In this tough economy many contractors are relying on relationships with customers to make sure there's work in the pipeline, and one great way to establish or enhance that relationship is to let customers know a little bit more about your business, teach them a little about what their pavement needs and about what you can do for them -- and buy them lunch! Randy DeVries, president of Site Services Inc., gets that, so this April he and his crew and staff hosted an Open House at the contractor's facility in Highland, IN. The event offered the same program in the morning and the afternoon -- an educational program followed by a demonstration of infrared repair -- and a lunch with a great spread was sandwiched in between. Invitees could select which time worked best for them and either end the event with lunch or start the afternoon with lunch. Invitees included property manager customers and prospects as well as officials from local government agencies including area towns and park districts. More than 70 people attended the event (split evenly between the morning and afternoon session). Following a greeting from Randy, who is a Pavement Advisory Board member, Grow Consulting's Guy Gruenberg kicked off each session discussing liability in parking lots and providing an overview of the types of problems property managers need to be aware of. The Brewer Company's Bill Maclean was on hand to answer any materials-related questions, and Site Services pros talked about defects and maintenance options. Each classroom session was followed with a demonstration of the infrared repair process in the Site Services Yard. Randy explained the process while the crew demonstrated, and he took questions from the audience -- which stuck it out through the entire demonstration. An Open House certainly isn't for every contractor. First off you need a facility you feel comfortable showing to your customers. An Open House requires time and planning and there is some expense involved. Site Services has a nice professional operation and they made it look even better by making sure everything from the office to the yard was cleaned and organized for the event. It not only ran on time -- and featured great food -- those who attended seemed both interested (particularly in the infrared demo) and impressed with the entire event. Hope it reaps huge rewards for Site Services. Anyone interested in how to plan, organize and run an Open House can learn everything they need to know at a seminar at National Pavement Expo, Feb. 2-5, 2011 in Nashville. Advisory Board member, Alan Rose, Rose Paving, will provide all the Xs and Os of what his company does when it holds its Open House.