Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Robin Raymer, also known as the “Plaster Man.” I’ve been working on homes for about 20 years now and during that time I’ve met and worked hand in hand with many roofing contractors. In fact, quite a bit of my work has been referred to me by roofing contractors, which is why I’m writing.
Chocolate and Peanut ButterDo you remember the old television commercials with one person eating chocolate and another eating peanut butter? It always turned out the same at the end: They somehow got together and the end result — chocolate with peanut butter — turned out to be a much better, winning combination. Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s the conclusion I’ve come up with as far as roofing and plaster repair are concerned.
Let me tell you why I’m so convinced this is the case.
Money on the TableA few years back I went to a marketing seminar. It was there I met and listened to a guy named Dan Kennedy. He made a very powerful point that I have never forgotten. It was this: “Never leave money on the table.”
He went on to explain what this meant. He said that everyone one of us “sells” something — either goods or some type of service. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that we do not sell enough of what we have or we fail to perform additional services that not only would prove helpful and beneficial to the homeowner, but would also mean more money in our pocket. This is the very reason I’m writing this article. I believe you’re leaving behind a lot of money on the table at almost every job you work on. “Gold under the shingles” is another way of putting it.
This fact hit me like lightning one day when I was working on a house right next door to where a group of roofers was taking off shingles and getting ready to put new ones on. This happened last winter and on this particular day it was very cold out. One of the guys said, “I sure wish I could be working inside today!”
So I started thinking, and I asked myself — why not? Why couldn’t that guy be here inside doing this work? Could this be “gold under the shingles” — work that’s just a few feet down under the roof (repairs on the walls and ceilings) that could be added on to the services he could provide? The more I thought about it, the more it was like that chocolate and peanut butter coming together!
It’s a sad fact that there just aren’t that many plasterers around anymore. The short history lesson on this trade is that those who knew it were very secretive about it. Many, driven by greed, would not pass on the knowledge because, as they reasoned, “If I teach someone else, they’ll take my job!” Hard to believe, but true. The result has been that there have not been a lot of individuals picking it up. And there are even fewer individuals who know how to do repair work, where the real money is! It’s not that this trade is impossible to learn; it’s mainly the lack of training and sharing of the secrets that have led to its decline.
My main focus for several years has been teaching tapers, finishers, painters and even some plasterers. Most of these individuals and contractors are in a similar field, and plaster repair seemed to me the perfect fit for them. I’ve been writing, speaking and filming “how-to” videos about plaster repair, trying to revive what many call the “dying art.” I have even gotten the help of Marshalltown Trowel Company and Zipwall Inc., companies that are partially sponsoring my Restoration Tour to get the word out. The results have been encouraging.
My goal is to help as many individuals as possible get in on this great way of making a living, whether that’s full time or as an “add on” to what they already do. That’s why I’m going to outline some of the reasons I believe you should at least consider adding this repair work on to what you offer. This way you can decide for yourself if this is something you want to get into or not.
The BenefitsFirst, you the roofer are in one of the best positions to get this type of work. You’re usually the person the homeowners call first when they finally reach the breaking point of having water dripping through their ceilings and down their walls. They want the leaks stopped and they want them stopped now!
This first point is a huge one. The reason is quite simple: You are in a position to survey the damage first. This means you are in a position to offer the first solution. I’ve included a few pictures for our discussion. Notice picture 1. Here is a typical water damaged ceiling. Ugly, but it really won’t take much to put this one back into shape. Picture 2 shows a leak that’s happened over time and will need a little more work. But again, if you’re there first on the scene looking at the outside damage, you’re in a super spot to take a look at what’s happened inside.
Another point. You’re already dealing with the homeowner and/or insurance company. You’ve established a relationship with them; they’re comfortable with you and adding the bid in for the inside work is just a few more lines on the bid sheet.
This brings us to another key issue. People are busy — homeowners, claim adjusters, insurance agents — so if you can make their life a little easier by taking care of these repairs as well, you’re going to be looked on as a hero.
I can tell you that many times the roofers and homeowners, as well as insurance agents and adjusters have searched high and low to find a plasterer to do the repairs. Through my column in Walls & Ceilings magazine, I receive letters and e-mails from all over the country from people who are searching for someone to do the repair work that they have been waiting months or even over a year or two to have done. To me we’re talking about a “one-two punch.” You fix the roof and then you complete the job by fixing the damage that was done inside. It’s a complete circle, the whole enchilada.
It’s especially good if you do repair work to roofs. You know what I mean, the roofs that have those nagging problems that no one can seem to fix — leaks around the chimney area, skylights, etc. This way, you come in and troubleshoot the roof, and without it being a stretch in their minds, you also troubleshoot the damage inside the home. It’s a winning combination all the way.
Add to this the fact that repair work to plaster is very lucrative. I am training people who are now making $750 per day or more. The cost of materials is very low and the pricing and profits are very high. A perfect combination again!
Another interesting fact is that there aren’t a lot of tools needed to do this work. Expensive equipment isn’t required. All your work is inside, and with the right planning, you can schedule the outside roofing work during the months you want when weather is good, and schedule the inside work when the weather is not so good.
There’s one more thing that I’m going to mention because it’s brought up to me all the time. It goes something like this: “You can’t take an outside guy (or gal) and bring them inside. They’ll be like a bull in a china shop.” Well folks, you’re going to have to answer that one. I think the transition from outside work to inside can be done, and it can be done well. Those who have this negative attitude are the same ones who are sore at me for revealing the “trade secrets” of plaster.
What’s interesting about writing an article like this is that sometimes you light a fire that you think is going to really take off and do well. And at times it does. At other times it simply fizzles and you go on to the next project. I’ve always had great respect and admiration for the guys and gals who get up on roofs and hang tough through all types of weather. In my mind there is no better group I’d like to work with to help catch an inside break once in a while and to be paid well for doing it. My hope is that you can see that I am convinced you are in the best position to cash in on this opportunity. It’s by no means a get-rich-quick scheme; it’s just a way to use your time in the most profitable way.