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10 Business Tips to Help Your Concrete Business Be More Successful

More Top Business Tips to Help You Be Successful
We invited some business leaders and our Facebook friends to share with us their tips for running a successful business. What we considered to be the 10 best tips were printed in the July 2015 issue of Concrete Decor Magazine, which happened to be our 100th issue which we celebrated with 10 lists of 10 items to make up 100.

1. From the President’s Desk: “Improve job costing by documenting all expenses at the end of the day, to ensure accelerated cash flow and consistent immediate billings. Maintain a high level of interaction/contact with customers and prospects with follow-ups at the end of each day. Complete DONE lists to see your accomplishments for the day. Technology is a driving force for any business, review all technological implementations for the day (marketing, advertising, social media, etc.) and document trends.”

From the Field:
“Measure Twice, Cut Once. An oldie but a great reminder, especially in our line of business. Clean up. Nothing is worse then leaving your area a mess — it’s a reflection of how you do business. Clean up after yourself and you are sure to find your product on that next spec sheet.

No shortcuts. You might have a better way of doing something, but if a product requires a specific process for installation, follow the guidelines. There is nothing worse than an end-user finding an issue with your work or the product after-the fact because you took a shortcut. Manage your time accordingly and take pride in your work - the results speak for themselves.” – Heather Early, president of Easycove, Libertyville, Illinois

2. “Remember the 7 P's: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. I use this every day of my life. I refer to this because there is always an easier way to do things. I also never let my finisher edge or float on their knees. They know how to put their elbows on their knees to save their back.” – Alan Steele, owner of Steele Concrete, Ligonier, Pennsylvania

4. “Be obsessed. Show passion. When you care, the enthusiasm will come through in the people you choose to work with.” – Ryan Lakebrink, owner and operator of Custom Concrete, Washington, Missouri

5. “Do it right or don't do it at all. It doesn't pay to have to go back and do it over.”– Darrin Thornton, owner of Alternative Building Systems Inc., Medford, Oregon

6. “My advice is get it in writing.” – Chris Karlik, owner of Cemrock, Seattle, Washington

7. “Check all surrounding areas and work with other trades when applying a color with a solvent carrier. Check all electrical cords for tears or frayed areas prior to plugging them in. Plan to work and work the plan. Your smartphone is more valuable on a job for verification. Communicate and when you think it’s enough communication, double it! Communication solves all issues. Your company reputation is based on your work areas. Be neat!” – Joe Reardon, director of SASE Signature Floor Systems, Kent, Washington

8. “Don't assume anything. Just ask. Sweat the details. Every little detail is important to a client, especially with interior concrete applications such as furniture, sinks and kitchen countertops. We once had to re-do a project because the sink hole was 1/8 inch too small. We had assumed that the client wanted the undermount sink hole done just like everyone else, even though his sink looked different than any we’d seen before. That 1/8 inch cost us several thousand dollars.

Use checklists.
Even the most knowledgeable and experienced contractor can’t keep all the myriad details needed to be successful at concrete in his head at all times, and every human being makes mistakes. Make it easy on yourself by using a printed checklist to double-check all those details. For example, if you’re packing up to travel to a job site to make a template for a concrete countertop, use a printed checklist of template materials to make sure you don’t forget anything. And, any time a mistake does occur, think about whether it could have been prevented with a checklist and if so, develop one.

Plan ahead when ordering materials.
Everyone knows that labor is the biggest cost in concrete, not materials. But there are still ways that material costs can bite you. The biggest is shipping, especially in a specialty field such as concrete countertops where many ingredients must be ordered and shipped. Plan ahead and stock up by the pallet for about six months’ worth of any supplies you must ship. The percentage savings on your materials will be significant.

Use a contract.
Contracts don’t scare off clients, and they don’t limit creativity. A clearly written contract shows you’re a professional who has thought out all of the details and is looking out for the best interest of the client. It also sets expectations in writing, and setting expectations is essential in any creative concrete field.

Find what works and stick with it.
It’s tempting to constantly change things in an attempt to improve them. A good example is your concrete mix design. It’s emotionally appealing to “improve” things by adding the latest fashionable admixture or changing the mix ingredients and proportions on a continuing basis. But if you have a mix that already does what you want and doesn’t cause your clients problems, why change it? If you can’t demonstrate a real and positive change that will directly benefit your client and save you money in the long run, then don’t fall into the trap of “fixing” or “improving” something that isn’t broken and doesn’t need improving. – Lane Mangum, vice president of business services, The Concrete Countertop Institute, Raleigh, North Carolina