As you thumb through this month's issue of Roofing Contractor, you will notice the recurring theme of roofing products and systems. Not just in the advertisements, but in the columns and feature articles.

As you thumb through this month's issue ofRoofing Contractor, you will notice the recurring theme of roofing products and systems. Not just in the advertisements, but in the columns and feature articles. Surveys tell us year in and year out that "products" is one of the key reasons roofing contractors return to our magazine and Web site each month. It has been this way for a very long time.

Contrast that, however, with our magazine of 10 or 20 years ago and the thing that jumps out at you is how much growth there has been in thevarietyof roofing products and systems.

You could also look at it as a variety ofopportunitiesfor your roofing business. What are you doing in your business to take advantage of these continuously emerging products and systems?

Most roof-contracting firms operate as a "specialist" in one area or another but perform other types of work as well. Many of our readers, for instance, tell us they perform both commercial and residential roofing work. I know roofing contractors who drift back and forth between the two, depending on the availability or profitability of one kind of work or another.

What triggers you to either seek out new roofing products or systems, or even new types of work? As leader of your enterprise, this should be an essential and routine part of your job.

Expand Your Horizons

In order to discover new opportunities, you should begin with where your roofing business is today. This may involve some changes in the way you keep score. When you look at your numbers each month, are you seeing reporting that tells you the type of roofing work you are billing? Do you measure how new products or systems fare compared to what you may have planned? Which way is your business trending? Not being in tune with these key metrics will make choosing new opportunities difficult, and perhaps a bit more risky than necessary.

Speaking of choosing new opportunities, how are you learning about "the next great thing" for your enterprise? In addition to reading about products and systems inRoofing Contractorevery month (thank you very much!), or checking out new developments on the Web (, there are other ways to get in-depth information about new products.

This is the pitch for the pitch. I think it makes a lot of sense for you to set aside time each month to listen to at least one pitch for a new roofing system, product or initiative by a roofing supplier or manufacturer. As a roofing contractor, you are in demand for this type of presentation, so you have the option to set the rules for time and place. While every presentation may not turn into something your firm chooses to adopt, taking the time to sort through the many opportunities will give you a better shot at discovering that one diamond in the rough.

The unique demands of homeowners and building owners in your marketplace are the true measures of what separates the winners from the losers. Your job as a roofing contractor is to understand your client's needs and to then offer the roofing products and systems they will ultimately purchase. Listening to a presentation about roofing you may never install a waste of your time? Maybe. But if you do not take the time to listen to the losers, you take a chance on being the last among your competition to discover the winners.