Like others in the roofing industry, Owens Corning reacted to the COVID-19 crisis by putting in place precautions to keep its employees safe, from working remotely to robust cleaning procedures, social distancing and employee health screenings at all of it facilities.

As a manufacturer that works closely with roofing contractors, Owens Corning is also aware of the struggle contractors are facing to keep revenue flowing. RC spoke with Jon Gardner, national training and education leader, about what he’s heard from contractors and what his company is doing to assist them through this crisis.

RC: What are some of the top concerns you’re hearing from contractors?

JG:  One is 'how can I take advantage of the CARES Act — what is it, how does it work, help me get through the minutia, how do I plug and play' — and then number two is 'how do I continue to generate leads,' knowing that so many of the bigger players like Google have changed the rules; they’ve suspended reviews.

RC: How has the mindset of the contractors you work with changed since the pandemic?

JG: People are still very hungry to learn how to invest in their business and I think more than ever they’re looking at this from a mindset of ‘I have to do this now,’ and they’re reaching out to Owens Corning and other manufacturers…to say ‘What do you have for me to help me through this crisis?’

RC: What was one of the first steps Owens Corning took once the pandemic hit?

JG: We said ‘Let’s create a full virtual sales kit for our contractors to immediately implement into their business.’ It really goes from the ability for the contractor to virtually set up their calendar invite to setting up an opportunity to speak with the homeowner via Zoom to utilizing all the tools and resources that Owens Corning already had in place with regard to presenting what a good roofing system is.

Moving along that food chain, (it goes) right into paying for that project in the most efficient way, which would obviously be through a solid financing program, and then being able to virtually sign for that contract.

None of that in itself is extraordinary, but what was unique and that we didn’t see in the market was a full kit from beginning to end that a contractor could take, so we built that out and put it into a format that is easy to understand.

RC: What type of costs can contractors expect when going virtual?

JG: We have to remember there are contractors, small, medium and large, that don’t really have the bandwidth to invest in anything that’s super expensive, so we tried to be cost effective as well as providing the tools and resources in this kit that any contractor could put together.

RC: What other adjustments did Owens Corning make to help contractors?

JG: Prior to COVID, Owens Corning was going around the country with 12 to 15 of our business service partners and allowing contractors to learn in the classroom setting as well as an expo setting to have a one-on-one experience.

We’ve extended our Business Building Days virtually with our contractors so that hopefully we can continue to teach our contractors about ways in which they can continue to invest in their business, take their business to the next level, and in light of what is going on today, pick the most pertinent services that make the best sense for them.

RC: What are you proud of that Owens Corning has accomplished during the crisis?

JG: Our area sales managers, without skipping a beat, were able to pivot and continue to have conversations and help contractors in their local markets in ways they were doing before, it was just virtually. We already had the tools in place with Owens Corning University.

RC: How do you think the COVID-19 crisis will change the industry going forward?

JG: The feedback that we’re getting from contractors is homeowners are okay with (virtual sales) because the technology that is available with drones, the technology that is available with financing solutions, the technology that Owens Corning invested in with Build Your Roof…in a way, this whole virtual process has enabled some contractors to beef up their own sales presentations and beef up the ways in which they’re presenting, from soup to nuts, what they’re going to be doing for homeowners, so I see this staying.