When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm, the most natural thing to do is to put our heads down and hold on tight. Maintain our position and ride it out. We know it will end eventually. 

Some of us, however, have the ability to ignore the existential threats and simply keep an eye on the horizon; looking for the possibilities to come. They’re in the same storm as everyone else, but they shake off the fear (if they ever recognized it in the first place) and continue looking for new opportunities — how to distinguish themselves from the pack and how to get better. 

In this time of pandemic and recession, it’s easy to see how most contractors seek only to survive. To be fair, some will not survive in spite of their best attempts. This editor does not have all the answers, and I’m sure every roofing contractor’s situation is unique, but perhaps I can offer you a few things to think about. 

First, pay more attention to history than current events. When you look back at challenging times that have occurred in the human experience, where do you find the success stories? There are plenty, and it doesn’t hurt to reach far back to find them. Like the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Or you can study the way Japan, ravaged by a brutal war that they lost, managed to build themselves into a world economic superpower. 

I always learn a thing or two when I meet with my good friend, roofing contractor David Welch. In a recent meeting, he put forward the idea that all the negative news does little more than bring you down. I agree. Another friend, sales and business consultant Rick Davis, has been preaching this message for years. Leadership that is staying on a positive message is what your roofing business and team really need in challenging times. 

And consider this: Investment guru Warren Buffett has always advocated for doing whatever the crowd is not doing. If you see all of your competitors heading in one direction, try to find the opposite way. Lean times — and I recognize these are not lean times for many roofing contractors — mean you may have to make cuts in your overhead and staff. As you make these adjustments, don’t lose sight of you goals for growth. It’s easy to get too deep into cutback mode, which can be hazardous to your best potential. 

If you look back at the history of business in this country, you know there’s growth ahead. There has never been a time when growth was not on the horizon. So, is this a good time to invest in that latest computer-operated metal machinery? Is this not a good time to implement an advanced business system to operate your roofing business? Could this be a good time to look at acquiring a competing business in your area or maybe in the next county? How about starting a commercial roof maintenance division or picking up another roofing system to offer? 

Looking at these opportunities in a time when markets are in an uproar and very little is secure may seem counterintuitive. Good. That’s the point. Find your different. Find your next opportunity. There is seldom a better time than now.