Has this ever happened to you?  You’ve gone through a picture-perfect appointment and after everything’s said and done… having gone just as well as it possibly could, you give the home owner the bottom line price for the job.  They then look at each other and, in unison, reply, “We love it!  We want it! …but we just don’t have that much money available right now.”   What, exactly, just happened?

I had originally qualified a couple just like them at a Home Show.  I spent time with them on the phone and again in person.  I showed them everything I could think of in the forty-five minutes I spent with them in their home, and they wound up telling me they didn’t have that kind of money available!!?  Where’d I go wrong? Did I not read these people correctly? I had done everything I was supposed to do and I did read them right.  They loved it and wanted it.  But… I forgot to ask some of the right questions… and one of them is, “How do you intend on paying for the job?”

Too many times we take for granted the fact that just because we do what we’re supposed to do, the other folks are going to do their part as well.  It’s a trust thing with me I guess, but that (obviously) doesn’t always pan out.  Now let me share something with you that will help you in a situation like this, not because I did it (I never got around to it) but looking back I wish I had!  I actually had people ask me if I took Visa or MasterCard and I had to tell them no. This has happened to me countless times and I know that if available to me at the time, I would have closed many more jobs.

OK, you see where I’m heading with this: Just because the home owners couldn’t shell out $4,500.00 from their checking accounts doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have been willing to make an easy payment every month for the job. Using Visa/MasterCard is a good investment for your business. Nowadays, the capability of obtaining a Visa/MasterCard account is as simple as going to sites such as Square Up (click here) or QuickBooks offers a card reader that interfaces with their accounting software (click here).  We’re heading toward a cashless society and plastic rules. Customers expect to pay for goods and services with a credit card and banks will fight for your merchant business.  Usually, a nominal fee for a small credit card machine and, typically, around 3% service charge will get you going. You can even get credit card machines that attach to your cell phone for instant access. If you think 3% is a lot to pay for maybe a 20% increase in business, you’re making the same mistake I made.

Advanced Training

CTi firmly believes in having the best trained Dealers in the industry.  Over the last few weeks, our Dealers have been training in Little Rock, Arkansas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana as well as at our headquarters in Largo, Florida.  These Dealers are learning how to create new looks and satisfy a larger number of new customers by becoming great at what they do.

Hiring a Salesperson

There are times during the life of a CTi Dealership where expansion leads to hiring a person to present the product in the customer’s home.  The right person with the right way of approaching customers can many times lead to higher closing rates on the inquiries your Dealership receives and sometimes will actually lead to a higher per square footage rate.

Coordinating your advertising and marketing efforts to insure a salesperson has what he needs in order to be successful is crucial.  The typical sales funnel for a CTi sale is the Dealership will normally need 5-6 inquiries (phone calls or “contact us” forms from the website) to secure 3-4 in home presentations.  The 3-4 in home presentations will lead to one sale normally.

Compensation for these folks is normally a commission on sales made.  The rate I see most often is 10% of the gross sale price so if the job is sold for $5,000 to the homeowner, the salesperson will receive a $500 commission.  This will help you determine how many inquiries your Dealership will need to generate in order for the salesperson to meet his financial goals.  If the salesperson is wanting to make $1,000 per week, in the scenario above, you would need to provide 10-12 inquiries per week in order to have 6-8 presentations to make the two sales needed.

Advantages of Specialization

You wake up at three in the morning, and you hear water rushing in the basement from a broken pipe.  When your thoughts turn to fixing the problem, do you think about calling a plumber or a general handyman who can perform a number of different projects around the house?  If you’re like most people, you call the person who specializes in fixing the problem you have; the same is true when people make many different decisions.

When small business owners advertise, they think about casting as wide a net as possible; many times you’ll see a tag line such as “Specializing in residential, commercial and industrial work” (not much of a specialization is it).  What they don’t realize is for an advertising message to resonate with a customer, it needs to address the problem the customer is wanting to solve.  Some of the best advertising results I’ve seen come from Dealers who create messages that firmly nail one issue they want to address with their customers.  Something as simple as touting your firm as “The driveway specialists” can have your message break through the clutter and increase the number of customers who contact you and, more importantly, the number who buy from you.

Think about ways you can specialize in your category and advertise this specialty in the right ways to see your advertising become more effective.

Full time or Part Time employees

One of the common questions I receive from new Dealers is “How do I start my business and keep employees busy while I’m ramping up?”  This is an age old question and, as usual, our Dealers have figured out some great ways to get their businesses up and running during those first months of operation.  A couple of ideas for hiring those first employees so you don’t have to worry about keeping them on payroll constantly while you build momentum are:

  • EMS or Firefighters: The normal work schedule for these folks is to work a longer day or days and then have a couple of days off.  During these couple of days when they’re off, having a job that can help make them some extra money while not interfering with their full-time job is just what they’re looking for.  Visiting the fire station or the headquarters to the local ambulance service and telling them you have part-time work available is a great win-win for both you and them.
  • Construction related staffing agencies: There are a number of these type companies around, common names are “Manpower”, “Labor Ready”, “Quality Personnel”, “Kimco” as well as other regional companies.  The main advantage for this route is two-fold.  First, the staffing agency keeps the employee on their payroll.  The only check you write is for the number of hours you happen to use the person for the job site.  Taxes and other items are all calculated by the agency and you simply receive a total bill.  Second, this is a great “on the job” interview, getting someone on the job will give you a great feel for how well they understand the product and installation.  When you have someone who shines in this area, once you are ready to hire a full-time person you can pay a finders fee to the agency and take the person off their payroll.  This is a much better way to hire your first employee than advertising and then having to go through the interview process and see how they perform.

Networking is one of the keys to running a successful business.  Meeting up with the right people, introducing your products and getting your market excited about CTi is all a part of getting in front of the right individuals.  A great resource to help you in the endeavor is BNI International Business Networking.  BNI has chapters around the world and specializes in arranging networking meetings between business owners in select areas.  To find out more about BNI, click here or to find out if there is a chapter in your area, click here.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Came across this photo, circa 1992 showing the original CTi headquarters. The next couple of photos are today’s headquarters and training center for Concrete Technology.

What a ride it’s been, we owe our success to all of our Dealers, Distributors and employees who make it happen everyday.

Thank You for everything you guys do, the best is yet to come!

A customer needs to trust you prior to buying your product. We mention in our marketing seminar that the purchasing decision rests on two main questions being answered:

1) Why do I want to buy this particular product?
2) Why do I want to buy this product from your company?

Trust goes a long way in answering both these questions, so how do you go about establishing trust with your customer? First, it comes from longevity, both perceived and real. A customer can find a level of trust when you tell him you’ve been installing the product for a number of years. If this is not the case, you can change the customer’s perception is a couple of different ways. Consistent advertising can change a customer’s perception on how long a business has been around. Customer who consistently see you advertisement over a period of months will see you as an established company. The confidence you exude when you’re speaking with the customer is another way of building their confidence. While newer Dealers may find this difficult (an I’ve even seen some seasoned Dealers who have an issue with this), have a demeanor that puts the customer at ease because they sense you want to solve their problems will lead to more confidence on the customer’s end. How the customer is treated throughout the sales cycle is also another way of building confidence. A professionally done advertising message, a phone that is answered “Good afternoon, Concrete Technology, how may I help you?” vs. “Hello?” are just a couple of ways to build the customer’s confidence. Being on time and delivering on deadlines are other ways to build confidence. If you say you’re going to be at the customer’s house on Thursday at 5:30, do everything you can to be on time; if you’re running late, call the customer to let them know. If you tell the customer that; weather permitting, your crew will be on the job site a week from Thursday and should be finished by Friday afternoon, meet those deadlines. If you don’t think you can meet the timeline, don’t promise the customer.

A customer’s trust will not only lead to more sales, it also leads to more referrals as the customer confidently tells their friends and relatives to give your company a try.

How Did This All Start?

Twenty-seven years ago, our owner and founder, Kevin Rosenberger, was a hard working pool deck applicator. In those days, applications only came with a one-year warranty and, as short as it was, applicators were still deluged with warranty work! Kevin decided there had to be a better way.

He started experimenting with unique materials and formulations. In time, his experiments led to a mixture of Acrylic Polymers and Portland cement. That was the birth of what has come to be known as CTi’s “Hallmark System.” Kevin continued to develop his new product and the industry (small by today’s standards) was stunned when CTi offered the industry’s first Ten Year Warranty!

Kevin’s efforts pioneered Acrylic Cement and, as a result, both CTi and the Concrete Coating Industry literally exploded over the next few years; so much so that CTi earned the coveted INC-500 Award in 1997, after just six years in business.

Today, CTi is recognized as the world-wide industry leader of the Concrete Coating Industry, with a network of over 700 CTi Dealers in 22-countries having installed over 100-Million square feet of Acrylic Cement products. With its modern manufacturing plant and World Headquarters both located in Largo, Florida, CTi enjoys a reputation as the most successful company of its kind on the planet. Ask any CTi Dealer why that is and their response will most likely be, “Because of CTi’s dedication to my success.”

Kevin made the decision early on to offer CTi products only through a network of factory-trained CTi Dealerships, tying the success of his company to the success of his Dealers. His vision was to award CTi Dealerships to those folks looking to create a new lifestyle for themselves and their families, using a Franchise Model but requiring no franchise fees or royalties. Every CTi Dealer is an independent business person, backed by over sixteen years of CTi-developed Marketing and Sales Tools, Initial and Advanced Training Seminars, “Tech-Tip” Videos covering every aspect of installing CTi products, and the support of a Technical Support Team available to CTi Dealers 24/7.

The old cliché, “you’re in business for yourself but not by yourself,” has never been more accurate than it is when describing the world-wide family of CTi Dealers.

When to Upgrade Sealers

That depends on several factors… Let me explain.

Traffic: If you have a job on a driveway and the customers have kids and both kids have their own cars as well as mom and dad having 2 cars, I would upgrade to the 200 or 6000. By the same token, commercial driveways should automatically get 200 or 6000.

Weather: If it”s the rainy season where the chances of showers are strong and you have to get a coat of sealer on the job or stand a chance of losing it or it getting damaged, I would drop back and use the 150/155. If the 150 or 155 gets wet before it’s totally cured it will haze white. The second coat of 150 or 155 will 99% of the time pull the haze out and it will look great. However, if the 200 or 6000 gets wet before it is cured it too will haze up white but you will have to grind the job down to get it off and then start over.

Chemicals: If you’re selling a job and there are lots of solvents or chemicals being used, you will need to upgrade from 150 or 155 to 200 or 6000. For example automotive repair centers: Brake fluid, transmission fluid, battery acid, etc. And, keep in mind that some folks still do heavy repairs on their own cars at home. They need 200 or 6000 as well.

So here are some examples where you might want to upgrade from 150/155 to 200 or 6000:

1. Heavy traffic

2. Lots of chemicals

3. Customer looking for a lot of sheen

Here are some examples when you might have to step down from 200 or 6000 and use 150/155 on outside jobs.

1. Strong chance of rain getting on the job before 200 is cured.

2. Have to put sealer on late evening and they”re expecting dew.

3. Foggy outside.

Keep in mind you can NOT put 200 or 6000 over 150 or 155 or 150/155 over 200/6000 they are stand alone sealers.