A Passion for Quality – SPS, Raynham MA

William Smith, Owner of Smith Property Services (SPS) has built an impressive commercial power sweeping business in just five short years and has continued to realize growth even during this past year of the global economic shutdown (2020). Smith’s company provides a wide range of essential commercial property maintenance and sweeping services. He attributes his success to his and his team’s commitment to top-quality performance in every detail of service and to achieving maximum customer satisfaction in every account. Under Bill’s direction, SPS sets a high operational standard for the industry. Here, he offers some fascinating insights for new entrepreneurial entrants into the U.S. commercial power sweeping market.

Smith Property Services Business Model

The numerous revenue channels that constitute the SPS business model include a wide range of essential commercial property maintenance and power sweeping services in retail, industrial, commercial parking lot, municipal, and construction sweeping environments. These are some of the company’s wide array of exterior and interior property maintenance services:

Power Sweeping
Retail Sweeping
Industrial Sweeping
Municipal Sweeping
Construction Sweeping
Construction Run-Off
Day Portering Services
Pressure Washing
Facility Maintenance
Touch Up Painting
Light Bulb Replacement
Bollard Repair
Tenant Clean Outs
Ceiling Tile Repair
Snow & Ice Management
Snow Plowing
Salt Application
Sidewalk Maintenance
Bulk Trash Removal
Oversize Load Removal
Abandoned Property
Dropped Off Items
Property Trash Removal
Asphalt & Paving
Pothole Repair
Curb Repair
Parking Lot Striping
Paving Services
Catch Basin Clean Out
Grate Clean Out
Property Maintenance Services
Services Available 24/7

Bill Smith, A New Beginning…

From here, Bill Smith tells the captivating story of SPS, its inception in April of 2015, what led to its start, the business’s 5-year growth history, and its operational model. He also talks about the relationships that have defined this impressive growing business right along with the man who created it from scratch, less than scratch really, and shaped it into a thriving New England enterprise. It’s an account of an entrepreneur’s journey that is sure to resonate with many power sweeping business owners:
I had a landscaping business and worked as a subcontractor for years for this guy. I went through a divorce and the landscaping business was dissolved. I lost everything and even ended up living in my car for a while. This was about 14 or 15 years ago. I took a job working for someone else and hated it. I ended up working for my brother. A guy I knew with a sweeping business called me and said he was going to downsize and sell. I talked to my brother about the idea, but he didn’t want it.

SPS Startup Launch and Rapid Growth

So, I started it on my own and soon got about $100k worth of accounts. A property owner (SPS’s major customer) who I started providing service since that time did everything with billygoats instead of trucks. He said, “If you buy a truck, come back and see me.” So, I worked my way up and got a Schwarze.” I called him, and he said, “Let me see what I can do.” That was about five years ago. We started, and they gave us three parking lots. Even with the Coronavirus, we had a flourishing 78 percent growth from 2019 to 2020.
He (the major customer) gave me portering at one point, so I wouldn’t’ go out of business. I bought a truck that we used for that for several years and had one guy doing that work. We have now grown to two full-time porters and one part-time with three trucks.
We service 23 properties, approximately, for him (the customer) right now. We’ve expanded. I try to provide whatever the customer needs. We do painting, snow removal. We’ll check doors, check this, that, whatever they need. They’ll call and well take care of it. We’ll do cleanouts when a store leaves. I never say no.

SPS Fleet and Other Equipment

We have 18 or 19 trucks now. My biggest are 3 Victories, 1 Nighthawk, 2 Schwarze, a Johnson, and a Tennant, the attachments, and a bunch of pickup trucks.
At this point, we’ve added on that Johnson. With that, we can do more construction sweeping. We can also do catch basins. It was a niche I wanted to be in, to help customers keep from having to have somebody else doing jobs we could do at parking lots we’re servicing.
I have a yard and shop. Most of our repairs are done in-house. We keep parts and even a few spare heads. We can change a head the way a NASCAR pit crew changes tires.

The Daunting Shocks and Obstacles of 2020

When the coronavirus hit earlier this year, they (SPS’s largest customer) took that opportunity to replace another company and allowed us to pick up another route for them. This year has been a roller coaster but we’re still rolling. We’ve had a big year. It’s almost scary, and it’s very exciting.
I went from 6 or 7 employees last year, to this summer when we were at 14. We’re at 11 right now, going into winter. And, we’re just pushing forward. I get calls from national companies who want to buy me out, and I say no.

Bill Smith’s Growth Plans for SPS

I don’t think you’re ever busy enough. I want more to do. I’m thinking about how to move forward with that and what will be best over the long-term.
I am looking to expand, and am going to be looking for a new salesperson to help get us an opportunity to show what we can do on other property owner’s sites.
I’m still going to continue to stay away from the municipal stuff. We will never sweep millings. I love litter. We’ll keep picking up that stuff.

SPS Operations

At the size we’ve reached now, you need someone in the office, and I don’t belong in the office. I have a foreman, Alan, who deals with some of the day to day. He’s been with me for three years. But, I’m still in contact with all the property managers. They come to me if they’re having an issue, which is not often. But, they do know I’m very reachable, and that’s the way I want it.
My son, Billy, is in the office. He has been working with me since day one. We hired an Operations Manager. She’s in the middle of everything before it gets to me. At this point, I’m not in the field much anymore. I’ve tried to back away and relieve a little stress and let them all have a little more responsibility.
I’m more involved in management, and Mary has me stuck in the office three or four hours a day. Thank God I’ve got a level of trust with her that has taken so much off my plate that I can relax and enjoy life a little more.

SPS Workplace Culture

You know within that first six weeks if someone is going to be a good employee or not.
No one has ever asked me for a raise. When your ninety days is coming up, I know it, and when the year is coming up, I know it. And, you’ve already got the raise before you can ask for it. I also treat my employees like family. Once they’re here, they don’t leave.

SPS Marketing and Branding

We’ve gotten more into online marketing with the website and stuff like that. It’s just been completed. Derek Rayburn from Scenic City Studios in Tennessee designed the site.
We have tee shirts for the guys. Everything has got the same logo, in color. We got reflective logos on the trucks, so they can be seen at night.

SPS Challenges

Before this year, it was capital — that was my huge issue — being able to get the credit to buy the new equipment, and having the courage to take out those loans. But, I learned that you can borrow money anywhere. It’s just a question of whether you want to pay what that credit costs. I took some chances, borrowed some expensive money, and got what I needed, to do what I need to do.
And, it just never stops. I think now my biggest challenge is to figure out the pricing, so I can get in with a new company (acquire a new large customer). The one thing we never get are complaints in the morning that there’s trash in a parking lot. It’s the quality that ensures our success.
Insights for New Entrants into the Powersweeping Industry, from Bill Smith, Smith Property Services, Raynham MA
I think the way I was brought up is responsible for the way I think about quality. I don’t care what job you do, I don’t care if it’s shoveling manure in a milk farm — do the best you can. It’s not a glamorous job we do, sweeping pavement. But, do it right. Be responsive. Never say no. It’s all in the relationships you build.

A Great American Success Story – SPS’s Bill Smith is Effectively Managing Growth

Smith has overcome the challenges of managing his rather rapidly expanding team’s efficient delivery of services throughout a large number of towns across the lower Massachusetts region. Also, along with small business owners throughout the nation, he has faced down the surreal relentless bombardment from COVID-19-related difficulties in 2020. All the while, true to his clear nature, Bill moves forward methodically. With remarkably calm resolve and steadiness of purpose, he’s engaged in strategic growth planning for 2021. Against all uncertainties, rarely has a business owner seemed as ready for whatever may come, including any modifications to his future planning. His firmness of footing seems to have him well-prepared to grapple with any foreseeable and unpredictable adaptations due to market shifts or larger economic adjustments stemming from the continuing pandemic and the economic shutdown it triggered.

This business owner personifies the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other philosophy, while keeping a keen eye toward the future, always strategizing for improving services, already mapping on a vision for implementation, and ready to meet any emergent conditions with exemplary agility and creative problem-solving.
For more information about Smith Property Services, Raynham, Massachusetts, see the company’s website at spsraynham.com.

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