Managing decorative concrete flooring projects

As the economy continues to build steam, the prospect for decorative concrete overlays are looking brighter like never before. The near-term growth potential resides in restoration and remodeling jobs, where customers seek to maximize the value of existing property. Longer-term, flooring contractors can reap rewards bidding on both new construction and remodeling projects. Decorative concrete overlays give new life to worn out existing interior and exterior concrete surfaces. The modern polymer technology makes it easy to give almost any concrete surface, indoors or out, a complete face-lift and at a much lower cost than removal and replacement.

  1. Site Walk-through
    This is critical for existing concrete, because it will determine if the surfaces can provide a “good canvas” for decorative enhancements. Closely evaluate the concrete for spalling (pitting or chipping) or cracks. While minor cosmetic issues can most likely be managed, chunks of broken concrete, exposed rebar or large cracks might point to a problem in the substrate and subbase. If you see areas with uneven or mismatched concrete patches, ask the customer if repairs have been done to the original surface — and why the work was needed. Remember, if the substrate is not sound, it will adversely affect the long-term durability of any decorative concrete project.

  2. Set customer expectations
    Based on the initial surface and substrate evaluation, your next step is to balance what the customer wants with the overall work time and expense necessary to achieve that goal. For example, if the customer wants a flawless end product — but the existing concrete is badly cracked or broken — it’s important to communicate why that goal isn’t feasible without the added cost of extensive concrete substrate repair.

    For some remodeling or new construction projects, the finished project remains visually constant, while the look of some decorative concrete work evolves with time. As stains or dyes cure, the color can lighten or darken, depending on the project environment and type of sealant used. To address this reality, consider walking customers through photos illustrating the full range of project life — start, during construction, newly finished and fully cured-out. More than any other tool, this can help customers link their dreams with reality.

  3. Choose the right system and sealer
    This is more than just choosing the right colors and sealants. It’s about verifying how the customer plans to use the space. Will there be kids or pets using the surface? Will the area bear light or heavy traffic? Will any follow-up maintenance be done?

    In addition, never make assumptions about the purpose of a given space. To illustrate, consider this real-world example of a decorative concrete project for a residential garage. Since cars were parked in the garage when the pre-installation walk-through took place, the contractor simply specified a color system and sealer appropriate for that use. However, several months later, the homeowner called to complain about odor problems and ask that the job be remediated. Why? Because the space also served as a day kennel for pets, a family fitness center, and a recreation room for poker night.

  4. Sell maintenance before the project is completed
    Most property owners hate do-it-yourself maintenance. So, why not consider packaging a discounted maintenance agreement as part of an overall bid for decorative concrete work? Many times, the best opportunity to do this is when walking customers through a photo life cycle of other projects, since maintenance is critical to long-lasting beauty and durability.

  5. Manage unexpecetd events

    On virtually any decorative concrete flooring project, unpredictable weather or unforeseeable substrate issues can wreak havoc with project timelines and budgets. In other cases, a lack of clarity about payment arrangements or project scope can strain the customer-contractor relationship. What’s the key to managing all of those scenarios? Good, frequent communication.

    Start with a written proposal identifying the full scope of work and any exceptions and qualifications to the work along with a firm price to complete the project. Also include the down payment and progress payment terms.

    By following these tips, you can successfully sell your services for decorative concrete overlay projects. Exceed customer expectations and you’ll generate referrals and boost revenue for your business as well.

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