It's 5:30am. Most people are still sound asleep. If you are the go-getter type you might be begrudgingly brewing your coffee in the dark. Frank Guzman is mixing his second ton of concrete for the day. Frank is no stranger to early mornings like this. He has been pouring concrete in Dallas since 1995 and in late 2015 decided it was time to take the reigns of his own operation and started Concrete King. Having worked mostly on large commercial projects for years, Frank was looking to build a business that focused on people.
"The commercial jobs paid more, but we would do two or three a year and just interact with corporate types. Now that we focus on residential concrete we get to see a project through from start finish and really be a part of the customer's experience. It's a lot more fun."
Concrete or Asphalt?
We asked Frank why he was focusing mainly on concrete driveways instead of some of the alternatives.
"It really comes down to the market. We work in Dallas and concrete is more popular in urban areas."
We did some research which involved driving to a Chic-Fil-A and noticed the driveways in the neighborhoods on the way. Through rigorous scientific observation we noticed that, yes, most driveways in Dallas are concrete.
"I wanted to focus my business on what my customers wanted and get really good at that one thing."
That makes total sense and we thought it was such a great move we wanted to get to know Frank and Concrete King a little better in this edition of the Dallas Metro Review.
Why are concrete driveways more popular in urban areas?
It really all comes down to cost. It's cheaper to get the materials for asphalt out in the country. Then there's durability. On average you're going to see more traffic in urban areas and concrete is more durable to stand up to that traffic. Asphalt is softer.
Why did you want to start your own business?
Like a lot of entrepreneurs I had reached a point working for somebody else where I was bringing more value to the table than my employer was willing to pay. I had years of experience planning and managing projects, purchasing, inventory, hiring and firing and that was after almost a decade of being a concrete laborer. I figured it would be easy to take those skills and start working on the kind of projects that I wanted. Small, residential jobs that we can complete in a few days to a week. The transition hasn't been as easy as I thought but it has been worth it.
What was the hardest thing you went through when you got started?
That's a great question. There were a ton of challenges but most of them were challenges that you would expect like cash flow, customer acquisition. Those challenges were expected, we prepared for them so it wasn't that bad. What I didn't see coming was how proactive I had to be with the local governments to get permits, inspections, or utility lines marked. My crew can get a job done extremely quickly with outstanding quality but we can only go as fast as the city we are working in will let us go with their schedule.
If someone had to pick between you and 3 other concrete companies why would they pick you?
I have been involved in the concrete business for 25 years. I know a lot of really skilled guys working in Dallas. I don't want to say anything bad about them and most of the people who are out there ripping people off aren't in business anymore. When somebody is looking to get concrete work done the best question to ask your contractor is what they specialize in. Concrete Kings specializes in stamped concrete driveways in Dallas. Some concrete contractors specialize in foundations or pool patios. I think whatever type of project you need done you should hire a company who mainly does that type of project.
How has the internet played a role in the growth of Concrete King?
Huge. It's almost as big apart of our success as the trucks and the tools. Without a great online presence it's impossible for a customer to find you. Like most old school contractors we relied on word of mouth for a long time but at a certain point that isn't enough business to really grow. Being online and getting that aspect of our business really performing the way it should has been one of the best investments I've made as a businessman.
We appreciate Frank taking a few of his valuable minutes to talk to us. If you are in Dallas and need concrete work done you can reach Concrete King at 214-251-4268 or check out their website and fill out the form to have them contact you at www.dfwconcretecontractor.com
Arlington Mobile Car Detailing is a mobile car detailing service operating out of Arlington, Texas. Customers call from all over the DFW area to have their car or trucks cleaned at their home, office, or while they're at the gym.
Starting with just one truck and a power washer, Arlington Mobile Car Detailing has expanded to include staff and a fully equipped "detail shop on wheels".
We had a chance to sit down with the owner of AMCD to get the full story behind their success, how business is changing going into 2020 and where the auto care industry is going.
The detailing business, started in late 2015, has been run by Chaz and his wife out of a small shop in North Arlington.
What was it that made you want to start the business?
Like a lot of businesses, mine was started out of a need that I had myself. Being a car enthusiast myself I was spending hundreds of dollars every couple months on various restoration services like paint correction and ceramic coatings. I thought to myself "Self, you could do this." Earlier in my life one of my first jobs was detailing cars for a dealership before and after classes. I learned a lot about the process but didn't know a ton about the business. Armed with some Youtube videos and mail-order supplies, I took a real interest in taking car of my own vehicles. The more that I learned about this, cleaner and that detergent the more I got into it and it turned into a hobby. The decision to turn the hobby into a business came to my wife and I when we were at the grocery store and there was some kind of car event happening at a drive-in restaurant across the street and group of attendees were walking past our car and asked where we would be displaying our car at the event. They were surprised to learn that we were not going to display our car. After that we sat down to look at our finances and see what it would take to "take this show in the road."
What was the hardest thing you went through when opening?
I think our biggest struggle was the same struggle that every new business has: getting customers. Getting our first customer was 100% the hardest part. My business card was my car but we didn't have anything set up to keep a steady stream of customers coming our way. We tried a bunch of stuff like starting a facebook page, yelp page and joining the Chamber of Commerce but there wasn't anything about creating those things that was compelling anyone to take a chance on the new guys in town.
If you had to start over from day 1 what would you do differently?
That's easy! I would first look for an established book of business to buy. If that wasn't an option I would set up a website and partner with other businesses in the auto industry to offer my services as a benefit to using theirs. Creating a referral network that makes it very easy for new clients to find me has been the best thing for our business.
What's the hardest part about having a business in 2019?
In today's world you can't just be good at "your thing". You have to be a master on the digital side of your business; or hire someone who is. You could be the greatest frog trainer of all time but if you don't have a great website, social media in place, ads, a way to collect and store your customer's information then you might as well not even train frogs. Nobody will ever know who you are.
Where do you see your business in the next year?
We have been working so hard to establish a reputation of high quality. It is scary to trust your brand to someone that isn't you. Right now I am focusing on training technicians and saving to reinvest into more trucks and equipment because at this point I am the lid on my business. I want to see AMCD be able to serve dozens of customers everyday and I just can't so that by myself. Ultimately my goal is to be able to actually "own' my business not just own my job.
What are your most popular services?
It's right there in the name: mobile car detailing. You can get your car detailed anywhere. That's not news. Our real product is convenience. Being able to fill out an online form or make a quick call and have us come out to perform your detailing service while you're at work, or at the gym, at the movies, wherever is what it's all about.
Most of the calls we get are for steam cleaning or shampooing back seats and floor boards of cars that have been the victim of kids and their sticky snacks. As far as out actual services go the paint correction side of AMCD has really taken off in the last year. For the first few years we would detail a car but there would still be scratches and marks in the paint and our customers would ask us if we could fix those. After having said we could not and then referring them to someone else who did, we figured it would make more sense to add paint correction services in Arlington.
Thank you to Chaz and Arlington Mobile Car Detailing for sharing their story with Dallas Metro Review. If you live anywhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and need an interior or exterior detail service, upholstery steaming, shampoo or paint correction, you can reach them here:
Arlington Mobile Car Detailing
For other great local Dallas service providers check out the Dallas Metro Review local coupon page for awesome deals to places we love! (and hope you'll love too)