“Owning a successful start up pavement maintenance contracting business involves more than just laying sealer or fixing potholes!” New owners now have many sources for product application advice. Seal coat manufacturers strive to educate and help grow new contractor businesses, which mean more sealer and equipment sales for them! New contractors today face a seasoned industry that has become very competitive due to excellent marketing performed by successful sealing contactors; new contractors will need an edge to compete… Manufactures offer and spend thousands of hours and dollars educating and training contractors in the latest application methods and mix designs.  Industry trade shows and on the job equipment training offers the new contractor a broad view of the pavement maintenance industry application procedures. But what about sales? For over three decades, I have worked with hundreds of new pavement maintenance contractors and most were successful. “The companies that failed were the ones that failed to listen, create and implement a sales & marketing plan that will insure a continued job lead source that flows in daily from season to season.” I will touch on sales and marketing techniques that are proven to add job leads. How important is sales and marketing?  Without sales, you have no business period!

Sales and marketing encompasses much more than door-to-door cold call sales, which is always the entry-level program for all new sealing contractors. Salesperson deployment on cold calls is fine when starting up because you will have start up debt and need business now. Seasoned contractors quickly realized that with newer more efficient application equipment, larger sealing projects are completed much faster. “Sales stress syndrome soon becomes apparent as job completion speed catches up to projects sold.” Anyone who pays a full crew will understand this problem. “Sales must be a continuous action to insure that application stays in balance with sales.” What type of work you handle as a new contractor plays a vital role in how you market. Once you have determined the type, size and application capacities of your company, you are ready to market your services to your chosen customer base.
“The key for any new start up business success is getting the most job leads for the money spent.” Direct mail campaigns are a sure way to generate leads in a geographic area. Today’s sales lead listing companies can help you with valuable listing info that will break down selected criteria, such as mailing to business in your region that have 20 or more employees which generally would mean that business may have a parking lot. You can also target a specific type of business such as manufacturing or school systems, churches etc. One hundred to ten thousand mailers sent out will usually generate enough leads to get you started. One good job obtained from your mailer, could possibly pay off the whole mailer. One company I have used in the past is INFOUSA out of Omaha, Nebraska. Toll free 866-333-7441 or email lists@infousa.com. Listing mailers can guide you to success if you have the right mailer to send out. A mailer is a 24-hour sales rep you do not have to pay salary, commissions, fuel expenses and it works 24/7.

In your mailer letter design, remember to always include a return card and a phone number.  When discussing your mailer letter with the chosen listing company, ask questions about utilizing a selective list, directing your mailer to a specific title or person. Cover all the buying influences in a given organization. Discuss the timing of your mailer and always keep a master list by group for future mailings. If you listen and follow the steps, you will generate job leads thru direct mail. Remember, direct mail is the “HEART” of a successful advertising and sales campaign. 

Mark McLeod is Vice President of Maintenance Inc. in Wooster, Ohio. They are leading manufacturers of sealer additives for the asphalt sealcoating industry. Visit their website at http://www.maintinc.com.