Upon taking the stage, the first thing Bill Combes asked attendees at the 2015 Best of Success seminar to do was raise their hands. After the entire room complied, he then asked anyone not using Facebook in either a professional or personal capacity to lower their arms. Not one person did.
“If we’ve got 400 roofers in one room able to keep their hands up, we know that a majority, if not all of your customers, are spending some time on Facebook,” said Combes, founder and chief social officer for No Time for Social. “It’s just an absolutely huge audience and a dominant force.”
Too big of an opportunity for roofing contractors to miss, he said. And Combes knows a thing or two about driving innovation into the roofing business.
Combes has worked in and on the peripheral of the roofing industry for years, starting when he founded AnythingWeather in 1995. In 2012, he became director of marketing and membership for the United Association of Storm Restoration Contractors, where he managed all aspects of the association’s social media platforms. He now specializes in creating social media marketing programs for small to mid-size business across the country. By the end of his thirty-minute presentation, roofing contractors had more than a dozen actionable steps for businesses to quickly grow their digital and social media footprints.
He also shared a sobering message for roofing contractors that have not caught on. Combes said a staggering 15 percent of all time spent online is on Facebook; 71 percent of adults online use Facebook; sixty percent of those that do, check it daily, while the other 40 percent checks their pages multiple times a day.
“Everybody is spending their time online, everyone is focusing on these networks, and it’s a great opportunity for everybody in this room to utilize that platform to do business,” he declared.
Businesses looking to bolster their social media presence will also want to align it directly with other ongoing marketing strategies. Creating unique content and building a digital following through engagement and prompt responses is also important. Contractors should pay attention to trends that include a growing demand for videos and focus on customer service.
‘You Want Me To Do What?’
The social media explosion is just one example of how the business world has changed tremendously since the dawn of the Information Age in the 1990s. The new ‘knowledge-based’ economy can prove difficult for some traditional roofing contractors to navigate, but change is inevitable, and already upon us, said roofing consultant Greg Hayne, owner of Roof Management.
He immediately put attendees to work, asking them to list three initiatives that could really make a difference in their companies.
Anyone that had software systems implementation on the list was already far behind. The problem, Hayne said, is that in today’s business world, the knowledge-based economy requires different ways of thinking. Often unconventional ways.
“I think there’s a better way for us to work,” he said. “The economy today is not the economy of 20 years ago, and it’s not coming back.”
Roofers need to be better at leveraging data to improve customer service and to win more jobs, he said.
One example he provided emphasized the importance of distinguishing recovery rates on invoices — the amount of the invoice a customer can pass along to other parties. In one instance, a client with good documentation on a roof maintenance inspection created a recovery rate as high as 38 percent.
He also said he often sees roofing contractor clients place too much emphasis on direct competitors.
“You guys need to stop comparing yourselves to your competitors, because if you do, you’ll never get much more than incrementally better than them. You need to start comparing yourselves to the most innovative and responsive companies in the country.”