Aug 24, 2023
Be Careful Underselling Pavement Treatments
During a recent webinar, one of the presenters bemoaned the fact members of the pavement preservation community in his region sold a less-than-adequate treatment for a pavement system. The result was almost immediate reflective cracking and an unhappy owner who saw the asphalt industry as the problem.
In the long run, poor business practices hurt us all. The contractor—whose name I don’t need to know—may have made a quick dollar winning the bid to only seal a damaged pavement. But now he likely has a damaged reputation that won’t win the company any invitations to bid in the future.
Now consider the cost to the industry overall when this kind of poor business practice is happening. If a contractor is consistently underbidding the competition because he’s underselling what the customers need, he’s damaging the industry’s reputation as well.
The thought that came to mind was, “What happens when someone upsells the property owner and does more than the pavement needed? How greedy do we look?” There’s nothing wrong with going above and beyond for the owner. That’s good customer service in anyone’s book. But to go to a property manager and sell him or her a certain dollar amount of infrared patching prior to sealing with two or three coats when a parking lot only needed a few cracks routed and filled before one sealcoat, is to take advantage of people who don’t know any better. That’s not overperforming; that’s fleecing someone.
I’m not saying our industry fleeces customers. I’m saying we should be aware that property managers are watching their nickels and dimes just like the rest of us. The contractor who offers them real solutions to pavement problems with a plan of attack for this season and next will be the contractor who not only wins the job, but also wins the public relations game for all of us.
Why does that matter?
All ships rise with a rising tide.
If Contractor ABC shows the property manager of High-Quality Estates how to save a few nickels on long-term pavement maintenance plans, then that property manager will talk about Contractor ABC and the asphalt preservation options in positive, glowing terms at the next residential property managers luncheon. It’s better to have the manager of High-Quality Estates beaming about his good experience with the pavement preservation community doing a good job that was matched to his property’s needs than to have him grousing about a contractor taking advantage of him or doing a pricy sealcoating job without addressing the subbase failure in front of his display model office.
This sounds like basic common sense, doesn’t it? Yet it’s something a presenter was complaining about in 2023. We need to remember that a quick buck today could mean the loss of more than one contract tomorrow. Performing the right treatment for the right pavement at the right time applies to the smaller jobs just as it does for the larger, DOT-level projects. Assess what you can do for a property manager and give it to them straight. If that means you spend extra time educating them on a pavement condition index, so be it. If that means you lose the bid to someone else this year, you just might be the one the manager comes to in 2024 or 2025 requesting you bid to repair what didn’t get done properly in 2023.
Stay Safe out There,