Parking lots abound in today’s car-centric cities.
From office buildings to commercial properties like malls and drive-thru restaurants, they’re everywhere, and they’re in constant use, which means they need constant maintenance services.
Aside from automatic cleanings, regular litter pickup is essential to parking lot maintenance. That means property management companies have to find someone to take care of this task, day in and day out.
Luckily, this is a job you can do even if you have no special skills, no capital investment in the side hustle, and only a few hours a day to spare.
Here’s how to start cleaning parking lots as a business in four simple steps, with tips about how to grow it from a side hustle to a business that makes you a six-figure income.
- How Profitable is Owning a Parking Lot Cleaning Business?
- What You’ll Need to Clean Parking Lots [& Associated Costs]
- Why You Should Consider Cleaning Parking Lots As a Side Hustle
- How to Start a Parking Lot Cleaning Business in 4 Simple Steps
- Things to Consider When Building a Parking Lot Cleaning Business
- Parking Lot Cleaning Business Ideas
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Similar Businesses to Consider Starting
- Wrapping Up
How Profitable is Owning a Parking Lot Cleaning Business?
Parking lot cleaning is a decent side gig you can run parallel to your day job for a few hours each night. It usually pays $30–$50 an hour for manual litter pick-up, but the business is scalable.
You can liaise with several local property managers or property owners to put several commercial properties on your weekly schedule by asking them if they need your services.
Once your personal schedule is full, it’s time to hire more contractors to serve the properties on your roster.
Since the upfront cost of starting a parking lot cleaning business is quite low, the profit margin is significantly high.
What You’ll Need to Clean Parking Lots [& Associated Costs]
Here’s what you’ll need to start your side hustle of parking lot cleaning:
- A Leaf Blower: You know the adage “work smart, not hard.” You can use a broom to sweep litter, but you can also use a leaf blower to push all the litter into one corner and just pick it up afterward.
- Rakes, Brooms, and Other Cleaning Equipment: These kinds of tools make it easier to pick up litter and stuff it into trash bags, making manual labor less intensive.
- Trash Bags: You’ll need a lot of them, especially if you’re cleaning fast-food parking lots.
- (Optional) Pressure Washer: For dumpster and spill areas, you can offer pressure washing as a service for extra money to make sure the lots you’re maintaining are squeaky clean!
All of these supplies could set you back around $100–$500 as a one-time payment.
Do I Need a License or Certificate to Clean Parking Lots?
You’ll need to obtain a vendor’s license for starting a cleaning business of any kind to be able to collect sales taxes from your clients.
You may also need a Doing Business As (DBA) registration if you intend to use a business name instead of your full legal name.
This step is recommended if you want to keep the business taxes separate from your personal identity.
Why You Should Consider Cleaning Parking Lots As a Side Hustle
There are many business ideas you can start in your free time, but here’s why parking lot cleaning could be the perfect gig to generate side income for you:
- Flexible Work Hours: You can be your boss here. You’ll ideally work early mornings or late nights when parking areas are empty, but depending on the kind of businesses you’ll service, you can do this alongside a full-time job.
- A Cost-Effective Side Hustle: You can start a parking lot trash removal service without a huge upfront investment if you’re working alone.
- A Scalable Business Model: You can recruit others to work for your parking lot cleaning business and make more money.
- Huge Businesses Need This Service: You might think businesses always opt for large cleaning companies to clean their lots, but that’s not always the case. Manual trash pickup is cheaper and easier, improving the curb appeal of businesses like grocery stores or shopping plazas.
How to Start a Parking Lot Cleaning Business in 4 Simple Steps
Here are the steps to take to start a business out of cleaning parking lots in your area:
Step 1: Get Your Documents Ready
You can either apply for a vendor’s license as a sole proprietorship if you intend to work alone, form a partnership with another person, or create a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
These documents allow you to have a legal entity that gets into a contract with any potential customers.
It also allows (and requires) you to collect sales tax from your clients, depending on where you operate.
Step 2: Scour Your Area for Potential Clients
How many commercial properties are in your area?
Shopping plazas, car dealerships, warehouse sites, supermarkets, and/or office buildings should be on your radar as potential leads which might benefit from your parking lot cleaning services.
It’s as straightforward as driving around, finding the property manager, and telling them about your service to see if they’re interested.
Step 3: Do Your Job Well!
Many large businesses have cleaning trucks come by weekly to give their parking lots a thorough scrub, removing dirt, broken glass, or any other debris.
That said, most people appreciate a tidy-looking space, so to keep parking lots clean, businesses might enlist your services between those cleaning truck visits.
You should do your job well to justify the extra cost the business is undertaking by hiring you.
Aside from the actual cleaning and trash pick up, you can also offer services like pressure washing around trash cans, even if you rent out equipment for it.
In time, you’ll have an idea whether these extra services are in demand enough to justify investing in this equipment for your cleaning business.
If they’re crucial to give you a leg up in the game, consider getting a loan to cover the expenses.
Step 4: Put Together a Marketing Plan to Attract New Clients
Once your business catches on, it’s only a matter of time before you seek more customers.
You can only drive around and ask property managers for so long before you need a more substantial marketing plan.
Create an online presence using Google Business Profile, Facebook, and other social media to advertise your service.
You can also pay for print ads in publications aimed at your target market. This allows for better visibility, making your service a likely option for businesses to take.
Things to Consider When Building a Parking Lot Cleaning Business
Jumping head-first into this side hustle can be tempting, but it’s wise to put the following into consideration:
Can You Run a Parking Lot Cleaning Business By Yourself?
Yes, you can! If you intend to work on your own, signing a contract with the commercial property management companies you’re doing business with is crucial.
For that, you’ll need to register your business as a sole proprietorship, which is the legal entity of your parking lot cleaning business.
If you’re taking on other contractors and starting this as a business with multiple people, then you might want to consider making it a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
This focuses taxing and any potential lawsuits away from you as a private individual and towards the business.
Parking Lot Cleaning Business Ideas
Here are a few ideas to inspire you if you decide that cleaning car lots is the side hustle for you:
- Offer Food-Related Clean-Up Services: Make your parking lot cleaning business specialized in the food niche to ensure hygiene and the lack of cross-contamination. Restaurants, drive-thru lots, and grocery stores may benefit from this.
- Lawn-Mowing and Gardening Services: If you have the time and the expertise, you can add law-mowing and yard upkeep to your services. These jobs pay handsomely and can make you stand out among the competition.
- Seasonal Services Like Snow Shoveling: Snow removal is difficult, and most people will pay someone to take that job off of their hands. Add this to your services and watch your profits multiply!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Clean a Dirty Parking Lot?
Cleaning a parking lot starts by removing visible trash, sweeping any dirt or debris, and pressure-washing any stained concrete due to spills. Depending on how dirty it is, it can be done manually or using special machinery.
What is the Best Product to Clean a Parking Lot?
Hot water running through a pressure washer is the most potent agent in cleaning parking lots. That said, dishwashing liquid is also an excellent detergent for grease or oil stains and any unpleasant smells.
Similar Businesses to Consider Starting
Parking lot cleaning isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Here are a few similar business ideas to consider:
- How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business: Provide a valuable carpet-cleaning service AND create hours of satisfying internet content that millions of people watch.
- How to Start a Pressure Washing Business: Driveways, houses, and car lots can all benefit from a good pressure cleaning every now and then. Here’s how to run this business.
- How to Start a Car Detailing Business: Having a clean car is always a necessity, so here’s everything you need to start a car detailing business.
Parking lot cleaning is a lucrative side hustle for those looking for businesses that don’t require an arm and a leg to start.
With a few cleaning supplies and strategic self-marketing, you can find several potential clients in your backyard.
People will always litter parking lots, and businesses will always need them cleaned. So if you’re willing to take on this job, get started today!
Let us know what you think of cleaning parking lots in the comments below.