Do you want to start a parking lot cleaning business? If YES, here’s a complete guide to starting a parking lot cleaning business with NO money and no experience. It is indeed true that this business is growing rapidly nowadays due to an increase in the country’s infrastructure. Just as the world’s growing population keeps constructing more structures, so do businesses that are responsible for their maintenance keep blooming.
We all know that making use of a parking lot to park cars is an everyday activity, and we all know what bad state some parking lots are in. So it falls on parking lot cleaning businesses to keep them clean and nice. Indeed these businesses are made up of small groups of people who are professionals, and are hired to clean and carry out maintenance activities in parking lots.
Have it in mind that these people are generally needed to work night shifts as there are less number of automobiles in the parking lots then. You have to note that this job includes a lot of physical exertion. It is also important to state that only those businesses which are in contract with the municipal corporation are given permission to keep all their cleaning equipment on the site on a regular basis. It helps the owner to avoid the fuel costs and the time spent on traveling.
Due to parking lots’ insistent use, they should be swept every day, and all waste should be disposed of in a proper manner. We believe that the fee for parking lot cleaning may differ from place to place, but it is assured that cleaning businesses have a per hour rate of around $80-$100.
We all know that people start businesses for different reasons, and you may start this business just to supplement you current income. You need to decide on what type of sweeper or cleaning equipment you would need. You can even purchase a used slide-in equipment if you own a pick-up truck.
If you have adequate finance, you may buy a used sweeper, or take it on lease. Complete all the licensing formalities as per the requirement of the state or city law. We also suggest that you embark on a market survey based on the per hour and contract costs of some local cleaning businesses, and then fix your fees.
Try to make as many contacts as possible with the administrative management of buildings and complexes. Even though there are no tough contenders in this business, but you will need to work really hard to achieve substantial market awareness.
19 Steps to Starting a Parking Lot Cleaning Business in the United States of America
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
Reports have it that over the five years to 2017, revenue for this industry increased modestly. It also stated that the industry revenue improved as growth in living conditions expanded the available client base for industry, and rising per capita disposable income allowed consumers to buy cleaning services they put off during the recession.
Also, reducing office vacancy rates, increasing non-residential construction and growth in the number of businesses broadened operators’ potential client base, as more office buildings and retail space naturally increased demand for outsourced cleaning services.
According to reliable information, the regions with the greatest concentration of parking lot cleaning businesses include the Southeast, the West and the Mid-Atlantic. The distribution is based mainly on the number of households as well as median income levels.
Also the regions with warmer climates are more likely to contract industry services, as residents in these areas spend more time outside which increases the need for industry services. This means that the Southeast has the greatest concentration of parking lot cleaning businesses, believed to be at 30.5% of the total in 2017.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
Mere looking around at the parking lots around us, we will all see leaves, paper, cups, food wrappers, cigarette butts, and broken glass. These things can give a negative impression about the place and what it sells. But it can also be your opportunity to clean up your community and aid business and property owners project the right image, by starting a parking lot cleaning business.
Have it in mind that your customers will be retailers, professionals, and other business owners who need to project a good business image. More explicitly, your customers will include property managers, shopping centres, schools, strip plazas, hospitals, car dealerships, grocery stores, and every other business, agency, or organization with parking lots.
3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
This business is an amazing business which may be a good fit for you if you can find one good client and grow your business over time. You need to begin by working with a small client and add others through word-of-mouth as they see you keep your client’s properties in beautiful shape.
You might decide to focus your business just on the daily litter pickup left by patrons in lots, patios, or on the sidewalks; or maybe you would rather focus on other aspects of the business such as concrete/asphalt cleaning and repair. It all rests upon the services you wish to provide, you can start out with a few simple hand tools and do some manual labour or you can take on a larger investment by using sweeping trucks to help with the cleaning efforts so that you can clean properties quickly.
Your main objective is to make sure whatever the task, that the area is cleaned properly. Niches in this business may include:
- Specialize in cleaning restaurant patios or fast food parking lots and drive troughs.
- Add lawn mowing services to your business. Work with automotive sales/service lots to clean their car lots.
- Remove junk and large debris – haul it to the local dump.
- Offer pressure washing for entryways, trash dumpster areas.
- Pick up a few painting tools and touch-up curbs or special parking areas.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
With today’s competitive market and challenging economy, savvy property and business managers have come to value top flight commercial cleaning services more than ever. Indeed it is a buyer’s market and no one can afford to give an edge to a competitor, especially an edge that is easily maintained.
Reports have shown that parking areas and walkways, well-tended, are a key to attracting and maintaining customers. This has aided the Parking Lot Cleaning industry to keep growing and attracting more investors. This industry is not very competitive because huge businesses in the general cleaning industry are extending their services and products.
Apart from the fact that cleanliness is beautiful, there are few more reasons why this industry will keep growing. In the business world, there are other reasons why businesses like their parking lots clean.
- Customers are less likely to litter parking lots when they are clean
- Also it is cost effective, as parking lots that are maintained regularly are less likely to have problems with loose gravel, broken glass, dirt, or other debris which, left untended, accumulate creating safety and environmental issues, and lead to costly lot repairs or unnecessary lot deterioration and damage.
- Shopping mall parking lots need to be safe for the public to maneuver in and around, and with adequate property maintenance; businesses minimize the possibility of injury.
4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
- Parking Lot Cleaning and Maintenance
- Spotless Parking Lot Cleaning Service
- Best Parking Lot Cleaning, Inc.
- Superior Parking Lot Cleaning
- Coyner’s Parking Lot Cleaning Service, Inc.
- Viafore’s Parking Lot Cleaning
- Central KY Parking Lot Cleaning, Inc.
- Pogo Outdoor Advertising Inc.
- J MARTIN & CO
- BETHLEHEM L.L.C.
- CG SWEEPER
- Dependable Cleaning Service Shelby
- Parking Lot Maintenance Services Inc.
- Parking Lot Maintenance Pros
- Parking Lot Lighting, Inc.
- Parking Lot Maintenance, Inc.
- CL Parking Lot Maintenance
- Bros Parking Lot Maintenance
- AB Parking Lot Maintenance Inc.
- Chungjusi Parking Lot Management
- Burres Parking Lot Maintenance, Inc.
- Southwest Parking Lot Maintenance
- Complete Parking Lot Maintenance
- Midwest Parking Lot Maintenance LLC
- Pacific Parking Lot Maintenance, Inc.
Property management businesses and store owners generally have janitorial companies taking care of the inside of their buildings, but the outside of the buildings and grounds can sometimes be neglected. This is a perfect opportunity for you to come in with your parking lot cleaning business.
In this business, you need to work with your client’s to make sure you totally understand their expectations. We also suggest that you meet with store owners to determine if they are satisfied with their current company. If not, this may be an opportunity for you to show them your work.
It is also suggested that you understand your services accordingly so you can quote a good price for a quick clean vs. a very deep clean which may need extended time to provide. Also your business can be done part-time and the work can be completed after hours (or in early morning hours) when the stores are closed.
While in some cases, you may be able to do the work during the day as long as you are not in the way of the customers and traffic. You can also grab some friends and put a group on the grounds to make the work go quickly.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
From our extensive research, we have been able to note that this business has no notable franchise, leaving you with the option of starting from the scratch. No matter how low you think about starting from the scratch, it offers its unique advantages that can be compared confidently with buying a franchise. Starting this business from the scratch is relatively easy, that is if you understand the industry very well.
When starting your business, visit your local home improvement or discount store to buy your tools or find them on the internet at discount prices. Try to make use of your current vehicle to reduce your initial costs.
Buy an initial order of inexpensive business cards through an online business card supplier. Try to meet commercial property management companies, attend local networking events, meet with homeowners associations, parks & recreation staff, and stop by auto dealerships to let them know about your parking lot cleaning business.
Keep your eyes open for a business with trash in their parking lot. Drop off your card and offer a complimentary parking clean-up so they can see the results immediately. You can also team-up with other businesses like janitorial or landscape maintenance, to carry out your parking lot cleaning business.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Indeed a parking lot cleaning might seem as a very big task that you won’t be able to pull through, but you need to understand that every successful entrepreneur has made his or her share of mistakes along the road to the top. Possible challenges may include…
- Hiring technicians
- Staying competitive
- Suitable location
- Lack of experience
- Employee incentives
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Choosing a legal entity for your Parking lot cleaning business is one of the most important decisions you have to make when starting and your decision rests on your individual situation and tolerance for risk. Indeed you can choose to run a successful parking lot cleaning business using any of the available business entity types.
You might want to choose between a sole proprietorship and a limited liability company, however, you should consider this difference before you choose. You should consider starting your parking lot cleaning business as a limited liability company. This legal structure offers you so many advantages that other legal structures can’t.
- It lets you run your show
- Avoid double taxation
- Limit Your Personal Liability
- Less Administrative Hassles and Paperwork
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
Picking the right name for your business is very crucial to the success of your business. But have it in mind that choosing a good name can help you attract more customers, so take your time. You can also discuss it with your friends and family and do some research before deciding what to name your parking lot cleaning business.
Bear in mind that your business name should fit the vision of what you want your business to be. We believe that as an entrepreneur, you will want your name to tie into your decor, concept and the market you are targeting. Try to make your name distinctive and easy to remember. Choose a name that is easy to spell. You can choose the following names;
- Parking lot cleaning Service.
- Parking lot Perfection.
- Quality parking lots.
- Reliability parking lot cleaning
- Parking lot specialists
- Clean parking lots
- Superior parking lot cleaning services
- Parking lot king
9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In this business, your day to day activities may not be the same for someone offering the same services as you in the next state. Have it in mind that you may spend a lot of time managing your parking lot cleaning employees to ensure that all of your customer’s needs are met or you may spend most of your time talking to customers directly to further grow your business. You need insurance to protect your business, and some of the policies you may require include;
- Business liability insurance
- Property insurance
- Building coverage
- Business income and extra expense coverage
- Employee dishonesty coverage
- Employee Benefits Liability Coverage
- Hired and Non-Owned Auto Liability Coverage
- General liability insurance
- Product liability insurance
- Crime and Fidelity insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
In this new age, everyone is talking about the need for businesses to protect their assets, yet a lot of business owners fail to take a cognizant degree of caution with their designs, ideas, and valuable business information and leave themselves at risk of theft and counterfeiting.
We believe that new changes to the law have solidified the protection of designs in the world, and the introduction of simpler patenting processes will make it easier for small businesses like a parking lot cleaning business to look after their IP and intangible assets. Ways to protect your business may include…
- Know your assets
- Find the right protection
- Watch the competition – and enforce the law
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- Institute of inspection cleaning and restoration certification – IICRC
- British Institute of cleaning services – BICSc
- International janitorial cleaning services certification – IJVSC
- House cleaning technician certification – HCT
- Cleaning business owner certificate – CBO
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Indeed the main step in starting any business is licensing and legal compliance, and the same holds true for a parking lot cleaning business as well. The standard licensing requirements to start any business, such as applying for a license at the county/town/city office is needed for the parking lot cleaning business as well.
Parking lot businesses wanting to maintain their equipment on site to save fuel costs and eliminate commuting time may require a municipal contract. The prerequisite for municipal contracts are permits and performance bonds from the relevant state.
Note that before you start your business, you need to secure all the necessary permits and licenses. Make sure to inquire from the states authorities on the legal documents required in the business. If you have a lawyer you can let him or her secure the requirements. Sometimes a performance bond is needed before you can run your business.
Note that this is very crucial so that you can avoid penalties and charges for not acquiring the necessary permits and sanctions. This would also make your business legal. Examples of licenses, permits and regulations that you could apply for when starting your parking lot cleaning business may include, but are not limited to:
- contractor’s license
- municipal business license
- vendor permit
- health regulations and requirements
- fire safety standards or regulations
- Zoning by-laws
- building permit
- Police Permit
- fire safety
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
A lot of banks and lenders always need you to put some of your own money into the business, and experience is a major factor for lenders. Most people believe that the more experience you have, the better chance you have to being successful. We suggest that you consider taking a job in a parking lot cleaning and/or take some classes to help you succeed in getting the funding you need if you are a newbie. Places to get funding may include;
- Small Business Association
- Personal resources – Savings, IRA accounts, credit cards, home mortgages and personal assets (including family or friends).
- Private investors – also known as “angel investors”.
- Commercial finance companies such as banks and equipment leasing companies.
- Friends and relatives (be careful to arrange the loan in a business-like manner). Draw up papers stating the loan
- Repayment schedule and interest to be charged.
- Real-Estate assets.
- Life Insurance
- Housing and Urban Development
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Without mincing words, location is a very important decision because it affects your ability to draw customers to your business. You should make your site visible, accessible, convenient and attractive to your market. How you assimilate your location will rest on the type of cleaning you are planning and the type of customers you hope to serve.
Note that the two major choices facing prospective parking lot cleaning businesses are customers and location. Indeed, you will have already chosen either a location or a concept for your cleaning business. But you have to make sure your location and concept complement each other. Use the following checklist to complete this part of your market analysis.
Description of Immediate Area
- Residential and commercial profile
- Adjacent land uses
- Proposed developments
- Special appeal of location
- Map of area (identify sources of demand, competition and other relevant landmarks)
Proximity to Customers and Competition
- Major demand generators (retail, offices, lodging, hospitals …)
- Number of potential customers by segment within one-, two-, three-mile radius, etc.
- List of direct cleaning competitors
- Street and road patterns
- Speed limit and traffic signs/lights
- Highway/Street traffic counts
- Pedestrian traffic counts
- Peak and off-peak traffic periods
- Proximity to major streets and highways
- Ease of entrance and exit
- Parking(guests and delivery )
- Pedestrian accessibility
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance
- Visibility from road
- Effectiveness of sign
- Curb appeal of building
- Exterior lighting
- Environmental Issues
- Easements and restrictions
- Growth Patterns of Surrounding Areas
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
When starting this business, you will require basic cleaning tools that can be found at most home improvement stores like brooms, dust pans, trash bags, extended trash tools, and a gas powered blower. But as your business grows, you can add a truck mounted sweeper or vacuum to take on larger jobs. We believe that the time required to clean a parking lot is 5-20 hours/week; can work full-time 30-40 hours/week.
You may need to have the flexibility to work late hours after stores are closed. Also to survive in this business, you need to know to have a keen eye for detail. Note that your ability to listen to the client, understand what is important to them, set realistic expectations and then excite the customer by exceeding their expectations will help grow your business. We suggest you take communication and basic business classes at your local community college or university.
We believe that another important area in starting a parking lot cleaning business is making sure of the availability of the right staff. In this business, you can start off with part time and temporary employees sourced from local employment exchanges or inexpensive classified ads.
The most critical aspect however is to train employees on the cleaning operations, how to handle equipment well, and relevant guidelines on waste management. All these are because the success of the business directly depends on how well the staff does the job. You also need to be actively involved in scheduling, supervising, marketing, maintenance, and customer support operations. As the business grows, you can hire a manager for such purposes.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Indeed a parking lot cleaning business is an excellent business opportunity that needs little capital investment or overhead costs. We believe these businesses can be operated from home, and on a part time basis. Have it in mind that cleaning commercial parking lots is different from cleaning offices or homes.
Parking lots are usually full of debris, leaves, cups, food wrappers, cigarette butts, broken glass, grease, and grime owing to the large number of vehicles that use the facility.
Note that the initial step toward starting a parking lot clean-up business is having a basic understanding of cleaning techniques. Unlike normal cleaning, cleaning a parking lot with water is inappropriate. The main tasks involved in cleaning a parking lot include:
- Pushing dirt and litter into appropriate waste facilities
- Blowing remaining debris into the central area with a gas power blower and vacuuming it up with the sweeper
- Removing automobile fluid stains, a hazardous waste from the cement by steam cleaning
- You need a good idea and preferably some first-hand experience on how to complete such tasks.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
In this industry, having a well detailed marketing plan will go a long way to set you apart from your competitors. But before you begin to write your marketing plan, pull together some information you will need. Note that having the information first will help avoid interruptions in the thinking and writing process. We propose that you have the following information at hand;
- Your company’s latest financial reports (profit and loss, operating budgets and so on), the latest sales figures and the records for the current and the past three years or, if less, for however long you have been in business
- A listing of each parking lot product in the current line, along with target markets
- An organization table (if you can count your employees on one hand, you can probably omit this)
- Your understanding of your business marketplace: your competitors, geographical boundaries, types of customers you market to, latest and most useful demographic data, any information on trends in your market(s) (both demographic and product related)
17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
In this business, make it a point to limit the number of marketing objectives you take on in a given year. Indeed, change can bring stress, disorient staff and most times even confuse your target market.
We advise that you keep your objectives challenging but achievable. We all know how beautiful it is to motivate yourself with ambitious but worthy targets than to depress yourself by failing at too many enthusiastic goals. Here are ways to stay ahead of your competitors in the industry;
- Buy new parking lot products
- Explore new territories for the company
- Boost sales in a particular parking lot products, market or price range. Where will this business come from? Be specific.
- Cross-sell (or bundle) one parking lot product with another
18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
We understand that the strongest challenge in running a parking lot cleaning business is securing parking lots for cleaning. You know by now that potential clients include malls and shopping centres, office complexes, corporate houses, schools, strip plazas, hospitals, car dealerships, grocery stores, and other businesses, agencies, or organizations with parking lots.
But unlike some businesses, a parking lot cleaning business does not need any extensive advertising campaign to bring in work. Note that the most effective way is to make business cards and flyers advertising the strengths of the business, and visit such premises directly, seeking an appointment with the manager in charge.
Cold-calling and sending e-mails meet with limited success and will need a follow up visit. Note that the key strengths listed in the flyer could be highlighting the range of services offered; the equipment used, and staff strengths.
Another way for the business to do well is having marketing and publicity strategies. Visibility through magnetic advertising signs on personal and work vehicles, and some advertising in trade journals rank as two good options. We believe that the clinching factor that would secure contracts could be:
- Competitive pricing
- Creativity and flexibility in offering customized services best suited to the client, such as cleaning at night and early morning
- Superior cleaning techniques and equipment compared to competitors
- Track record of high quality work over time
- Be ready to offer a free trial or a money back guarantee, especially in the initial days to secure contracts.
It is your duty to micro-manage operations at the initial stage, but as the business grows, a proper billing system and process, and a customer tracking process with preferably a 1-800 vanity number takes priority.
Note that unlike a lot of other businesses where an entrepreneur after starting the business can afford to relax and let the operations manage itself, a parking lot sweeping business always needs the entrepreneur to be on his toes and provide constant attention. When planning to start a parking lot cleaning business, you would do well to understand that success rests on keeping promises, and delivering impeccable top-notch service every single time.
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
For those who do not know, brand awareness or having a corporate identity is very important because it is what makes you an outstanding entrepreneur in any business industry. It is also what makes people know that you exist, what you do and how you do it. Ways to do that for your Parking lot cleaning Business may include…
- Advertise a grand-opening special or offer a service at a discount.
- Leverage a digital strategy
- Remember that Team work pays off
- Plan to move the Parking lot cleaning Business to a higher traffic area if possible
- Always Deliver Your Promise to Your Clients
- Print your website and social media addresses on any materials associated with the Parking lot cleaning Business
- Display a sign-up sheet on the business for email newsletters and special offers
- Use technology to advertise through QR or quick response codes
- Brand your vehicles and work clothes
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