The sealcoating season is just around the corner and just as reputable contractors are readying their equipment and crews, unsavory fly-by-night operators are gearing up to take advantage of your customers and damage your market. Don't let them! While no contractor can prevent another business -- reputable or not -- from operating, every contractor can make it more difficult for low-quality operators to succeed. And one of the easiest ways to protect your business is to develop a marketing piece to leave behind. In this day and age this doesn't have to be expensive, and it doesn't even have to be color (though why not?). A marketing piece demonstrates professionalism, let's people know you are here to stay, and gives prospects a sense that they can find you if they need to. Use photos of jobs before and after, show your crew at work, line up all your equipment and include a photo of that, if your yard is photogenic include a shot of that, and include a photo of yourself. Photos of all these things imply not only professionalism but permanence, something fly-by-nights can't show. Other things your marketing piece should include are: * Physical address * Website address * Phone number (office and cell) * Proof of insurance * Proof of certification (if required in your state) * Association affiliations * Services offered * Information on the material you use Fly-by-nights pursue the sealcoating market more than other work, but that doesn't mean other pavement maintenance services aren't affected by disreputable operators. I'll be adding more self-defense suggestions in the days ahead, but if you have any of your own -- for sealcoating or other pavement maintenance segments -- please let me know.