Paying for Sweeping

As contract sweepers have come to realize, there is a significant disconnect between the perceived value of sweeping (see page XX) and what public agencies and property managers are willing to pay for the service.

This disconnect results from the recession, from contractors willing to sweep for less than they should, from contractors who don’t really know what it costs them to sweep, from third-party providers undercutting the local market with low-ball bids, and because people don’t actually “see” benefits of sweeping – they only see the problems of not sweeping.

But sweeping, whether on streets or in parking lots, requires high-tech equipment that is expensive to buy and maintain. It’s done by business owners who understand how to provide a service that is often unnoticed, and it’s done by trained operators who are trusted to handle valuable equipment amidst daytime traffic or at night as they move from parking lot to parking lot. In short it’s a costly and complex business that is deserving of appropriate compensation.

So contract sweepers need to reconnect with the market so they are compensated properly for the service they provide. There are several solutions to this, none of them easy:

  • Sweeping contractors need to know their costs and expected profit margin and bid (and accept and reject) work accordingly.
  • Third-party providers need to do a better job of aggregating bids for reasonable prices so that when they reach out to contractors to provide those services the contractors can earn the profit they need.
  • Contract sweepers must be willing to turn down work that doesn’t fit within their profit picture. If you can’t make money at it, don’t do the job. Anecdotal evidence has shown that when customers can’t get someone for the price they want they will raise the price they’re willing to pay.
  • Contract sweepers must be more aggressive educating and convincing their customers and prospects that sweeping, and sweeping with appropriate frequency, is more than an expense. It’s an investment in the property, the businesses that pay rent, the customers that frequent the businesses – and it’s an investment in the community.

There’s no question that contract sweepers provide a valuable service; the challenge sweepers face is to convince customers they should be reasonably compensated so they can be around to sweep for a long time.