"I believe the crew is very happy where they're at," Gilchriese says. "In this market there's a lot of bouncing around from company to company and these guys have stayed with me. I try to pay them no matter what, even if we get six weeks of rain like we did last year. It's hurting them, too, so I do what I can to keep them happy and keep them from going in the unemployment line or on welfare."
Preparing the customer
Gilchriese says TLG Paving approaches business "the old-fashioned way," working closely with customers on each job.
"We're very hands on," Gilchriese says. "It's a lot of extra work but I'll tell you what: It saves a lot of headaches on the days the guys are there trying to get their work done. When my guys show up on the job we don't want calls because there are eight cars left on the lot. That's where you can make or break your job on — how much time are you wasting."
One of Gilchriese's first steps when working with a prospective customer is asking for an 8 ½ in. x 11 in. site diagram of the property, which he then scans onto a TLG diagram sheet that contains TLG Paving's contact information and phone numbers.
"I spend a lot of time on the diagram, but when we get our proposal and that diagram to a customer or in front of a homeowners' association board, and they see our proposal with a nice clear diagram, that goes a long way toward winning the bid," he says.
That diagram will become a crucial element of TLG Paving's efforts to keep residents, tenants, and the property manager informed about what's going to happen on the job. But before anything can happen, TLG asks a lot of questions
"We try to gather as much information we can about what happens at the property we're going to sealcoat, whether it's an office complex, a retail complex, or a property managed by a homeowners' association," Gilchriese says. "The more information we have about what their days are like, the better job of planning we can do to make the work easiest on all of us. So we ask them 'What is your lightest day?' 'What days will work best for office workers?' 'What days will work best for retail stores?' We try to work with them all."
Once TLG has asked its questions it can schedule the work. Then TLG Paving asks the property manager to send out two pieces of paper. The first is a notice of sealcoating, informing tenants what work will be done and which days it will be done. The second piece of paper is the diagram that shows what areas will be sealcoated on which days, where the traffic will flow, and where the parking will be.
Gilchriese says he works closely with management companies to help them keep their clients in the loop about what's going to happen on their property.
"A good example is the letter that gets sent out to tenants. We work with management companies to make sure they've got a good letter that is accurate with all the important information. And we make sure they've got plenty of time to get the letter out and that they give their tenants plenty of notice.
"We also think it's important that the letter comes from the property management company instead of from us," Gilchriese says. "If tenants get a letter from TLG they're likely to think it's junk mail and they'll probably toss it. When they get a letter from the property manager they're more likely to read it."
To make things even clearer to tenants TLG also diagrams the stages of the work and includes that diagram with the letter.
"If we're doing multiple moves on sealcoating, we diagram how the job will move and we give that to the property manager to send out. We give the property managers and the property tenants plenty of time to evaluate the way the job will get done so they can contact us and we can make any changes before work begins."
Also leave them a contact name and phone number to call and ask questions.
"We want them to call us," he says. "We want them to work with us so we can work with them and everything will go much smoother on the day of the job."
After letters and diagrams have been sent, comments received, and changes in the plan made, Gilchriese visits each property a few days in advance of the job, marking areas of the pavement with paint to remind the crews about the job.
"While I'm out there if I see something that might be able to be done better or should be done differently than we originally planned, we make a change. We alter the diagram and get the revised drawing in the hands of the tenants."