Noticed something on a recent morning jog that I never noticed before. The objects of my attention were two homes about a block apart. Both homes look good, but one has a feature that sets it apart from the other -reallysets it apart.

Rick Damato


Noticed something on a recent morning jog that I never noticed before. Maybe it is because it’s usually dark when I pass this location, and maybe I just have not been paying attention. The objects of my attention were two homes about a block apart.

Both of these fine homes are two-story brick sided structures with an interesting roofline complete with a decent level of detailing and earth-toned architectural shingles. Each home is situated relatively close to the street on a good-sized lot, so the term “curb appeal” applies to all of the front and most of two sides.

Both homes look good, but one has a feature that sets it apart from the other - reallysets it apart. Each home has a side-entry, double-car garage. One features a covered entry over the garage door and the other is, well, plain. This particular covered entry features a slight curve clad with standing seam copper, which works very well with the light brown brick. Something less than a square of additional roofing on this home, but it (along with a couple of other nice design features) makes it look so much better than the other as to almost defy comparison.

So I got to thinking (what else do you do when you are running around that early in the morning), what process led the homeowner to choose such an appointment? My guess, and it was just a guess, was that it was the addition of a design professional’s touch that made the difference.

So what does this have to do with your roofing business? When it comes to retrofit roofing, the kind that is sloped, be it commercial or residential, roofing contractors often serve as the design professional. As a roofing contractor, you see a lot of roofs and can make a quality recommendation that would be considered “safe,” at least in terms of fitting into the surrounding community, living up to local codes, and all the other considerations of proper attachment, ventilation, etc. But how many roofing contractors have the training, background and inclination to be a great exterior designer?

Differentiate Yourself

In a marketplace with fewer reroofs to fight over, it would seem a good idea to do whatever it takes to set yourself apart from your competition, and also to make the very most of every job you are fortunate enough to land.

If you have the capacity to build design elements such as dormers or covered entries or standing-seam metal accents, why not consider adding a professional exterior designer to your product mix? Chances are there is a design professional in your town who would jump at the chance to work with you to add a little “spark” to your retrofit roofing business by helping your clients choose products, color schemes, and even other exterior architectural features.

Wouldn’t that cost a lot of money and wouldn’t you lose some control of the buying process? You need to let your client decide if it would cost too much money. If you are going to charge me $15,000 to put a new roof on my house, an extra grand is not going to ruin my day - especially if it adds some real curb appeal value to my house.

This may be way too far-fetched for many contractors to attempt. Bottom line: You must continuously seek ways of setting your roofing business apart from the rest. You must continuously seek ways of increasing the size and scope of your transactions if you hope to continue growing your business.