D&G Sealcoating & Striping, Estero, FL, officially started in 2001 when Gail Shaw became sole owner of a business she had been assisting Dennis Deibel with since 1996. While Gail Shaw worked outside the home as an accountant, Deibel tackled small sealcoating and striping jobs, hiring from a labor pool on an as-needed basis. "Back then a $2,000 to $4,000 job was a big job for us," he says.
Shaw joined the company full-time in 2006, focusing on marketing efforts, and D&G experienced a big change in its business. "To do what we're doing it takes two people and when Gail joined, the business just took off," Deibel says. "Gail markets and sells, and I work in the field. That's how we've been successful."
Shaw first focused on improving the company's image and its marketing efforts. She started learning the pavement maintenance business, attended classes each year at National Pavement Expo, and has rapidly come up to speed on the industry.
"What she's learned and what she's been able to do in a very short time is amazing," Deibel says.
In addition to standardized four-color brochures, D&G Sealcoating & Striping includes a reference letter, an insurance copy, reference list, license list with each bid. The contractor also has a website Shaw updates regularly with photos of jobs underway and finished work. She has added numerous D&G videos on YouTube, which she directs prospective customers to visit in order to view how projects are completed and to ease any concerns.
"The bulk of our work is for condo and homeowner associations, and they want to see how we do it," Shaw says. "They want to make sure we look professional on the job and they want to make sure we don't spray sealer on their brick. So the YouTube videos are great for that. I also try to do a lot of e-mail communication because I can direct them right to YouTube with a link."
The company also relies on Yellow Pages ads as part of their marketing mix. "If someone is online on the Yellow Pages and they run their mouse over our ad it takes them right to our website," Shaw says.
In 2006 D&G Sealcoating & Striping also leased the 1-800-Sealcoat vanity number in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties.
"We weren't sure how it would work, and we had other marketing efforts going, but we just thought it would be something to give us another edge," Shaw says. "We tested it out in Naples and it brought us a lot of calls for good-sized residential driveways, so we've kept it. It's just another facet of our marketing."
She says D&G also received a large contract with area Walgreen's properties it wouldn't have received without the 1-800-Sealcoat affiliation.
Shaw says D & G spends between $15,000 and $20,000 a year on marketing. Other marketing efforts include networking with property managers, buying dinners, and donating several gifts a month to appropriate client-sponsored events.
To learn how D&G Sealcoating & Striping used its reputation, marketing, and willingness to innovate on the job to land a complex, high-profile job read "High-profile Sealcoating" in the March/April issue of Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction.