Asphalt & Sealcoating Business Basics
As in any business, 'Perception is reality'. Make sure you present yourself in a professional manner. Your truck or trailer and the way that you and your people are dressed should look 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 and develop your own script and approach.
There is nothing more effective than 'being there' on a bright sunny day and speaking one on one with a prospective customer. 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.
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, BE THERE on time. Your customers' time is valuable, and they have many other things to plan and do in their day.
- Prompt service - 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, 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.
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? Think of these groups:
- People You Know. Once you let family and friends know you are in this business they will be delighted to have you do their driveway. 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 you provide, 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 business.
- Follow-up Service. In the springtime, touch base with last year's customers, and offer them a springtime special offer. This will allow you to secure an early start for those customers who are particular about the appearance of their driveway. You can 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 the area 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. Once the area is cleaned, sprinkle sand on the area, and sweep it with a broom to dry it 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 to protect the edges of the walls that you will be spraying or applying next to. Make sure to take your time and develop your technique so you don't have to waste time cleaning up from over-spray errors.
- When using any of the Asphalt Kingdom spray systems, the application wand will spray a two- to three-foot fan spray when holding the tip 1.5 feet above the asphalt. Take your 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). Example:
- Once you've completed 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 the driveway is completely sealed, 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 arrived.
RAIN: Asphalt sealer can be applied up to 30 or 45 minutes before 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 and 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: Use gasoline or diesel to clean up tools.
Once the sealer dries, it will be difficult to remove, because of its 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 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 simple and smart business practices that will keep money in your pocket.
Know Your Money
Every country, and even state, has its 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. Accountants are 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 a sampling of ways that your asphalt business can save money with accounting know-how.
- Home-Based Office: 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 your work expenses are deductible.
Utilities, property taxes, mortgage/rent, are all obvious to consider for tax purposes, 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 the most-used supply in the asphalt business. It’s also one of your biggest costs and your best money-maker. Here are simple ways to make sealant-use 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 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 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 worked 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 five basics of your asphalt sales strategy guide to success:
- Qualify Your Customer – Determine who needs your asphalt sealing, and the best ways to find them
- Be Disarming – Know 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 – List what you should have with you when you are making a cold call and knocking at someone's door
- Closing The Sale – Wrap things up and get the job
- Hire A Sales Team – Determine when it's time to focus on sealing driveways and hiring someone else to go door-to-door
Qualifying Your Customer: Who Needs Your Asphalt Expertise?
The first step is to know where to look and find customers.
There's no point in knocking on someone's door that clearly has recently had their driveway sealed, or starting in a neighborhood where the driveways have just been installed. However, a newly built area where the driveways are about a year old is perfect. New homeowners need to know how important it is to seal and protect their very expensive asphalt investment. Here are your tips for qualifying your customer:
- You can't work on rainy days, 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.
Learn More: Enroll In Our Free Course
Free Linestriping Course
Whether you already have an existing sealcoating business or are looking to get started for the first time, this asphalt marketing package will help your business reach new levels.
Be Disarming: How Do You Approach A Potential Customer?
The best thing you can do is to approach each door as if there is a new mother at home alone with her baby. 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. Here are some tips for being disarming and respectful:
- Compliment your potential customers' homes – 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, whether it be flowerbeds, windows, lawns, or porches.
- 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 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 Smiths 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 eight-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 potential customers 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 fliers or business cards. An old-fashioned binder with photos works, too, if you don't have a tablet.
Tips for your sales tools:
- Your flier 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 lead's address but also his/her 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: wrapping things up and close the sale. Here are the steps you need to keep in mind to close sales:
- The Problem – You comment that the potential customer's 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 you don't set an appointment to do the work, then set up 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 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? 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 your salesperson by having them read this article to learn about sealcoating and sales.
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 that you are legitimate.
Business Phone: Ideally, you want to have someone professional and courteous 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 a 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 provide 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 showcasing your work, the more trust new clients will have in you.
Fliers, 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 fliers, 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) can be 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 and references. Show that you have a reputation to protect. When you go door-to-door, carry fliers, door-hangers, and/or business cards to show you are a legitimate sealcoating company.
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 five 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: fliers, 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.