- Bid the job properly. Commercial paving is designed for the loads it's going to take. Don't reduce mat thickness to be competitive.
- Evaluate trucking options. Trucking dictates much of what happens on a job, and it's paving's most costly item. So when you first arrive at the site spend a few minutes determining how the trucking is going to come into the site. If the trucks have to sit and wait that will cost the contractor a lot of money, so it's best to get the trucker on and off the jobsite as quickly as possible. So determine where the trucks are going to come in, paying special attention to the subgrade they'll drive over as trucks can really tear that up.
- Determine what kind of trucks to schedule. You want to keep mix flowing to the site, you want to keep your crew busy, you want to keep production on pace, and you don't want to have any trucks sitting for too long. So are you going to schedule six wheelers (which hold 10 tons of mix), 10 wheelers (18 tons), or tri-axle trucks (24 tons)?
As you make your decision remember that bigger is not always better if your crew can't handle the production or if the way the job is planned doesn't need large trucks. Also remember that smaller trucks cost more money because they require extra trips to the plant. In many cases the best approach is to use a combination of truck sizes, so look at the job before you're paving so you can best plan which combination of trucks to use.
- Determine how much hand work is required. Can all the work be done by the paver or will you need a mix of dumping and using a wheelbarrow and hand work? You need to know this in advance because that all affects the rate of production.
- Know how many people it will take to do the job. If you need a paver operator, a screed operator, two roller operators, and two hand workers, you better have them or your rate of production and even job quality will suffer.
- Factor your crew into your bid. When you bid the job you have to know how trained your personnel is and you have to know their capabilities.
If your crew is experienced and works fast, you will be on the job for a shorter time. If your crew is slow or inexperienced it will likely take longer to produce a quality job. Factoring this information into the bid will assure a more accurate appraisal of both the time the job will take and its profit potential.
- Determine the hourly rate of production on each specific job. This takes into account the length and number of passes, the capabilities of the crew, the production rates of the equipment you're using, and the expected amount of hand work that will be required. Determining the hourly production rate not only gives you a better sense of how to bid and profit, but it helps you know how many trucks you need to reach that tonnage per hour – because you need to tell the plant what you need and when you need it.
- Pay attention to site-specific details. Every job is different and the differences can cost you money if you aren't aware of them. Make sure you know if it's a one- or two-lift job. And notice how many structures or other impediments there are on the property. The more impediments, the longer it will take to pave.
- Pay close attention to time constraints. Make sure you know when you can pave. If you bid a job assuming you can pave from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the job will take 10-12 hours, but you find after you've got the bid that you can only pave from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., your one-day job just turned into a two-day job and your profit will decline substantially.
- Consider adding a skid steer or backhoe loader to your fleet. These versatile pieces of equipment can be excellent tools for paving parking lots and driveways. They are maneuverable, can often fit into areas not accessible by the main paver, and can save on manpower. They can be used at the end of a pass to cut the pile off, pick it up, and put it back into the paver. They also can pick up mix and place it into areas the paver can't reach so the person raking, luting, and shoveling can get the material where he needs it.
- Consider adding other support tools to each paving crew. Plate compactors, hand rollers, hand tamps, and tamp shoes not only improve production rates but also improve job quality. Plate compactors enable you to compact around structures a hand roller or ride-on roller won't reach. Tamper shoes and hand tamps are effective around sewer caps and other areas where the plates can't reach. A propane torch can reheat cooled mix so it can be re-luted and re-compacted. A pump and hand sprayer easily applies a biodegradeable product – no diesel fuel! – on top of sewer caps so the mix is easy to remove when they are paved over.
- Select the best roller or roller combination for the job. What size roller depends on the size of the job. Use a smaller roller on driveways and consider using several size rollers on parking lots of medium size or larger. Also consider a pneumatic (rubber-tire) roller for small jobs and for jobs where the base isn't sound.