Polished concrete in today’s volatile economy and COVID-19 restrictions.
If you are reading this post, you either have already invested heavily in concrete grinding and polishing equipment, or contemplating entering this lucrative and growing market. The fact that polished concrete finishing is on the rise in both commercial and residential construction is not contestable – however, with the current state of restrictions and uncertainty in the hospitality and travel industry, many of you are much slower than before COVID-19 became a daily reality, and many of you are on hold waiting for projects to open back up.
It is also true that currently, one of the largest commercial segment of the polished concrete industry, being retail stores, supermarkets and large box stores, are holding off on construction of new stores in many parts of the country.
Surviving economic downturns
I contracted in S. CA for over two decades – and worked thru one of the worst economic downturn in the early to mi-90’s, when thousands of commercial properties and residential apartment buildings went into foreclosure – eventually bankrupting the Savings & Loan industry.
With little to no new work in the “hopper”, I was faced with the imminent possibility of mass layoffs and/or closure. Instead, I researched construction related services that were in demand, and redirected our sales efforts to an emerging market.
The thousands of properties in foreclosure were back into the hands of banks, and needed to be maintained and renovated to be re-sold. My new potential customers were overburdened bank Real Estate Portfolio managers. By offering our construction and maintenance services with pre-determined pricing for easy invoicing reconciliation and budgeting – we quickly gained traction in the industry. After partnering with a large property management company, we wound up with 68 full time field technicians performing a variety of repairs and maintenance services at good margins.
This new business direction saved the jobs of my team, and increased our profitability by a substantial margin. As the economy recovered, we benefited from our reputation, and wound up contracting with the new owners of the properties we had maintained and renovated, eventually growing the company to over 200 employees.
Redirect your marketing efforts – what services are needed now and who is actively seeking your services in your direct market?
There is no magical answer, but I am positive there are segments of your market which can be solicited to assist you in getting more work during this pandemic.
Stain Remediation – get out of your comfort zone and cash in on your expertise.
One of the areas to solicit is the maintenance of polished concrete floors – stain removal is a consistent issue and one that needs to be addressed by professionals, not janitorial companies who really do not have the proper training and understanding of maintaining polished concrete floors to their maximum efficiency. You already have the equipment, and only need an auto-scrubber to perform stain remediation and repairs to existing polished concrete floors. Check out the ECOGUARD stain remediation pads. There is a lot of frustration out there with stain remediation – fast, easy and sustainable solutions are in high demand.
Residential work – offer innovative solutions to Garage floor renovations.
Another opportunity to increase your sales, is to solicit residential work for polished garage floors or basement floor crack repairs and refinishing. There are literally thousands of homeowners nationwide who are contemplating refinishing their concrete slab garage floors. Most are looking to cover with polyurea/epoxy/urethane coatings with some type of added aggregate (i.e. Latex paint chips, rubber granules, quartz sand, metallic powders, etc.) varying on budgets. My crews installed hundreds of coatings for garages in the residential markets with a high degree of success and customer satisfaction for over a decade – however, coatings eventually wear down and require stripping and re-application.
Why not polish garage floors? Its permanent, can be colored with reactive stains or dyes, and completed with a protective finish that offers excellent abrasion and stain resistance, combined with high marks in slip resistance. Maintenance is limited to re-application of the protective finish at periodic intervals (easily done by homeowner) and that’s it. With your equipment and the right marketing material in your area – you can certainly sell many homeowner’s on the concept – and if not, you have the equipment and know-how to surface prep the concrete as needed and apply the desired coating/finish chosen by the homeowner. Either way, you come out on top.
Word of mouth referrals continues to be the best manner to get the word out about your business. Offering choices and coming up with the right combinations results in higher demand. As you complete more jobs with high marks on workmanship and service, your customers will gladly tell others about your work. As a suggestion, offer them financial discounts for referrals that turn into jobs.
There is a constant need for remediation work across the spectrum of concrete structures and floors. Seek out the needs in your market – it does take effort and belief in your capacity to change. I won’t tell you it’s easy or guaranteed. Nothing in life is. I was lucky in the 90’s, and fought hard not only to survive, but to succeed and reap the benefits of a hard-fought battle. I always asked myself: “what is the alternative?” Change is hard – but failure is much harder.
Wishing you all the very best – we are here to assist as needed.