Bad grass grows faster - for a while

It's a long story but I ended up with a large area in the back with no grass, so I replanted with "good stuff." Today some tiny grass is poking up but a lot of undesirable grass is high. So the bad grass appears to be "winning," but "in the long run" the good will come up thick, and by the time you read this should be choking out the other stuff.

Now the relation of this to pavement. Lately on the NPCA forums the high costs and tough times bring out the "bad grass" low ball contractors giving unrealistic prices, and contractors, especially non-members who haven't been around long enough to know this cycle, are worried about losing business. As an example, people have posted "there are guys watering their sealer down 50-50 here and selling 'black water' for $X; that's my materials cost. I can't compete." Sure you can! Good will win as time goes by. So forget those guys.

If you are newer and don't have a marketing plan ready to deal with these times, here's a simple tip. Make a "cost-quality" book that proves your value. Get a report cover and copy your invoices, whether from the asphalt plant and quarry or the sealcoat or paint supply, that show all your costs for materials including additives, sand, tack etc. Then add a page from your supplier explaining why you use the application rates you do (highlight those sections). Next comes a page you develop with the math that translates those costs into "per foot" or "per yard" that the customer can easily understand. Costs from the invoices and an explanation that suppliers charge roughly the same amount help your customers realize that nobody's buying materials cheaper somewhere else.

Then use the "book" to show your cost for materials and explain (people will understand - they buy gas too) that you have the overhead of fuel, insurance, labor, etc. and everything has been going up. So anybody who is doing the job right can't possible do it for "$X" or they would be losing money! So these low-ball guys must cut corners somewhere. Do your customers really want the "corner cutting" to be on their property?

People understand it costs money to do work and that you have to make some profit - so they will not want the "bad grass" to be doing their job. If you don't have the experience to handle this other ways, this approach also has the added benefit of proving you are honest (you showed them cost) and guarantee your work. People really want work that lasts, so remind them that if they opt for the cheap job today they will probably end up having the work redone in a relatively short time when prices have gone even higher.

The tough times always bring out the "bad grass," but keep up your quality work - the good grass wins in the end.

For more about the National Pavement Contractors Association and its benefits visit www.PavementPro.com.

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