I’m going to share one of the lessons I learned over 40 years ago while on my first job in the roofing industry.
My start in this business came in April 1974 selling equipment to roofing contractors. Business wasn’t just good, it was hot. The ongoing Middle East oil crisis and lengthy embargo at the time contributed to shortages of asphalt and asphalt-based roofing materials, among others.
Then, what seemed like roughly six months later, it was as if someone pulled the curtain on the nation’s economy. Suddenly, “hot” turned into “not.” I thought I was going to have the shortest career in the history of roofing. Luckily for me, I was hired because the company needed help handling rapidly-increasing business, and I was kept on board because I was young (inexpensive) and able to find enough new business to keep things rolling despite a diminishing market.
The market came back; it always does. And it continued to have its ups and downs; it always will.
What does that have to do with where we find the roofing business today? I think we’re in a season where business is good. Not crazy “hot” like we’ve seen in several cycles since 1974, but good. This means several things worthy of note and consideration as you work your way through the summer roofing season.
The first lesson is that it will be over soon. Not the summer, but this season of brisk business in which we find ourselves. I don’t know how soon, but there are signals that the natural cycles of business will prevail in today’s economy. With any luck, the next downturn in the economy will come in the form of a “soft landing.” That is to say, a gradual slowing trend that will ripple through all segments of the economy.
While I’m not about to predict when things will taper off, I do know this is the time to prepare for it. Saying it again, “…business is good.” The best thing you can do in a climate of robust demand is to adjust your pricing to reflect it. If you’re pricing jobs the same way you were even 12 months ago, you may be missing out on a great opportunity. An active storm season early in the year is prompting increases in roofing materials so the time is already right for reviewing your bidding practices.
And if you feel like I do — that the economy is poised to retreat at a point in the not-too-distant future, you must consider putting away some additional profits for those leaner times. Even if the downturn comes later rather than sooner, having your war chest full is a still a good idea.
Speaking of good ideas, I hope you’re planning to join us for the Best of Success Conference next month in Marco Island, Fla. In addition to being a great opportunity to learn some new ideas on how to grow your business, you’ll meet roofing contractors from all over the country who will share their best practices with you. And I, along with the entire Roofing Contractor team, would like to meet you and hear your story. To learn more or to register, see page 60 or log on at www.BestofSuccessConference.com.
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