Szeremi Sweeping Service, LLC – Simply Cleaner!

The Szeremi Sweeping Service in Sacramento, CA is an American success story. From the business’s humble beginning with a used sweeper truck bought at auction at a low price to running over two dozen top-quality sweeper trucks, now providing commercial street and parking lot cleaning services for construction and municipal customers in Northern California. The company has received over 1,500 testimonials from exceptionally satisfied customers, possibly an industry-wide record for a sweeping service of its size and time in operation.

How it All Began for Szeremi

Bryan tells the story of the company’s humble beginnings. I started working for my uncle Ken at Gold River Sweeping Service in Sacramento in 1998. I worked for Gold River for three years until 2001, when I went out on my own. So, working for my uncle got me into the industry. Eventually, I managed his business, worked as shop labor, foreman, did repairs. I had just graduated from high school when I went to work for him as an operator and mechanic, and then that position morphed into more responsibilities, doing more scheduling, dispatching, working one-on-one with customers in the field. I got more insight into what we’re doing in the business.
When I left Gold River in 2001, I had bought a sweeper from an auction pretty cheap. Sweepers were a lot cheaper than to acquire. I just started out doing my work for supplemental income while I continued working for my uncle. Back then, there weren’t the California regulations that there are now. Trying to get started today would be a different story, especially at $250,000 for a sweeper truck. I got into it at the right time. Originally, people looked us up and called my house line. That’s how the ball got rolling.

Szeremi’s Growth in Sacramento

Growth has been consistent but not forced. I don’t bite off any more than we can chew. We forecast based on workflows coming down the pipe. Sometimes we’d have more work than needed. Or, we might only need all the trucks a couple of months and the rest of the year would be looking to keep the trucks busy. The last five years have been great.
Organic growth coming through the door has been very steady. A lot of one- and two-truck sweeping businesses have gone out of business, which has increased our business. But, over recent years, there’s always a lot of work out there for everybody. With that, there’s hasn’t’ been a big increase in demand. Housing and commercial work have been pretty steady, pretty even across the board. There have been no big jumps in demand. Overall, the last five years have been very steady.

Accounting for Szeremi’s Strong Growth

The quality of our equipment, the staff takes pride in their job, our ability to make changes on the fly to facilitate our customers’ needs. We show up. We do the job. We excel in making sure customers are satisfied with our services each day. The quality of service comes down to our employees. Our employees are what make this company. We owe everything to our employees. We’re like a coach. We have a good solid team. Having a good, solid workforce is the key to our success.

Szeremi Business Model

Our business is solely commercial construction sweeping. We don’t do a lot of parking lots. We just focus on big jobs on big projects. We’re a signatory company. So, parking lots are not what we’re tuned into. Our services are a little more expensive. So, we just don’t do much in parking lots.
Of course, there are always different applications for the trucks, going forward. But, our construction and commercial channels keep us going. We know commercial construction services. We know how to channel our energy toward it and how to succeed at it. Stick with what you know you’ll succeed at it — that’s our main focus.

Szeremi Daily Operations

We have jobs that we’ve bid on, and we get jobs that I go out and do the sales to obtain. My drivers do the sales, too. They will stop by jobs and drop off cards. And, a lot of our business has always be driven by word of mouth. In fact, finding work for us is predominately through word of mouth. We do advertising; a small amount comes from that. But, we’re a word-of-mouth service. Our customer base varies from day today. We’re an on-call service, like an ambulance service, 24/7.
We do about 170 jobs per week. That’s about average per week during peak season. Some of those are 4 or 8-hour jobs. They’re not all for one customer. We work for everybody. Because we’re not with just one customer, when one slows down it doesn’t affect us as much. So, when one construction project goes down, we’re not out there scrambling.
My wife Andrea is a big part of the company. Andrea is a key component in how it all works. She’s behind the scenes managing all the accounts receivables, payables, payroll, including the certified payroll services required on job sites. She manages the insurance paperwork, driver paperwork inside the trucks, maintains the accounting ledger, does the QuickBooks accounting. She also helps with our mechanics, entering all the parts and part numbers and costs, and does other data entry. She wears a lot of hats behind the scenes. Carrel works with her helping with the office work.
Donald, our Dispatcher, oversees dispatching drivers and call-intakes for drivers. It falls to me if he’s not here. I oversee everything in Operations. If I’m not around, Andrea oversees the operations.
We do 95 percent of our repairs in-house. We have two mechanics that work in-house, and two mechanically inclined drivers, and myself. So, most of our mechanical work is done by the two mechanics in our shop. Our mechanic shop foreman makes all the decisions. He and I are identical in our thinking on how to manage repairs. We don’t do internal engine work. Everything else, we do ourselves.
Managers Plus is the field services management software we use. It allows our drivers the opportunity in the field to report a problem immediately when the problem shows itself. Our shop mechanics can then address it when they receive the information from the driver in the field. The driver can turn in that data and it turns into a repair order. Then, an email notification goes back to the driver, and the driver knows that the shop is doing what they need to do.
That program also logs all our hours, miles, oil changes, anything we want to maintains on the machine. It’s an inventory control system too, tracking each part that is associated with a truck and the cost associated with it. We can look it up and know if we have the part in inventory or not, and schedule repairs and dispatch equipment accordingly when needed. Drivers know they’re being listened to, so it’s a good system for maintaining communications between the drivers and the repair shop.

Szeremi Builds Competitor Relationships and Helps Industry Safety

We also do a lot of consultation for other sweeping services vendors and help them get repairs done. If they need a sensor, for example, or some other help, we’ll help. That builds relationships. Even after we’ve sold machines to people, we’ll help them get the part, source it out, tell them where to get it.
We try to keep open lines of communication with our competitors. I believe it’s key. There’s a little bit of respect there, and we can talk about problems our industry is facing and affecting our business as well as theirs. When my driver might face a safety issue, we can share information. That helps keep safety consistent for everyone. If we can all work together to get the whole industry doing safe work, it turns into a safer industry for everybody.

Company Culture at Szeremi

We’re a very flexible company. We know we must respect our driver’s needs as much as they need to respect our needs. We take care of our employees to the best of our abilities. At the end of the year, we do a dinner to help show our appreciation for our guys. We give gifts. We try on all birthdays to make sure we give gift cards or other gifts. Our guys aren’t just a number; they’re family. It’s about just being human. We treat them the way we want to be treated.
We’re a tight-knit group, a specialty group. If there’s good and bad, we address both. We try to do as much as possible with our crew. This morning, for example, we got everybody in early for a pre-season drivers’ meeting, to address what everybody needs. It’s more cost-effective and safer for everybody to listen to each other. That’s how we built the culture.

A Bit of Bryan Szeremi’s Marketing and Branding

The trucks stand out. The blue color on the trucks is something we implemented in 2014, with Schwarze. They powder-coated the trucks. Nescon builds the X-Broom mechanical sweeper we use. They did the same thing with the blue and the white and the chrome. Schwarze calls the color the “Szeremi Blue.” I give it to Schwarze. They listen to our requests. Both of those manufacturers are listening. I give it to both companies for listening. I’d like to them for listening to our needs and trying to implement what’s most cost-effective for us and them.

Quality Management for Szeremi Customers

We use a cloud-based dispatching system. Our drivers have the opportunity to take before and after pictures of the job site. They can then upload the photos into the cloud and send them to customers. That gives our customers documentation of conditions. That validates our quality, and it’s good for our customers. They have that photo documentation for their benefit with regulatory agencies.
A lot of our drivers do self-checks and drivers who come to the next day follow-up on the quality of the previous day’s work. The guys kind of monitor each other that way. They know they all need to do well. Everyone’s livelihood depends on each other.
We call and check in with customers. We ask questions about satisfaction. We do spot-checks. My dispatcher and I put in as much time as the drivers do during the season out there with the guys. In addition to doing the office work, customers like seeing owners out in the field, especially running the truck. If there are issues, we have more feel for what the drivers are experiencing. That way, it’s not just a driver’s issue.
Sometimes, you have to educate your customers on how our industry works. A lot of sweeping services operators won’t try to educate their customers, because they’re afraid of losing them. But, when you educate your customers, you build a good solid foundation for the working relationship. Then, when a problem arises, we know what they need and they understand how the service is supposed to work, and everybody can compromise and is happy. They understand what the trucks can do.

Current and Future Challenges for Szeremi

What we’ve experienced out here with the California car regulations in place has been challenging. We’re 100 percent carb-compliant. We have all tier- 4 equipment in place. We upgrade to new equipment, as needed. I think if the State of California changes the regulations to stricter air quality, and tightens diesel emissions even tighter than they are now, those mandates will come with a cost for our industry. How much that will that affect the bottom line, especially for operators like we are, who’ve already done upgrades, and our ability to pass that on to the customers is a concern.
Another concern is that when guys (competitors) don’t know what their rate should be, to be able to absorb their costs, that impacts the bigger operators. The equipment has a life expectancy. We constantly do all servicing early and have very minimal downtime in the field. But, some operators don’t maintain their equipment because they can’t afford to, because they don’t charge enough to afford it. Some don’t consider replacement costs to maintain equipment. So, they’re not putting the replacement cost into their rates either. All of that impacts competing operators who price services more appropriately.

Bryan Szeremi Offers Advice for Industry Newcomers

Our industry needs some solidarity in pushing some ethics out there for drivers and service. It puts a bad taste in contractors’ mouths about sweeping services in general when service from any vendor is poor. So, everyone should be focused on providing good service.
For new operators, there’s always so much you could offer in advice. Understand the industry you’re getting into. Do your due diligence. Know your customer and your equipment. Provide a quality service, and you will succeed.

For more information about Szeremi Sweeping Services in Sacramento CA, visit www.szeremisweeping.com.

Source
www.szeremisweeping.com

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