Asphalt maintenance is an excellent career opportunity for anyone who wants to be their own boss, enjoys working with their hands outside, and isn’t afraid of hard work. Success in this exciting business, however, requires entrepreneurship and the ability to strategize ways of expanding and maximizing your services.
An asphalt contractor demonstrating this level of ingenuity is Justin Cole, founder of Cole Asphalt Maintenance and an asphalt maintenance pro, who's built a thriving business in just a few short years.
One of the ways he’s accomplished this is by taking advantage of a vastly underrated service: night sealcoating.
Sealcoating at night can be a very lucrative and beneficial expansion to most asphalt maintenance businesses. It not only extends your operating hours to potentially include more customers, but can also improve convenience for you and your clients. For example: A parking lot is typically empty in the evening, meaning the job is less likely to disrupt the activities of the property. Providing such a convenience to potential customers—who no longer have to worry about closing their lots during business hours—can give you an added advantage over competitors.
Night sealcoating does come along with some challenges, though.
Below are several useful tips Justin shared with me from his experience sealcoating at night. You can also watch the full video below:
1. Visit the job site during the day, if you can.
Blacktop looks much different by day than it does by night, and crews might miss certain surface features that they should be aware of before they start working. “I like to go in and see where the main focus is,” Justin explains. Reviewing the lot or driveway beforehand can reveal critical details that might otherwise have been missed, which could have caused mistakes, or inconsistent quality.
2. Ensure you have proper lighting and visibility.
This might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s too important for us to leave out. “We have light bars on all of our trucks,” Justin tells me, stressing the significance of being able to see everything at the job site—including your team. Maintaining visibility is more than just including plenty of lights, Justin explains: “We all have safety vests on, no matter what.”
3. Use additives.
Additives are different solutions that can be combined with asphalt sealer to enhance its properties. One of Justin’s favorites is fast-dry, which just as it sounds, helps sealer dry faster—a great quality to have when you want the driveway or parking lot to be ready to receive traffic the next morning. As Justin and I put it: “If you’re not running fast-dry, you’re missing out.”
4. Check the weather.
This is more than just making sure it’s not going to rain. You also need to check the temperature and humidity. “Here in Michigan, we get the weirdest weather ever,” Justin explains, describing how temperature and moisture can vary widely. Even if it’s not raining, high humidity can affect how your sealer dries, and can also influence how you mix it. “We’re close to the water, so the humidity is kind of crazy,” he continues. “When you’re mixing sealer, you want to mix it for how the weather is going to be.”
5. Properly dispose of debris.
This is, unfortunately, one of the harder lessons Justin had to learn, and is just as important to sealcoating during the day as to doing so at night. Never leave rocks and other debris piled up on the property that were blown off of the asphalt before sealcoating or other types of maintenance. It just takes getting caught in the path of landscaping equipment the next day for those rocks to turn into small projectiles. “Next thing you know, there’s people with shattered windows,” he says. So, do yourself and your customers a favor and make sure your crews are disposing of debris properly.