5 Game Changers for Commercial Sweeping Businesses

There are countless challenges for small business owners. All agree, it’s a complex proposition to start and grow a business, especially in the ever-more complicated modern business environment. We can’t take on all the difficulties facing today’s commercial sweeping business operator in this article, but here are five major points of advice for overcoming the biggest challenges reported by sweeping business owners.

1. Use the Right Technologies.

It’s more important than ever to equip your team with modern tools for operations and administration of your sweeping service. Why? Because your competitors are doing it, and because your customers are doing it. Today’s commercial property managers and city maintenance contract managers are accustomed to working with vendors who can interface their technologies for order tracking, billing, and payment processing.
Further, your employees can compare their experience working in field services or administrative offices for other sweeping companies, and appreciate the difference between employers who provide them with the proper tools to do their best work and those who limit their abilities to perform well by not having all the appropriate tools for the job. Modern technologies give sweeping businesses a competitive edge, increasing efficiencies in operations, administrative management, accounting, cost management, service quality, sales, and marketing.
Most sweeping business owners these days take pride in the quality and maintenance of their fleets of sweeper trucks and other service vehicles. But, on the operations and admin office technology end, many still need to bring systems up to date. To keep up, it may be time to consider:
• Providing every field service worker with an iPhone.
• Equipping every sweeper truck with a tablet.
• Upgrading GPS systems with tracking capabilities, and, budget-permitting, even with cameras and remote monitoring for more reliable communications, and schedule, quality, and payroll management.
• Equipping your office team with multiple phone lines and VoIP, for greater reliability and flexibility and functionality of phone and integrated digital systems.
• Adding an easy-to-use CRM or communications database. This tool can do wonders for an organization, scheduling, promoting, auto communications, and much more.
Most sweeping businesses use QuickBooks, Windows OS, Microsoft Office package, and other standard software programs and platforms. All businesses should have website optimization and security tools in place, and additional technologies for growing businesses may need to include bot-facilitated websites, conferencing technologies for meetings, and versatile, maintenance-free cloud storage, backup, and other services.

2. Prioritize Quality Assurance.

Today’s options for quality assurance in street sweeping services range from investment in state-of-the-art technologies to low-cost or no-cost alternatives. The point here is to have a robust quality management system, whatever it may be. There are plenty of great options:
• GPS tracking has become a standard sweeping industry tool for validating whereabouts of sweeper trucks, their drivers, and service delivery timelines. GPS enables management to confirm that drivers have been on the assigned properties and were there long enough to deliver thorough service.
• GPS with video and remote monitoring services go much farther, emailing reports of data and activities inside sweeper trucks and outside trucks as they travel from one customer’s site to another. Some of these systems are even set up for registering time worked and automatic payroll processing.
• Service site inspections by quality assurance supervisors immediately after drivers leave properties is another option. Work inspectors can also note any issues on a customer’s property, such as lighting, landscape, or building damage, or other unusual conditions and communicate these to customers.
• Nightly random spot-checks are an option for some sweeping companies, not as effective as inspecting all sites serviced, but much better than offering customers no QA system at all.
• Phone calling to check-in with customers for feedback is a value-added option that includes both QA and customer engagement.
• A high-value method is visiting customers in person. Especially, visits from the sweeping business manager or owner, to ask how things are going with the service, make a strong impression of your company’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.
• Photo Texting is a high-end QA process. Drivers text photos of serviced areas to supervisors, who then forward them to customers, with notations of onsite conditions and feedback requests. This is another excellent combined QA and customer engagement option.
• One fast-growing east-coast sweeping company even has web technology that provides a portal for customers to access their orders and see what’s happening on their properties in real-time! That takes both quality monitoring and customer engagement to a new level.
Overall, with all the talk about tech, the low-tech approaches to QA management offer customers something that technology solutions cannot. Communicating with people on the phone or in-person provides a personalized customer experience. It shows a level of commitment to quality and customer care that is beyond expectations for most customers in the age of tech.
Whatever you choose for a QA system, the point is to have one and work it diligently. A combined human contact and technology-enabled solution that provides for real-time documentation is ideal.

3. Diversify Revenue Channels.

To develop a more sustainable business model, many sweeping businesses have diversified into multiple revenue channels. In addition to pavement sweeping, a large percentage of today’s sweeping services offer other services that are of high value to customers, such as day portering, gum removal, power washing, striping, pavement repair, asphalt sealing, curb repair, snow removal, landscape maintenance, signage replacement and repair, storage container rental, even one-stop exterior maintenance services for commercial properties. There are, of course, pros and cons in adding more revenue lines:
• Pros: Having an additional source of revenue can have a stabilizing effect on a sweeping business through seasonal low periods. It can also infuse synergies for the existing and new revenue lines that can generate greater strength in your service offering and open up access to new markets for your business. Diversification into multiple revenue generators can enable growth.
• Cons: Naturally, adding services involves financial risk. Expenses of new equipment, tools, supplies, and to increase time allocations, marketing and sales efforts, etc., can deplete resources. Monitoring can be too complex, to track the financial performance of added channels accurately. It may necessitate outsourcing bookkeeping assistance, which is another cost. Servicing on another revenue line can also end up being so labor-intensive that it leads to understaffing to deliver core services that are the businesses’ primary financial supports.
Negative potentialities notwithstanding, one of the biggest game-changers a sweeping business can seize. It’s an opportunity to add a revenue channel that can yield a strong ROI. Ideally, choose a new channel that can fit well with the business’s primary line of income, in terms of skills needed to provide it and its proximity to other service work that the team is already doing.

4. Have a System for Hiring and Retaining Talent

The US American sweeping industry is a business subsector in which most business owners appear enlightened with a full appreciation of the need to do what it takes to build good business relationships with everyone around them. Sweeping business owners all over the country express their deep understanding of building a strong reputation of trust not only with their customers and vendors but also, and perhaps especially with their employees. Yet, despite their best efforts, too many companies from coast to coast operate in a perpetual struggle to hire and keep good employees.
Business owners strive to screen candidates thoroughly, train new hires well, and compensate people competitively, but find their businesses stuck in a rut of excessive turnover. It’s a costly problem that can damage a business’s reputation and imperil it financially.
Companies that report better turnover rates have some things in common. They go farther to provide an environment and a workplace culture that is more conducive to long-term employment. Some key ways you can go the extra mile for the people you need to count on to go the distance for you every day include:
• Examine your business’s reputation as an employer, your operating policies and environment, and ask yourself what may be causing you to attract workers who are unlikely to stay with your company.
• Make necessary changes in your physical business operations, to create an optimally organized and well-functioning workplace that inspires the confidence of employees looking for a stable, secure, supportive workplace. Make sure equipment is in good repair, meeting spaces and any break spaces, restrooms, etc., are consistently well stocked with supplies, and that all required employer signage is prominently posted.
• Improve your onboarding system by adding a professional, well-organized new hire package of employment forms, a comprehensive employee handbook, written policies, enhanced job training, enhanced safety training.
• Build a formal culture of team activities. Promote and require a team committed to making everyone in the workplace feel that they belong and are a valued contributor to the company.
Employers in the sweeper industry are virtually all very sensitive to the need to treat employees with respect, compensate them well, and to try to build good working relationships with them. That’s good because we’re operating in an age in which the business consequences of poor employee relations are arguably more serious than in past generations, partly because of the saturated job market, and partly because of the ubiquitous information sharing workers do across their online social platforms.
So, what may remain for you is to think about what else employees want in a place of employment, and try to give them as much of it as you can, within the limits of the budget you’ve set, and of an appropriate workplace environment.

Looking to the Future

By implementing the above game-changing recommendations for bolstering operational and business financial performance at the appropriate times and in the right ways, you can expect to reduce overall time costs, quality issues, and increase operational inefficiency and revenues.
Those improvements translate into the need to put a growth plan in place, so that when you do begin to experience significant growth, you can ensure that you can add necessary equipment and staff without finding yourself in over your head with runaway hiring, spending, slow receivables collections, under-trained and prepared management, and other common growth-related pit-falls into which first-time business owners so often fall.
Finally, Game Changer # 5 would be to appreciate the indispensability of the above 4 industry-specific fundamentals for succeeding in the commercial sweeping industry. It’s not hard to picture a sweeping business A that has few or none of these solutions in place, in contrast to imagining business B that has all 4 of these critical approaches to maximizing efficiency, productivity, service quality, and brand-ability.
That simple test, imagining the differences between hypothetical businesses A and B above, makes it a simple matter to decide to move forward with implementing some game-changers for your sweeping services enterprise.


No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!