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Vacuum Cleaner at Parking Lot

How to Start a Parking Lot Cleaning Business

Property managers are always looking for professionally skilled laborers that can help their properties look great and stay safe. Parking lots are one of those areas at business premises that often get overlooked despite anyone’s best intentions.

What exactly does the parking lot cleaning business involve? The great news is that there are a variety of needs based on the time of year. Parking lots are regularly in need of general cleanings such as litter pick-up from patrons in the lots, or on patios and adjacent sidewalks.

Less often, more serious clean-up such as concrete or asphalt repairs will be needed. This is exceptionally common in temperate areas where parking lots are subject to extreme heat, extreme cold, ice-build-up, or all the above.

If you are thinking of getting into the parking lot cleaning business, it isn’t that difficult to get started. Depending on the parking lot cleaning services that you wish to provide, a new business owner could start with general clean-up work to help keep parking lots clean and safe. If you are ready to take on more of an investment by purchasing sweeping trucks and other equipment, you may find that you can take on larger jobs right away. Whatever size you want your company to be, make sure you can tackle what you sign up for to ensure the area is properly cleaned to the customer’s satisfaction. If you do the job well, not only will you be asked back for more work, but the property owner may also refer you to colleagues who need similar services.

What does it Take to Run a Successful Parking Lot Cleaning Business?

Perhaps the most important skills are some common sense and an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as the ability to contribute some muscle, especially in the beginning before you can afford to hire additional staff. To be more specific, however, parking lot cleaning business owners should have the following skills:

  • Ability to clean well and pay attention to detail
  • Flexibility to work long hours and during non-prime hours. (Most property owners won’t want you to try to clean the parking lot when customers are present.)
  • Communication skills
  • Time management skills
  • Networking and negotiation skills
  • Organization skills

Business owners have a lot of pressure put on them, especially owner-operators, which are typical in the parking lot cleaning industry. You will need to be able to manage customer discussions, contract and price negotiation and management, equipment operation, staff handling, as well as the actual labor. If you are not able to take all of this on and if you cannot provide the flexibility that property owners will require, then a parking lot cleaning business is likely not the right venture for you.

Ensure you have the Right Equipment

To provide high-quality parking lot cleaning services, owner-operators will need to acquire the proper cleaning equipment. You’ll need to invest in a commercial sweeper. You do not, however, want to spend your entire business budget on a single piece of sweeping equipment. Thus, you will need to look for a sweeper that is reliable and durable, and that can work for you throughout the cleaning season. If you invest in the wrong sweeper, you will end up spending more on repair or replacement. Even worse, you might not be able to keep up with your workload.

As parking lot sweeping is commonly needed for shopping malls, hospitals, schools, civic centers, and more, if you can’t commit to the job, then the property owner will quickly move on to someone who can. When property owners get complaints about debris, broken glass, and other items in the parking lots, it puts them under pressure to get the work done quickly. If the complaint comes after your time to clean has come and gone, and you missed it due to downed equipment, you can be sure that you won’t be hired back.

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How Much Money can be Made from Parking Lot Cleaning?

Prices for parking lot cleaning services will vary greatly depending on location and the type of service being cleaned. However, the average cost of parking lot cleaning is just over $80.00 per sweep for a 500-vehicle parking lot. This cost will fluctuate depending on the size of the parking lot and the conditions that sweepers will need to endure during cleaning. For instance, landscaped areas that need to be swept around, potholes that can cause damage to cars and sweepers, etc.

To determine how much to charge your customers, you should develop a rate card that provides pricing based on:

  • Geographic location
  • Size of the parking lot
  • Current condition of the parking lot
  • Frequency of cleaning services and time of day for cleanings
  • Volume of and type of trash that generally accumulates between cleanings
  • Layout of the parking lot
  • Length of the agreed-upon service contract – most owner-operators will provide lower pricing for long-term contracts

Remember that cleaning commercial parking lots is quite different to cleaning offices or home interiors. Parking lots are full of debris, broken glass, leaves and branches, cups and food wrappers, cigarette butts, grease, grime, and so much more due to the various vehicles flowing through the parking lot every day. This type of commercial cleaning requires constant attention, and as such, it is a lucrative business opportunity for the right entrepreneur.

Finally, Check this list of commercial cleaning companies.

Get your Business Plan in Order

If you are seriously considering going into the parking lot cleaning business, you will need to get a business plan into place. Even though you know that this is the business that interests you, you must conduct serious research about it before you get too far along.

Even if you feel like you know all that you need to know about the parking lot cleaning business, it is still a good idea to get some professional training. Not only will this make you look better to prospective property owners that may wish to hire you, but you may learn new skills and cleaning methods that you had not known about before. This will make you even better at the job you plan to undertake.

Take time to consider your marketing and advertising plan. You will need to spend some time selling your services, and in the parking lot cleaning business, this may mean a bit of old-school door to door selling. Start with those property owners that you met with during the research phase of your business plan. Make visits to the owners of run-down parking lots to see what you can do to help.

You may find that an extension of your business could be sub-contracting services for lot repairs. Property owners will appreciate the convenience of having a one-stop-shop to keep their lots looking great. Of course, you will also need to conduct some more modern marketing efforts such as creating a website and some social media pages (Facebook, in particular). For any small business, make sure that customers can find you when they are looking.

Finally, get creative with your business. Consider extra services that you can offer (such as sub-contracting for repairs), or other unique services that you come up with along the way. The more you can set yourself apart as a quality cleaner that goes above and beyond, the more lucrative your business will be.

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