Bring the year to a close with a positive spinSeptember 25, 2012
By Charles H. Gamarekian
Autumn, the time for fall cleanups, is also a good time to up-sell your homeowner-customers and get some unexpected traction until the end of the year, as well as a head start into next season. Here are a few suggestions:
As you concern yourself with finishing up 2012 projects, also take time to look at projects that are scheduled for Spring 2013 and select a few projects that can be started but can also afford to sit idle for a while. If you find a winter week with milder than normal temperatures, you can beat the spring rush by excavating and putting in the base now - it's a perfect time before the ground freezes. You will then be ready to install the bedding sand and lay the pavers and even set the wall systems ahead of time so your customers get earlier than planned enjoyment from the completed job when the weather breaks in spring.
If budgetary realities are discouraging some homeowners from fulfilling their dreams for a total outdoor living experience, there is a solution. Suggest that they think big, but start small and accomplish a grander design scheme one section at a time. This is also a good strategy to employ by revisiting old projects where further improvements and amenities were not considered or put on hold. Put your creativity to work by suggesting certain amenities that fit customers' profiles and lifestyles.
For example, a fire pit can stretch the fall season and be enjoyed with family and friends in the early spring when the evening air is crisp and cool. Tell them that models are available in ready to install kit form from manufacturers such as Cambridge, makers of Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec and Cambridge Wallstones, and can be installed in a day or so. The company’s ever-expanding line of products for today’s outdoor lifestyles offers several fire pit styles in a host of color options with optional fire screens and stainless steel covers in addition to three fireplace models that are also available as pre-cut, pre-packaged kits in designer-inspired styles and with options such as dimensional cast stone surrounds and decorative accents.
During the fall/winter holiday season, homeowner thoughts often go to entertaining. Here again, the holidays provide an ideal setting to forward the calendar to outdoor settings where open-air kitchens, grill modules, pizza ovens, and refreshment bars made of durable and color coordinated hardscape materials such as in pre-cut, pre-packaged kits from Cambridge, are gaining popularity. Show the homeowner photos of these products from a Cambridge brochure or keep your laptop handy and visit cambridgepavers.com for an all-encompassing presentation. In a soft-sell atmosphere who knows, you may kindle-up some interest, where there wasn’t one before. And don’t forget to mention that these items can be used well into the winter months and you just may get a signed contract in 2011.
Other pre-packaged kits from Cambridge that can add up a sale include 22″ x 22″ columns, a column mailbox with a corrosion-proof Fiberglass box and a forged metal door in an antique bronze finish and cast stone stairs with 6″ treads in 48″ and 72″ lengths (also sold separately) in bluestone and chestnut. You may find that these add-ons can provide cost-efficient finishing touches to any of your projects.
In conjunction with your fall maintenance procedures, tell customers about pavingstone cleaners and sealers, as autumn is an ideal time to clean pavers, removing unsightly remnants of summer activities. There are many products that have been specially developed for concrete pavers such as those available at Authorized Cambridge Distributors. Depending on conditions and the desired visual appearance, you can consider a joint stabilizing sealer, a wet-look sealer and stain blocker, a heavy-duty de-stainer for removing things like rust marks, and an efflorescence remover. Manufacturers’ instructions should always be followed when using these and other products of this nature.
Many other upgrades can be topics of discussion at this time of year. For example, most paver lights can be retro-fitted into existing driveways, walkways and patios while other seasonal jobs are underway. In addition, a Cambridge distributor is a single source for wall, tread, corner, column and pergola lights sold as single fixtures and kits with wire and transformer to create a totally accented lighting layout for both previously-installed projects and new installations.
After blowing off driveways, patios and walkways, consider polymeric joint sands, available in different natural colors at Cambridge distributors. Show your customer how pattern joints in a complementing color can perk up a pavement and why now is a perfect time to sweep in the tinted joint sand as you perform other semi-annual maintenance chores.
So, the slow season, as we so quickly call it, need not be slow. Be pro-active and as the year winds down you will be surprised how things wind up.