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How to Start My Own Pavement Sealing Business
Sealcoating driveways every two to three years helps protect against damaging elements that erode the asphalt, which can develop cracks and become unsightly. While sealcoating has the potential to be a lucrative business, those looking to start their own sealing business must recognize it is dependent on weather conditions and typically can’t be done in temperatures below 50 degrees. Because of this, it isn’t a year-round business in most regions. It may be expedient to offer additional pavement services such as hot asphalt repairs, line painting, crack filling and driveway widening.
Contact your state licensing agency to learn whether you need to obtain a contractor’s license and any local, city or state licenses. If you do, you may need to pass an examination and pay any applicable fees. Also learn local, city and state building codes on paving and sealing driveways.
Determine whether to team up with a sealcoating franchise such as Back to Black, which can provide field training, classroom training, equipment, reputation and supplies. The downside of this is that the franchise cost is $39,000. By starting your own business, you may be able to cut costs by negotiating better deals on supplies and equipment and by learning the trade through self-study.
Learn everything you can about the sealcoating business, such as the properties of asphalt, stripping, applying coats, filling cracks, curing times, the types of sealcoat, mix design and common pavement defects. Learn the trade through seminars and training offered by the National Pavement Expo. The National Pavement Contractor’s Association is another excellent resource.
Register your business and purchase liability insurance. If you anticipate needing to hire an employee, consider incorporating or forming a limited liability company. Contact your current insurance company to get connected with a professional liability provider.
Keep in mind that the work is seasonal. It may be financially advantageous to hire an employee to ensure that you can complete as many jobs as possible when weather conditions are good.
Secure a location for your business, if necessary. Since clients aren’t likely to visit your shop, visibility isn’t nearly as important as your proximity to your service radius, building space and parking to store trucks. If you will start with residential drives alone, you may be able to work out of your home.
Purchase a seal coating machine with a tank large enough to store enough sealant to get a job done quickly and efficiently, a trailer to house your tank, an air compressor, blower, crack filler, crack filling tools, an edger, pour pot, brooms, flagging tape and stakes, roadside signs, sealant, crack filler, squeegees, safety cones, propane tank, spray tips, shovel, fire extinguisher, gas can and scrapers.
Set prices based on square footage. Ensure that your prices are competitive with other contractors in the area. Don’t undercut the competition to get more clients. Customers will be skeptical if you are charging significantly less than others.
Offer free estimates and itemized bids that detail the scope of the work and the estimated costs. Learn your tax responsibilities by visiting the IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. Design professional fliers to distribute through residential neighborhoods. Contact business owners to discuss the importance of implementing handicap spots or the benefits of having a cleaner, crisper parking lot. At a minimum, expect start-up costs to be at least $10,000. Develop a business plan, if you intend to obtain financing from your financial institution.
Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.