No matter where you’re at in the country, there is going to come a time when you’ll face some severe weather in your community. It might be a heavy snowfall that weighs down weak roofs and creates some damaging ice dams. You might face the tornado season across the Midwest when houses and roofs are thrown around by the force of nature. Then, of course there are the hurricane regions that are constantly battling and rebuilding from the power of those storms.
Since it’s going to happen eventually in your area, how do you prepare your company for a storm and how do you react when severe weather hits your community? With the tornado season starting and hurricane season right around the corner, it may be time to get your company ready.
Our company is in the Seattle area, where we’re finally recovering from most of the serious weather that hit us at the tail end of last year. In our area, we deal mainly with windstorms, and in December we were hit with one with the strength that we see every 10 years or so. But, this is Seattle, so it rains a lot. In November, we were drenched with over 15 inches of rain, which was a record even for Seattle.
Needless to say, with all of that activity, our company was running on all cylinders after the windstorm blew through. In the days after the storm, we were getting over 100 calls a day.
Lessons LearnedIt’s been a busy few months, but things are returning to normal. However, it was a valuable learning experience for our company for dealing with storms and responding in the best way. Here are a few lessons that we came away with that might help you get ready for your community’s next storm.
1. Beat the crowds. After a storm, homeowners will all be calling contractors for help, and all of those contractors are going to be calling the same suppliers for supplies. If you’re going to have the material that you need to serve the homeowners calling you, you’d better beat the crowd. Not only are shingles and materials going to go fast, but one of the hottest selling items will be tarps. Make sure you have enough tarps to keep people dry while you work through the calls. Be there first to load up on what you need to keep your clients dry.
2. Call for help. The call volume is going to be high, and you’ll want to capture as many of those phone calls as you can. Make sure that you have someone answering the phone live at all times so that homeowners can get through for help. During this last storm, we made sure that we had access to a good answering service to help us out, but you may want to even hire some temporary workers to help answer some of the calls. Just be sure that whoever you have on the phone knows your script and knows how your company does business.
3. Get geographic. With the volume of work that comes in, we found it was easier to break up our entire service area into zones. A specific team from our office would then be assigned to each zone with all of the supplies they might need on their truck to get through that day. With a team in each zone, we’re able to respond quicker to additional calls that come in from that zone, and with a truck in the same area each day, many homeowners will simply come over and ask for help on the spot.
4. Make plastic possible. Even in stormy weather, you’ll need to make sure that you’re bringing in the revenue you need to keep your company running. Some roofers struggle with this when it comes to making repairs. In fact, you may not even accept repairs because you’re worried about getting paid for them. For that reason, make sure that paying with credit cards is a possibility for your clients. Just after a storm, with water leaking in their roof, a homeowner doesn’t want to worry about how they are going to pay for a repair. They want their home secured, and providing credit cards as an option allows them to get the repair done today and worry about the payment after everything has dried out. Plus, credit cards ensure that you get paid today for the work that you’re performing today.
5. Make it fun. It’s going to be a stressful time for your team, so keep morale up any way you can. Bring in doughnuts, create special contests, or do whatever you can to make the long days fun. Just remind your team, and yourself, that helping people get their homes and lives back together after a storm is one of the reasons we were put on this earth. That’s the honor of being a roofer. This is the time when our community needs us the most. Plus, it’ll be over soon.