When a Concrete Contractor becomes a Concrete and Asphalt Contractor…
Halfway into our company’s history, we added asphalt to our services.
You might be asking yourself why a commercial construction company who made its mark with concrete construction expanded into doing asphalt construction as well. After all, isn’t asphalt the biggest alternative to concrete? Isn’t it either/or?
When it comes to residential or commercial paving, yes. You do have to pick one or the other. But when you’re working in concrete construction, or any customer service industry, you have to think of first principles. You have to go all the way back to understanding the root of customer satisfaction.
What do we mean by that? We mean the principles that a growing company needs to always keep in mind. The principle we’re thinking specifically when it comes to expanding our concrete business into commercial asphalt paving is:
“The customer is always right.”
If you’ve worked in the business long enough (and we know a few of you out there have) you have a lot of different reactions to this phrase. Some of you out there start ducking under your desks when you hear it. Or you cringe when you hear a customer say it to you when “discussing” a price for a service. We get it, but that’s not what we mean.
But here’s the thing: the basic, real principle of “the customer is always right” is a very simple one, and a very true one.
Customers, by their very nature of being customers, are people in search of solutions to problems. The customer will always tell you what services they really want. The customer will always dictate where your business will be successful. because they will tell you the kinds of problems they want you to solve. And that’s where we get into talking about why we expanded into asphalt.
For a long time, there was an argument over which was better: concrete or asphalt.
The argument still continues to this day, but here it is in summary:
Concrete guys are always going to tell you about the tensile strength and durability of well-done concrete. Asphalt guys are always going to tell you about the quick application and lower price point of asphalt. It’s not like we’ve ever had a fist-fight about it, but when it comes down to it: if you’re one or the other, you’ve got good reasons why. And we can argue until we are blue in the face.
But above the din of the argument, we heard something a little different. We heard that our customers were both looking for a commercial asphalt contractor and a commercial contractor for concrete–someone who could do both.
Often times, especially in the commercial world, you’ve got projects that require multiple materials. Say you’re a supermarket owner. You’ve got an asphalt parking lot for your customers and then a concrete loading dock for your supply trucks. Or say you operate a rail yard. Or an apartment complex. You need concrete steps and asphalt pavement.
In the past, with all this arguing going on, chances are you had to pick one contractor for one part of the project and another contractor for another part of the project. Or you had to hire a General Contractor just to keep everything straight.
Some folks think concrete is better. Some folks think asphalt is better.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what we think.
It matters what you think. It matters what you want.
And when our customers wanted us to quote an asphalt parking lot cost as well as a concrete parking lot cost, we had to respond to that demand. When a customer keeps asking about asphalt paving costs as well as the cost of a concrete pour for a concrete loading dock, it’s part of good customer service that we would learn how to do both.
The customer is always, ultimately, right. You want a contractor that can do asphalt and concrete? You got it. That’s what we’ll be. We’ll even quote the earthwork too. How about that?
That’s how you grow as a construction company.
You grow not by dogmatically sticking to one thing or the other, or sticking to doing what you’ve always done. Get back to basic business principles. You grow by really listening to your customers and letting them tell you how you need to grow. If they keep asking for asphalt, then you spend the time to learn how to use it, you spend the money to get the best possible equipment and you put out the call to get the best workers to get the job done.
We do concrete…
Concrete is what we built our business on, and it’s still the thing that you ask about the most (at least according to Google). Concrete isn’t going away. In fact, we are always looking to improve our concrete by staying on the cutting edge of the industry. We also use methods specifically for the frozen north, for example, by including an option for insulated concrete.
And we do asphalt too.
You wanted it; you got it. It’s the simplest lesson in business. No one finds success by telling people what they want. You find success by listening to people and finding out what they want. You asked for asphalt. You got asphalt.
And that’s the story of how, halfway through our company’s history, we dove into doing asphalt. At the end of the day, it’s all because of you.
How’s that for “the customer is always right?”