The term “value engineering” is one I have heard spoken by commercial roofing contractors as long as I can remember. In this context it is a fairly straightforward process whereby a given design or specification for a roofing system is pulled apart, analyzed, and reconstructed in order to achieve more bang for the owner’s buck. In an economy with more than a few challenges, it would seem a good idea for all of us in the roofing industry to consider turning our value engineering skills inward. In other words, should your enterprise be constructed differently to meet the challenges of 2008 and beyond?
To me there are two primary focal points for the near term and the future for the roofing industry. There are lots of things to work on that could fall under these categories, but two main themes: the economy and the environment.
Many in the industry have been in a “tighten-up” mode for some time already. For many of us, running a leaner and cleaner operation has been difficult but refreshing. Sure, we would prefer a bigger backlog and margins may be a little less than we might otherwise achieve. It is never, however, a bad time to refine processes and take a hard look at how things can be improved to yield a better product and service at a lower cost.
The great news is that many of the changes you make will pay dividends for the environment and may be used to market your enterprise in the future. We have been saying for a long time that it is important for roofing contractors to get in front of demands that home and building owners are making for energy-efficient and sustainable roof systems. It is just as important that you build your own “green” story. Another key term is now “blue,” by the way - referring to water and air - and roofing systems can be designed to improve on both in dramatic ways (but that is another column).
So how and why do you put your company forward as an eco-friendly enterprise? I think in many ways we are doing these things in the roofing industry already. Many of the “belt-tightening” initiatives in play today result in lower fuel usage. Manufacturers of roofing systems are furnishing products that weigh less and are constructing plants to reduce the number of miles that products must travel to arrive on site, further reducing fuel usage. These are just a few examples, but many roofing contractors can legitimately tout their environmental efforts just by taking inventory of their existing practices. All roofing contractors could benefit from this as they lower costs and position themselves as the eco-friendly solution to home and building owners’ demand for more efficient and sustainable building systems.