A driver certification program designed to improve safety within the sweeping industry and help contract sweepers market their services could be in place for the start of 2014, according to Mark Carter, Bill’s Sweeping Service, Orange, CA.
Carter, who is spearheading the development of the program for the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA), said the primary purpose of the program is to help sweeping companies differentiate themselves from other companies.
“Sweeping is a service business so companies have to differentiate themselves from one another and NAPSA is working to help them do that,” Carter said. He says there are a limited number of ways contract sweepers can differentiate themselves from their competition including being insured, conducting drug testing, demonstrating safety training, and using GPS monitoring of drivers and routes.
NAPSA’s first big step to helping companies differentiate was its Certified Sweeping Company (CSC) program, which basically gives the association’s seal of approval to companies that have completed the program. Begun in 2003, NAPSA currently has 40 members who have completed the CSC process.
“A driver certification program would fit right in with that,” Carter said. “Once we get that in place companies will be able to say ‘Not only is my company certified by the industry association but my drivers are too.’ That’s going to be a big help when competing against non-NAPSA companies and companies that can’t offer certification.”
He says another benefit of the program could be improved safety within the sweeping industry, which might translate to lower insurance costs several years down the road. “If we’re putting better-trained operators out on the road then we hope to reduce the accident rate, and over the long haul reduce our insurance rates,” Carter says.
Carter said the plan is to develop the program using online traffic schools as a model. He said that in those programs classes are offered in modules and can be completed at the student’s leisure, taken in segments at home or in the office. Once all modules are completed a test would certify that they have passed the classroom portion of the program.
The field or practical portion of the program would be administered by a sweeping company’s senior management. It would include an MVR check, verifying minimum hours of actual field experience, and an oral exam where candidates would describe pre-start checks, operational hazards and safe practices.
While safety will be a huge part of being a certified operator, maximizing productivity and efficiency will also be a focus. Advanced topics like sweeping patterns, post accident behavior, optimizing equipment life and ownership thinking will bring dividends to participating operators and companies.
He said the program also could work as a pre-screen for hiring and could provide sweeping companies a pool of people to select from. “People could go in and take all or a portion of the test prior to an interview or even before applying for a job, in which case that person would have a leg up on someone else coming in to apply,” he said.
And sweeping companies could easily use the driver certification as a step prospects would have to complete before they get too far along in the interview process. “I could do an initial interview and then ask the prospect to complete the program or a specific part of the program as part of the hiring process,” Carter says. “That way I can learn more about him and he can learn more about the job before I ever get to the point of putting him in a truck.”
He says currently NAPSA is gathering existing training programs from sweeping companies. The next step is to examine all the programs and determine which elements should be incorporated into the NAPSA program.
“At this stage we’re still putting the curriculum together, determining what needs to be in and what needs to be out,” he says. “Once we’ve made those determinations we can start structuring it and putting it together.”
Carter says the program will likely include audio, photos, diagrams, text and video. Current plans are for a “general” section and then possibly separate sections devoted to parking lot sweeping and broom sweeping, though those plans are still in flux.
NAPSA Offers Discounts, Free Sessions at NPE
Members of the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA) will be able to attend three free 90-minute sessions and two discounted three-hour workshops at National Pavement Expo, Jan. 23-26, 2013 in Nashville. The free sessions and discounts are part of NAPSA’s annual membership benefits.
“2013 Best Practices for Contract Sweepers,” Thursday, Jan. 24, 9:00 a.m. – Noon. Moderated this year by Gabe Vitale, C & L Sweeper Service Corp., this annual “best practices” workshop will cover the following six topics (with facilitators):
* Influencing Operators to Work Safely and Accident Free (Mark Carter, Bill’s Sweeping Service)
* Getting the Employee You Want and Keeping the Employee You Need (Jim Dodson, Debbie Dodson, Midstate Industrial)
* Hit by the Bus: A Plan for Business Continuation (Ron Lichtenstein, Algonquin Sweeping and Striping)
* Run Your Routes so They Don’t Run You: Route Efficiencies for the Effective Sweeper (Sylvia Richards, Asphalt Enterprises)
* Sales from the Property Manager’s Prospective (Sasha Brandon Shepard and Bob Pierce, Sansone Group)
* Creative Compensation to Retain and Attract Employees (Tracy Day, Nite-Hawk Sweepers).
NAPSA members can attend the three-hour “best practices” session for $85 (regular price $155).
“Asset Protection Planning: Responsible Risk-Taking to Protect Your Business – and Your Wealth,” Friday, Jan. 25 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon, presented by Harry Barth, H.M. Barth & Company. Barth has more than 40 years of experience in the financial services industry counseling franchisees, business owners, and corporations nationwide. He is also co-author of Planning Today for All Your Tomorrows, a Practical Guide to Help High Income and/or High Net Worth Clients. Cost of the three-hour session is $60 for NAPSA members (regular price $155).
Barth will also present one of the sessions free to NAPSA members, “Why – and How -- to Develop a Business Continuation Plan,” from 2:00-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24.
The other two free 90-minute sessions are: “Beyond the Website: Using Online Tools to Grow Your Offline Business,” presented by Grayson Carter, Bill’s Sweeping Service, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and “How to Improve Sweeper Performance, Job Quality and Your Bottom Line,” presented by Costas Cordonis, National Sweeper Solutions, from 10:00-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.
For more information about NAPSA or to become a member visit www.powersweeping.org or call 888-757-0130.
For more information including complete descriptions for these and other sessions visit www.nationalpavementexpo.com