Concrete is not only the most commonly used construction material, it is also an essential component in the residential, industrial, and commercial sectors so becoming a concrete contractor is a pretty good prospect for a tradesman.
Certainly, your skills will always be in demand with this job path. However, like any trade, there’s a process involved for getting into concrete work. This applies whether you plan to strictly focus on concrete or join up with general contractors who include concrete as part of their suite of services. In order to get off on the right foot, here’s a step-by-step look at how to become a concrete contractor.
Getting Into The Concrete Industry
The best way to approach how to become a concrete contractor is by dividing it into 2 major parts. This first one covers what you need to do to actually be qualified to get the appropriate business licenses to work in concrete.
Earn a degree/get experience
The first major step you need to do here is one of two options, though depending on where you live and your personal preference, they may not be mutually exclusive. Many would-be contractors who opt for a college education look into civil engineer degrees due to covering topics like:
- Fluid mechanics
In some cases, there may be courses specifically designed for contractors like project management for construction and concrete design. Other courses you should look into include math, accounting, and business. You’re going to need these business skills in order to run the financial side of your company, which entails keeping cash flow to submitting smart bids. People planning to do government contracting may also want to look into courses that cover the laws there.
The other option, rather than getting a bachelor’s degree, can be learning in the field. Starting as a basic laborer and working your way up is an option, but there are also formal apprenticeships that may be worth working into. You can get connected with these through technical schools or unions, and specialize to get certain skills in concrete. An apprenticeship isn’t necessarily faster than college, taking 3-4 years to do, and includes classroom and practical training.
Getting a contractor license
In either event, the next step in how to become a concrete contractor is going to be getting a contractor license for your state. Generally, a prospective contractor needs to be at least 18 years old, and have two to four years of experience. You’ll also need to have financial statements show the financial solvency of your business. There are also additional requirements that vary by state, like a written exam, criminal check, and posted bond. Keep in mind, licenses also need to be renewed annually.
Developing Your Concrete Business
With the appropriate qualifications, now we can cover the essential steps to actually get a concrete contracting business off the ground.
Create a business plan
The business plan is going to lay out the structure of your business as well as what types of jobs you are going to do. Are you going to focus on mixed concrete or other installations? Are you going industrial, commercial, or residential? What region do you plan to serve? This is especially important for smaller companies in order to make sure that you don’t try to go for too wide a reach too early.
You also need to figure out your pricing structure. Do you charge fixed prices per job or work on an hourly basis? You also should have an idea of how much profit you need each year to stay afloat, so you can figure out the minimum amount of jobs you need to take.
Get the appropriate licensing and insurance
We talked about your own individual contractor license before, but any contracting business will need to get an appropriate license from the county, city or state, as well as register with the state government. In addition, you will also need the following insurance types before starting operations:
- Worker’s compensation
- Commercial automotive insurance
- Property insurance
- General liability insurance
You’re going to need a lot of equipment and materials just to start up a concrete business. This includes a vehicle to haul around all your gear and equipment for each job, as well as equipment like a computer and basic supplies for your office. Regarding your concrete materials themselves, you may be able to get away with buying mixed cement bags for small jobs, but the larger you go, the larger the scale of materials you need. This may include investing in a mixer.
Get startup capital
All of this equipment, materials, and training costs money, not to mention the expenses of hiring new employees. You need to have a plan in place to get the funds you need to operate before your cash flow starts working. Estimate how much you think you need, then start pursuing the funds, laying out your goal in your business plan. This can be done through your own savings, loans, credit cards, or appealing to other investors.
Mastering the fundamentals of becoming a concrete company is great, but you also want to start looking into ways to improve your business. One common area of struggle is logistics. Keeping track of all the jobs and deliverables a busy company can prove difficult, especially due to the distance between a job site and the front office. This is even more difficult for situations like public works or commercial construction. There are generally more parties involved in the outcome, and the jobs are larger in scale than residential work.
One asset that every concrete business should be looking into before they start operations is an effective project management software like eSUB. When you’re first starting a business, this helps you organize your financial records to make sure that you’re making money on those early concrete jobs. Later, cloud storage makes relevant job data visible and accessible to everyone involved in work projects so your profitability continues to grow.