Asphalt Kingdom Sealcoating Business Strategy
If you're thinking about starting your own sealcoating business, there is a lot to consider! First, you'll need to consider the basics of how will you run your business. Then, you'll need to figure out what pieces of equipment to purchase, as well as how you're going to get asphalt supplies. Read this asphalt business strategy guide to find all the answers you need.
Table of Contents
Asphalt & Sealcoating Business Basics:
As in any business, 'Perception is Reality'. Make sure you present yourself in a professional manner. By this we mean make sure that your truck or trailer and the way that you and your people are dressed looks neat, clean and professional.
The way you look and present yourself will have a direct impact on your sales effectiveness, closing ratios and the price you are able to obtain for your work.
In most cases you will be making cold calls in person, driving through a neighborhood and stopping door to door. In some cases you may be making phone calls to set up free estimate meetings. In all cases it is critical that you practice your presentation skills, develop your own script and approach.
From our experience there is nothing more effective than 'being there' on a bright sunny day and speaking one on one with a perspective customer and once you've got one job underway on a street and you start knocking on the next person's door and they see you are already doing a job close by……your chances for landing a series of jobs on that street are very good which will have a big impact on your profit potential that day.
When you get a job there are a number of important Service Level elements to deliver on:
- Appointments - When you make an appointment for a specific time and date, i.e. 10 a.m. Wednesday versus some time next week and BE THERE on time……your customers' time is valuable and they have many other things to plan and do in their day.
- Prompt service - Basically, when the customer says "yes" then make every effort to complete the job as soon as the client says "Do It!" In the event you have a sales representative out pre-selling, make sure to get a deposit when you can and make sure you are there at the time and date agreed. If there is any change, it is important to call the client and make alternate arrangements. People are very understanding when you speak to them in advance. They don't want to be waiting for you or your team and no one shows up.
- Any Time, Any Day - The Asphalt and Sealcoat business is a weather dependent business so 'Make Hay while the sun shines'. Seal on Saturday and Sunday, or any other day.
- Repeat Business – Get ALL your customers' contact information: Name, Phone, Email, Address. You have a golden opportunity to build an ongoing, long term relationship with your customers that will allow you to pre-book jobs with them for years to come. Getting the right information and developing a Customer Relationship Management system will also allow you to build a high valuation for your business is you should ever decide to sell your business.
Use the Best Asphalt & Sealcoating Product:
The quality of the Sealcoating product you use will have a direct long term impact on your success. You can use the QUALITY element as a key feature of your sales presentation and DEMONSTRATE the specific BENEFITS that the quality of your product provides to your clients. Appearance, durability and longer life are all key benefits of the Asphalt Kingdom products.
Getting your Business Started:
How should you start marketing your business and how should you get your first customers? You should start with...
- People You Know. Family and Friends…once you let them know you are in this business they will be delighted to have you do their driveway and when you do a good job for them they will tell others which leads to :
- Word of Mouth. Word of mouth is the best advertisement there is. With word of mouth, individuals are personally vouching for you and your work.
- Fliers. Fliers are effective when targeting specific areas. Fliers allow you to include a variety of information about you, the product and your FREE estimate service. Fliers are an excellent tool to generate interest and awareness and you can feature a 'special limited time savings coupon' as part of your offer to drive immediate response to your offer. business.
- Follow up Service. In the springtime touch base with last years customers and offer them a spring time special offer. This will allow you to secure an early start up for those customers who are particular about the appearance of their drive way and you will make sure to touch up and repair any winter damage caused by snow plows, snow blowers, shovels etc.
Asphalt Sealing Application Guide
DRIVEWAY and OTHER ASPHALT SURFACE PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS:
- The surface should be thoroughly cleaned by sweeping and power blowing. This will rid of the dust, dirt, leaves, etc. so the sealer has an opportunity to adhere to the asphalt surface.
- If there are any areas where there is asphalt damage due to petroleum deposits,(gas or oil drip leaks) they should be cleaned thoroughly with the asphalt kingdom oil detergent / degreaser and then sprinkle sand on the area and sweep with a broom to dry that area out.
- If there are small depressions in the asphalt surface then you can prepare a mixture of coarse sand and Sealer and fill in the rough surface. The repaired area should be left to set up and be free of traffic for 24 to 48 hours.
- Use a thin board or small section of a piece of plywood so you can protect the edges of the walls surfaces that you will be spraying or applying next to. Make sure to take your time and to develop your technique so you don't have to waste time cleaning up from overspray errors.
- When using any of the Asphalt Kingdom spray systems the application wand will spray a 2 to 3 foot fan spray when holding the tip 1.5 feet above the asphalt. Take you time, practice makes perfect.
- Start the spraying process by walking up the driveway right to the end (usually closest to the house). Do one full pass across the top of the driveway. Example:
- Then you should do both sides (always protecting borders and walls from over spray).
- Once you have then done the borders you can then walk back to the top of the driveway and start sealing from left to right or right to left. Work your way down the driveway.
- Once driveway is completely sealed it is best to put two sticks on each side down by the road and put a caution ribbon across the end so nobody drives onto the driveway by accident.
- Clean up after your job. Sweep the road and be sure that when you leave the area is cleaner than when you initially arrived.
RAIN: Asphalt sealer can be applied up to ½ to ¾ of an hour before a rain.
APPLICATION TEMPERATURE: Do not apply at a temperature less than 40°F and more than 95°F.
CURING / DRYING TIME: The time to dry will vary, depending on weather conditions. Normally, it can be walked on 24 hours later or can be driven on after 48 hours – But always advise your client to stay off the surface for as long as possible as this allows for the best job.
CLEANUP: To clean tools use gasoline or diesel.
Once the sealer dries it will be difficult to remove, because of its extreme quality and durability. Fabric stains are permanent. Work gloves and eye protection are recommended.
Spraying Sealcoat – Losing Pressure while Spraying
One of the frustrating things that can happen with sealcoating is losing pressure while spraying. There are three common reasons for this to happen and several things you can do to prevent or fix this problem. Learn how to fix sealcoating pressure problems »
Smart Ways to Save Money
The saying, "You have to spend money to make money" is certainly true, but there are also ways to save your asphalt business money by spending smart. Here are three areas of simple and smart business practices that will keep money in your pocket. Every independent operator should know these ways to save money.
Know Your Money
Every country, and even state, has their own tax laws, so don’t let a fear of numbers scare you as an owner. The fact is, not knowing is costing you a fortune. An accountant is worth their weight in savings. Or you can take a course at a local college or even online to learn more about tax savings in your off-season. Here’s just a sampling of ways that your asphalt business can save money with accounting know-how.
- Home-Based Office: So many owners work from home, with at least an office and phone. Almost every tax law allows you to write this off. Let’s say your home office is 5% of your home’s square footage, then 5% of all expenses are deductible.
Utilities, property taxes, mortgage/rent, are all obvious, but have you been including home repair like the new roof, new air-conditioner, landscaping, bathroom supplies, cleaning products, etc.? When you spend money on your home, keep the receipts. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you will save!
- Multi-Use Vehicle: If you have a car or truck that you use for your asphalt business and for personal use, are you getting the maximum deduction? Check and see what the default percentage write-off is, and compare that to what you’re actually doing. Keeping a mileage diary could prove that you’re using more than the standard default percentage. Don’t forget: windshield wiper fluid, oil, gas, repairs, and maintenance receipts are all part and parcel of that percentage.
Spending More To Save More
Sealant is easily the most-used supply in the asphalt business, so it’s also one of your biggest costs and your best money-maker. Here are simple ways to make that work for you and save your money.
- Bulk Rate Pricing: Good suppliers discount asphalt sealer when you buy in quantity. That puts more money in your pocket. Plus if you’re smart and canvas the neighborhood for “We’re here, we can sealcoat your driveway today” jobs, you won’t have the worry of running out of sealer.
- Larger Tank: How many trips are you making to the sealer plant, and how much gas and time are you losing making that trip instead of sealcoating? Investing in a larger tank to hold sealant close to work is smart money thinking.
- Equipment That Saves Time: The asphalt business is the same as all businesses: time is money. With the right equipment, you get the jobs done faster, with less waste of time, and that frees you up to do more jobs per week. Consider upgrading your spray system, especially if the depreciation on your current system is a small amount (talk to an accountant!). Accessories like the sealcoating ball valve spray gun will pay for themselves in time saved so quickly, you’ll wonder how you ever did without them.
Getting your Business Started:
The most important question of all business owners is how to go out and get customers, whether you are a brand new company, or an existing asphalt sealing business. Earlier, we touched on Getting Your Business Started, so let's move on to the basics of sales. After all, knowing how to seal asphalt is only part of what you need to know; you also need to know how to sell yourself, and grow your business.
Here are the 5 basics of your Asphalt Sales Strategy Guide to success:
- Qualify Your Customer – Who needs your asphalt sealing, and the best ways to find them
- Be Disarming – How to approach people when you knock on their door so they will take the time to listen to what you have to say
- Sales Tools – What you should have with you when you are making a cold call and knocking at someone's door
- Closing The Sale – Where you wrap things up and get the job
- Hire A Sales Team – When is it time to focus on sealing driveways and hiring someone else to go door-to-door
Qualifying Your Customer: Who Needs Your Asphalt Expertise?
Very simply, the first step is to know where to look and find customers. For instance, there is no point in knocking on someone's door that clearly has recently had their driveway sealed, or in a neighborhood where the driveways have just been installed. However, in a newly built area where the driveways are about a year old is perfect! New home-owners need to know how important it is to seal and protect their very expensive asphalt investment. Here are your tips for qualifying your customer:
- Rainy days are when you can't work, but you can easily see which asphalt isn't beading in the rain (an obvious sign that it's time to sealcoat).
- Look from above using a tool like Google Earth to see from the comfort of home what areas are in prime need of maintenance.
- On the job, look around at the surrounding properties to see who else could benefit from a fresh sealcoat, especially at the end of your work day. They can see what a great job you did, at a house they know.
Be Disarming: How Do You Approach A Potential Customer?
The very best thing you can do is to approach each door as if there is a new mother at home alone with her baby. By keeping that in mind, you will not find yourself making the most common mistake of hulking right outside the door and invading people's personal space! Be respectful and polite, and wear something that identifies who you are; a company shirt, or an ID badge with the company name and logo. Begin by letting them know who you are, your company and what it does, which brings you to why you are at their door. Tips for being disarming and respectful:
- Compliment their home – after all, you are there telling them they've neglected to maintain their asphalt, so compliment a part of their property that is well-maintained. Flowerbeds, windows, lawn, porch, whatever attracts the eye and looks cared for.
- Respect their property – If you've been on the job, and your hands are dirty from sealcoating, don't shake hands or touch the doorbell. Use a pen to ring the bell, and simply begin with "I'd shake hands, but I've been working."
- Credentials – As well as wearing something that identifies you and the company, never forget to mention the neighbor's address where you have done work. Example: "You may have noticed the Smith's down the street had their driveway done. That was my work," and be proud. Not only is this a great introduction, it showcases your work like nothing else can.
- Get to the point – Although compliments and introducing yourself are important, don't dawdle and waste their time. Tell them why you are there, and what it is you are offering.
For a demo on how this works, watch this 8-minute video from Asphalt Kingdom president Judd Burdon.
Sales Tools: What Should You Have With You?
You must be able to do the following three things:
- Take down information to contact them and to mark down the date to do the job.
- Give your company details so the customer can contact you and check your references.
- Show them your work, especially before and after images of driveways you have done.
How you do this is up to you, but an iPad or PC Tablet is an incredibly easy and efficient tool to show images of your work and to take down information. You will still need flyers or business cards. An old fashioned binder with photos works too if you don't have a tablet.
Tips for your sales tools:
- Your flyer or business card must have a phone number and the company name, but don't forget about email. Also, a website is a really good idea so they can see more examples of your work, and testimonials from your clients.
- Appointments should not only note the address, but also the phone number, just in case the weather forces you to reschedule. While you're at it, have the reminder set to yearly so you'll remember to check back with them every year to see when the sealcoating needs redoing.
- Showing your work can be as simple as before and after shots, but you could also include images of other work you do such as crack filling.
Closing The Sale: Where You Go Right, Not Wrong!
Strangely enough, people get so focused on 'selling' they forget to do the most important part, and actually wrap things up and close the sale. Here are the steps you need to keep in mind:
- The Problem – You begin with their driveway is unsealed and unprotected, that's the problem.
- The Solution – You will sealcoat their driveway, detailing what that includes (cleaning, blocking access, etc.), and how it will fix the problem and look great, too. Explain why you are the best person to do the job, such as giving details about the quality of your sealant.
- Any Questions? – Give the person a chance to ask questions! This gives you the opportunity to show how much you know about the work you do.
- The Date And Time – If not for an appointment to do the work, then a time to call back and talk about it again.
Hire A Sales Team: When Is It Time To Pay Someone To Sell? (Hint: It's sooner than you think!)
Not only is it sooner than you think, it's easier than you think! While you are on the job sealcoating driveways, you're not available to go door-to-door. Yet that is the best time to canvas the area for more work. Wouldn't it be perfect to have someone else seeking out new customers? One of the biggest objections is that business owners feel they don't have time to spend training someone to sell. There's an easy solution. Pay your salesperson a percentage of each job they book.
Here's the key to success: Pay them more when they reach a goal.
Here's how you do it. Pay them, for example, 5% of every job they book. For your average $150 driveway, they get $7.50. Now, set a goal. If they get say 10 bookings, they now earn 10% of all the jobs they booked that day, that is a huge incentive to double their earnings. That's how you motivate someone to be good at what they do, by rewarding them for achieving their goals. Just imagine how many more jobs you can do in a day, when you don't have to go door-to-door and you have a highly motivated sales person getting the next day's work lined up for you.
Bonus Tip: Train them by having them read this article, to learn about sealcoating and sales.
If you're looking to advertise in your local newspaper, there are a few main things that can have an impact on the conversion of a marketing campaign in a newspaper:
- Ad quality.
- How large the ad is.
- Where the ad is placed.
- Date on which the ad is delivered.
We highly recommend that you review and compare your ad quality to your competitors', and get advice from qualified sealcoating professionals with a successful business.
Ask the newspaper editor or advisor to give you advice on the size of the ad and the part of the paper that will attract the most eyes (example: home maintenance section, spring clean up, or fall clean up sections).
Make sure to run heavy advertising at the beginning of the season (in Spring) when people are cleaning up their yards, and again at the end of the season when people are getting ready for winter.
Also, be sure to include that you provide commercial and residential free estimates on your marketing materials.
Door to Door
Another thing that sealcoaters tend to push aside is the direct door-to-door marketing. Knocking on doors and leaving free estimates will bring the best conversion results at the end of the day. Generally, good salespeople can close at a 10% closing conversation ratio when going door to door.
Some areas don't allow direct soliciting, so we recommend leaving a "Sorry We Missed You" door hanger. We provide a free template for this as part of or sealcoating business marketing package. This allows you to leave a free estimate and let's the potential client know that you will be back in the area and they can save on the travel expense and get an on-the-site discount. It works very well; you would be surprised with the number of callbacks!
Another thing that sealcoaters need to be aware of is that more and more people search on the web to find a local contractor. Generally they use their favorite search engine and type in their city or town, followed by the keyword "sealcoating" or "seal coating", etc. Make sure you use these words when you are advertising online or when you are building a website.
Use Social Media: Give your asphalt business a social presence where you can post before-and-after photos of your work. Give tips on how to clean up fuel spills and stains to extend the life of their pavement. Social media is free, and the perfect way to showcase how good your work is.
The Internet is being used every day by your potential clients. Don't fall behind and be sure to include a Facebook page or website into your marketing program too.
Existing Customers Are Your Bread And Butter
Did you know that it costs you far less to keep your current customers than to find new ones? When economic times are tight, and you need to curb your spending on advertising, focus on the clients you do have.
- Call Or Visit Every Two to Three Years: You are their asphalt expert, so find out how the sealcoating is holding up for your clients and see if it needs a fresh coat of sealant. Don’t forget to look for cracks in the asphalt and recommend crack filling. Remember, this is not a hard sell: this is helping your customers maintain their asphalt.
- Word-Of-Mouth: If you've left behind a business card, followed up on your work with a phone call, or reached out every two-to-three years as we recommended, you'll be top-of-mind for your customers. When their friends and family ask about a reputable asphalt business, you’ll be remembered and have free word-of-mouth advertising. Consider even asking Facebook Friends to pass along coupons on your behalf to friends and family as another way of spending money to make money.
Grow Your Reputation: Steps to Win Wary Customers and Grow Your Business
Customers are wary because of asphalt scams run by crooks. This has painted the whole driveway sealing business with a black brush. What can you do, to show that you are an honest sealcoating company? Whether you are a student applying asphalt sealer for the summer, or an established company with years of experience, there are simple steps to take to reassure wary new clients and grow your client list.
Business Phone: Ideally, you want to have someone professional and courteous to answer your phone. They need to be able to set up appointments for quotes, answer questions about products, and deal with customers as you would yourself. This may not be an option for a student running their own driveway sealing business, but you can still present yourself as a professional. Have voice mail that’s geared to your sealcoating company, to reassure people you’re not running asphalt scams. Friends and family will understand business must come first and still leave you a message.
Internet Presence: A website is great way to showcase your completed asphalt sealing jobs with before and after images, customer compliments, references, and a way to contact you by email. It is a commitment, and you must make a point to keep it up-to-date, or risk looking like a thrown-together website.
Facebook is an easy way to create a page for your driveway sealing business, without having to create your own website. Ask your clients to like your page, and give feedback on your sealcoating company. Scam artists rarely go to the trouble of creating an internet presence anywhere. Don’t forget about Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other sites you already use. The more people can see you visibly showcasing your work, the more trust new clients will have in you.
Flyers, Doorhangers, Business Cards: Let’s face facts: door-to-door is the best way to get new customers, especially when you are already in the neighborhood working. But, and it’s a big but, this is the number one way scams are run, too! Have with you flyers, door-hangers, and/or business cards for your sealcoating company that have these important items on it:
- Phone Number where your driveway sealing business can be reached
- Quality Of Asphalt Sealer to let them know that you know the difference quality makes
- References of work you have done, or a space to write in the job you are currently doing on their street
- Internet Sites whichever you’ve decided to use, so they can check out your driveway sealing business online
- About You (optional) especially useful and effective for students, but any sealcoating company can benefit from talking about who you are and why you do this for a living
Marketing tip: We offer a free marketing package to help new and experienced companies.
Asphalt scams and the people who run them, hurt all of us in this business. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and present yourself in the very best way possible to reassure potential new clients. Have your phone for your driveway sealing business answered professionally, and courteously. Create an internet presence to showcase your work, references, and that you have a reputation to protect. When you go door-to-door, carry flyers, door-hangers, and/or business cards to show you are a legitimate sealcoating company. All of these steps will help you to reassure wary new customers that you are not running a scam and will help you grow your business.
Now You Know The Sales Basics For Success
Whether you have a brand-new asphalt sealing business or you are looking to grow your existing company's client list, you now have the tools for success. Just remember your 5 steps.
First, qualify your customer by seeking out prime areas where driveways need sealcoating.
Second, be disarming, and approach every door thinking that a new mother alone with her baby is the one at home. Be respectful and courteous, and do not hulk right outside the door.
Third, have your sales tools with you; flyers, appointment calendar, and before-and-after shots of your work.
Fourth, never forget to close the sale by booking either an appointment or a call back time, and always ask the customer if they have any questions.
Fifth and final part of your sales strategy is to hire a sales team who is motivated to get out and sell by offering them a higher percentage when they reach a set goal each day. In no time, you'll be busier than you ever hoped to be, and growing your business quickly and profitably.