The industry of stone and marble restoration & maintenance has been growing steadily now for 20 years. The older polished marble floor installations (20-30 years) are in need of regular service and periodic restoration.
Needless to say, there is a tremendous amount of work out there even if you only consider servicing existing floors. New installations of stone insure an even brighter future for the stone restoration industry. Current design trends are very strong for the stone industry and it is more popular now than ever before.
Reports show that the industry has grown rapidly since the early 1990′s. Production has increased internationally by an estimated 7.3% per year, and trade has grown by 8.7%. Looking at the recent past, totals in 2003 grew 11.2% in terms of production and a whopping 16.5% in terms of trade over the previous year.
Current design trends also point to an expansion in the stone restoration industry. These newer installations, commonly have a softer finish known as a “honed finish”. This honed finish can require even more servicing than a polished finish as it will wear and soil much quicker.
There is also a wide variety of other popular stone types which will need consistent care to maintain their value. Slate, limestone, granite, sandstone, quartzite. These “cleft, textured, flamed, and sandblasted” finishes are beautiful but require very consistent cleaning and maintenance.
The book Professional Stone Restoration Secrets will make it easy for you to get up and running in this business at a fairly good pace, using the momentum of the authors many years of experience and problem solving. There will however be a commitment on your part to go forward with some equipment purchases to get yourself set up and in business.
To be the best you will have to use the best equipment and that cost can add up. However, start-up costs are still very small compared to many franchises where you likely will be earning much less (your stone restoration equipment investment will at least be 100% in tangibles).
But you should still be asking the questions, “is it worth it, can I make good money doing this?” The price of stone/marble restoration work has been historically high due to the lack of experienced contractors offering the service. Like any specialist with a unique skill, the high price is warranted due to the simple law of supply and demand.
But what exactly do we mean when we talk about “good money”. To one man $100 a day is good money, to another $500 a day is good, yet to another it takes $1000 to get him out of bed in the morning. Whatever you are making now probably delegates what you think “good money” might be.
I believe, for most people, this business will far exceed what you make on a daily basis – what you call “good money.” If it does not, you should not be interested. So let’s see.
To illustrate this point I will list some actual jobs that have been done by a restoration firm I know of (not me personally) and can confirm that I have first hand knowledge of the costs and prices.
The details are actual but as far as you the reader are concerned it is hypothetical as I cannot verify the numbers for you in writing. You can do your own due diligence to verify the market in your own area as price in certain markets do vary. I will say that many market areas are somewhat higher than what is listed below, many are not.
- - Exterior Limestone Flooring, clean / hone / impregnate $2186, 2 days labor, 1 workman, approx. $100 materials
- - Interior Limestone Flooring, clean / hone / impregnate $4060, 3.5 days labor, 1 workman, approx. $120 materials
- - Exterior Travertine Flooring, clean / polish / impregnate $2430, 1 day labor, 2 workmen, approx. $140 materials
- - Exterior Antique Finish Flooring, clean / hone / impregnate $7500, 3.5 days labor, 2 workmen, approx. $112 materials
- - Exterior Slate Flooring, clean / impregnate $2590, 2 days labor, 2 workmen, approx. $200 materials
- - Exterior Travertine Flooring, diamond sand / polish / impregnate $3500, 1.5 days labor, 2 workmen, approx. $200 materials
- - Exterior Quartzite Paving, clean / impregnate $3960, 2 days labor, 2 workmen, approx. $300 materials
- - Exterior Limestone Flooring, clean / impregnate $11800, 3 days labor, 2 workmen, approx. $270 materials
- - Exterior Limestone Flooring, monthly cleaning service $1400, 6 hrs., 2 workmen, approx. $12 materials
To me this is “good money”. If you are in a busy market area where you can be booked 20+ days a month, 12 months a year, this is fantastic money (in my opinion).
Keep in mind, the above prices are not what a janitorial service, or “crossover” carpet cleaner, or installation contractor would dare charge. These are the prices that are charged by a full-time stone restoration specialist. Never the less, most experienced property managers do know the difference as some have learned the hard way about what happens when you take the cheaper way out and hire a janitorial company.
They are becoming more educated over time and more accepting of these prices which are necessary to do it right the first time. They do seem to appreciate a specialist much more now than they did a few years ago. This is why I recommend if you are a building maintenance contractor, carpet cleaner, stone & tile installation contractor, etc., if you do decide to pursue this business, that you start up under another business name altogether.
Treat it as a separate business or else the prices you charge for your other work will drag down what you can charge per day doing stone restoration work. You want to help keep the market prices high by charging what a specialist charges. Believe me, you will have to pay your dues at some point, and at that point you will not want to be broke at the end of a hard work week.
Keep in mind, the above prices are representative of a contractor who really knows what he is doing and how to be efficient, at times achieving two steps to a desired result at one time, and having very low materials costs. The exact same techniques taught in the book. I have done my “schooling” and believe I deserve these healthy prices.
I have seen stone floors RUINED beyond repair that were done by the amateur’s. The work I do has great value considering the costs of fixing someone else’s mistake… Until recently, I have enjoyed huge profit margins because I have done most all my jobs myself using a fairly low paid helper and therefore having extremely low job costs.
I like the simplicity as well as the low overhead. I like to get out there and work hard, improve on my technique, and learn more as the years go on. It is difficult at times, trying to wear all the hats, but it has always worked out fine.
Sometimes my customers have to wait for me, but I have found that they will wait, they know if you are busy it must be for a good reason. I do know of other stone restoration contractors who do not get their hands dirty at all, meaning that they use employees to do all their work, and they are doing very well.
The problem with having too many employees (besides the obvious) is that they can run off with all your trade secrets. Most of them however will not be able to afford the best equipment, and at that point will not be able to offer the same service, and will not be a true competitor. So even that can be a non-issue but it is something to keep in mind when hiring workmen.
My point is that there is easily enough money in this business to be completely “hands off” and still bring in a good living. Considering the above (the growth in the stone industry as a whole, the current market prices for the work and the Corporate trends of out-sourceing, and so many business moving offshore) service business are one of the last ways to make a good living.
As far as a specific service business goes, It is my firm belief that it does not get any better than this and as I work in new construction or commercial and estate property maintenance, I have NEVER looked at another contractor or service provider with envy.