With 2020 drawing closer, now is a great time for roofing contractors to consider what changes they can make to make the upcoming decade even better than the last.
At the 2019 Best of Success conference held in Miami last September, more than a dozen roofing contractors and professionals spoke about ways their fellow contractors can improve their businesses. While the presentations were dynamic, five recurring themes emerged from the conference.
Whether it’s updating marketing materials or checking the latest technology, below are five tactics roofing contractors can use right now to improve their businesses in 2020.
1. Invest in Your Image
Anna Anderson, CEO of Art Unlimited, recommended that companies take professional photos once a year so that websites, ads and other materials have current and great-looking images for customers to view.
“The images that you have that reflect your business are shared on almost every platform and media that you use within your company,” Anderson said.
Victor Smolyanov of Victors Roofing attested to this, saying he always sets aside money to ensure he has professional images and videos made for his company.
“The way you look, the way you present yourself, has a lasting impact on your customers,” Smolyanov said.
Imagery goes beyond photography and videos. Deer Park Roofing President Nick Sabino emphasized the importance of maintaining company vehicles. He said his eight vehicles create about 25,000 impressions each day, so having clean and maintained trucks is the difference between being perceived as a “roofer” versus a “roofing professional.”
“We’re roofing contractors, we don’t have the greatest reputation in the world,” Sabino said. “We really need to change that, we really need to change the way people look at us.”
2. Make Giving Back Easy
Charles Antis, founder and CEO of Antis Roofing & Waterproofing, emphasized the importance of roofing contractors giving back. Having employees who support a company’s philanthropic efforts is a critical component, so making it easy for employees to give is important.
Antis suggested providing vacation days that are dedicated to volunteering, which rewards employees by giving them the opportunity to contribute without sacrificing personal time. He also suggested investing in giving cards, which are gift cards that can only be redeemed to benefit a charity of the cardholder’s choice. Once they’ve been purchased, give these to employees to hand out.
Antis said these efforts not only contribute to employee retention, but allows companies to see what their employees care about for future charitable projects.
“It makes a tremendous difference in your people,” Antis said. “If you’re listening to your people, it’s amazing what you can create in your community.”
3. Embrace Technology
As Reliant CEO and owner Sean Shapiro put it, the roofing is a “get-your-hands-dirty, blue-collar industry,” but by continuing to embrace technology and try new things, contractors are bound to succeed.
Reliant’s founders spoke about the company’s success by incorporating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality into its sales presentations. The cost of a full VR system is around $600, including computers, goggles, gloves and sensors.
“This is stuff that all of us can do right now,” Shapiro said. “It’s very easy to do.”
Sam Stilley, owner and vice president of sales at Amstill Roofing, said contractors that adapt and change will be the ones that thrive. His own company has invested in search engine optimization for its websites, and was recently counted as an Inc. 5000 company in 2019 for increasing revenue by 159 percent.
“There is always room for improvement, which is the key, and you can never stop improving, otherwise your business will wither in time and it will die as technology improves,” he said.
Deer Park’s Sabino, chairman of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), implored the importance of having a proper website. His tip to keeping customers on the company website was simple: add a chat feature. Instead of calling, people can ask questions online. He said it is part of why Deer Park Roofing garners about 700 leads a month.
“Instead of someone getting on our site for 15 seconds and getting our phone number, now they’re interacting with one of our administrators,” he said.
4. Track All the Data
Trent Cotney, owner of Cotney Construction Law, said tracking and using data is crucial to achieving sustained growth. This includes tracking actual budgets versus projected budgets on a monthly basis and checking whether satellite offices are meeting key performance indicators.
“The more data you have it allows you to effectively predict the future, and that’s it — data is king,” Cotney said. “You’re able to see how much money you’re going to make on something and then you can make strategic decisions based on that.”
Shirad Ali, vice president of Atlantic and Caribbean Roof Consulting and Testing, agreed that data is king, and by combining it with proper communication between consultants and owners, contractors can expect to receive recommendations for future jobs from consultants.
“At the end of the job, if you do not have proper communication, then you are going to ruin that relationship completely because everybody’s going to be doing something different and then you’re going to end up in arguments,” he said.
5. Become Involved
Nearly every speaker at Best of Success mentioned the benefits of working with roofing groups and associations, and encouraged their fellow contractors to join if they haven’t already.
NRCA CEO Reid Ribble emphasized becoming involved through its annual Roofing Day held in Washington D.C. to ensure lawmakers hear the concerns of contractors. Last year, this effort resulted in a meeting with the White House’s chief of staff.
“We have now put a roofing professional in 80 percent of congressional offices in this country,” Ribble said. “These things actually matter…and if we can put 1,000 people in Washington, we will forever change how they view us.”
Meanwhile, National Women in Roofing (NWIR) held a presentation at Best of Success where it announced a new program for members to become mentors or mentees.
“Had I not joined NWIR years ago I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Michelle Boykin, COO of Rackley Roofing and NWIR Treasurer. “If you’re not utilizing it to be your best self, I encourage you to do that today.”
The Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) seeks innovative technology solutions for the industry and includes some of the biggest names in roofing, including multiple Contractor of the Year recipients like 2019 Residential Contractor of the Year Kelly Roofing.
Need proof that these organizations are beneficial? Just check out Rackley Roofing in Tennessee. Rackley participates in the NWIR, NRCA and RT3, and the company not only appeared on the February 2019 cover of Roofing Contractor, its president, Curtis Sutton, is the first-ever winner of the RT3’s Innovator of the Year Award.
“We are in total control of who we hire, but as far as technology, we have to seek outside the business doors, and at times, outside of the roofing industry to look at the world to see who does what best,” Sutton said.