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How to start a paving business

Paving installation is a great profession to be in. But launching your own paving business could be your big next step towards financial freedom.

Paving installers work across a range of great projects – from helping homeowners create their dream gardens to playing a key part in local construction projects. Skilled, self-employed pavers are also often in high demand, so there’s no better time to consider starting your own business.

This guide on how to start a paving business will cover all you’ll need to know to make the most of your expertise and take that next step in your career.

What are the qualifications you’ll need?

As a paver, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of the field and the ability to deliver a high-quality service. Qualifications can help establish and formally recognise your credentials as a competent paver. These include:

  • Pavement construction intermediate apprenticeship
  • Level 2 Diploma in paving construction
  • Level 3 Diploma in hard landscaping

These qualifications can also help you to start a driveway contracting business, and obviously go hand-in-hand with starting a landscape business too, so make sure you don’t limit the services your business can offer.

The best organisations to sign up to

To become a contractor, you’ll need a strong working knowledge and understanding of the latest paving methods. You may already have some experience working for another business but accredited membership is a great way to demonstrate competency.

With that in mind, the following professional bodies can formally recognise your proficiency as a skilled paver:

Getting hired on big projects

Construction sites can provide you with a valuable source of business. However, contractors will expect you to have completed the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) before employing your services. It’s really important to hold a CSCS card so you can make the most of these opportunities.

How to grow a paving business

The bonus skills that will help

Success as a self-employed paver won’t just rely on formal qualifications and your paving experience. You’ll also need other more general skills, including:

  • Practical thinking
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management
  • Communication skills
  • Physical fitness
  • Ability to lead and manage
  • Basic numeracy

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How to get your paving business up and running

Registering your business

Before anything else, you’ll have to adhere to the legalities of starting your own business by registering it. As part of this process, you’ll need to decide whether to run your business as a limited company or a sole trader.

There are important differences between the two. Becoming a sole trader comes with fewer expenses and less admin. However, becoming a limited company offers you greater financial protection.

What you decide should depend on how you want to run your company.

Planning effectively

Creating a business plan first is really valuable when starting out. This should include what services your business will offer and who your target market will be. The services you provide to clients should be those you are most confident in delivering.

Your business plan should also determine your long-term goals. This will help your start-up stay on the right track and keep you motivated to grow.

You can download our free business plan template below.

Understanding the market

Market research can be an effective tool to help adapt your business model and ensure it thrives. For example, you may choose to focus on transforming people’s gardens or you might be interested in working on larger industrial projects. Knowing what’s out there already will help you make sure you’re filling a gap in the market.

Building your team

To guarantee that jobs are finished swiftly and efficiently, it’s often advisable that paving installers work as part of a team, especially for larger projects.

Whether you’re looking for a highly experienced professional, or a labourer to lighten your load, an extra pair of hands can be really beneficial and will help grow your operation. However, it’s important to hire someone who you’ll work well with and will be a good ambassador for your business.

Why not hire an apprentice? Hiring an apprentice can be truly rewarding. Have a read of our guide to explore the different options.

Keeping an eye on your finances

When starting your business, it’s vital that you stay in control of your cash flow. Although your rates must be competitive, you’ll also need to ensure they cover the material, labour and any other business costs. Our dedicated guide has more information on paving installation rates.

Offering a great service

As you’d expect, supplying excellent paving is crucial in order to leave your customers feeling satisfied. To establish a reputation as an outstanding local tradesperson, you’ll need to go that extra mile. So make sure you consider the following questions before starting a job:

  • Do you have a formal written contract in place covering the obligations of both parties?
  • Do you have an agreed deadline? Is it feasible? Will you need extra help to hit it?
  • Does your company look professional when on-site? Will you need brand uniforms or overalls?
  • Are your colleagues upstanding representatives for your brand? Do they offer exceptional service?
  • Are you following health and safety guidance?
  • Do you need to consider the impact of noise on neighbours or those living nearby while you’re working?

Growing a paving business

What are the tools you’ll need?

An arsenal of tools capable of tackling any job is crucial when starting your own business.

For example:

  • Folding squares
  • Levelling systems
  • Wire pegs

These will be needed for almost every job. However, the equipment you use will also depend on the types of paving you offer and the scale of the projects you take on.

The importance of buying high-quality tools cannot be understated. Not only will they ensure your work is to the highest of standards, but they will make your life on the job much easier. You can always buy second-hand to keep your initial outgoings low.

Want to save money on your toolkit?

Checkatrade members receive exclusive discounts on tools.

Learn more

How to grow your paving business

Once you’ve started your paving business and you’re up and running, it’s now time to look at how you can grow your paving business.

Building a bigger customer base and racking up more paving jobs will take a bit of time and effort. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Here are our top tips for growing a paving business:

1. Grow your paving team

Although it might seem daunting at first, building a bigger team can be one of the greatest steps for growing your paving business.

Here’s what to focus on when recruiting new team members for your paving business:

  • Hire good people by carrying out thorough interviews and consider giving them a trial to see their skills in action
  • Consider starting with subcontractors if you don’t think you’re ready for full-time employees
  • Look into hiring an apprentice you can train up if you can’t find the right experienced paving experts for your team

2. Focus more on certain types of paving work

The benefit of specialising in specific types of paving jobs is that you can become the local go-to paving business for those services.

Here are some ways you can tap into niche paving work in your area:

  • Identify paving needs in your area and see if there are gaps you can fill
  • Invest in specialist equipment so you have the right tools to do the job properly
  • Learn new specialist paving skills by signing up to local training courses
  • Build a local network with people who might need your chosen type of paving work

3. Cover a larger service area

One of the simplest ways to grow your paving business and reach more potential customers is to cover a larger area:

  • Decide the area you want to cover and identify specific places to expand into
  • Let your customers know you’re expanding so they know the area you now cover
  • Update your online advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, etc) to make sure they’re set to cover your new service area
  • Always consider the time and cost of travelling further to make sure it’s worth doing jobs further afield

4. Increase the number of jobs you win

If you’re happy with the services you offer and the area you cover, you might want to look at how you generate leads or how you can turn more leads into jobs.

If that’s the case for your paving business, here are a few guides you might find useful:

Marketing for a paving business to grow

How to market your paving business

There’s no doubt that marketing is going to play a key part in finding customers and turning leads into real jobs.

Here are some of our top marketing tips for growing a paving company.

1. Create an online presence for your paving business

Signing up to Checkatrade is one of the easiest ways to get your paving business discovered by millions of people online looking for local tradespeople. It’s also the ideal place to showcase your work, business credentials, and customer testimonials.

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Having a Checkatrade profile can really boost your reputation as a local business. In fact, 8 out of 10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade, compared to one which isn’t*.

2. Get active on social media

Generate more paving leads by posting regularly on social media and using the right type of content, so customers will be able to see the type of paving services you offer.

  • Post before and after photos of your paving work
  • Feature posts showing you (and your team) working
  • Upload positive client reviews talking about the quality of your work
  • Share the latest industry news that might be interesting to your customers

3. Keep your website updated

Your company website is your online business card. It’s the first impression that most potential new customers will have of your paving company. So, make sure you check that:

  • All information on your website is accurate and up-to-date
  • All buttons and links work
  • Your website looks good on a phone screen (as well as an on a computer screen)
  • Everything is easy to understand with correct spelling and grammar

4. Ask for customer reviews

Positive customer reviews and testimonials are a brilliant way to show new potential clients that your paving business is one that they can rely on.

Don’t be shy to ask your existing customers to leave you reviews on Checkatrade, Google and other third-party review sites.

What are the best types of advertising for local paving businesses?

There are a number of ways you can use advertising to drum up more paving work. Here are some of the best places to advertise a paving business:

  1. Pay per click (PPC) advertising – use PPC ads to generate quality paving leads using the results pages in Google
  2. Register on Google My Business – start showing up in local search results for customers looking for paving services in your area
  3. Print marketing – Traditional print marketing can still be an effective way of getting more customers to know about your business

Get more customers as a paving business by using our free marketing guide

Read our free guide all about marketing for trade businesses – it’s for founders like you!

FAQs

How profitable could your paving company become?

This will depend on the size of jobs you take on, where they’re located and the types of services you offer. That said, due to the growing demand for paving contractors in the UK, the market is very lucrative and paving is generally a well-paid trade.

How much money does a paver make?

The average salary for a paving installer in the UK is £31,000. However, self-employed pavers will be able to set their own rates and therefore may be able to earn more. Consider the industry average if you do need to hire experienced staff.

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*Source: Deep Blue Thinking 2021 Trade Perception Survey

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