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The challenges of 2010 will require focus, hard work and organization

The main challenge when our available time is shrinking: "What to leave in, and what to leave out?"

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Ranger Kidwell-Ross, editor

This year will prove to be most challenging for a significant segment of the power sweeping industry. Although some will find ways to thrive and grow, the fallout from the economy is likely to be too much for others.

Fortunately, both contract and municipal sweeping are types of services that will continue to be required. Quit sweeping for a week or two, and whatever level of business that is still occurring on a retail property will drop off. People are becoming fussier about where they shop, and outward cosmetics of a storefront is definitely part of the average person's decisionmaking process.

In addition to the economy, most everyone I talk to is faced with another challenge: There's no question that most of us are finding challenges to the ever growing amount of information that we are receiving and are expected to respond to. The constraints of time in our fast-changing world seem to be crowding in on every quarter.

One factor is that those with the ability to utilize current and emerging technology will continue to have an advantage over those unable to adjust and keep learning. For example, I probably send and receive email messages with an average of several dozen contractors per week. With some, if I receive a return email in several days I consider it speedy. With others, the response—often from their Blackberry, iPhone or similar—is almost immediate.

For communication with me, either is typically just fine. However, when it comes to operating a business, that may not be the case. Today, we can get information flows from just about anywhere we want them, often in 'real time.' Especially in our current depressed economy, the competition is getting more fierce all the time. I've heard of situations where the most recent bid for sweeping a property was as low as 35% of what had been the going rate. "There's no way that guy can do a good job for that amount of money," that particular contractor complained to me.

Probably not. However, if s/he has a good website that sells for them 24/7, including downloadable brochures and handouts; is using GPS tracking, purchase and maintenance tracking for vehicles; employs internet-based customer contact systems including digital camera photos; sends clients bulk email-formatted newsletters and alerts; has a diverse sweeper fleet and more, perhaps they still are making a profit at the lower rate. Or have such a quality reputation that they get chosen even when they are not low bid...

Today we essentially have a two-tiered ranking of service providers in sweeping and elsewhere. One knows its costs to the penny, has a low-cost/low-time system for contacting customers, utilizes the best machine or human for each job, and has a pro-active, well-trained workforce. The other does not, or at least doesn't have all the pieces fitted together and talking with each other.

Take the rapid technologies we offer just here at, as examples. You can now keep up with industry news as it breaks by following us in any of three different 'real time' ways, on Facebook, via Twitter, or via our RSS Feed.

By being on our mailing list, you get an electronic update on the top stories once-a-month via our newsletter, and other breaking news as it occurs. The advertising we offer to contractors in our 'Contractor Locator,' and to sweeping industry vendors in our 'Browse Sweeping Products' area, are much lower cost than print advertising, yet have verifiable results. These ads typically average 25 to 50 prospect views per month, and the traffic to your company information is available for review at any time. Contrast that with the old methodology of putting very costly ads into the yellow pages and hoping someone would see them!

But I digress: The point is, we are all faced with an enormous multitude of choices at every turn. For instance, what will you do once you read our feature story in this issue that exposes coal tar sealant as a carcinogen? Will you hope your customers don't find out? Or, will you make sure they learn about it as a reason to have an increased sweeping frequency? If you perform or recommend seal-coating, will you specify asphalt-based sealant before it's mandated? Decisions, decisions, decisions...

How to decide what action to take, especially when everything seems to be coming at you faster all the time? Sam Geist, who was TYMCO's guest speaker at NPE a couple years back, says that he makes two lists. The first, his focus list, includes what is important to him. These are the items he feels he needs to achieve.

The second, his ignore list, includes what he is willing to let go in order to accomplish those things on his first list. These latter are the items that aren't really important to him. However, without actually having the two lists he has no way of knowing what is truly important and what is not.

Geist says he uses those two lists as his guide for each day and asks himself "What's the plan for today? Where is the best place to spend my time?" Then, he follows through and makes his choices; what to focus on and what to ignore.

I think if you put the stories we'll have in our monthly newsletters onto your list of what's important for you and for your business for the next year, at the end of the year you'll find you'll have learned many ways to make your company run smoother, more efficiently, and with a stronger bottom line. is the leader in providing information about the U.S. power sweeping industry. Why not use the resources we provide to position you and your company at the forefront of your market area?

As always, if there's something you'd like us to report about, please let us know that, as well. Our goal is to write about what you want to read. And, if you have a sweeping-related need please contact us about it. We'll try to assist in any way we can.

I routinely reference articles and studies, provide information from my "Fundamentals of the Power Sweeping Business" manual and put contractors and city officials in touch with others who may have answers to their informational needs. By the same token, if you have a story you can provide, additional information on any of the topics we've covered – or need more details – please let me know. I'll be glad to help if at all possible.

By the way, if you don't have a listing yet in our Contractor Locator section, you are missing out on what is arguably the best advertising value in sweeping. At the same time, you'll be helping to keep online and active.

If you like what you read in this newsletter or on the website, be sure to thank the advertisers who sponsored it. The only way for them to know you appreciate their support of is to tell them!

Good Sweeping!
Ranger's Signature
Ranger Kidwell-Ross, editor

P.S. Our National Pavement Expo coverage will offer several articles designed to give you a 'leg up' on the competition. Be sure you take a look at it! Slogan
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