Statistics show that there are over 50,000 concrete businesses in the U.S. This includes massive contractors and smaller ones, ready-mix concrete businesses and mixed-concrete businesses, and everything in-between.
Don’t balk at the number of potential competitors out there, either. There are plenty of ways for a small concrete business to etch out a place for itself in the market. The key is starting with a good foundation, and having the foresight to apply the best practices as you move forward from that foundation.
With that in mind, here are some key tips on how to start a concrete business:
Establish an effective business plan
You can’t learn about how to start a concrete business without starting with a business plan. This is going to cover the layout of your business strategy and operations, as well as other essential information.
For example, what types of customers are you going to try and focus on: residential or commercial? That would be included in the plan. This is not only going to serve as a reference plan for your different business teams, but also for potential investors and lenders.
If you’re struggling with how to put together an effective business plan, there are a lot of templates out there for construction businesses to help you get started. However, you’re going to want to make sure that you customize it as needed to fit the world of concrete.
Think about starting small (but don’t let that hold you back too much)
Offering as many services as possible is a great way to draw in more customers, but you need to be reasonable as a new business. Certain tasks like concrete pours may require expensive equipment to implement, more than you can feasibly afford in the moment. It’s best to make sure that your business plan has a few set services that you are going to specialize in early on. Are you going to focus on concrete floors? Make sure that you have all the tools, equipment, and expertise to provide the best concrete floors possible.
With this said, you don’t want to stay overspecialized for too long. This will put an effective cap on how many customers you can service. When you are expanding your list of possible services, think strategically. What single piece of equipment can you buy that will open up your potential services by the largest amount? Are there services that complement what you already offer? Also, you want to be proactive, but measured when it comes to hiring new staff. If they don’t work out or you don’t have enough work to keep them on, you’re essentially losing money twice.
Learn how to bid effectively
The art of the bid is one that you need to learn in order to get jobs as a concrete contractor. There’s a balance you need to strike; bid too high and no one will hire you, bid too low and you may get a job, but make no profit. To make sure you’re not stuck, you need to have a solid estimate on how much time and money a given project will take. Estimation software is going to be a great asset here (more on that later). If possible, research what your competitors have been paid for past jobs as well.
Always focus on safety and compliance
Nothing can sink the reputation of a young construction business faster than a high-profile accident or compliance violation. Plans to get licenses and insurance should always be a part of your basic business plan. However, in the event that you decide to expand into a new area or offer new services, you may need to update this information. Make sure you do your research well ahead of time to avoid violating any rules.
On a site, it’s also important that you keep all your workers safe. This starts with having plenty of supplies, materials and protective equipment on hand, as well as a spare stockpile. Equally important is making sure that you take the time to establish best practices universally. This will minimize the chance of people getting hurt while working.
Be ready to implement technology into your business
Tech matters in any industry, but for a new small business, it’s arguably one of the best ways for you to close the gap on your larger competitors and general contractors. How can you do this?
First, make sure that you are using tech on the job site to make things easier for your customers. Something as simple as using e-readers so they can use credit cards can improve their experience. This is especially important if you are focusing on smaller jobs, like residential spaces, where customers may only have one or two methods of payment.
We can’t ignore the role of technology in marketing as well. Yes, conventional radio and television ads still have their use, but you’ll get a lot more ROI if you focus on social media and content marketing instead. You can opt to either create the content on your own or enlist an outside agency. The profile of your ideal customer on your business plan will be essential in either event.
Perhaps one of the most important tools that you should think about implementing is some form of concrete contractor software. A lot of the time, there are efficiency failures that end up costing you money, but you’re not able to notice them at first glance. Management software for the construction industry makes it possible to fully understand your labor productivity.
For the best offerings in this niche, consider eSUB. We can help you chart how long certain tasks take, provide communication with notes from the field to the office, and share project files to make sure that everyone is working on the same page. This can be key to learning how to start a concrete business, and helping a concrete contractor grow.