INSIDE: Ever heard of a parking lot litter removal contractor? It’s a thing, and a lucrative, flexible side hustle at that! Hear how it works and how you can get in on it here.
[Heyo! Got an email from a guy who’s made a living out of picking up trash around business complexes, and thought it was so fascinating that I asked if he’d write up a little something something for us. He obliged, and our Side Hustle Series continues forward! (And now I’m seriously considering trying this out myself! Sounds like a great way to make money on the side!!]
Does earning $30-$50/hour sound appealing? How about the freedom that comes from working outdoors, whenever you want for as long as you want, and having the rest of the day to yourself to do as you please?
These are just a couple of the benefits of being a parking lot litter removal contractor.
You don’t need any special skills or expensive equipment to be a successful parking lot litter removal contractor. All you need is the motivation to work for yourself. It’s an opportunity for people looking for an honest business and an ideal side hustle since the after hours nature of the service won’t conflict with your day job.
How I Got Started
Let me take you back to the year of 1981…
I was working at a sporting goods store, completely uninspired by my job and lacking motivation for it.
My prospects were slim as all I had was a high school diploma and a small savings account. But what I did have was the motivation to change my life for the better and a willingness to work for myself.
That’s when I remembered my father used to make extra money on the side by cleaning up litter in a neighborhood shopping plaza. I had gone along with him a few times as a kid, and I remembered thinking how easy it was. It was literally a case of us walking around the property cleaning up litter before the stores opened the next day and getting paid for it.
It was then that I decided to start a home-based litter cleanup business part-time so the work didn’t interfere with my full-time job. I contacted property management companies and offered to clean their retail, office and warehouse properties on a daily basis.
After just two months as a parking lot litter removal contractor, I was making more money than in my full-time job. I bet you can guess what I did next… I QUIT MY JOB!
I turned my $200 investment into a $650,000+ per year business. I never dreamed I could turn a trash business into such an enjoyable lifestyle, but I did. And I know others who are making an extra $20,000 – $50,000 a year on the side by doing the same.
How It Works
Parking lot litter removal is mostly done daily, on foot, using inexpensive hand tools. You simply walk the exterior property of any retail, office or industrial property and sweep up litter into your litter collection bag. When your collection bag is full, you just empty it into a waste dumpster right there on site.
It’s almost as easy as going for a walk!
The selling point is that your service can be provided for significantly less than what the power sweeping contractors charge. (Don’t worry, you’re not expected to sweep up any gravel or dirt. Their services will still be required for that – albeit less often – you’re just taking over the daily litter part of the job.)
Look around your city on your next walk or drive. It’s amazing how many commercial properties with parking lots are all around you! Each one must be maintained litter free on a regular basis. The potential is huge as a parking lot litter removal contractor.
How to Become a Parking Lot Litter Removal Contractor
Commercial Real Estate Management companies are your best source for business. They are contracted by property owners to manage their commercial properties. A management company typically has several properties in their portfolio.
You’re looking for small to medium sized properties to handle (shopping plazas, office buildings, free standing restaurants, dollar stores, drug stores, warehouse clubs, banks, clinics and even landscape contractors ). These smaller properties can easily be covered by foot in only a matter of minutes.
This your market.
For more tips about becoming a parking lot litter removal contractor, check out this step-by-step manual I created on how to start and run a parking lot litter cleaning business: Cleanlots.com. It really is America’s simplest business!
Pros of Being a Litter Removal Contractor
- Great pay
- Great for the environment
- Ideal side hustle as the hours won’t conflict with day job
- No expensive equipment to buy
- No special skills or education needed
- (Editor’s note: tons of time to think, listen to music, learn with podcasts??)
Cons of Litter Removing
- Late night/early morning work required (after the stores have closed and there are no vehicles parked and in your way)
- It’s all outdoor (must be able to work in all weather conditions – rain, sleet, snow)
- Working alone can get lonely
- It’s manual labor
- (Editor’s note: maybe a safety factor for women during nights?)
Other Nice Perks
I get to take pride in performing a green service that makes a positive impact on the local environment. The daily routine is also nice, and the job is never boring.
I’m constantly amazed at how careless people can be with their money too. A few times a year I find paper bills on the ground usually outside a restaurant or bar. People seem to unintentionally drop them as they reach for their car keys in their pockets.
Years ago I found a crumpled $2 bill on the ground, and was even more surprised to discover a $100 bill wrapped inside of it. Another time I noticed a grimy roll of bills next to the waste dumpster as I went to empty my collecting bag. After taking it home and drying it out (it looked like it had been there for quite some time), I counted up all the bills – $600! Someone’s careless loss turned into my profitable gain.
If you’re looking for a simple, easy way to make some extra cash around your community, a parking lot litter removal contractor is the gig for you.
Start picking up the phone or check out my book for an illustrated, easy-to-follow manual on everything I’ve learned over the past 36 years. Someone’s trash really is your treasure! (<— Editor’s note: sorry, had to do it ;))
UPDATE: We caught up with Brian 5 years after he shared his story with us here, and all these years later he’s still at it and still very successful! Check out my one-on-one with him where he shares more tips and tricks on how to ramp up your own trash picking up side business –> “I Make $650,000/year Cleaning Up Trash”
Brian Winch is the founder and owner of Cleanlots, America’s simplest business. He’s been perfecting the litter removing business for over 30 years and enjoys sharing the benefits of it with others. Links to his book above are affiliate links.
Trash not your thing? Check out the last few hustles we’ve featured here:
- Hustle #70: Making Rings and Jewelry From Coins! ($20-$100+ an hour)
- Hustle #69: Making Frozen Meals ($10/meal profit)
- Hustle #68: Running a Christmas Tree Stand ($7,500/season (5 weeks))
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What a great interview. If it wasn’t for the awesome picture at the top of him sweeping money into the bag 80’s style I may not have kept reading… ;)
This is a great idea – not for me, but for someone out there looking for some side income.
Haha… it really should be nominated for best pic of the year :) (back then, and 2017!)
It’s really cool when someone has an idea and fills a niche nobody else thinks of or is willing to do.
This might be the ultimate stealth wealth creator. I doubt anyone suspects he’s banking that much money, that is unless he rolls up to the parking lot in his Rolls Royce and hops out with his trash gear in tow.
Tom @ HIP
Right?? Gotta love the stealth.
I love that he built the business… then he turned it into a passive income generator with a website and an $80 eBook, and contacted PF blogs for traffic. Work it! Brian, good job on being a good businessperson.
Thanks! Interested in becoming an affiliate? Go to http://www.cleanlots.com to sign up.
Awesome! I certainly didn’t how lucrative parking lot litter removal was! Happy to see someone taking on an initiative that’s good for the environment, and banking doing it!
Big money to be made for those of us wanting to do it!
This is awesome! It never ceases to amaze me how people are able to monetize something seemingly simple and find a niche market.
How did you go about setting prices with the companies that you work for?
For a techie person, I see this as an awesome businesses opportunity. Tech person sets up a really nice site with an easy checkout, business pays them for litter pick up, then the trash picker upper gets the work, the tech person gets a small cut.
Or if you are a tech person yourself, you can create the web site to get more customers!
I’m assuming with the 6 figure number you hired others to help lol!
Very interesting post and way to seize on the opportunity to be outside !
Uber for trash picking! Haha…..
Prices are based on the time it takes to walk and clean a particular property. Your monthly contract price is based on $35 – $50/hr. Most people can get this. Markets vary across the country.
Right ! lol! Same concept – ah what an interesting time of history we are living in!
Its amazing how people find these “little jobs” they can do and just make them blow up into huge businesses!
That’s really cool Brian! Congratulations!
Thanks! I found a niche and specialize in a service enjoy providing.
Love it! nice side hustle that turns into a full-time gig. Isn’t Mr.Groovey doing this on youtube now for free? :)
I literally *just* emailed this post over to them, haha….
It just goes to show, amassing a fortune is all about small, consistent, savings. Not fancy/expensive educations, trading options and understanding volatility risk, or owning a 30 unit apartment unit.
My man is still rockin’ the ‘Stache today! Love it!
I’ve had my “stache” for about 40 years!
It was cool back then, and these days it’s even cooler ;)
Though I’ll have to challenge you to a ‘stache duel one day!
Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story, Brian! It’s always great to hear how many successful business owners have grown exponentially over the years through hard work and dedication. Wishing more success coming your way!
Thank you for your comments.
This is so interesting! I had no idea this was even a thing. I always assumed janitorial staff of stores cleaned parking lots. Huh! The pay ain’t too shabby either. :)
Some janitors do, but most don’t want the exterior work.
That is a brilliant business idea. It truly serves a need that people would rather not do themselves. It sounds like a great side gig that can be developed into a full-time business.
That’s exactly my story. I started this as a side hustle while working a full time day job. The service is provided “after hours” – before the businesses open, so it doesn’t conflict with your day job.
American ingenuity at work. Gotta love the side hustles that there are out there. Very inspiring story indeed and looks like something I would have enjoyed doing. And trash can definitely become treasure!
Thanks. A truly recession-proof business!
This was one of my first jobs – back when I was in middle school. My brother and I arranged to do this with one of my dad’s business associates and we’d clean lots around the Twin Cities every Sunday.
While it was a dirty job (my hands constantly smelled like latex cleaning gloves), I agree with a lot of what the author put in here. It did feel nice to help clean a space up and we got lots of chill time in the car. We even arranged to get paid mileage and a reduced hourly rate during our drive time (since that was a significant portion).
Even back then, it was good money – by the time I took it over from my brother and did it alone, I got paid $20 an hour while cleaning and $10 an hour while in the car. Pretty awesome rate for a high school student!
Nice!! Imagine if there were podcasts or ipod around back then too? (Or did you rock an old school boombox or travel cd player? Haha…)
That’s pretty cool. It just goes to remind there are opportunities to make money all around. You just have to look for them.
And consider all possibilities including doing what most other people won’t consider doing. More money for those of us that do!
How is this a $650k a year business?
I have an army of workers that service about 150 properties under contract.
Great idea. Is it best to have the contracts or an hourly rate.
This is so cool! Way to go, and good on you : )
Thank you. There are still honest ways to make money out there.
It always amazes me how many opportunities there are staring us right in the face. How many people walk through a messy parking lot as they go about their day without even giving it a second thought? But here you are making a business out of it. Awesome!
Thanks. A lot of people don’t want to clean up after others. But with the proper tools, it’s almost as easy to do as going for a walk!
I always thought it was the store’s janitors that did the cleanup. Very cool that the author was able to turn this into a profitable business!
Now a huge flood of J$ readers are going to jump into this once secret business…making it far more competitive. Hope he can make up the difference in book sales! ;)
Good thing this bog is international! Imagine thousands of people out with brooms and trash cans right now around your town? :)
The stores pay into a monthly operating budget from the property management company that provides for maintenance services such as landscaping, snow removal, heating, AC, parking lot maintenance, etc. It’s getting more competitive but most people aren’t interested in a cleaning business. More $ for those of us that do!
This man is living my dream!!! I love trash…but (and I saw this coming) for a 5 ft 100 lb Asian chick..I don’t think it’s my area of work in terms of manual labor and safety. This is heart breaking. I’m not even joking…
Thanks for sharing though! I’ll stick to dumpster diving in my residential woods :(
You CAN do this Lily! It’s not difficult with the right tools and you can work early mornings (5am – before day job). I’ve had women work for me in the past.
I thought you were awesome before I read this comment, Lily. Now you’re even more awesome. Jared is a lucky man.
Wow, I didn’t realize how lucrative parking lot trash removal was! You get to make major $$ and you get to make a visible impact on a space.
Brian, you’re my effing hero! I love it. Ever since I was a highway foreman, I loved picking up trash. Something about walking, being alone with your thoughts, and doing something positive for the community. But I never considered monetizing that avocation. Sir, I salute you. Thank you for spreading the word.
P.S. I pick up trash every week on county roads and in county parks. It would be great if that civic spirit could be rewarded with a check. But I doubt the county would appreciate my efforts. It is much more likely to issue a cease and desist order. I’m honing in on its work.
We need more citizens like you. Have you heard of Keep America Beautiful (KAB)? They’re the largest non-profit group that attempts to educate the public about the problems litter creates for the environment. They have a lot of community clean ups where you can get involved with other like-minded people. Thanks for your contribution!
Brian – you should check out Mr. Groovy’s youtube channel where he shares his thoughts while picking up trash :)
I always heard that waste is a terrible thing to mind but you sure proved that saying wrong. Way to go!
I do a lot of walking and take shortcuts through restaurant and bar parking lots. A few times a year I find money. You’re so correct, people pulling out their keys and a bunch of coins and the occasional paper bill falls out. Much luck and kudos for filling that niche!
LOL. Thanks Paul.
This really shows that if you work hard and know what you are doing, you can succeed in any business. I will definitely give this side hustle a serious consideration as I need a bit of exercise and I want to get paid to do it
I’d be happy to assist you. I provide free support when you buy the book.
What a guy! A great side hustle while making solid amount of money!
You just need to be willing to do what most others aren’t.
I had no idea this was so lucrative! Does the work get easier over time? I imagine when you are first hired there will be a build-up of trash to pick up, and that once they have you, it is more of a maintenance issue and less of a big chore.
I think most companies already keep their parking lots clean, but it’s just someone else is doing it (members of the company, a property management co, etc). Then you’d come in and offer better quality for less money :) (Although if you ever did see tons of trash piled up, that would be the first place I’d pitch so they can see what a difference you could make! haha..)
You’re both correct.
typically are you doing this early in the morning before the store opens?
How are you billing them? Hourly or set rate.
Do you bill them once a month or weekly or bi weekly?
Yes. This service is provided “after hours”. Your contract price is based on your estimated time to service a particular property. You invoice them monthly. All explained in my book, Cleanlots.
What if you want to take a week or so off? What happens with the business if you’re the only one doing it? Would I be stuck without time off until I got big enough to have employees?
No problem! I show you how to find people looking to make a few extra bucks on the side to cover for you.
A few assumptions but to keep it simple:
650K per year / 150 properties = $4,333 annually per property or $360 per month.
Taking this $360 per month / $35 per hour = 10+ hours per month or about 20 minutes per day.
If utilizing $50 per hour it is under 15 minutes per day.
I am guessing it takes roughly 12 properties to get to $50K gross annually.
As a side job, this would be difficult to tackle alone unless one doesn’t mind being out at 1 am or beginning at 1 am.
This is definitely an intriguing proposition to explore.
I wonder if the real estate management companies would go for an every other day cleanup?
Thanks for sharing and am on the fence about purchasing your book.
$80-$90 is a bit steep for this crowd but I wish you the best of continued success.
Some people work 2-3 hours before their day jobs. Properties are mostly serviced daily, Monday-Friday, others less frequently, say M,W,F, and a few 6 or 7 days a week. What you charge varies across the country. Everyone walks a different pace. I’ve been told that I move fast. I hope you find what you’re looking for. All the best!
You’ve convinced me sir! I’m getting the book and I’m recruiting my husband in on this! I wake up around 4:30/5am anyway (I’m a bit of a yoga freak) so why not make some money as well?
DO IT!!! Then come back and tell us how it all went :) I ended up deciding *not* to do it cuz I’d have to make up the time during kid time which I don’t want to do, but it’s by far one of my favorite hustles we’ve featured here so far and really do think there’s some good potential to reap the rewards… Ain’t nobody wants to work with trash!
You get my contact information in the book for FREE support, if you need it. I’ll help you out any way I can.
Well crap.. I’m the dumbass who’s been cleaning up trash from one side of town to the other and haven’t even found a 1 dollar bill yet!!.. I’ve just been doing it because I’m Homeless and don’t have much else to do after finding food and making sure everyone else is ok.. Wish i could afford your book but any money i get is dire for living. Word to ya Man.. Glad life is Great!
All the best to you Brian. Best bet for finding money is outside bars after they close. There are bottle pickers that will look to collect as many empties they can find outside these businesses as well. So you have competition.
There are landscaping companies in my area that pick up litter as part of their landscaping promise. How do you compete with them?
Robert, have you ever heard the saying “jack of all trades, master of none”? It comes down to service; are they showing up during business hours? You can’t properly clean up litter from the parking lot if vehicles are parked on it. Our service is performed after hours. A large landscape maintenance contractor subs out the litter pick to me in my city.
Great insight. I definitely see there is money to be made!!
Does this apply to the UK, Great Britain?
And what safety tips can you offer for women that are interested?
I’m not familiar with the UK market but it will work anywhere there are parking lots to keep litter free. As for the safety tips – women or men – be aware of your surroundings. Work certain areas early mornings as opposed to late nights. I’ve known many women who’ve done this work without problems.
this make me excited i have some ideas but want to try this its so nice but the thing is you have to do this night early morning what if some bad strangers you come face to face
I’ve been working these hours for decades and never been robbed. I’ve had people approach me asking for “spare change”. You need to exercise common sense. Don’t pull out your money. Be aware of your surroundings.
Wow. I wish there were more businesses nearby! How easy to do!
On a small scale I don’t think you’d get so many businesses to pay for this daily. But even if you got 5-7 businesses and charged them $50 bucks to do it once a week it could be a great side hustle.
Your clients aren’t the individual businesses but rather the property management company who in turn bills back your service to each business each month in their rent.
I remember purchasing Brian’s book back in 2012…yes 2012 when it was a paper pamphlet. I didn’t seek the opportunity out to the fullest but sent out several emails about parking lot cleaning to property managers and around 1/10 got back to me. A few of them barked when I said the $35/$50 hour price tag. Still, that kind of response rate is very appealing. The number of properties still show there is an opportunity here. It does take some balls to run this kind of biz though.
How interesting! I bet your response rate gets even better too as you adjust and learn (and plug it with happy testimonials from all your future clients!). I’ll have to find the email, but someone here gave this a shot within weeks of reading it and now makes around $1,200/mo off it – and that was about a year ago. So it’s definitely do-able for those who want it bad enough!
Todd, you can always contact me for the free support that comes with the book. Tip: Never volunteer your hourly charge. Provide a monthly price then break it down per visit. This way your quote appears very affordable. You have to work the business if you want the business to work for you.
Will the ebook and business plans info etc be viable and suitable to start a business like this in australia or is is it based on american principles
Hi Luke, The business model will work anywhere there are commercial property with parking lots.
Don’t most property management companies enforce parking lot clean up by the business that occupies their space? Example, when I worked at Dunkin Donuts in High School it was a shift chore for an associate to sweep the parking lot daily…
Also, do you pay your workers a commission per lot incentivizing getting more lots cleaned?
No. The tenants pay for this service in their monthly rents. Some businesses that generate an abnormal amount of litter, such as your example, may be required to pay extra. A few fast food or convenience store chains do in fact make each staff shift responsible for a litter pick in front of their stores. A commission isn’t necessary as I pay my workers well. I’ve had some with me for 20 years.
I am completely shocked to be reading this Brian. I thought I was the only person to think of this as a big business. I just started my company 2 months ago and have 1 property that pays 1200 a month for 6 days a week clean up. 10 properties = 140k a year. Only competition is the street sweeping companies but we’re cheaper. I might buy your book for a few tips on acquiring contracts or creating them, but, just wow. Thanks for the insight. This works. You’ll see my name at the top of google sooner than later!
NICE!!!! Love to see more people doing this! One of my favorite hustles we’ve featured here over the years :)
Any plans to offer this as a business opportunity or franchise? This is a great business name!!! I’m sure people would pay a modest franchise fee to use the name and business model. I’m in the lawn care business, finding qualified and dependable workers is nearly impossible. Perhaps trash pick up would be easier to find employees since its year round and not as physically demanding as mowing and weedeating?
This is too simple. I sell my experience in my book, Cleanlots. I even offer free support.
I have a maintenance and cleaning company. I want to know where to get the trash scoopy thing. Looks great to sweep up trash
It’s the best tool on the market! It’s available from a very small manufacturer that I share in my book Cleanlots.
Thank you for the insight! I’ve been looking into this since I have a family on the way and I’m hoping to start doing this as a side job then to turn it into a full time gig. I like the aspect of being your own boss; can’t wait to get your book sometime. I guess the biggest thing for me is to stay motivated in trying to find customers
Yes – please do pick up the book then and soak it all in! Lots of great tips in it and I bet you’ll learn a TON as soon as you start reaching out and getting the ball going… You’ll have to let us know how it turns out! :)
Congrats on the “family on the way”. Never hurts to make some extra money as long as you have the support from your better half. I offer free support should you buy my book.
Love this, simple, easy, and productive. As soon as I have an extra $80 I’m ordering your book and want to get started building a business like you!!
Let us know how it goes if you give it a shot, Tracy!
A handful of people have told me it’s working for them since posting this up :)
I’ll provide as much free support as you need. Your success – is my success!
Folks…..Be very CAREFUL and SKEPTICAL before you send this Brian Winch any $$ for his E-book or the hard-back version ($79.95) – claiming that you can “earn” a six-figure income, cleaning *Commercial Property Lots*!!. He calls it *America’s Simplest Business*….. But he is CANADIAN!!
He fails to tell you that, he resides in Calgary, Alberta, Canada – which get’s plenty of “snow-and-ice” for 5 months a year and also a lot of rain for 7 months of the year!! Plus it is very COLD as well!! I have 25 Yrs. of experience on the Internet and have seen just about every “Scam” there is!! This is just another SCAM!!
He will NOT provide any REAL contactable Testimonials or References – for people who are supposedly involved in this “clean-up” business….That should be a big *RED FLAG* for you, as well!! Also, the BBB have never heard of him either!!……Save your $$ – stay away from this *SCAM*!! You have been *WARNED*!!
I’m guilty of the crime of being Canadian. Fact is this business model has proved successful in both the U.S and Canada for decades. Bruce hasn’t done his homework with regards to Calgary’s weather or my legitimacy. Check me out for yourself.
Bruce, get a life. Stop harassing this man. His business model is proven everywhere, several people have had success following his advice. I see you on his youtube channel also harassing him.