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Growing Your Business

12 Ways to Grow Your Sweeping Business

by Marnie Pehrson
with Ranger Kidwell-Ross

1. Consider bartering with companies that normally wouldn't buy from you.
Bartering with people who aren't willing or able to pay for your services can be a great way to get needed consumables and/or positive PR. You can do this either via a one-on-one agreement or through one of the many bartering exchange organizations. To find a credible barter exchange in your area, visit the National Association of Trade Exchanges.

Here are some examples of barters you might make. Offer to sweep at an auto parts store in an exchange for credit at the store. If you arrange the trade on your own, most of the time it's easiest if you make it a 'retail price to retail price' transaction. Tire stores are another type of store where sweepers need ongoing products.

Some contractors have found that sweeping church parking lots, in exchange for a courtesy notice being placed into the church bulletin, is a good way to get positive PR in their community. This can result in getting calls for service from the business owners who go to that church. You can also tout your public service in your website, brochures, etc., to get even more commercial value from your action.

2. Offer gifts or incentives.
Giving a birthday present to your customers, whether it's in the form of a card or a present of substance, is a great way to stay close to your customers. You can also use this method as an incentive for referrals, or as an incentive to get clients/prospects to fill out surveys and questionnaires.

3. Strengthen your niche.
If you are now just doing sweeping, evaluate what services you might reasonably perform that you get the most customer requests about. Even if it's touting that you remove large items that have been dropped in the parking lot (by arranging with a local retiree or your brother-in-law to use their pickup when needed), it's a new service you can announce.

Make sure to tell your customers about any such 'side services' by including a notice in your monthly invoices, adding it to your brochures and website, etc.

4. Volunteer to speak.
Develop an informative short speech on the positive value of sweeping and external property appearance and volunteer to speak at your local Chamber of Commerce, property management associations, etc.

5. Advertise through groups you belong to.
Put an ad in your local church directory, Chamber of Commerce newsletter, business club news, etc. It makes people feel good to buy within their communities.

6. Get to know other businesses that service your prospects.
Get to know the owner of businesses that perform different outside maintenance and pavement-related services besides sweeping. Work out referral and co-marketing programs with them.

7. Send a letter and 2-3 copies of your flyer to all of your clients.
Let them know how much you appreciate them and how you'd like to have more clients just like them. Ask them to pass on the extra fliers to other people they know who might be a prospect for sweeping services.

8. Remind existing clients of all your products/services.
If you offer other services besides sweeping, make sure your clients know about them! Because they're used to thinking of you as 'just' a sweeping company, they may only know you offer the one service they use. Send out a flyer and let them know everything you do. Existing sweeping customers are already sold on you, so make sure they know to come to you with their other needs that you offer!

9. Brainstorm.
What do you offer that the competition doesn't? A service guarantee? 24-hour emergency-spill phone availability? Backup sweeper availability?

Zone in on what you do different and better than the competition and emphasize these in your literature and on your website. You might even print a list of your extraordinary benefits on the back of your business card.

10. Remove the risk for the prospect.
Most of the time, prospects for your services will already have someone sweeping for them. Make it as easy as possible for them to give you a try. You might offer a money back or satisfaction guarantee, for example. Be specific when you make your offer.

11. Team up with other venders.
If you aren't a 'do it all' contractor, it may make sense to hook up with companies that offer similar products and services as a way to offer turnkey solutions.

The typical overhead cost for marketing is 10% - 15%. You might arrange to have the other companies reduce their charges by that amount for business you bring in the door for them. You can then arrange for the service to be provided to your client at the same price they'd normally pay and you make some money on the deal, as well.

A good 'sell' on this type of system is that you routinely work with this other company and so have more certainty about quality, follow-through, etc.

12. Create packages.
In addition to your core area of sweeping, have pre-determined packages that include other ongoing services often needed by your clients. These might include such things as day portering, garbage can liner replacement, gum removal from sidewalks, property needs reviews, etc.

Offering packages and specials is a good way to get a few extra $$ from both your current and new clients. Your personnel are there most every night, so any add-on services you can provide mean profit to you and a greater level of service for your customers.

Marnie Pehrson is an author and consultant who's been helping talented professionals deliver their message since 1995. You're invited to visit the Pehrson Group website or to contact her via email.

Ranger Kidwell-Ross is editor of You may reach him via the contact form on this website.

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Used Sweepers of America
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