Looking to diversify your services? Trying to find a way to set your business apart from the competition? Ever considered adding infrared services to your business?
Infrared is a fairly new process that most customers, and many contractors, do not know about. Whether you've thought about it before or this is the first time the idea has crossed your mind, infrared services can offer many benefits to contractors in the pavement maintenance industry. "If you're tied to the asphalt industry at all, you can add the infrared unit to your arsenal and definitely benefit," says Joel Marshall, marketing and sales manager for Asphalt Reheat Systems. "You can sell the process because you are connected in some way."
It may be obvious, but a major benefit of adding infrared is the fact that you are adding another service to your business. With an extra service comes an extra revenue source. "They are tools that you add to your business that offer you the opportunity to make money; to provide a service and provide profitability to your business," says KM International Vice President of production Bryan Burke. But money isn't the only benefit of adding infrared services to your business.
Industry manufacturers agree that incorporating infrared into a current business gives a contractor an edge. "It's adding a niche that may set them apart from their competition," Marshall says. "Or, if the competition has them, then it's bringing them up to speed. It's going to show their customers that they are in touch with the latest technology and they care about their products and their services enough to research and give their customers the best product they can."
When it comes to repair, infrared allows contractors to provide an alternative to standard methods, such as repairing potholes with a shovel and cold mix. And learning to use infrared equipment can be relatively easy, says Ray-Tech Infrared Corp. President Wesley Van Velsor. "By watching someone who is accomplished in the art, and practicing, practicing, practicing, they will eventually become fairly proficient," Van Velsor says.
"I don't know of any other industry that anyone can earn so much while they learn. If they don't get it right the first time, they can reheat it and do it over again."
But versatility doesn't just apply to repair services. Adding infrared can give contractors a gateway into other market segments as well. (See the sidebar on page 38 for a sample list.)
Infrared equipment is a great tool when creating decorative asphalt. Although decorative asphalt won't appeal to every customer, it offers a contractor a chance to make his business unique in the customer's eye. And he can provide a service that is still fairly unknown to many clients.
"The decorative paving process can be highly profitable. One, because it's unique; not very many people can do it," Burke says. "Because it's very much a craft, if you're good at it, you get to charge appropriately for your craft. And it's in a different market place than a lot of the asphalt repair companies are accustomed to. It's a higher profit segment of the industry."
Another area contractors can pursue with infrared is thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are usually applied using torches as the heat source. To do this, a contractor needs dry pavement and warmer weather - not to mention the time.
But with infrared, a contractor can apply thermoplastic in less ideal weather conditions. The infrared dries the pavement as it heats it up. The thermoplastic can then be applied to the pavement and completed in a quicker time because an infrared heater can cover a larger area than a standard torch, Burke says.
Contractors can also use infrared equipment to offer services in the off-season. Being able to offer services at times other contractors can't can increase business and profit. "If you're one of the few who are willing to go out and work on the off-season, I believe that you have the luxury of charging a premium to the customer at that point in time," Burke says.