Based on my experience, there are generally five best practices that an owner requires from a roofing contractor during the course of the project. Consistency in performing these elements will help your company obtain repeat business.
ResponseRoofing contractors have been stereotyped as the most unresponsive of all the building trades. An old cartoon depicted a wife looking at a chart entitled "The Roofers Timeline" and the caption had the wife informing her husband that "The roofer said he would be here tomorrow, which according to the chart means he will be here next month." The industry has evolved in recent times and pride and competition have made most contractors more responsive to the needs of building owners.
Response has also increased because more building owners demand it. Some owners will actually begin gauging a contractor's response time during the bidding process. Points of observation include how long it took for the contractor to respond to the bid request, if they performed the site inspection when they said they would and if the bid was delivered on time.
Once the contract is signed response time is even more critical. The owner expects prompt attention at every phase of the project. After all, they are making a considerable investment in your company and in most cases it is the largest capital building expense that they will incur. Contractors can be successful in this area if they can effectively control the project schedule. One of the most critical errors contractors make is in setting a schedule they cannot adhere too. The desire to please often backfires when the schedule is not met and it turns the owner against the contractor.
The best practice in this scenario is to provide the owner with a schedule that takes into account your company's backlog of work; material delivery delays and any weather constraints that may impede project initiation. It is far better to start a project before your scheduled date than weeks after your initially promised date.
Another important consideration is project duration. Project delays are inevitable and unforeseen conditions can extend a project beyond its initially anticipated completion date. The owner should be informed of these occurrences. The delay with most projects is in finishing the punch-list items and incidentals once the production crew has left the site. The best practice in this case is to have a dedicated crew to complete these items. You will receive final payment sooner and satisfy the owner, which could set your company up for future work.
The most important response factor is to act when there is a problem. It seems problems arise all too often in this industry. The successful contractors are the ones that deal with these issues immediately. Most of the litigation that I have observed has occurred when one party neglected to respond to a problem. As time passed the problem remained at the same level, but the affected party's perception of the problem increased turning it into an explosive situation.
The best practice for this situation is to meet with the owner immediately after the problem arises. Even if you cannot resolve the problem at that time, the immediate response will signal to the owner that you care about the issue and will make every attempt to resolve it.
CommunicationCommunication is the most critical element to success on a project. Open lines of communication provide the opportunity to divert problems before they magnify and resolve the problems without the aid of a lawyer, judge and jury.
The best practice is to communicate with the owner at every phase of the project. Contact them on a weekly basis during the project and provide updates on the schedule. It may also be helpful to have your job foreman meet the owner or owner's representative on a daily basis to discuss work conditions and indicate where work will be completed that day or the following day.