In recent years, with the persistent rise in inflation and soaring costs across various sectors such as fuel, food, utilities, construction supplies, there’s been a noticeable constriction in spending. For contractors specializing in concrete floor coatings, this tightening can sometimes translate to a slowing of sales or a drop in average contract prices. In times like these, it’s important to be proactive to keep your business thriving.

When we look at top-performing concrete coatings businesses, there are a few things that they all have in common. Among these are exceptional customer service, a solid foundation of brand trust and effective ads that perform. This article is the first of a three-part series that will explore this winning combination of factors and discuss proven methods that can greatly increase your success and bottom line.

Get Your Customer Service Dialed In!

Customer service is arguably one of the most important attributes that can make or break your business. Any experience from your customers that is viewed as poor can end a relationship and be spread as word of mouth in the same way that a positive one can. You want customers to keep coming back and recommending your business based on their positive experience. So, what does good customer service mean?

Responsiveness

When you’re out in the field, juggling phone calls, text messages, and emails can be a challenge. However, providing excellent customer service entails being attentive and responsive to customer inquiries, concerns, and feedback. Many prospective customers expect immediate assistance when planning a project, and if you’re not readily available to respond, you could risk losing a job to a competitor.
It’s crucial to ensure that incoming calls are promptly attended to (within three rings), even when you’re occupied with ongoing tasks or assisting another customer. Moreover, the individual handling these inquiries should possess adequate knowledge and communication skills to address customer questions effectively and put the customer at ease.

Empathy

No one wants to deal with people that don’t seem to care about them, and customers are no different. In moments where a customer is sharing with you their needs, concerns or frustrations, empathetic responses demonstrate that the business values the customer’s perspective and is committed to resolving issues satisfactorily. Customers who feel heard and understood are more likely to develop a sense of loyalty towards a business, as opposed to those who feel neglected or dismissed. Thus, fostering a culture of empathy within your customer service approach can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

Knowledge

In the competitive landscape of the concrete coatings industry, instilling confidence in your customers hinges on demonstrating unparalleled expertise and knowledge. It’s imperative that both you and your customer-facing staff possess a comprehensive understanding of the materials used and their performance in various environments.

Being perceived as an authority in your field requires mastery not only of the systems you install but also of the intricacies of the installation process itself as well as issues of troubleshooting. By embodying this level of proficiency, you not only reassure your customers but also establish your business as a trusted leader in the industry.

Effective Communication

While we engage in communication daily, effective business communication differs from casual conversations and demands a level of formality and adherence to guidelines. To uphold professionalism, ensure clarity, and cultivate strong relationships with customers, it’s essential to adhere to some basic parameters. These guidelines serve as a foundation for maintaining professionalism and facilitating effective communication in business interactions.

• Answer the call within three rings.
• Immediately introduce yourself.
• Speak clearly.
• Only use speakerphone when necessary.
• Actively listen and take notes.
• Use proper language and avoid profanity.
• Remain cheerful.
• Ask before putting someone on hold or transferring a call.
• Be honest if you don’t know the answer.
• Be mindful of your volume.

Problem-Solving Skills

Few things frustrate customers more than encountering a problem and receiving no resolution. As a contractor, part of your responsibility entails adeptly handling customer issues, complaints, and challenges. This involves providing solutions to problems, taking ownership of resolving issues, and following up to guarantee customer satisfaction. When mistakes occur, taking accountability and diligently working towards resolution is paramount. By owning up to errors and taking proactive steps to rectify them, you demonstrate integrity and commitment to customer satisfaction.

Customization

In your business, you probably have set flooring systems and color options in place to streamline operations. Yet, there are instances where customers seek a more tailored approach. The ability to craft custom flooring solutions can give you a significant edge over competitors. It’s crucial to navigate these situations thoughtfully. Engaging in detailed discussions with the customer, providing mockups, and obtaining approval can foster trust and guarantee satisfaction. By investing time and effort into meeting the unique needs of each customer, you demonstrate a sincere commitment to their vision and preferences.

Consistency

Consistency is a hallmark of a well-managed business, showcasing reliability and building trust among customers. It’s the bedrock upon which your reputation for delivering exceptional customer service is established. Achieving this level of consistency requires that you provide comprehensive training for all staff and crew members.

Regardless of whom the customer interacts with, their experience should be consistently seamless. This entails implementing strict systems for customer interactions, on-the-job procedures, checkpoints, staging, installation, and post-project follow-up. By maintaining consistency across all facets of your organization, you reinforce your commitment to excellence and solidify your position as a trusted provider in the industry.

As you navigate the intricacies of running a concrete coatings business, remember that mastering customer service is an ongoing journey. By prioritizing responsiveness, empathy, knowledge, effective communication, problem-solving, customization, and consistency, you lay the foundation for long-term success and customer satisfaction.

Stay tuned for the next two posts in this series:

Part 2: Building Brand Trust: Strategies for Cementing Your Reputation
Part 3: Crafting Effective Ads: Capturing Attention and Converting Leads

When it comes to concrete coating applications, the saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance” couldn’t be more accurate. Surface preparation is the first step in a successful coating system, ensuring longevity, durability, and optimal performance.

There are various ways to prep a concrete floor but the proper method in any project is dependent on which coatings application type you’ll be installing. This article explores the various types of surface preparation and the corresponding coating systems for each level of surface profile.

Concrete Surface Profile (CSP)

If you have experience with installing concrete coating systems, you’re probably already familiar with Concrete Surface Profile or (CSP). CSP serves as a measure of the roughness of a surface, crucial for adhesion and coating performance and these profiles vary depending on the application. CSP ranges from 1, being nearly flat to 10 being extremely rough. Most resinous floor coatings for concrete fall between CSP 1-CSP5.

The following is a guide that you can use as a reference.

CSP 1: For surfaces requiring light cleaning and minimal profile, methods such as detergent cleaning, acid etching, power washing, or diamond grinding with 60-80 grit are suitable. This level is ideal for sealers with a thickness of 0-3 mils DFT (Dry Film Thickness).

CSP 2: When a slightly higher profile is needed for thin film coatings (4-12 mils DFT), diamond grinding with 25-40 grit is recommended. This method provides a moderately rough surface, enhancing coating adhesion and performance.

CSP 3: To achieve a more substantial surface profile suitable for high-build coatings (16-40 mils DFT), light shot blasting or diamond grinding with 6-16 grit is effective. This level offers increased adhesion and durability, making it ideal for thicker coatings.

CSP 4: For slurries and broadcast systems with a DFT of 60-125 mils, shot blasting is the preferred method. This level of surface preparation ensures a significantly rough surface, facilitating excellent bond strength and durability for thicker coating applications.

CSP 5: The most aggressive level of surface profile, CSP 5 is achieved through shot blasting or scarifying, making it suitable for slurries and overlay systems with a DFT of 125-250 mils. This method creates a deeply textured surface, providing optimal adhesion and long-term performance for heavy-duty coatings.

surface prep reference guide

Understanding the relationship between CSP levels and coating systems is vital for achieving the desired results for your concrete coating projects. Using the appropriate surface preparation method ensures proper adhesion, minimizes the risk of coating failure, and prolongs the lifespan of the coating system.

However, selecting the right surface preparation method is just the beginning. Factors such as environmental conditions, substrate condition, and the type of coating being applied also play crucial roles in determining the overall success of the project.

If you’d like more information on how to increase the success of your flooring projects, read our other blogs about “Planning Concrete Flooring Projects Around Weather & Climate” or “The 5 Steps of Successful Project Planning”.

Additionally, proper surface preparation requires adherence to safety protocols and regulations. Personal protective equipment (PPE), proper ventilation, and containment measures must be implemented to ensure the safety of workers and compliance with regulatory standards. It’s important that your crews are properly trained in safety measures for the varied installations they perform.

In conclusion, mastering surface preparation is essential for the success of any concrete coating application. So, the next time you embark on a concrete coating project, remember: proper preparation paves the way for perfection.

WHY DO I NEED TO DEVELOP A SERVICE OFFERING?

When you’re establishing a concrete floor coatings business, there are numerous factors to take into account. Your focus might revolve around identifying a reliable supplier, acquiring the necessary equipment and tools, and determining your pricing structure. However, before delving too deeply into these aspects, it’s crucial to ensure that you have a well-rounded and manageable range of services to offer to your prospective customers.

KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Maintaining simplicity in your service offering is crucial for effectively managing and growing your business. One of your first objectives in developing your business plan should be to carefully select a target market and specific product offerings and concentrate all your resources and efforts in that direction. By doing so, you can channel your focus and expertise, optimizing your business processes and strategies to cater to the needs and demands of your chosen market. Simply put, you can’t be everything to everyone. It’s better to be a master of one particular area than provide mediocre or subpar services across the board.

Although it may be tempting to provide a broad offering that will appeal to a large target market, attempting to serve too many markets can have a detrimental effect on your growth trajectory. The inherent complexity of managing a wide range of applications in different markets can potentially slow down your business’s expansion. Moreover, training installers becomes a more intricate and resource-consuming task when dealing with a broad range of applications and market dynamics. Minimize the number of flooring systems and potential options you will offer and be sure to have suppliers setup that can quickly provide materials for your projects.

By adhering to a focused approach and specializing in a specific market and product offering, you position your business for more efficient growth and operational excellence while ensuring that your team of installers can be effectively trained and proficient in delivering high-quality services.

So, now that you understand why it is important to focus your service offering, what does that look like? There are quite a few areas that you can choose to build from so we’ve put together a quick graphic to show you the six main areas of focus.

concrete coatings service offerings

POTENTIAL SERVICE OFFERINGS

Residential Garage Flooring:
• Color Chip Flooring; 2-Day and 1-Day systems
• Solid Color Systems
• Metallic Flooring

Residential Exteriors:
• Driveways
• Patios
• Color Chip Flooring
• Solid Colors Systems
• Stains & Clear Sealer Systems

Pool Decks & Exteriors:
• Deck Repair and Restoration
• Installation of New Pool Deck Systems
• IE Knock-Down Texture
• Faux Flagstone Overlay
• ECT

Residential Interiors:
• Concrete Polishing
• Stains & Clear Sealer Systems
• Grind and Seal Systems
• Metallic Flooring.

Commercial Flooring:
• Concrete Polishing
• Concrete Sealer Systems
• Grind and Seal Applications
• Thin-Film Epoxy Coatings
• Color Chip Flooring Systems
• Metallic Flooring
• High-Build Systems
• Epoxy Broadcast Systems
• Urethane Cement

Industrial Flooring:
• Thin-Film Epoxy Coatings
• High-Build Epoxy Broadcast Systems
• Urethane Cement
• Concrete Repair

NARROWING IT DOWN: QUALIFYING QUESTIONS TO ASK

When you’re looking at these potential service offering categories, you’ll want to consider some qualifying aspects that will ultimately help you land on the best offering for your company.

1. Expertise & Experience: Do you have an area of expertise or extensive experience? If so, this is a great place to start. For example, if you’ve been installing epoxy color chip garage floors for years, you might look closer at garage flooring, residential flooring or commercial flooring. If your experience falls within multiple categories, you should next determine if you are able to provide the full range of installations within that area.

2. Education & Training: Do you require training and education before you can confidently provide quality services within a specific offering? If you simply need to round out your training on one or two systems types, that may be attainable but be sure that you have the time and resources to commit.

3. Installers & Labor: Do you have access to qualified installers and labor for the service area that you are interested in or will you be working solo? If you are working alone, it’s important to develop an offering that you can confidently manage on your own. Taking on too much can cause quality and efficiency to suffer and creates trust and credibility issues for your business. If you need to hire installers and labor to carry out your installations, it’s important that you have access to industry networks that help to facilitate job searches and hiring.

4. Training: What’s necessary for the training of new employees? Establishing a training program for new recruits is advantageous for all businesses. The primary aim is to create uniformity, quality, and efficiency across all of your installations. If your goal is for your business to operate seamlessly, it’s imperative to onboard each employee, providing them with the knowledge of installation procedures and the company’s expectations. The greater the number of systems and system options you provide, the more time and resources will be demanded for employee training. This can also make it more challenging to sustain consistency across all tasks, ensuring that every job is executed correctly. Keep this in mind as you develop your service offering.

5. Colors, Options & System Options: What colors, options, and system types will you offer to your customers? Within each service offering, there exists a multitude of system types and options, each offering a range of colors and choices, including the possibility of custom orders. If your aim is to streamline and simplify your offering, it may be wise to limit the number of systems, colors, and options you provide. Not only does this make the decision process easier for customers, but it also grants you greater control over your business operations, ensuring efficiency and coherence in your services. By carefully curating your selection, you can tailor your offerings to meet specific customer needs while maintaining a manageable and profitable business model.

6. Target Audience: Do you have a clear understanding of your target audience? If not, conducting research on this specific demographic is paramount. Understanding their purchasing behaviors, income levels, influential factors, and general demographics can help you fine-tune your communication and marketing strategies. When your messaging and product offerings align with the values and needs of your audience, it increases the likelihood of creating strong and enduring relationships with your customers. This, in turn, fosters brand loyalty and encourages repeat business. Furthermore, audience research can provide valuable insights into new opportunities for products or services, as well as potential enhancements to your existing offerings, promoting innovation and ultimately leading to higher customer satisfaction.

7. Supplier: Do you have a supplier that stocks the materials, tools and products that you will need for your service offering? You want to ensure that you’ve got a good working relationship with a supplier that stocks materials that align with your needs. For example, if the majority of your systems will be epoxy or polyurethane based coatings, be sure to choose a supplier that stocks a robust line of these materials and the tools to work with them. Ideally your supplier will also provide field support and training in the areas specific to your service offering.
Dedicate time to address each of these questions in order to construct an overview of your service offerings. Subsequently, you can further fine-tune and enhance them. The primary objective is to simplify and guarantee the manageability and sustainability of your business. Once your business experiences growth and operates smoothly, you can contemplate expansion when you’re confident and prepared to do so.

NOTE: Last month, we posted an article called “10 Tips for New Concrete Coatings Contractors” that outlines important factors that can set you on the right track to ensure a strong start in the industry. This article provides a fundamental framework for your business development. If you missed it, pop over and give it a read.