Nick Sabino, president of Cincinnati-based Deer Park Roofing, said instead of a broad mission statement for his company, each department has a specific mission. In the case of maintenance, it’s turning a service call into a new roof.

“We’ll repair that thing 30 times if we have to, but eventually, that customer is going to use us when they do their roof,” Sabino said.

Initiatives like these are why Sabino said a service department is the “key driver” that affects a roofing contractor’s business, and shared some best practices his fellow contractors can use to improve their own departments.

“The most important thing we do every day is work on our service department,” Sabino said. “It’s really easy to raise the level of professionalism.”

Initiate Incentives

A major driver for successful service departments is incentives. For instance, Sabino said the service department receives incentives for fulfilling its mission and converting repairs into a new roof.

Similarly, administrators at Deer Park Roofing learn what each service crew handles, which allows them to identify problems and solutions quickly. The company provides cash bonuses to those who put the most leads into the right hands.

Foremen also receive bonuses if they can identify and sell customers on additional scopes of work during a maintenance or repair job. Sabino said he even gives gift cards to workers once a month whose GPS systems show they are driving safely.

“It’s really improved the morale, it’s really done wonders,” Sabino said.

Clear Communication

Sabino said an easy way to establish professionalism is to send the name and photo of the service technician to the customer prior to their arrival. He said this goes a long way to giving customers peace of mind when they know who to expect at their door.

Sabino, who serves as the current chairman of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), said he put seven of his employees through the NRCA’s rigorous ProCertification program. In doing so, he is able to include ProCertification badges in emails to customers to demonstrate the level of service they can expect.

Professional invoices are critical as well. Sabino said his company includes photos of the completed work in an invoice, which reassures customers the job was properly completed. Digital and physical surveys are included with invoices, and the company will even send an invoice for $0 when completing warranty work.

“Follow up and feedback is really important,” Sabino said.

Training the Next Generation

A proper maintenance department can even help with employee retention. Sabino said he retains about 50 percent of the employees placed in the service department in the first 90 days.  He said this is due in part to having new employees learn the business from seasoned service technicians.

It also shows younger employees that there is a career path in the industry thanks to programs like ProCertification that can lead to promotions.

“Giving somebody the hope and the goal of certification, and then being a foreman, is really what we’re doing,” Sabino said. “We’re using our service department to incorporate these folks into that.”