The mass media continues the assault our psyche with endless reports of “the worst economy since the Great Depression.” Each new report makes me want to work even harder to point to great opportunities existing for roofing contractors today. This column will point to a couple but will not ignore the realities of the world in which we live. Ignoring the obvious caused many of the problems that continue to hound the financial markets.
So before pointing toward some growth opportunities let me first share the simple observation that there has never been a better time to focus on the basics. Controlling costs always makes great sense in the roof-contracting business. One basic essential of your business is knowing your cash position at all times. Some key advice heard more than once at the recent International Roofing Expo was “watch your receivables.”
There is a domino effect that hits each of us in business. You are engaged in very dangerous thinking if you believe your clients are as solvent as they have been for the past 10 or 20 years of your business relationship. The cold hard fact is, they or their clients or their client’s clients may be in trouble, and you must press your case for getting paid on time and often. Doing a great job with collections has never been more vital to the ongoing success of your roofing business. You may not win friends but there are times that the ones getting paid are the ones making the most noise. Make some noise.
Your commercial roofing clients who are likewise watching their expenses closely will be interested in hearing ways to extend the life of their roofing systems until the day comes when they can consider more robust renovations or new construction. Many of the roof-coating systems on the market offer membrane protection, rejuvenation and enhanced reflectivity for a cooler roof.
The best coatings manufacturers offer training and support for roofing contractors and some offer excellent warranty options to owners. Tax credits for energy savings are available in some locations and preferred depreciation can provide benefits to some owners as well. If you have never thought of yourself as a coatings applicator, perhaps it is time for you to reconsider. The really good news is that offering a new product may become part of your business long into the future and may even grow into a stand-alone enterprise.
Your residential clients will appreciate your help winning them up to a $1,500 tax credit for energy-saving improvements to their home. You have to do some research to find out who and what will qualify, but this is a great opportunity for home improvement contractors of all stripes.
On the way to offering this help you may have to look into some new product categories, such as metal roofing or attic insulation. Owens Corning recently rolled out an insulation blowing system that lines up well with residential roofing contractors. Requiring some upfront investment, the system mainly requires an open mind and the will to sell work under the roof as well as on top of it.
We may not all agree that this tax credit is the elixir this economy really needs, but it can be good for your roofing business if you use it to win more business and grow profits.