Are you prepared to make a case for metal roofing as a viable alternative to other residential roofing systems?

Every half a dozen years or so one of my ambitious relatives undertakes to engineer a family reunion. This was one of those years. It was complete with all the trappings, including long hugs, wet kisses from aunts with big hair, and more than a few tall tales. It always happens: there is a “business” conversation or two. One worthy of note was initiated by a second cousin, which began with a compliment of sorts when he alluded to seeking my “professional opinion.”

“I’m thinking of having a metal roof put on the house.”

My response was to begin by returning the compliment. I told cousin it was wise of him to consider alternatives if he was facing the job of having the roof replaced on his home. Then I launched into a series of challenges to his line of thinking — not to discourage him from pursuing his idea of a new metal roof, but to encourage him to study all the options. It may indeed be a very wise investment, but I wouldn’t want anyone to think that replacing a roof is a “no-brainer.”

When selecting the type of metal, he should consider the corrosive forces of the omnipresent salt air where he lives (less than two miles from the ocean). How about the look? What styles of metal roofing are going to fit both the style of his home, as well as the surrounding neighborhood? The conversation was cut short as so often happens when a hundred folks gather. I had to finish the job by e-mail by adding a few simple pointers, and directing him to several industry associations for links to manufacturers’ Web sites. I also gave him the names of several of my roofing contractor friends with whom I would trust my own home if needed.

This started me thinking about the many times I had been asked the same questions of homeowners over the years. “What about metal roofing?” Now I ask you residential reroof contractors the same question: “How about it?” Are you prepared to make a case for metal roofing as a viable alternative to other residential roofing systems? Are you prepared to follow through by furnishing a quality finished roof installation? If you answer no, you may be missing one of the best tricks going.

If you do not offer metal roofing, or sell potential customers away from it, you should consider a few basic points. Yes, metal roofing is still very much a “niche” product in most markets, but metal roofing is one of the segments in our business that is growing. Enduring, stylish steep roofing systems are in vogue. Baby-boomer homeowners like my cousin are more than just curious.

Residential reroof contractors set themselves apart simply by offering a line of residential metal roofing. The roofing contractor who offers metal as one of his “best” in a good-better-best selling scenario will have a better shot at an up-sell, even if the result is something other than a metal roof.

Take the time to meet with metal roofing manufacturers. They have spent millions to be in this business, and need you to carry their product “the final mile.” Find out what it takes to get involved. The next time it may be your cousin asking the questions.