It’s officially halfway through 2020 and this decade is well underway. Before I share what tools you need to have to maximize the next 10 years, let’s look back at how fast the roofing industry changed during the last one.

The 2010s were an incredibly prosperous decade. Many companies who have been in business for some time climbed out of the difficulty of the 2008 recession and new businesses sprouted up across the nation.

Factors that played a role were social media, roofing-specific technology, and roofers sharing best practices at live industry events. We saw things change very quickly as resources and solutions became more readily available than ever before, which is exactly why you need to be paying attention to what’s next for 2020 and beyond.

I’ve boiled down what to look for into four tools. I share the consequences of not using these tools, why to use them, and where to get them.

Tool #1: Business Acumen

Roofing is special, yes, and many have said, “Once you’re in this industry, you don’t want to leave.” I totally agree with this statement because it’s such a great industry, like a huge family really. However, this big ol’ family is getting smarter, sharper and more aware of the fundamentals of business in this generation.

The roofing industry has a new generation of entrepreneurs who realize that there is an open playing field, with only a handful of serious businesspeople in each metropolitan market innovating on all cylinders. Successful transitions of generational ownership and succession planning is happening, allowing the momentum and reputation of a brand to live on versus die out. Sales leadership and team development is being implemented on a regular basis by market leaders who are professionalizing their talent and providing great career opportunities. Service and operational management is being developed, along with a keen awareness of accounting principles and asset management. Strategic partnerships are being formed with suppliers, manufacturers and national networks more than ever.

If you know the fundamentals of business first and roofing second, then you’re just like the next breed of roofing owners and executives. If not, you need to get with it!

Tool #2: Knowledge Exchange Platforms

Peer groups, coaching and best practice sharing are becoming major difference makers in the industry today.

Platforms are available to us — like the National Roofing Contractors Association’s Future Executives Institute, manufacturer resource portals, live events, online webinars, podcasts, mastermind groups, online group coaching programs, Roofing Technology Think Tank panels and solution directories.

The roofing industry really is becoming a place to learn, where two decades ago there were only a few professionals who would share anything. However, everyone is catching on that, if we all grow, then it’s better for everyone in the industry.

Tool #3: Brand Strategy and Community Engagement

Company identity and use of video and social media isn’t just a trend today, it’s here to stay. Because of technology and social media, consumers can research who they’d like to work with well before they even contact a roofing company. With that said, larger consumers like to work with more professional companies who appear to have happy employees and a soul.

Consider the five W’s and “How” that social media can help a customer discover. With a few clicks of a button, consumers can find out “where” your company is and if you solve their roofing problem first, which is “what” you do. Consumers looking to get the job done right the first time can find out “when” and “how” you can solve the problem.

Doing the job the right way the first time isn’t good enough anymore because customers expect it. They expect good communication and for you to show up on time and be honest. They want to know “who” the company is and “why” you do what you do before they even contact your company, because this helps them understand if you’re real or a fly-by-night scam. When roofing brands have a deep sense of why they exist, this becomes clear through the entire process of the customer experience from beginning the end.

In the 2020s, roofing needs to become more socially responsible than ever and change the perception that consumers have of us.

Tool #4: Software and Technology

Ariel Imaging, CRM, proposal beautification, funnel pages, paperless management and native software integrations are being used by almost everyone who is playing at a competitive level in the market. CRM was the new three-letter acronym of the 2000s and 2010s, but the next three-letter acronym that will be a true differentiator is LMS, short for Learning Management System.

What the innovators are doing is leveraging commercially available LMS programs to create in-house training that is unique to the way a roofing company operates. The days of ride-a-longs and months of field time in order to get someone up to speed are over. With LMS technology, you can take new talent and not only teach them “your way,” but create quizzes, include pinups and worksheets to anchor the learning.

This solution is making it attractive for someone to come in and work at a roofing company, because they’re going to be trained and have an opportunity to grow. This might take a while for the industry to catch on, but in 10 years it will be very common.