Although my company has placed a lot of flatwork, it wasn’t until three years ago that we broke into the business of paving parking lots. We could see that nearly every business has a parking lot which makes the potential for projects endless.
Finding parking lots that have good potential for concrete paving is actually easier than it sounds or one would think. Whether the lot is new or being replaced, every owner has two options: concrete or asphalt. With new lots, you need to get to the general contractor with a concrete option. A lot of the plans that come across my desk are only specified for asphalt so the key is making sure to get a conversation going right away with the general contractor to take the idea of a concrete lot to the owner.
For existing lots, it’s getting to the business at the right time and getting in front of the decision maker. Then you need to sell them on the fact that concrete is not only a viable option to be placed over asphalt – a concrete overlay – but it is the best return on investment for their business. Once I get in front of the right person,
An overlay's top benefit is cost. You end up with a longer-lasting product which provides for a better return on investment. An overlay also is aesthetically pleasing with minimal to no maintenance, and it provides a nice clean crisp finish. I always pound hard on the cost effectiveness because people are always worried about the almighty dollar.
To land these paving projects, the goal is convincing the buyer that concrete is an affordable and viable option. Once you are able to get in front of the buyer, you then have to get their attention. Some have never considered concrete a viable option and some never will.
Many potential customers will only start to listen if you hit a key point, such as cost, low maintenance, clean look, environmentally friendly. Others instantly understand the benefits, just that no one has presented it to them before.
You may not always be able to get in front of the owner of the property or the decision-maker but don’t give up after one, two, or twelve rejections. You are not going to convince everyone, just as you are not going to be awarded all the projects you bid but the more you bid the more contact you make, the more relationships you begin to form with the GC, and the better chance you have of landing jobs.
The same goes for landing a parking lot job. You will need to develop an understanding of the market, your competition, what constitutes a fair price, and the process of constructing a concrete parking lot or overlay. For example, with asphalt you need 10 to12 inches of subbase but that’s not necessary with concrete. To be successful at converting the buyer to a concrete parking lot, you need to make them aware of these advantages.
It’s a competitive market out there. Equipment is expensive and you’ll need to have the right equipment to get the job done right and on budget, both key factors to a successful project. Finding the business isn’t the hard part but identifying and convincing the decision maker can be difficult. It can take several failed attempts before you find that one person who fully understands and will jump at the idea.
But don’t give up after the first no. I did not land the project on my first attempt to sell a concrete parking lot but I learned something and it was with a clearer understanding of the ROI for the owner that I have been able to point out the advantages and provide them with a clear choice.