Editor's Note: Stay in Tune with Current Events
Growing a business or even sustaining a decent level of profitability in these challenging political and economic times is a daunting task at every level in our industry, especially for roofing contractors.
At this point, most contractors have gone through their operations with a fine-toothed comb, removing every ounce of fat and focusing on the basics of running a very lean, efficient contracting business. Yet the business climate demands more. Competition is keen, business insurance costs continue to rise, and, in spite of growing unemployment, finding and keeping good people remains a problem for many contractors. Finding and getting paid for profitable work is as difficult as ever.
What else can you do to find and win profitable work?
It is still possible that you have not discovered every opportunity that exists within the industry or even within your own organization. There may be tools, equipment or systems that would give you the competitive edge you have been seeking. There may be other affordable sources of job leads that will bring the clientele you need. Keeping up with the latest innovations and running a tight ship, however, will only provide you with the price of admission into the game in 2003.
It is possible that finding profits for your roofing business will require not only that you have a clear vision of what your business must be, but also that you act on your “peripheral vision.” This means things that are not directly associated with the roofing business but are of concern to the general public — your customers.
For example, it was recently reported that the movie industry enjoyed a record sales year in 2002 with movie attendance up considerably. What could that possibly have to do with your roofing business? It may be one of the indications of how folks are feeling these days. In a world that seems foreboding and dangerous, people seek the kind of escape they enjoy by going to the movies. So it would follow that when dealing with home and building owners, successful contractors will go out of their way to promote their solution as one that will be the safe choice. We are, after all, in the business of protecting owners’ properties from the elements.
On another front: The government has changed and will continue to change tax codes to jumpstart the economy. The contractor who is well versed on tax issues when speaking with corporate clients may find an edge. You do not need to become a tax consultant, but you should be able to cite examples of how your other clients have taken advantage of changes in the tax code to get “enhanced” depreciation schedules for leasehold improvements such as reroofing. Have a talk with your accountant. Find out what kind of tools he or she can give you to speak more intelligently with your commercial clients.
Your residential customers are looking to improve their investment strategy (just like you are) and may, in times of stock-market uncertainty, want to focus more of their investment dollars on protecting or improving their property. Perhaps they are waiting on you to suggest it to them by way of your advertising initiatives. Maybe there are events that are unique to your area that will have an effect on the buying habits of your potential clients. Paying attention to these things should help to lead your business strategies.
Staying in tune with current events is always advisable for people in business. These days finding opportunities to apply in your business may be found beyond page one or the “business” section. There may be gold in the “sports” or “living” sections as well.