What do you do when you’re approached by a loyal customer, late in the season, to sealcoat a parking lot in a tight time frame under less-than-ideal conditions?
If you’re Asphalt Enterprises in Atlanta you put together a bid, hope to get the job, then get it done on time just like the other work you do. And that’s just what Gerry Signs, owner of the full-service pavement maintenance company, did near the end of last season.
“A long-time property manager customer at a very high-end office park complex, the Georgia 400 Center, contacted us and they needed the work done under a very tight deadline late in the season,” Signs says. “The Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA) presents its Toby Awards each year and this customer wanted this property entered into the contest. They’d really been pushing all year to get the entire property ready to get this award and the parking lot work was the icing on the cake.”
Asphalt Enterprises, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, runs two sealcoating crews, one paving and patching crew, one concrete crew and one striping crew. They sub out milling and other site preparation work. Jared Marcom, vice president, helps manage the company which employs more than 25 people at peak season.
Signs says sales presentations are conducted using iPads, which enable a direct link to the contractor’s Walkie-Talkie designed website. “We use our website as a marketing tool because we can actually show projects, we can show how we completed the work, the tools and equipment we used and our crew on the job,” Signs says. “We think it’s very effective.”
But this late-season job didn’t require a sales pitch; it required an evaluation of the work to be done, the time frame, the weather conditions – and a waiving of the contractor’s policy not to sealcoat late in the season.
“Just two weeks earlier I happened to send out our newsletter explaining why we stop sealcoating when we do at the end of October,” Signs says. “I explained the whole thing so our customers were aware and so they understood that we do this in their best interest. But this was a loyal 15-year customer who needed our help.”
Signs says that normally Asphalt Enterprises can complete a job of this size – 70,000 sq. yds. of sealing with minimal pavement repairs and limited cracksealing – over two weekends when weather is warmer and days are longer. But because the job wasn’t let until late October, short work days, temperature and weather were concerns.
Through careful planning, communication with the property manager, flexible scheduling and proper use and application of the sealer Asphalt Enterprises was able to get the job done. “We finished on Nov. 11, which is about the very last day we ever want to be sealcoating,” Signs says.
Planning & Scheduling with Customer Input
Signs says planning this job, and every job of any size or complexity, is the most important part of the process. And planning involves a lot more than talking with the customer – although that’s the first step.
“If there’s one thing I think we do better than our competition it’s planning,” he says. “Every property is different so we like the property manager’s input on how to do the job, especially on apartments and shopping centers. We ask them if they have any special concerns, for example are they busy on certain days? Are there any events coming up we need to know about? Basically anything that will help us plan and organize the job because they know their property and their clients much better than we do.”
In this case Signs says the configuration of the parking lot had a lot to do with the final schedule. “There were a lot of cul-de-sacs and not as many drive lanes which we can do more quickly,” he says. “Sometimes we could only do half a cul-de-sac at a time because people needed to get in and out of the building, and that reduces our productivity.