Many of you design and install hardscapes for your residential and commercial clients. Hardscape installs are typically one-and-done projects. But they don’t have to be. You can help clients immediately protect their investments by selling them a hardscape sealing upgrade.
Hardscapes – like living landscapes — can’t escape the ravages of weather and age regardless of how professionally they were installed. Eventually, they will need revitalization. Why should you allow another contractor, perhaps a competitor, to do the work?
Jay Krech, director, technical support and training, SEK Surebond, speaking at CENTS2016 earlier this year, offered compelling reasons why you should offer hardscape restorations.
How do you market and sell hardscape restorations? Just like you market and sell many of your other services, says Krech. Some contractors find door hangers to be effective and others display the results of their work with before-and-after pictures and video presentations on their websites. But nothing works better than getting in front of clients and actually showing them samples of products and offering demonstrations of sealers on substrates.
Defining hardscape restoration
First, let’s define hardscape restoration. Krech defines it as “the revitalization of pavers, natural stone and concrete surfaces through minor repairs, joint stabilization and sealing.”
Krech says the biggest reason for offering this service is also the most obvious one: the need for it. He points out that more than 9.25 billion (yes, billion) square feet of contract pavers have been installed since 1998 (citing ICPI figures), and less than 5 percent of that total has been cleaned and sealed.
And this doesn’t count clay pavers, wet cast slabs, natural stone, broom finished concrete, stamped concrete and exposed aggregate. Add in vertical surfaces (segmental retaining walls, clay brick walls, natural stone walls, etc.) requiring revitalization at some point in their useful life, and the opportunity grows even larger.
Think beyond your residential clients because hardscape revitalization is a service that most commercial and larger properties (hotels, restaurants, apartments, HOAs, banks, etc.) must also have to maintain curb appeal to attract customers and tenants.
Add-on tricks and tips
Adding a hardscape restoration service is similar to adding any other service to your company. The equipment and tools required to offer this service are commonplace and may already be in your facility.
A short list of the equipment you will need includes hot and cold pressure washers, high-pressure hose, flat surface cleaner, leaf blower and a vehicle or enclosed trailer to store and haul your gear.
For cleaning tools, you will need a garden hose, wand and nozzles, roto-zip nozzle, brooms and scrub brushes. You will also need pump-up and electric sprayers with spray shields.
You will need a multipurpose cleaner, along with sealer strippers, organic stain remover and an oil remover. As you will be working on pavers, you should have C-144 jointing and polymeric sands on hand, along with sealers, which are available in a variety of different finishes, from matte to wet look.
And getting the technical know-how to do restorations is relatively easy. Manufacturers of hardscape materials offer a wealth of training and how-to materials, including videos.
In fact, the main challenges of providing this service — including labor management, estimating, job costing and quality control — mirror those you experience in the services you already offer. If you are proficient in these business basics and have sufficient manpower, you shouldn’t have any trouble adding hardscape restorations to your mix of services.
How to Become Excellent at Estimating
Jay Krech, director, technical support and training, SEK Surebond, offers the following suggestions for estimating hardscape restorations to make sure each job goes smoothly, delivers the results your clients expect and produces the financial returns you are seeking.
- Always, always, always visit the job in person.
- Always get pictures at the time of the estimate and before you begin any work.
- Measure the entire area to be restored.
- Determine the substrate type: concrete, lay, natural stone, etc.
- Determine the slope and accessibility.
- Determine the paver manufacturer and type: tumbled, permeable, 80mm, 60mm?
- Pre-test cleaning and stain removal, and see if the hardscape was previously sealed.
- Carefully estimate time and materials, including pre-treatment (if needed), cleaning, repairs, resounding and sealing.
- Calculate total labor hours times your labor rate (inclusive of travel times).