I had some lively conversations at the International Concrete Polishing & Staining Conference (ICPSC, Concrete Surfaces is the event’s sponsor) about what’s next for concrete polishing. Or, to be more exact, what’s lacking!

Those who’ve been in the industry since its infancy a mere decade and a half ago suggested that contractors need to grow with the industry by thinking strategically about their businesses. The need for professionalism, standardized language, and field data tracking were among hot-button topics.

For instance, do you have a mission statement? Do you have a sound financial plan that includes a healthy cash flow? Do your customers really know what polished concrete is? And, perhaps most importantly, do you base your prices upon the scope of work, or are you just winging it?

“I believe most fears revolve around calculating a proposal price,” Michael Sawick, ICPSC’s director of education, told me; which is why he also believes that it’s time for the industry as a whole to begin building— and sharing — a “library” of field experience data. “This would give contractors the ability to know if their prices are competitive.”

Such data can include regional concrete mix designs, concrete surface strength, abrasives used, diamond wear, and how many passes it took to reach a level of refinement. You can use this information to help benchmark your work against what you’ve done on previous jobs, validate your processes, and determine what to charge for future jobs. This should be especially helpful when dealing with unexpected jobsite conditions.

David Padgett, chairman of the International Concrete Polishing Institute and president of Concrete Polishing Solutions, has a plethora of advice to share about building your business. He also encourages field tracking, including monitoring crews and effectiveness based upon what a project was bid versus what the actual outcome was.

There certainly is merit in measuring your work. But the task of collecting such data seems a bit daunting.

Not so, says Sawick. Several manufacturers are building software that can be installed on polishing equipment to collect polishing-specific measurements, making data collection easy. Throw that information into your own personal repository, and you have the basis for calculating the value of your services.

We’ll explore these topics and more at the World of Concrete’s Polishing Luncheon on Jan. 21. I hope to see you there!