I don’t know Dan that well, but every time I see him, he looks tired and has a huge smile. Dan owns and operates an auto repair shop not far from my house, and I drive by it each day on my way into town. Lately, Dan’s parking area is so stuffed full of waiting cars that his business spills into the space of the business next door. Dan is tapping into the profitable market of repair and restoration and probably has no idea why his business is prospering while other businesses aren’t.
Are you in decorative concrete and looking for more work? I bet you are, and if so, I have some good news. Dan’s auto repair business is trying to tell the construction industry, as a whole, something that each of us should look into.
The trend for 2012 is restoration, and if we invest a little thought, we will see that it makes perfect sense. Fewer folks are buying new things, and that includes new homes. Fewer developers are building new strip malls too. This means today’s trend is less about new construction and more about patching up the old.
Do you realize millions of square feet of decorative concrete were created over the last 10 years? I recall being interviewed by a construction magazine about 20 years ago and being asked a question pertaining to the future of decorative concrete. My answer was something like, “I believe we will see a day, a day soon in fact, when all companies connected with concrete construction will have at least one person who specializes in decorative concrete. I also believe decorative concrete will be the fastest-growing segment within the concrete industry.”
Of course, our decorative concrete industry has exploded in popularity over the last two decades, far beyond the prediction I made 20 years ago. This means billions of dollars of colored, textured, polished and topped decorative concrete lie waiting for rebuilding, repairing, refreshing and restoring.
What’s more, this profitable fruit is as rich for the picking as the decorative concrete industry was 20 years ago, in its original infancy stage.
You can’t bring the construction craze of yesterday back to life — sorry. But you can capitalize on a new trend of concrete restoration while other contractors are kicking the dirt in disgust.
What compounds this opportunity is that many companies that originally installed some decorative concrete projects are no longer in business or have no desire to develop a restoration side. This fact only increases the need for companies that are willing to retool themselves toward the restoration side right now.
Everything great starts with a first step and concrete restoration is no different. I can’t honestly plug away at this keyboard and perfectly define “concrete restoration.” It’s just too broad and, as a field, it’s still developing. What I can say is that each one of you reading this has an opportunity in one capacity or another depending on your region.
The first step is to define, according to your market or region, what types of decorative concrete “went down” over the last few years. Look around and ask yourself if that decorative concrete needs resealing, repairing, recoloring or rejuvenating.
I have found before-and-after photos work well to promote concrete restoration.
Go outside your initial base
I don’t recommend limiting this effort to your list of former customers. The restoration side of decorative concrete is so wide open because few contractors service past projects. Most decorative concrete projects do not have a restoration or maintenance plan in place.
Also, your restoration venture should include all forms of decorative concrete restoration, which in return will establish your company as the restoration professional and local expert.
Don’t just restore decorative
Finally, don’t limit yourself to strictly decorative concrete restoration. Acres of gray concrete need cracks repaired and surfaces reborn. I realize most of our readers love to work within the craft and art of today’s colorful decorative concrete industry, but the goal for 2012 and 2013 must include profit and business sustainability. This may require some of you to expand beyond the banks of decorative concrete.
I will talk more about concrete restoration in the future, but feel free to email me for more pinpointed ideas and steps to kick-start your business into the forefront of this growing trend.
Doug Carlton operates Carlton Concrete Inc. in Visalia, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected]