HOW TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS IN THE SPRAY FOAM INDUSTRY
BY TIFFINY FLAIM
the ever-increasing demand for spray foam in both commercial and residential construction is a good sign for those of us in the industry. Initially invented by Otto Bayer in 1937, polyurethane was further developed in the 1940s for a variety of applications, from shoe soles to airplanes. In 1979, builders began using it and it has now evolved into the preferred choice for increased insulation and minimized air infiltration.
In 2005, when I launched my company, BIOFOAM, it was an exciting time. The industry was booming, and I was thrilled about the possibilities for business growth and success. Experience is always the best teacher and so while I’d been in the construction industry for two years at that time, and I knew I still had much to learn about this new endeavor.
Looking back over the past 13 years, I recognize personal experiences have taught me important things about this business.
Five Tips for Success in The Spray Foam Industry:
1. Always Have a Backup Plan
It may seem obvious, but in this business it’s especially true. No matter how much you plan, something will go wrong. Let’s say you show up at a job site with your best crew. Your equipment is running, chemicals are warm and everything is on schedule…but there’s water dripping and the wall is wet. We all know water is no friend of spray foam. What do you do?
"It’s not skepticism to anticipate challenges and come up with a backup plan. It’s reality and it is critical to your success in this business."
It’s not skepticism to anticipate challenges and come up with a backup plan. It’s reality, and it is critical to your success in this business.
2. The Right Tools Ensure the Job is Done Right
Like many in this trade, you probably have high standards to produce quality work. But if you don’t send out your employees with the proper tools to get the job done right, they’re not likely to live up to those standards. While it might seem like a cost savings for you to require that your employees buy all their own tools, inferior tools will never produce superior work. In the end, it will cost your business as well as your reputation.
3. Make Sure Your Proposal Matches Your Contract
If you are a subcontractor signing a General Contractor’s agreement, make certain your scope of work is clearly defined. Most contract language states per plans and specs. If there are not enough details, ask for written clarification from the architect. Your proposal is not a contract document, unless you’ve been allowed to add it as an Exhibit.
That’s why it’s critical to make sure when you receive a statement of work from a contractor, it matches your proposal exactly.
4. You Can Never Be Too Specific
General statements, assumptions and vague instructions are at the core of jobs gone wrong.
For example, when you instruct an employee to, "Mask the room," their idea of what that means may be completely different than yours based on your individual experiences.
Instead, be specific. "Mask the windows. Mask the floor. Mask any finished areas that have been completed." Once again, by setting up your employee for success, you set up your business for success as well.
5. Everything is Negotiable
Negotiations are just a part of this business. Rather than digging in your heels, think of negotiating as a win/win for everyone.
We all know that no other workers can be within 40 feet during the spray foam installation process. Rather than debate with other crews about work areas and site safety, we will often negotiate to work second shift when no one else is around. In this way, we maintain the project schedule and keep everyone safe at the same time.
Building a business hasn’t always been easy, but my hope is that the lessons I’ve learned in the process can help those of you who might be new to the industry.
Here’s to your success!
Tiffiny Flaim, BIOFOAM SPFA President