I had just finished measuring some outdoor stamped concrete for a proposal I was working on that included cleaning and resealing the outdoor surface. As I walked towards my vehicle with the prospective client, he asked if I could also take a look at his garage floor. I had sealed garage floors before and thought this would be no different — a simple approach to cleaning the surface, then applying an acrylic concrete sealer.
When we walked into the garage he explained that he wanted a long-term solution that would keep the concrete protected and easy to clean. The prospective clients actually parked their cars on cardboard sheets because he said the concrete was too difficult to keep clean. He had seen garage floor kits in home improvement stores and thought about completing the project himself, but he feared the product would fail as he had heard happened on a friend’s project.
Up to that time, I had for the most part stayed away from using floor epoxies in my business. The horror stories of epoxy floors peeling up or failing always kept me at bay. But on this day I saw an opportunity to expand my business’s offerings.
It just so happened that I had a quartz floor sample in my van. The quartz sample was made at a training seminar where I had learned that that this was one of the most durable systems that could be installed in a garage. I took the sample from the van, shared it with the client, and explained how this finished product would be very different from what his friends had completed.
As I explained the entire process and how different our process was, I noted the value that I brought to the situation. I was solving a problem for the homeowner — he no longer had to park his car on cardboard and felt assured that our process would last.
And this is how I started competing and winning against do-it-yourself flooring kits.
Thanks to the marketing of garage floor kits, homeowners have become aware that to have a clean and safe garage you must apply a protective layer to the surface. Where the manufacturers of these systems fall short is following through with a long-lasting, durable product. Since a garage floor kit is sold to the masses it has to be very easy to install. The only way they can sell their system is to make the process seem as easy as painting a wall, and inherently you must use products that are of a simpler nature. They also have no control over whether their suggested installation instructions are followed.
So how do professionals compete in this market? How can we show the value of our processes and products as being superior to a box they saw in a chain store? It can be done. Garage floor coatings are now one of my company’s main offerings and we receive a premium price for our system.
So when you see a garage floor paint that is peeling up and looking dingy, don’t get upset that the company is selling an inferior product. See it as a job opportunity for a client who is itching to have the work done right.
Let me share some of the ways I create value with my clients on our garage-floor coating jobs.
To prepare a concrete floor for any type of sealer or coating, the floor must first be free of contamination and bond-breaking deposits. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as acid etching or pressure washing, but I personally prefer to grind all of our floors. Homeowners understand that they can do an acid etch themselves or clean the surface with a pressure washer, but when you explain that you are bringing in specialized equipment to prepare their surface it adds value to your service.
Note: Many homeowners fear concrete grinding as they imagine a lot of dust and mess. If you use a great vacuum system to contain the dust, make sure to mention this to the client.
As I stated before, a home store kit is made to be easy. What this means is that the products that are sold are not as strong or durable as contractor-grade product. Can you imagine someone with no experience trying to put down a polyaspartic coating? The products we use on a residential garage floor are manufactured to hold up to industrial and commercial traffic. When you explain that training and experience are required to install certain products, you again add value to your product and service.
Most garage floors that we complete have been neglected for many years and require restoration such as patching of holes and cracks. This would add considerable time and more confusion for a homeowner wanting to complete work themselves. When you bring these items to their attention and include this work as part of your service, you are taking care of another concern the homeowner does not have to worry about.
I offer a warranty on all of our garage floor projects. This is a no-hassle-to-the-customer warranty that says we will repair or replace the surface if the product fails. They don’t have to do any work, wait on the phone or fill out any paperwork. They feel comfortable knowing that once they hire us to do the work, they can rest assured it will last and, if it doesn’t, we will fix it.
Understand your customer
If you want to install garage floor coatings properly and create a profit, you must understand that not everyone is your customer. The price tag on the kit in the box store has already created a perceived value or cost to complete the job in many customers’ mind. By explaining the points above you will make your service unique and more desirable than that kit to the people you want to work for. Never sell yourself short on a job. There are many customers who want projects done right and are willing to pay to make sure that happens.
Nick Dancer has been active in the concrete construction business since 2005 and started his own company, CounterCrete, in 2007. That company grew into Dancer Concrete, which is based in Fort Wayne, Ind., and primarily offers interior stained floors. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.