The following findings are from of a ten-day field survey conducted in several rental and landscape supply locations. Each location serves their community with a small concrete batch plant and a fleet of trailers. The purpose of the survey was to discover who used concrete in a trailer and what projects were being served. Your customer mix will probably be very much like what we report here. But first, some background on trailer-delivery.
History of Trailer-Delivered Concrete
In the 1970’s, and even today, small concrete projects require the payment of a short-load fee. This extra delivery charge created an opportunity for hundreds of forward-thinking business people to make money selling concrete in a trailer.
This self-delivered concrete niche started in the 70’s with dirty little tubs on wheels, and has become a respected and critical part of the concrete supply chain. No longer is this a service with low quality concrete – Now contractors depend upon Cart-Away for high quality concrete to complete many of their top projects.
Over time, the equipment has evolved from the slow and impractical tubs, to the quick-mixing drum trailers of today. In addition, Cart-Away success have been proven by the test of time in communities of all types, all around the country.
The good news is that there are still Short-load fees and Stand-by charges which will drive demand to you.
Today, your odds of success and your return on investment have never been better.
Who are Your Cart-Away Concrete Customers?
The survey found that a full 63% of the customers are contractors of some sort. Next, we found that 31% of the users are do-it-yourself shoppers and 6% are city or county municipalities. The most interesting thing that we discovered is that the muni and large contractors where actually the largest volume customers by percentage.
Of the 1700 yards that an average location will produce per year, about 1070 yards will be going to the highest of all repeat customers, the contractor. The quality of the concrete, the savings in time and money all combine to build a strong repeat business. Repeat users make up 84% of the Cart-Away Concrete that is sold in your location. With multiple visits, there will be ample opportunities to sell other products or services. In fact, of all repeat concrete customers, 32% use the concrete service at least every month, with 36% using the service at least every week.
Adding to your pool of customers is the first-time user who has seen your trailers working around town. These first-time customers represent 16% of all your concrete sales and highlights the value of ready-mix as a “customer magnet”. Your good customer service and the quality of the concrete will build a growing revenue stream from new and repeat business every year.
What is this concrete used for?
As we visited with the customers during the survey we found that respondents use concrete in a trailer whenever they need less than 3 yards or when time is critical. These two reasons are exactly what caused this niche to be introduced in the 70’s and why you have such a great opportunity today.
The survey found that pouring some type of small slab (56%) is the most popular use for concrete out of the trailer. Both contractors and do-it-yourselfers listed driveways, patios, spa and shed slabs as the most common slab that they pour. Sidewalk repair (27%) and underground construction (20%) are the main use by contractors and municipality customers. Other projects listed include footings, fence posts and mow strips.
How do the customers find this concrete?
As the construction community learns that you have concrete available to them, they will start using you instead of waiting for a truck or paying delivery fees. It is clear that referrals are always an important source of new business. And 9% of our respondents said that buying concrete at the survey location was recommended by someone else.
After years of learning how Cart-Away locations get customers, we highly recommend that you partner with local transit-mix companies for referrals. Dispatchers from the large ready-mix firms will send customers to you because they do not like to serve the small load customer – There is no money in this market for them.
Further, the study showed that regular customers are the best source of ready-mix sales at 60%. This makes it critical that proper signage and counter sales presentations are made apart of any marketing plans. Signs on entry fences, on cement silos and behind the sales counter introduce this service to regular customers. Invoice stuffers, telephone “on-hold” messages, counter reminders and grand openings also build sales for the regular customer base.
Though the survey did not completely bear this out, it is important to be listed in the Ready-mix concrete section of the Online Google Local or Online Yellow Pages. Many of the new concrete customers traditionally come from searching the internet.
The Cart-Away sales team can provide you with many tips and ideas that will help you further market your new concrete business. Call Scotty at (800)909-9809 and ask for a marketing package.
Why a Cart-Away System?
There is little question as to the success of adding ready-mix concrete to any construction related operation. Your success in this niche will be the result of your own efforts, combined with a strong support team. For the past 44-years Cart-Away and U-cart have supported the most successful concrete operations in this industry.
This survey and other reports are only one of the extra services you can expect from Cart-Away. Ready-mix concrete production is as much art as science and real-life field experience is critical to your success. Many equipment manufacturers, anxious to sell you mixing equipment, have never operated a ready-mix business. In fact, the support team is as important to your success as the selection of mixing equipment that you choose! Cart-Away is proud to support you with an experienced team of professional concrete operators along with our line of quality equipment.
Cart-Away Explores Peristaltic Concrete Pump
For many years customers have been asking for a concrete pump that would work well with the Cart-Away concrete mixers. These requests have lead us to begin development of a peristaltic concrete pump. We are working with Monolithic to adapt their squeeze pump technology to fit the capabilities of the Cart-Away mixers.
We are please to introduce the Cart-Away Skweez Pump. (Planned Introduction – Summer of 2017)
A Squeeze Pump
A peristaltic concrete pump uses a squeezing motion on a rubber hose to move concrete. Better known as a Squeeze Pump, these machines are simpler to operate and to maintain than the common piston pump. The peristaltic concrete pump is also more forgiving and less dangerous than other concrete pumps. The Cart-Away Skweez Pump is the perfect pumping companion for the mid-sized mixers in the Cart-Away product line. We chose peristaltic pumping technology because it can be stopped and started between concrete mixing batches. Piston driven concrete pumps work at much higher pressures and do not perform well on small batch applications where stopping between batches is necessary.
A peristaltic concrete pump design has a number of advantages over a piston pump. The most valuable to you is that there is less wear on moving parts. The abrasive nature of concrete is a real killer for the steel mechanisms of piston pumps. With a peristaltic pump, the rubber squeeze-hose keeps the material confined and prevents any metal parts from coming in contact with the abrasive concrete. Because the concrete only touches rubber hose, you get the equivalent of a brand new pump every time you replace your hose! This saves you a bunch of money in machining, replacement parts and downtime when compared to a piston pump rebuild.
It really boils down to what it cost to replace worn parts. Piston pumps rely on metal parts to force the concrete out the end of the hose. From the first day of operation, concrete rubs against the metal and begins to wear the piston pump. As the abrasion continues, the pump degrades, and it takes serious money to replace the worn out machined parts.
Peristaltic concrete pumps experience wear as well, but a hose can be replace by people on the job-site for a relatively low cost. Operators of a peristaltic pump will typically stock spare hoses and be prepared to change them when pumping efficiency drops.
Peristaltic pumps do not push at the same high pressure as a piston pump. Consequently, a worker is far less likely to get hurt from a squeeze pump. There are real dangers from a hose rupturing or a clamp letting go when working with the high pressures created by a piston pump.
On the other hand squeeze pump operators really need to know what they are doing, and they need to make sure their concrete mix good for pumping – one that properly moves through the system. Remember: the better the concrete mix, the better it pumps. Harsh, low cement-ratio mixes will not give you a superior end-result concrete, nor will they pump well. Such mixes need higher pressure pumps.
Here’s another fantastic advantage of the peristaltic pump: its delivery of the shotcrete is much more even. Unlike the piston pump, the peristaltic pump does not bounce the nozzle operator all over the place. Consequently, material goes onto a surface with a smoother, steadier action, producing a much nicer outcome.
We would love to get your input on the Cart-Away Skweez Pump idea. If you have some experience with concrete pumping or shotcrete, we would love to have you reach out to us and share your expertise. Cart-Away wants to do this right and we welcome your thoughts.
Five Ways to Save
Cart-Away Concrete Systems has supported sidewalk repair and restoration projects for over 20-years. Cart-away manufactures portable concrete mixing trailers that are sized for these types of concrete projects. Over time we have interview many of the city leaders who have chosen a Cart-Away system to manage their sidewalk repairs. The following are 5 Best Practices in efficiently managing a sidewalk program:
#1 Standard Operating Procedures
The purpose of a sidewalk, curb and gutter maintenance policy and SOP is to protect the general public from hazards, protect the City from liability, manage public infrastructure and to protect the city’s investment in these assets. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should include the following sections:
- Safety Precautions
- Include Background
- Include Maintenance Plans
- Include Removal and Repair Steps
- Identify Emergency Repair Steps
- Include Background
- Public Interactions
- Receiving and Recording Complaints
- Prioritizing Explanations
- Database and Records
#2 Create Priority System
All potential repairs should be identified, evaluated or scored by priority. The two variables for concrete repair ranking are: One, the severity of the damage and two, the importance of the location or the asset.
Severity usually is scored based upon the magnitude of the damage. Importance is usually gauged by location and the demographics of the users in that area. It is not uncommon for school zones, retirement communities and hospital areas to receive a higher priority than a single-family neighborhood. Likewise, a 4″ up-lift should be given priority over some seasonal cracking.
#3 Training and Tools
Finding ways to train the field staff should be a priority for any organization. It is particularly important when crews are working in potentially hazardous locations were traffic or utilities could cause harm. Work is completed more efficiently when both the equipment and the procedures are fully understood and familiar. Use bad weather days to complete some of the training and then keep up with a continuing education program of some sort.
Providing the tools and equipment to efficiently make repairs is critical to meeting the objectives of most community leaders. All operational instructions and safety warnings should be shared during training. Equipment should remain in good working order and readily available to work crews. Short-changing the field staff due to budgetary constraints is many times short-sighted.
#4 Prevent Recurrence
If you have taken the time to rank, schedule and do the repairs, then preventing the problem from coming back should be a high priority. In sidewalk repair this usually means taking care of the root causes of the problem. Many times it is literally the roots of a nearby tree that is the cause. But it could also mean poor installation or materials. You should pay attention to the fundamentals of concrete slab construction and use good compaction with quality gravel. In addition, using the appropriate concrete recipe can make a big difference. Some regions can get by with a 2500 psi concrete for sidewalks, but more extreme climates may require up to 4000 psi. and some additives to resist degradation. The best practice is to not cut corners and do it right the first time.
#5 Public Awareness
In most cases the property owner is a partner with the city in maintaining the sidewalk assets. Sadly, this often turns into an adversarial relationship with finger pointing and bad feelings. Most communities that we interviewed suggest that getting the word out and keeping the public well informed is the key to success. Make sure that all parties understand their individual responsibility in keeping sidewalks safe and passable. It is also important to teach the city staff to be sensitive to the fact that sidewalk repair is not a “front-of-mind” issue to property owners, like it is to the city. The best practice is to share more details rather than less.
Cart-Away would like to thank the many city and county public works and streets superintendents who shared their work with us. We shared these in a presentation to the Maintenance Superintendents Association (MSA) in Berkeley California. Their thoughts and ideas have informed these 5 best practices, and we recommend their advise to all municipality leaders.
These mixers have delivered over a million cubic yards of concrete. Save short-load fees and reduce labor on small concrete projects.
For about the same cost as one of these desirable pieces of construction equipment, you can be in the ready-mix concrete business.
And a successful Cart-Away system will serve about 125 customers per month and deliver over $11,000 in revenue per month.
By comparison, the rental rates on any one of these units below will vary between $2,400 and $7,600 on a monthly contract and will service only one customer at a time.
Rental and Ready-mix make perfect partners.
Existing rental customers enjoy the convenience of ready-mix and concrete customers take advantage of equipment rentals at one location. Both profit centers will feed business to the other and build store profits.
Any investment has risks, but Cart-Away Concrete Systems have proven successful in all parts of the country and in hundreds of rental locations.
Most operators report a return on investment in less than two years on equipment that will last over ten years. Ready-mix concrete is the foundation of most construction projects, insuring unlimited demand for the service.
The reward for investing in concrete is a high demand, high profit opportunity that brings in customers from the entire community and expands your business.
It comes as no surprise that successful rental operations use every opportunity to turn a profit. That is why propane has been used as a consumable that will draw in more customers and greater profits. Ready-mix is also a successful consumable that is a great fit with your rental operation.
Rental and Ready-mix make perfect partners…
Existing rental customers enjoy the convenience of ready-mix while concrete customers take advantage of equipment rentals at one location. Both profit centers will feed business to the other and build profits.
Any investment has risks, but Cart-Away Concrete Systems have proven successful in all parts of the country and in hundreds of rental locations. Most operators report a return on investment in less than two years on equipment that will last over ten years.
Ready-mix concrete is the foundation of most construction projects, insuring unlimited demand for the service. Like propane, ready-mix is a consumable that is an excellent fit with rentals. The reward for investing in concrete is a high demand, high profit opportunity that brings in customers from the entire community and expands your business.
The management of your concrete business has just become easier!
Mix Master Software is the latest innovation for your Cart-Away concrete mixing system. With the Mix Master system all of the dispatching and mix design can be controlled by the counter staff. This helps to control the losses from the “generosity” that sometimes happens at your batch plant when customers request “just a little more”.
Experience has shown that there is significant shrinkage in your raw materials from this generosity without payment. Your also want your customers to get exactly what they pay for, so the Mix Master system prompts the staff to do routine material calibration and maintenance on a predetermined schedule.
The software is loading into a PC at your counter and allows your staff to sell concrete and log in the mix design at the point of purchase. This data is then configured into an individualized bar code that spells out exactly what your customer has ordered. The bar code is then printed directly on the yard ticket and given to the customer to hand to your yard staff. This document is then used for both the instructions to the computer in the concrete plant and the receipt for your customer’s records.
The control panel is equipped with a laser scanner that reads the customers concrete recipe into the computer and prepares the machine to batch the order. The yard personnel can then control the start of the batch when the trailer is properly hooked and backed into position. Of course, the operation of the plant can be interrupted with a pause or panic stop for the safety of your staff and customers.
The effective use of the Mix Master software will allow you to better control your costs and manage you’re profits from the concrete business. The software will also allow you to produce reports on your total usage, batch sizes sold, calibration schedules and maintenance tasks performed…
The Cart-Away Mix Master software has moved the trailer based concrete industry forward in giant steps… Your business should reap the rewards of better concrete mixing management…