Editor's Note: The Halfway Point
This year has produced some interesting challenges for roofing contractors. At a time when the nation's economy is growing and most trends in the construction industry point up, it is still conceivable for a roofing contractor to plow through the year working daylight to dusk and end up with little or nothing to show for it.
Having reached the midway point of 2005 you have before you the opportunity to evaluate your position and make the changes necessary to ensure that this year is a winner. Consider the things that are going right and the things that are going wrong in your business, as well as what could come along in the second half to bite you in the butt.
For instance, the second half of last year saw the loss of innocence with polyiso. Until 2004 we took its "always available" nature and steady price structure for granted. The good news for roofing contractors is that the price and availability of polyiso has stabilized somewhat. However, according to Jared Blum, president of the Polyiso Manufacturers Association (PIMA), "It isn't going to go back to the way it was." You are well advised to keep an eye on this situation even as stability returns to the market.
Metal also seems to have moved into a period of peace between the forces of supply and demand. This has yielded a pricing structure that is somewhat stable. At least for now. No predictions here, just suggest you keep an eye on supply and make adjustments now to carry you through the balance of the year.
The price and supply of asphalt roofing continues to be affected by the "perfect storm" of the continued housing boom, the devastating hurricane season of 2004 and rising petroleum prices. If this summer were to produce widespread hailstorms or even one major hurricane hitting a populated area, the impact could be severe and immediate in terms of asphalt roofing supply. Make plans now to make adjustments on a moment's notice.
How about labor? How is your plan for the year working so far? How effective have your recruiting initiatives been? Are you following through with planned investments in tools and training for your workforce? If so, are you reaping the rewards for your efforts? What adjustments can you make to get back on track?
Changes in insurance rates and availability can make or break your year. How are you doing in terms of prevention? What adjustments can you make to your risk management plan to assure a successful second half?
How is that sales and marketing scheme working out? What is your close ratio and what improvements can you make? Are your advertising initiatives producing the leads you will need to complete the balance of the year? Are they producing the kind of work that your firm is suited for, or should you target a different clientele?
Let us not forget cash. You will not have a second half of 2005 without it. What can you do to improve on receivables and how do you plan to address unique cash needs should opportunities present themselves?
Take a day. Invest one day away from the grind to evaluate and adjust your plans for the balance of the year. If you emerge with two or three significant adjustments, and follow through with them, I predict you will realize tangible and significant results by the time you head into 2006.