As the economy chugs along to recovery, paving and sealcoating contractors need to establish strong marketing techniques to get the work. There is plenty of work out there as every parking lot, driveway, and roadway need asphalt maintenance or paving as time goes on. You need to be sure that your company is on their bid lists. That is the ultimate goal.
I have been in the pavement business since 1985 and have seen the ups and downs in the economy. My company, US Pavement Services, Woburn, MA, is very aggressive in making sure that our name, phone number, website, and reputation are marketed to property managers and facility managers throughout our area. We are continually seeking new leads and potential customers in many ways to make sure we get on their bid lists.
Here's a 10-point marketing plan that has become essential to my company.
1. Past-customer Marketing
Customers that you have done work for in the past are your best source of future business. Studies have shown that past customers account for as much as 80% of sales for the average U.S. company. Provided that they were happy with your quality work, these past customers know what to expect from you and give you a better chance at future work.
Keep in touch with these valued customers by phone, e-mail, and more to keep this relationship strong. Make sure that they know how important they are to your company. They are also a great source of references for new customers.
2. A Quality Website
To stay successful in the pavement industry you need to keep up with the times with a quality website for your company. Many customers are searching the Internet and expect you to be there if you want their business. Likewise, if you do not have a viable website then there will be no chance of getting work from the customers that search.
Your website should include your company name along with services that you provide, your phone number, pictures of trucks and jobs, company info, and a "contact us" page. It should be professional, informative, and make the reader feel comfortable in doing business with you. Use a reputable website designer to help you build your website.
3. Premium Website Names
A strong pavement domain name is very important to keep your website at the top of Google search engines. For example, if you have the domain name www.PavingNewYork.com or www.SealcoatWisconsin.com and someone searches Google for "paving New York" or "Sealcoat Wisconsin," your website would come to the top. This is very smart marketing and will get you more business. It will also set you apart from the competition by getting you to the top of these searches. The future will see many more customers searching the Web for our industry so be certain to choose website names that have keywords in them.
Many contractors have their own company names as their website name. This is fine, but adding another domain name with key pavement search words, such as FixDriveways.com or PaveCanada.com, and then directing it to your existing website will definitely get you more hits and more business. My company's website name is USPavement.com.
4. Pavement 800-Vanity Numbers
In 2005, after being in business for 20 years, the best marketing move I made was to acquire 1-800-PAVEMENT. I put large signs on my trucks and job signs so that customers remember the phone number far into the future. My current customers don't need to look up my phone number for future business. It is a great way to get one step ahead of the competition. Numerous contractors in the pavement industry have now acquired numbers such as 1-800-SEALCOAT, 1-800-BLACKTOP, 1-800-PAVEMENT, and 1-800-SWEEPING. These numbers are available to contractors by area code within the area that they work. I recommend looking to see if your area is available and get the competitive edge over other contractors. Customers remember these reputable phone numbers and will definitely get you more work.
5. Truck and Job Signs
Put large signs on your trucks to promote your company. I put 12-ft. long signs on my dump trucks and 8-ft. signs on the sides of my sealcoat tanks to advertise by phone number. They are like moving billboards that constantly remind customers of my phone number for a one time reasonable cost. Putting large signs of your website name or company name also are effective.
Put job signs up at every job with your phone number and website name. My crews are instructed to put up signs as soon as they arrive to a jobsite. This will get you business from neighbors and people driving by. My company job signs have the added bonus of my vanity number, 1-800-PAVEMENT, so people don't need to write down the number and will just remember it.
6. Customer Lists
Be sure to continually build lists of customers that are property managers, facility managers, and owners. Always keep track of company name, contact, address, phone and cell numbers, and the all important e-mail address. E-mail addresses are becoming the most important source of customer information.
Your lists should include past customers, quoted but not sold customers, and potential customers. You could also buy lists from companies that have already done the log work. These lists will become your life line to future business.
7. Email and Direct Mail
Emailing your customers to see if they need work is a very effective, low-cost way to get business. A secretary at your office could send these emails out or utilize a integrated marketing platform for email automation.
Mailing postcards, brochures, or newsletters to people on your customer list is also very effective. This is more costly but potential customers have something they can keep. Customers will remember your company for work they might need in the future.
8. Trade Associations
Many customers are members of trade associations that you should join. My company is a member of a number of associations of property managers and facility managers. These associations have meetings and trade shows that you should participate in to get you more work.
9. Neighboring Jobs
When working on a job, you or a sales team should be knocking on the neighbor's door to see if they would like an estimate. Leave your business card and brochure if the decision maker is not there. There is no better advertisement than seeing a newly sealcoated or paved parking lot next door for commercial or residential customers. Make sure to leave a job sign on site.
This is a no-brainer and part of being an aggressive marketer. Don't be shy about going after these neighbors. They need to keep up their properties like their neighbors.
10. Follow Up - Be Persistent
Many contractors give proposals to prospective customers and then hope that the customer signs on. You must be persistent and follow up. Have thick skin because you have nothing to lose and much to gain if you get the job. My company will continually call or e-mail for jobs that have not closed. This shows the customer that you want their work the most and will give you a much better chance of winning.
Over the past 25 years, I have tried many marketing strategies to gain market share and set my company apart from the rest. This 10-point plan has taken my company to the next level. There are many other ways to market your company as well.
Michael Musto, president of US Pavement Services since 1985 and director of the 1-800-PAVEMENT Network of more than 100 contractors, is willing to assist contractors with marketing ideas, and he can be reached at mmusto@USPavement.com. He says contractors that have licensed these 800-Vanity numbers have shared in millions of dollars in work nationwide.