Starting a sealcoating business can be a lucrative endeavor, but there are a number of steps you have to take before you seal your first driveway. From getting sealcoating business insurance to nailing the perfect business plan, as long as you plan things carefully, you will find success.
Do Some Market Research
Starting a sealcoating business isn’t such a great idea if there’s no demand. Thankfully, this is one of those industries that’s pretty useful overall. There are driveways wherever people live, eat and shop.
The driveway sealcoating business is seasonal and dependent upon the weather. You can not sealcoat a driveway when it is raining or you will wash away your profits. Don't forget to carry liability insurance. Anything that can go wrong usually does at some point and carrying liability insurance lessens the financial burden of disaster.
Nonetheless, you should still do market research to figure out exactly how you can serve the local community. You’ll need to research things like:
- Income level: If starting a sealcoating business in a lower-income area where most people don’t own their own homes, you might want to adjust your marketing plan to reach customers on the commercial side (i.e. businesses, landlords and maintenance companies) rather than on the residential side (i.e. private homeowners). The average income level of the area you’re working in can also help you determine prices.
- Demographics: Who lives in the area you’ll be working? Will you be targeting mostly residential homeowners or businesses? Will you be hoping to land contracts with the state or government? If your area is too rural and doesn’t have a large population of homeowners, you might want to pick a different place to launch your business.
- Average Price of Homes: Research the average price of homes in the area. People who pay a lot for their houses are more likely to spend a great deal maintaining those homes. You can charge a higher premium. Homeowners in less costly pads might skimp on maintenance and do only what is absolutely required because they can’t afford it.
- Competitors: Your asphalt sealcoating business plan isn’t very good if it’s telling you to set up shop in the middle of a bunch of Asphalt Kings. Instead, try to avoid places with a ton of competition and find a location where there’s a hole in the asphalt sealcoating market.
- Weather: This is one business that's seasonal. Too much rain can ruin your job and you can't work in frozen or sweltering conditions because it affects the sealcoat.
Franchise Or Privatize?
You have one big decision to make before you even write an asphalt sealcoating business plan: are you going to open a franchise or start from scratch? A franchise can let you cash in on already proven success, especially if you don’t have the resources for marketing or advertising. You can buy into a franchise like Jet-Black/Yellow Dawn Striping for an initial investment of as little as $43,025. On the other hand, you stand to make more money going at it on your own and starting a sealcoating business from the ground up.
Find A Sealcoat Manufacturer
You can’t launch a sealcoat business without sealcoat. You’ll need to find if there’s a manufacturer in your region and open up a contract. They can also tell you if there are any restrictions; this includes environmental restrictions because, remember, you’re working with some pretty powerful chemicals.
Craft Your Business Plan
Your asphalt sealcoating business plan is the heart and soul of your business. You should outline at least five years worth of projections in income and expenses. You’ll probably want to talk with your sealcoating supplier to figure out the true cost of goods and the manpower required to get your business off the ground.
Yes, you’ll probably need a crew. How much will their salaries cost? What’s the overhead on a space, equipment, supplies? Outline everything from a marketing budget to your projected sales. This will help you in case you need to approach an investor, but it also helps you visualize your pathway to success.
Handle The Paperwork And Sealcoating Business Insurance
You’ll need to set up your sealcoat business with state and local departments as well as decide on your business structure with the IRS. Will you be an LLC or S-Corp? Make a choice and file to get your EIN.
You’ll also probably need to apply for a business license. This can usually be done at your local town hall, but you’ll need to prove that you have the proper sealcoating business insurance. Though a lot of contractors fly under the radar without insurance, that’s playing with fire. Sealcoating business insurance usually includes general liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, and auto insurance plans for work vehicles.
Get Your Equipment And Hire Your Staff
You can’t have a business without staff and equipment. All contractors you hire should have a contractors license to comply with local law. You’ll also need to acquire new or used equipment like blowers, brushes, scrapers, oil spot sealer, hot crack filling melters, sealcoating machines and a fleet of vans to transport equipment.
Start Bidding And Marketing
The final step to starting a sealcoating business is putting in your first bid for a job. You’ll also want to start marketing your services in local papers, trade magazines and even on Google and Yelp.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.