How is it that some roofing contractors seem to always have the jump on things? Some seem to struggle while others seem to constantly move forward, always getting the good work and attracting the best people all while making it seem effortless. First bit of news: nothing in the roof-contracting business is effortless. I do not know most of your competitors, but I do know every one of them faces every challenge you face.

I believe in hard work. I believe in contractors who consistently do the right things. I believe in getting paid fairly for the work you do. I believe the most successful contractors are not, however, the ones who work harder or longer hours. I believe they are smarter.  So how do contractors get smart and stay smart? They are always in school. A simple concept, but I have seen it work year after year in good times and in bad. The smarter contractors stay that way by continuously educating themselves and investing in the education of their teams. Where do successful roofing contractors go to continue their education? There are many opportunities; you just need to be open to them and make a plan.

It was a real privilege to attend the seventh Roofing Contractor Best of Success conference recently. Our publisher, Jill Bloom, brought together a great lineup of presenters to enlighten and challenge the attendees. Topics ranged from OSHA to insurance to practical business improvement principles. As part of the Best of Success conference, Bloom brought together a panel of graduates from the National Roofing Contractors Association’s Future Executives Institute (FEI) to discuss their experience of going through a multi-year intensive study program designed for emerging leaders in the roof-contracting industry. The young folks who graduate from the FEI will be far better prepared to take on greater leadership responsibilities than competitors who have not sought out this kind of educational opportunity.

NRCA recently announced the launching of the Executive Management Institute, designed to offer seasoned roofing executives a unique learning experience. These are but two of the many educational opportunities available from NRCA as well as from numerous other regional and state roofing associations.

In a few short months the International Roofing Expo (IRE) will convene in Orlando, Fla. The IRE holds three days of seminars on a broad variety of topics. Held in conjunction with the NRCA annual convention, the IRE stages the industry’s largest trade show along with a stellar educational program. The central theme we hear from all of the contractors who experience any of the programs and conferences mentioned here is “networking.” Roofing contractors sharing best practices with and learning from each other often proves the most valuable piece of the continuing-education process. If you have not invested in your own education recently, make 2012 the year you commit to growth beginning with yourself and the key folks on your team. You will reap the rewards for years to come.

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