Attendees and sponsors hailed the 5th Best of Success conference as the best one yet. It also was the largest one to date, as a record-setting 225 attendees gathered at the Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. on Sept. 21-22 to focus on improving their businesses.

Attendees and sponsors hailed the 5th Best of Success conference as the best one yet. It also was the largest one to date, as a record-setting 225 attendees gathered at the Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. on Sept. 21-22 to focus on improving their businesses.

Sponsored by both Roofing Contractor and Architectural Roofing & Waterproofing magazines, the event was a two-day, tell-all conference in which contractors, distributors and suppliers were brought together to talk about ways to succeed in the roofing and construction industries.

Presenters ranged from some of the top revenue-generating contractors in the United States to attorneys to sales experts. But no matter who you were, or what part of the country you were from, the conference provided a platform to talk with and learn from those who know how to succeed in the roofing business.

“Wow, I was impressed,” said John Maxwell of Maxwell Roofing of Nashville, Tenn. “(Roofing Contractor) did a great job of assembling quality speakers from our industry, across the country, to speak about topics that are critical to our success. What more can one expect.”

Before the Best of Success conference kicked off on a Monday, a roundtable discussion was held Sunday night to generate ideas from a broad range of contractors, distributors, suppliers, and staff from Roofing Contractor magazine. (Photo by Tom Watts.)

“Great conference!” said Wes Williamson of Skyline Roofing, Inc. of Charleston, S.C. “I am already implementing some of the ideas into my business.”

Speakers and their topics on Day 1 included: Rick Davis, President, Building Leaders Inc. (Making the Phone Ring); James Hoff, Director of Research, Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (Roofing Green: Green Programs and Incentives to Grow Your Business); T.J. Daniels, President, Bright Roofing & Restoration, and Linda Daniels, Past President of Metro Detroit Building Superintendents Association (What’s on Property Managers’ Minds Today); Adam Quenneville, President, Adam Quenneville Roofing (Recycling Your Way to Success); Roger Harper, Principal, Creative Dispute Resolutions, and Chris Dunn, Attorney, Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis (Making Alternative Dispute Resolution Work for You); Andy Filer, President, Berkshire Construction Company (How to Successfully Manage Your Crews); Jim Stamer, President, Prospect Roofing (Garden Your Way to More Green); Rod Menzel, Co-Owner, GreatWay Roofing (Rebranding: Expect a Great Experience); Jim Bush, Owner, WeatherShield Roofing Systems (Passion in Leadership and Sales); and Tim Hershey, President, ThoroughBred Contractors (Big Bucks from the Small Stuff).

Day 2 speakers and their topics included: Rob McNamara, President, National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA Update); Bruce Fryer, President, Fryer Roofing, and Dane Bradford, President, Bradford Roof Management Inc. (How to Build a Profitable Maintenance Department); Paul Brockman, Owner, Roof Maintenance Inc., Steve Little, President, KPost Company; Rod Menzel, Co-owner, GreatWay Roofing, Jim Bush, Owner, WeatherShield Roofing Systems (Sales & Marketing Panel); and Doug Ehlke, Owner and Partner, Ehlke Law Offices.

“This was my first attendance at the Best of Success, but won’t be my last,” said Tom Adams, Vice President of Sales at Bradco Supply Co. of Avenel, N.J. “I really enjoyed the theme and attitude of the contractors to make their companies and industry more professional.”

“I made connections with some key clients that we hope to do business with in the near future,” said Bill Combes, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Hail Watch of Round Rock, Texas.

“I have well over a dozen pages of notes… on top of the great manual I have to take away,” said Andy Filer, President of Berkshire Home Solutions of Plymouth, Minn. “The conference was full of great ideas, wonderful contacts, and I can’t wait for next year already.”

A record-setting 225 attendees gathered at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville for the 5th Best of Success conference. (Photo by Tom Watts.)

Sales and Marketing Know-How

One of the more lively exchanges during the two-day conference took place during the Sales and Marketing Panel, which was titled “Tools to Take You to the Next Level.” Consultant to the roofing industry Dave Harrison served as the moderator for a panel of contractors who shared their core business beliefs and analyzed common marketing mistakes.

The panel consisted of Paul Brockman, Owner, Roof Maintenance Inc., Nashville, Tenn.; Steve Little, President, KPost Company, Dallas, Texas; Rod Menzel, Founder and Co-Owner, GreatWay Roofing, Moorpark, Calif.; and Jim Bush, Owner, WeatherShield Roofing Systems, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Brockman offered three core beliefs:

• Build relationships: “People like to buy from others they know and trust,” he said.

• Target your market: “People who are most likely to buy or are in need of your service and products.”

• Demonstrate value: “The customer must be confident that the product or service will do what you say it will.”

Brockman listed the most common mistakes he’s seen when it comes to sales and marketing:

• Failing to focus: “Trying to tackle too many prospects on a limited budget means ultimate shortcuts to failure.”

• Marketing only in slow times: “This dooms you to live on an economic roller coaster.”

• Failing to present a professional image: “Older trucks and the lack of uniforms might be cheaper, but is this a first impression people will respond to?”

“We’ve got great, great people at KPost,” said Little, who listed his core beliefs as:

• PEM (Plan, Execute, Measure): “Plan: Have a game plan and work the plan,” he said. “Execute: Provide all the tools your team needs to execute the plan. Measure: Agree to joint expectations and measure the results in a consistent defined time period.”

• Branding: “Companies are branded internally and externally,” he said. “Branding is the public display of the culture of your company.”

• Play to your strengths: “Know your strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “Set joint expectations with your team. Put the right people in the bus (not necessarily the most talented). Be accountable to each other (employees and management).”

Menzel’s company has been in his family since his grandfather was a licensed contractor. He founded what was then called Great American Roofing & Waterproofing, now GreatWay Roofing. He listed his core beliefs as:

• Clear and simple: “In print or in speech, clear and simple clears the way for a decision,” he said.

• Listen and ask questions: “If you don’t know what they want or need, you don’t know what is important,” he said. “If you do all the talking, you don’t know what they want.”

• Focus on buying motives or benefits: “People buy emotionally and justify the purchase logically,” he said.

Bush is the Owner and President of WeatherShield Roofing Systems based in Grand Rapids, Mich. He founded the company in 1980 and has steadily grown the business ever since.

“It’s always about value,” Bush said. “I tell customers, ‘You’ve got your other bids; you’ve seen what I have to offer. What is it about this bid that gives you the most value? If I’m your best value, what do you do?”

Bush said his three core beliefs are:

• “None of us are really in the roofing business,” he said. “We are actually sales organizations that just happen to do roofing.”

• “To give your customers a great roof is important, but to give them a great experience is far more important,” he said.

•”It’s never about price,” he said. “It’s always about value. If a customer buys from someone else because ‘they were cheaper,’ it’s actually because you failed to prove the value of your service is superior.”

Harrison summed it up this way: “Working with this panel reminds me of a great concept. Great sport teams are like a business; they are highly disciplined. A great business approaches its business like a sport; they talk about their team. This is a great industry. You have a chance to affect a lot of people in your life. If you truly are disciplined and have a great team, you will be successful.”

Dave Harrison (far left) served as the moderator for the Sales and Marketing Panel that included (seated from left) Rod Menzel of GreatWay Roofing, Paul Brockman of Roof Maintenance Inc., Steve Little of KPost Company and Jim Bush of WeatherShield Roofing Systems. (Photo by Tom Watts.)

Profitable Maintenance Departments

The message from those leading the panel on roof maintenance was simple: Service work can be among the most profitable in the industry - if it’s done right. Bruce Fryer, Chief Executive Officer of Fryer Roofing Co. in Fresno, Calif., and Dane Bradford, President of Bradford Roof Management in Billings, Mont., shared tips on running a successful maintenance department based on their own experiences.

They identified three basic keys to successful administration of a maintenance department:

1. Separation from other roofing activities. “Whenever possible, separate personnel, equipment, mid-level administration and material storage areas,” said Bradford.

2. Standardization of processes and procedures. “Standardization of forms is key,” said Bradford. “So is record-keeping. If you’re serious about this stuff, invest in a computerized record-keeping system.”

3. Communication within and outside of the company. “Hold regular meetings and train, train, train and train again,” said Fryer. “Build relationships with customers. Become known as great problem solvers. This makes our service guys great salesmen. They identify problems on the site and it results in more work.”

“I don’t have a better sales force than my service crew,” concurred Bradford. “And in an era where sustainability is important, nothing is more sustainable than repairing a roof and extending its service life.”

Fryer stressed the importance of sending out two people on a service call. “To find a leak, spot it in the inside, find the source outside, and operate safely, you need two people,” he said.

Networking Opportunities

After the first day’s presentations, a networking reception was held at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, which provided an arena for spirited conversations about the roofing industry. While many old friendships were rekindled during the reception, it was the newfound friendships and the sharing of ideas that just might pave the way for future success.

“I believe (the conference) was the ‘best’ Best of Success that I have been to,” said Bruce Diederich, President of Waukegan Roofing Co., Inc., Waukegan, Wis. “This was my third, and I brought two of my key people, and we all came away with something that we can use to immediately improve our company’s results.”

In wrapping up the event, Roofing Contractor Publisher Jill Bloom called it, “The best ever!” She thanked all of the event’s sponsors, including GAF-Elk, Allied Building Products, Owens Corning, IKO, 3M, Bradco Supply, EagleView Technologies, Tamko Building Products, ABC Supply, CertainTeed, NCFI Polyurethanes, Johns Manville, Nationwide Foam, and Rain Flow.

The event’s Tool Sponsor, Bosch Tools, provided free tool giveaways to 18 lucky attendees. The winners of the free tools were: Paul Michaud, Chris Hembree, Michael Moore, Doug Chuhran, Steve Sharp, Guideon Brown, T.J. Daniels, Wayne Tanner, Alan Franks, Ryan Bills, Dan Dunkelberger, Terry Dickerson, Brent Farmer, Tracy Buis, Ralph Blake, Shelley Metzler and Ed Browne.

“I have five changed people in my office that were inspired and highly motivated by this event, and one of them is myself,” said Bob McDonald, President of Gulfstream Roofing Inc. of Delray Beach, Fla. “We appreciate all the time and effort that (Roofing Contractor) invested to make this such a great event.”

Stay tuned for details about the 2010 Best of Success conference, as the date and location will be announced soon