Save Money On Parking Lot Sweeping… Next Year

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We like to pay attention to our industry, constantly looking out for areas that waste client money unnoticed.

If the contract for snow removal is coming to a close, and your spring clean-up contract has already been awarded for the year, the following tips may not be helpful right now but are worth keeping in mind in the fall when the next winter maintenance contract is being negotiated.

[That being said, we will include some tips at the end of this article to help you save money this year too.]

How to Spend More on Sweeping

One of the common budget waste culprits we have noticed is how it is an industry norm to bid separately on:

  • Applying gravel or pickle mix (link to glossary) on parking lots in the winter and
  • Sweeping up the debris in the springtime

It has been our experience that when the same crew that applies gravel in the winter is responsible for clean-up in the summer, a couple of things magically happen:

  • Gravel is applied more responsibly, meaning:
    • Less of a charge for product used (due to less product being applied), and
    • Less clean-up work and removal fees in the spring
  • Clean-up is done sooner (because you do not have to wait for an RFP to be awarded), resulting in:
    • more aesthetic property.
    • Fewer liabilities and hazards (think “slips and falls” or car accidents from loose gravel)
    • Cleaner indoor spaces, since less dirt from the outside is tracked inside. Dirty footwear can also scratch and wear indoor flooring surfaces.
    • Lower parking lot maintenance costs from regular sweeping that lengthens the time between parking lot surface repairs or reseals. The weight of vehicles grinding debris into the asphalt can significantly increase the wear and tear on asphalt.  Also, dirt that has a chance to collect also invites weeds to grow, which can in turn crack asphalt and concrete.

What You Can Do to Save Money

We recommend 3 small tweaks to your regular process that will benefit your bottom line:

  • Tie the parking lot sweeping into the winter maintenance contract instead of the spring clean-up contract. This makes the party that applies the gravel responsible for its clean-up as well.
  • Include a holdback clause for the final payment in the winter contract that is conditional upon clean-up of the parking lot. This ensures that clean-up is done in a timely manner, resulting in a more aesthetic property with fewer liabilities and hazards. We have noticed how parking lot sweeping crews can delay when they lack this incentive.
  • Don’t forget about the curbs! Have the building operator record any damage to curbs or parking stops done by winter snow removal crews. Ensure that proper repair of the cement (and surrounding landscape) is included in the warranty of the winter maintenance services contract. Keep in mind that a common spot for curb damage is where snow has been piled (see snow pile article), which may take a little longer to be visible. You may want to include warranty repair as a condition of releasing the final payment for winter services.


But, What About This Year?

Fear not, we have a few tips that you can provide cost savings this year as well:

  1. Empty the lot: Make sure the parking lot is ready for sweeping by ensuring that tenants have been notified to remove vehicles from the lot. Failure to do so may require crews to return for spot cleaning, often at an extra cost.
  2. Remember the grass areas: Many crews sweep parking lots after the snow melts but will leave medians and grass areas for the spring clean-up crews who power rake and blow gravel and debris back into the parking lot. This often requires a second parking lot cleaning at an additional fee. Instead, ensure that grass areas are cleaned at the same time the parking lot is being swept.
  3. Reduce dumping fees: A significant portion of the sweeping contract expense is dumping fees—disposing of the rocks, sand, silt, and garbage collected. LECM has its own recycling center to process, screen, and separate materials so they can be reused in the future instead of being wasted.  Read more here. So, instead of paying hefty dumping fees, our clients pay significantly less for the processing fees instead. Plus, our recycling center is centrally located in the city, reducing the need for excess travel.
  4. Consider using liquid deicer to save money and reduce the amount of sand and gravel required while improving the end result. We have our own liquid deicer making plant, which makes pre-treating even more affordable for our clients. Read more about liquid deicing here.

Enjoy the savings!