The Creature of the Night

I went to my local grocery store last night. It was rather late at night but I like the lack of competition for parking spaces at 11:30 p.m. As I was walking in, I saw something quite noisy approaching in a large cloud of dust. Just ahead of the dust was a mechanical monster on a truck! It was unlike any truck that I had seen before as it had what appeared to be an arm on its belly and an iron attached to its tail! On this arm was a really huge tool that reminded me of a Dremel and it was spinning and sparking across the lot. The iron on the back was creating a vacuum so strong that I had to hold on to my hair to keep it from coming out…well maybe not that strong but I do use extensions so it’s possible.  I had come face-to-face with the illusive nocturnal power sweeper.

I got a good look at the handler of this beast when I was pinned against my car and saw the lack of any fear, or concern for that matter, in his eyes. His turns were sharp and quick and I wondered if the customer’s bumpers were going to survive the wrath of his close proximity.  He didn’t have a uniform nor was there a logo on his truck so the source of the mechanical monster was unknown.  

Although the beast was just a truck, the terror that filled me was real and stemmed from the fact that as a customer of this establishment, I felt unsafe even crossing the lot. Surely all of power sweepers do not behave in this manner?  I began to research how to obtain professional sweeping services.

The first question that I asked was how do you keep your clients feeling safe when this monster is in the lot? It was shared that this particular encounter is not typical of the professional power sweeper. My local store had selected poorly, most likely based on price. The evidence for this was the cloud of dust which showed a technical knowledge deficiency in the driver. The unsafe maneuvering and general lack of customer concern was evident as well. He never got out of his truck to sweep corners or provide a detailed sweep. Finally, the company’s lack of professionalism was clearly advertised by the absence of a uniform or identification on the truck; no logo or contact information.  So that is what you look for when you want to know what power sweepers shouldn’t do. My advice is if you see this type of company, turn and run.  

You might be thinking, "This is just a piece of pavement, why would an establishment bother to power sweep?"  To begin with, proper and consistent sweeping extends the life of the pavement so maintaining these assets reduce capital expenditures. There are advantages to the environment and community beyond just aesthetics. Reducing debris in runoff will promote healthier water systems in addition to being more inviting. Patrons and clients are better protected when an area is swept as debris can facilitate slip and fall issues leading to litigation. These are all very valid reasons.

So how frequently should sweeping be performed? Below are a few questions to review when considering the answer to this question:

  • What tenants are located at the property? With something like a department store, there is usually less debris, so the area can be swept less frequently, perhaps 2 to 3 times may be appropriate.  If the tenant is an office area with its own employees, you may need only one time per week. If it is a high traffic area such as a grocery or food establishment then four to seven times may be required.
  • What is the condition of the asphalt? Grit will deteriorate pavement, it’s that simple.  If your area picks up a lot of grit wear will occur quicker so more frequent sweeping will preserve the surface area. 
  • Are there trees near the lot that are dropping leaves or sap year round? If so, you should have the area swept more frequently. If there are evergreens, you may not need to sweep as often.
  • When does the area start to look like it needs to be swept? If the lot is swept every Sunday, and looks fine at the beginning of the week, but starts to fall off by Friday, you may need to increase the frequency of sweeping.
  • How dirty do the gutters get between sweeps?  A significant amount of the pollutants in our water system today is debris which washes and blows from un-swept lots into the gutters and eventually into our watershed areas.
  • What is your acceptable level of cleanliness? A clean and well maintained facility will attract more clients and patrons than a poorly kept area. The street and lot in front of the establishment is the welcome center that customers establish their first impression with and it needs to be a good one.
  • What is your budget? Plan on a budget for asset maintenance and follow your maintenance schedule.
  • Are there regulations to follow? Review local ordinances to determine if there is a requirement.

The next area of research for a professional power sweeper is how to obtain the best service for the best price.  Here is what I found:

  • Sometimes it’s best to ask for a Request for Proposal (RFP), versus a Request for Quotation (RFQ). Sweeping is a subjective service. Asking for an RFP takes advantage of the creative, problem-solving nature of the contractor and can result in the best value.
  • Flexibility can save big dollars. If possible, let the contractor pick which nights to sweep when you are setting up the service. If they are already sweeping a nearby property on the nights they come to your property, this can help lower your costs.
  • If you want your sweeper to add spring cleaning to your quote, ask them to price it by the hour. Many businesses want to include spring cleaning in the annual pricing, so the provider will often quote a flat fee, often the ‘worst case scenario.’ If you pay by the hour, you are only paying for what you need, taking advantage of the vendor’s own efficiencies. This can provide savings.

Finally, how do you find a professional sweeper? Visit the NAPSA Contractor-Locator at You can search by service area to find a provider. Watch for the Certified Sweeping Company designation and find out more about why a company who is certified could give you even greater benefit.


The North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA) is a nonprofit association made up of 300+ contract sweepers, service providers and sweeping equipment dealers, manufacturers and suppliers. NAPSA is dedicated to providing beneficial support to the membership and enhancing services to the sweeping industry. The members of NAPSA are committed to promoting and educating the power sweeping community while enhancing the environment. For more information on NAPSA membership, please visit or call (888) 757-0130.