Asphalt maintenance season is kicking into high gear, and you're probably in the thick of it right now. But sometimes, in the quest to make money, we commit a few mistakes that can be fatal for our asphalt maintenance business. Check out our list below to avoid mistakes that can derail your business.
Mistake #1. Endangering your business and your reputation by committing the "leftover sealer" scam
If you're new to providing asphalt maintenance services and haven't heard about this scam, then this is how it works.
Scammers who commit the leftover sealer scam usually target homeowners, and older people are especially vulnerable. After approaching and introducing themselves to a homeowner, the scammer will say that they are in the area and that they are in the process of or have just finished sealcoating a neighbor's driveway.
Next, they'll tell their target that they have some leftover sealer from the first job. Instead of letting the sealer go to waste, they can just sealcoat the target's driveway with it and offer a discount to sweeten the deal.
But the sealer is often of poor quality, and the overall work quality is shoddy. By the time the customer realizes that they have been scammed, the scammers have skipped town.
Making money is hard, but do not — under any circumstances — participate in leftover sealer scams. Not only will it ruin your reputation and your business, but this is considered a felony and participation in this scam could land you in jail (such as in the case of this Watervliet man).
Mistake #2: Using black paint instead of asphalt sealer
This happened to Delaware County homeowners who were scammed by two men pretending to be legitimate sealcoaters. Instead of using asphalt sealer, they used black spray paint to "sealcoat" the customers' driveways.
Remember: the materials used to make paint and asphalt sealer are totally different.
Unfortunately, regular paint will not adhere to the surface properly or protect the pavement from the elements. And besides, a gallon of paint is more expensive than a gallon of sealer, so you only end up losing money.
What if you can't find asphalt sealer? In some parts of the country, asphalt sealer may be out of stock or reserved for loyal customers. At Asphalt Kingdom, we have asphalt sealer in stock and ready to be shipped.
Mistake #3: Being overly aggressive when pitching your services
Going door-to-door and submitting proposals in person is one of the most effective ways to land a customer. But remember that there's a fine line between being persistent and being overly aggressive. What looks like persistence to you might come off as being pushy to some customers.
So what's the difference between these two? Here's a handy cheat sheet from HubSpot to know whether you're being persistent or simply pesky and what you can do to rectify it.
Mistake #4: Not returning calls after sealcoating a parking lot
Apart from poor workmanship, customers hate nothing more than a contractor being uncommunicative after a job is done. Failing to return calls or reply to emails gives off the impression that you are unreliable and shady.
To the customer, being MIA afterward means you don't want to take responsibility when something goes sideways.
Even if you and your customer did not part ways amicably because they weren't satisfied with your work, it's best to keep your communication lines open.
With proper communication, you can still reestablish trust with your customer and they may let you rectify your mistakes. Keeping your lines open also allows you to follow up with customers you're on good terms with and offer them new services in the future.
Mistake #5: Leaving a mess behind after sealcoating or fixing cracks
Always bring a trash bag to work so you can haul product wrappers, paper, and other kinds of trash produced after an asphalt maintenance job.
The only exception are leaves, small rocks, and other similar debris. They can be blown off using a gas blower or swept into the homeowner's yard waste recepticle.
If you're using a gas-powered blower to prep the surface, make sure not to blow leaves and loose asphalt on the neighbor's turf or driveway to prevent any misunderstanding between the two property owners.
Mistake #6: Sealcoating a driveway or conducting any asphalt maintenance service without a written contract
For starters, a written contract outlines the scope of your job and ensures prompt payment after the job is done. It also outlines the project's timeline, and contains information on what you can do in case you or your customer fails to fulfill your respective obligations.
Should disputes arise between you and the customer, you can bring the contract to court as evidence. To be clear, a verbal contract or agreement made via email is still legally binding. But for your peace of mind, it's best to have a written contract, so you have solid evidence to back you up in case of disputes.
Mistake #7: Offering the lowest price
These are tough times, but that doesn't mean you should price your crack repair or sealcoating services so low in the hopes of attracting customers.
The great paradox is that the lowest price doesn't always mean the best for customers. They might even suspect that you're running a fly-by-night operation or you're planning to cut corners by using substandard sealer or crack filler if you offer the lowest price.
Mistake #8: Accept cash payments only
To be clear, it's not illegal to accept cash payments. But if the only way to pay you is through cash, then that's when you're going to run into some problems with the federal and state authorities.
Cash is as good as any as a form of payment for services rendered. But when a customer pays you cash, there's really no paper or electronic trail to follow. For tax authorities, that gives off the impression that you're trying to avoid paying taxes, and that could land you in hot water.
To be on the safe side, always inform your customers that while you love nothing more than to be paid in cash, you can also accept checks, online payment, and mobile payment.
Being an asphalt maintenance contractor is not easy, and there are many pitfalls you have to avoid along the way. But as long as you persist, steer clear of scams, and avoid committing these mistakes, you're on your way to building a successful sealcoating and crack repair business.
Need help with your asphalt business? Book your free acceleration session with our advisors or get a private coaching session with me, Judd Burdon.