us whenever you have questions about operation, contacting prospects and most anything else to do with your business. With several decades of experience working with sweeping contractors across America, this is an enormous advantage.
You will need to determine how long it will take to sweep any prospective area.
There are many factors that need to be considered before you arrive at a price for your sweeping services. Here are some important questions that must be answered:
Establish with the prospect the exact area to be swept.
- What kind of debris is on the lot? Is it typical every day, or will it be heavier in the spring due to salt/sand/cinders, and during holiday seasons? You want to average the time it will take.
- Establish with the prospect exactly what is expected. Write it down and, ultimately, include it in your agreement.
- Will you be picking up litter from flower beds, picking up limbs and leaves?
- Does litter blow from adjoining businesses?
- How is the parking area laid out? Here are some examples in that regard to consider:
- Is it flat going, or are there islands, "V" shaped parking spots, speed breakers?
- Are there many corners and hard-to-get-to areas?
- Is there a chain-link or other fence on the sides that will trap windblown debris?
It is very important to have answers to these questions before you establish a price! Make sure you and your prospects agree on what is expected. Write it down in your agreement and both of you should sign it! If your prospect thinks your price is more than he wants to pay, you can agree to leave off some of your services or cut back on the frequency of sweeping you provide.
Here is an example of price and billing:
You have determined that you should be able to sweep a parking lot with 1,000 spaces in approximately one hour. Further, you have established your price at $50.00 per hour and you have agreed to sweep this particular lot 7 days per week. Here are some example numbers that will help you determine the total cleanup time you might need to allot:
|Parking Space is 10' x 20' = 200 sq. ft.
|1,000 spaces x 200 = 200,000 sq. ft. per hour
|(1) One hour per day @ $50.00/hour x 7 days = $350.00 per week
|52 weeks/Year ÷ 12 Months = $1,516.00 per month for this sweeping example.
|In this example, your monthly billing would be $1,516.00 for sweeping this example lot every day and spending an hour each day on cleanup.
Typically, the more often an account is swept, the better is the pricing per sweep. I.e., you usually give your best customers a better deal due to the volume of business they provide you. Still, make sure you will make a profit on all the work you agree to do!
Fast food restaurants can usually be swept in 30 minutes and are usually only swept once a week. A typical 'per sweep' price for this service would be about $125.00 per month. Again, however, remember to establish exactly what service you will perform and keep it on file. Remember to be consistent in your prices and always do the job you agreed to do.
The best advertising is a satisfied customer.
The worst is a dissatisfied customer.
Some general organizational tips...
Once you have decided to get into business, one of your first steps should be to establish a name for your business. You want your customers to remember who you are so pick something that is easily remembered. Check to see if an appropriate website domain name is available if you use that name. To check this, we suggest you go to www.GoDaddy.com and search for available domain names. We can also help you with this process.
You will need business cards, estimate forms, contract forms and invoice forms. You should visit a local office supply store and see what types of pre-printed forms they offer. You may be able to find ones onto which you can add your company name and, if you have one, your company logo. As a 'starter logo,' you might use a particular typestyle and color for your business name.
Alternatively, you can visit printer and tell them what you need. Most have in-house typesetting departments. Bear in mind that, although you want to look professional, you also want to keep these costs at a minimum. Here are some things to consider as you design these forms:
Make sure your business card includes the following:
- Your Name and Title
- Company Name (and logo if you have one)
- Business Address
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Website and Fax Number (if you have them)
Especially if you are providing other services than power sweeping, consider printing a list of your services onto the back of your business card.
Your Estimate Form should include everything on the business card list, above. In addition, it should include a place for:
- Date estimate was provided
- Name/Address/Contact information for the person/company getting the estimate
- Overview of the service(s) and frequency of them you are proposing
- Cost you will charge for the level of service you propose.
- Place for you to sign.
Service Agreement (Contract)
Your Service Agreement should include everything on the Estimate Form. In addition, it should include:
- Agreed to monthly charges
- How often customer will be billed for your services
- Date service will begin
- Frequency of service
- Place for both you and them to sign, complete with the date of signing and both of your complete contact information and titles.
- Customer Name Date
- Full Address Invoice # Monthly Billing Amount Complete description of services performed
- Your Company Name, Address, Phone/Fax, Email
- Terms of Invoice (i.e., when you expect payment to be made: 15 days, 30 days, etc.
For all of your service accounts, be sure you and your prospect have a copy of all information and establish "key personnel contacts" for all customers so you can get answers to any specific questions that may arise.
If you have any questions about the above information, or about Used Sweepers of America, LLC, just give us a call or send us an email or give us a call!
Phone: (256) 541-2500
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