Roofing construction is undoubtedly an enjoyable niche filled up daily—by both contractors and clients. Over the years, however, I’ve found some common mistakes roofers make, especially new contractors just starting out. So let’s break them down and glean some helpful tips to avoid these potholes. Trust me, you’d be saving lots of money and time with these!
No Strategic Business Plan
Now it’s one thing to pick up some courage, start a roofing business, have some big dreams and keep working ’till you get em.’ But when you set specific targets and develop an organized and step-by-step strategy to get it done, it becomes an entirely different ball game. Most roofing guys don’t pin down what they want precisely from their business.
Is it a 50-year, long-term business, or are you only focused on how to scale through the first two years? (Which many don’t!) From my experience, starting at the end (your desired destination) remains the best route. Trust me, what your company guys really want to hear is where they’re going (even if it currently looks like a mountain).
And, if possible, have an organized plan on how they’re going to get there. Really, it simplifies the whole deal. Not having this is why a lot of roofing contractors get distracted by the successes of others. When, in actuality, it never works that way because we all have different definitions of success.
Some guys might want to get the big names, be the biggest roofers in town, but are set to be all choked up in work. Others just want to be okay, make some cool cash to cater to their wants, and have some time to spend with their kids. It’s all about setting your own goals, right!
Not Niching Down
As the saying goes, “The riches are in the niches!” Unfortunately, many contractors have a hard time beating the temptation to appeal to everyone everywhere. So today they’re on commercial roofing, the next they’re doing residential, and next solar! The problem with spreading wings over different facets like this is you’re unknowingly losing money on one end as you make profits on another.
Instead of bouncing back and forth, why not be the best at one roofing niche. This way, you can work with the same type of clients using the same marketing strategy. You make a name as an expert for yourself in that aspect. Say someone needs the best gutter guy or the king of commercial roofing in your area; they know where to go to — you!
Just do this and watch your specific clients and referrals flood in! Of course, you’d need to close your eyes to some juicy offers outside of your niche or refer them out, but you’d begin to get some crazy amounts of referrals on what everyone knows you’re the chief at! Again, you don’t want clients on your website going, “errr…what did you guys say you did again?” Cuz you’ve got too many services! Pick your field and really kill it!
Not Talking to the Right Customers
Who are the specific clients you want to work for? What’s their age range? What’s their financial status? These and more are some of the specifics many contractors don’t ask. It’d do you much better when your marketing is laser-focused, as opposed to the spray and pray method of making proposals to various types of clients, some of which will never be able to afford your services.
You want to whittle down and pre-qualify those you wish to deal with. That way, you have plenty of time to spend with your best buyers, answer their questions and walk them through your process. You know what? Give this a trial for six months, and let’s see! You’d be surprised to see how tightening your demographic to a tight market will help optimize your marketing budget.
Plus, your sales guys will close on a much higher ratio. The trick is in the personal focus! Imagine 50-year-old Susan reading a Facebook ad that starts like, “Are your gutters just messy and you can’t find a way to stop the clogging…?” It hits people in that age group or demographic more personally than general advertising.
Top Line Distraction from Profitability
Today, it’s easy to find too many contractors that are all about getting more sales and leads. But is that really what they need? Or is it more profit? Because for me, I’d instead work less, make fewer sales, but make more money. Even if this costs specifying my buyers and going after them with niched ads, taking them through my business process, and letting them see what makes us stand out.
Value is the way of profitability! And roofing isn’t a volume-sensitive business like carpet or food selling! It’s a margin-sensitive one. So you’d find if you try growing your business fast and settle for B and C players, your margin starts slipping. So what do you think about a 40% gross profit with less work than one that needs breaking your sweat daily over a 20% gross profit with more work? I think I prefer the former.
No Defined Process
Every successful business needs at least a simple checklist to guide you through the correct process for sales, production, or other activities you do in your company. Something which only a few roofers take seriously. Take sales, for example, do you have:
- A prepared phone call scripted guide for your customer care personnel.
- A project discovery sheet — A list of project questions you ask your clients beforehand to pre-qualify them to see if they fit into your ideal prospect range.
- A pre-meeting package you also send ahead of your meeting with the client to confirm the appointment. I’m talking about something that includes the needed background info on your company and the estimator you’d be sending for the roof inspection.
- After the meeting, providing customers with a way back to your website to read up more about you and ask their questions.
With all these in place, trust me when I say you might have just tied down that sale! You really don’t need arguing back and forth about whether you’re right to charge an amount or how long you’ve been in business. You really don’t! Just command their respect and awe by showing them your sales or production process.
And besides, this is the way to a robust and profitable business foundation. That should be all, right? But because you read up to this point, you deserve the game-changing takeaway bonus!
Charge your Worth
For some ambiguous reason, roofing contractors don’t charge enough money for their work! Of course, you can’t just inflate prices and expect a positive response. But you can charge more when you let your clients know why you’re different and worth the extra money you charge.
When you show them your Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), ask them relevant questions, and provide valuable solutions to their problems, they see you as an expert. They won’t mind paying you a higher 10%. If you ask, of course. You need to charge enough money you can boldly call profitable.
This is so you can hire the best guys for your team, market effectively, and still have sufficient cash flow to compensate for your hard work. A profitable business sells on a set pre-planned process. With your key players in place — those that understand their job and you can hold accountable, build your team so you can step back sometimes to relax and restrategize. Because I’m sure, you’d need it sometime!
Really, it may seem strange running your roofing business on a fixed schedule and pruning off your former clients for narrowed-down customer demography and niche. But you’d sure enjoy escaping the 12-hour/day “busy-ness” most contractors claim and the benefits of making higher profits.
What’s more? You’d have more time to spend with your family and cut down the stress of trying to “keep up with business.” You’d practically be living the life a roofing contractor was meant to live!