One of the most effective ways that excavation contractors can increase revenue and decrease risk is by diversifying their services. Contractors with only one skillset may be at risk if their specific market declines. Additionally, clients are much more likely to hire a contractor that can complete the full scope of their needs if at all possible, over hiring several contractors to perform individualized work. Here are five ways that excavation contractors can use complementary services to diversify their skillsets and serve a wider variety of clients.
Underground Utility Installation
Installing underground utilities such as storm and sanitary sewers can be accomplished with much of the same equipment an excavation contractor would likely already possess. An excavator and a plate compactor are sufficient to cover most shallow gravity sewer installations. Pressurized sewer installation requires a few more tools and a better understanding of how pressurized pipes are mechanically joined together, but it is still a feasible additional service an excavation contractor could provide.
One sound strategy a savvy contractor could implement is to track when municipalities install new sewer mains and market services to the homeowners that now have to disconnect their existing septic systems and connect to the new sanitary sewer. Excavation contractors are uniquely well-suited to handle smaller jobs such as this with their ability to excavate and install utility lines.
Pipeline Televising and Repair
In addition to installing new underground utilities, excavation contractors can diversify their services by offering inspection and, ultimately, repair of existing infrastructure. There is a large number of pipeline inspection cameras available that excavation contractors can purchase to offer televising services to inspect the condition of existing underground utilities. By maintaining strong relationships with local municipalities and architecture/engineering firms, excavation contractors can become the go-to contractor for utility repairs by serving as a one-stop-shop for inspection and repair services.
Pipeline inspection cameras are available on the market for as little as a couple thousand dollars with more robust systems in the tens of thousands of dollars. Excavation contractors can purchase less expensive equipment or even rent equipment until a reliable market is developed and more service is required.
Contracted Material Hauling
There is enough work nationwide for material hauling that savvy contractors should never have a dump truck sitting idle. Excavation contractors can lease out their haul trucks and operators to take advantage of this swollen market and charge premium rates for their services. This constant stream of work can serve a dual purpose as a valuable safety net for slow periods and a profitable opportunity.
Furthermore, the ability to operate a haul truck is a much more common and trainable skillset than more complicated equipment skills such as excavators or graders. With a Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL) and some training on bed operations, dump truck operation is a quickly attainable skillset. Though expertise comes with experience, operators with a Class B CDL can quickly transition to this profitable role.
While material hauling is the most widely marketable option, contractors light on work may lend operators of any skillset to busier contractors in a pinch. However, it is important to protect your business from losing valued employees with non-compete clauses and strong business relationships with the contractors that are being lent operators.
Specialized Equipment for Specialized Services
There is a wide variety of niche services an excavation contractor can easily provide by simply purchasing and training on the necessary equipment. This equipment can range from standalone machines to attachments for likely current equipment.
Hydroexcavation or vacuum excavation has become an increasingly popular method for precisely excavating around utilities while reducing the risk of rupturing the utility compared to an excavator bucket. Hydroexcavation/vacuum excavation enables contractors to perform point excavation for repairs, pothole for utility depth confirmation, and several other excavations requiring a greater degree of precision. Hydroexcavators and vacuum trucks can also be utilized to pressure wash sewer manholes and pipes while simultaneously vacuuming unwanted material out of sewers.
Vibratory hammers and vibratory demolition jaws are two attachments for excavators that open up additional services for excavation contractors. Vibratory hammers are excellent for driving foundation piles into the ground for foundation systems. Vibratory demolition jaws are excellent for crushing concrete and other structures.
Excavation contractors have a bevy of opportunities to cover gaps in major projects and take advantage of business opportunities by diversifying their services. Obtaining additional skills such as utility installation and inspection will open up new avenues of work and strengthen excavation business prospects. By becoming a one-stop-shop excavation firm with a broad menu of services such as pipeline televising, underground utility repair, pinpoint hydro or vacuum excavation, foundation piling, and demolition capabilities, excavation contractors can develop a strong presence in the industry with enough work to enjoy secure and profitable business operations. Maintaining mutually beneficial business relationships with fellow contractors and municipalities further strengthens a contractor’s foothold in their market. Five ways excavation contractors can diversify their services were provided with this article, but imaginative and opportunistic contractors can develop and pursue an even wider variety of ideas to diversify their services to generate opportunities and secure their business futures.