The influx of new technology into the roofing contractor space was already strong prior to the COVID-19-compelled need for doing business a new way.
As the pandemic lingered — and put even greater emphasis on contractor efficiency, network connectivity and innovation — technology became paramount to staying open and staying busy. Roofing contractors already integrating management software systems and video capabilities into their operations were ready for the pandemic’s paradigm shift. Others struggled, learning quickly which investments made during roofing’s pre-COVID tech boom were wiser than others.
“The pandemic really sped up the need for contractors to adopt technology,” said Mike Jost, COO of ABC Supply Co. “With mobile technology and apps, they can do a lot of business from the jobsite instead of needing to go back to the office to place orders, send invoices or do other tasks. And while we’ve missed seeing our customers in the branch throughout COVID-19 and know that technology will never replace our support and attention to their businesses, we expect many of these new tech habits to be here for the long haul.”
The industry’s technology boom, emphasized primarily as a way to attack roofing’s workforce dilemma, emerged from 2020 as a pathway for some roofing companies to thrive. The industry stakeholders servicing them from the manufacturing, distribution, and service and technology sectors took note and looked for ways to adapt. As they often do during challenging times, business synergies aligned and partnerships that otherwise may not have existed emerged.
One of the most recent partnerships involves two roofing industry giants.
ABC Supply Co. and GAF in June announced they were joining forces to give roofing contractors more convenient access to aerial roof measurements with GAF’s QuickMeasure report. Now roofers can get an interactive roof report that includes a design view featuring GAF products customized to the project through ABC’s myABCsupply. The company launched the tool in 2019 to give customers 24/7 access to placing orders online and now can offer much more.
That’s just the latest example. ABC Supply also collaborates with EagleView Technologies for aerial measuring and 3-D modeling; Chameleon Power for mobile visualization and design technology; AccuLynx for project management; and Billtrust for quick access to statements, invoices and online payments.
“While we offer proprietary software such as myABCsupply, we also partner with industry-leading software through our ABC Connect program to allow our customers to continue working with the technologies they are already using,” Jost said.
Contractors Have Choices
Other suppliers hardly sat by during the pandemic. Already ahead of the COVID-19 digital curve by launching its Beacon PRO+ in 2018, Beacon Building Products also made improvements. What started as an online ordering platform with 24/7 access has grown into a multi-dimensional tool that makes delivery tracking, order histories, bill payment and storm mapping easier. Earlier this year, Beacon added the newest feature — EagleView reports.
The partnership grew in response to contractor feedback about what they needed most in the field.
“The PRO+ and EagleView partnership was absolutely 100% driven by demand from our contractors,” said Sarah Bradley, senior director of E-Commerce at Beacon. “We strive to make our contractors’ lives easier and our goal is to meet them where they are, even on digital platforms. With EagleView, a PRO+ customer can order a roof measurement report 24 hours a day, seven days a week just by logging in to PRO+ and entering the job address. They do not have to go to the job site first, and they do not have to hand measure, which saves precious time.”
The versatility of Beacon’s other tech-tools are also making a difference for contractors.
Judd Fults started Fults Roofing on his own in 2017 after working for an established roofing company in greater Austin, Texas, for 25 years. He said it took a few years to find his digital footing, but earlier this year he converted all ordering to digital — in the middle of a hail storm.
Navigating a global pandemic and material shortages exacerbated by the Texas freeze in February and the early arrival of a volatile storm season has not been easy. But Fults said staying efficient and productive wouldn’t be possible without the high-tech tools.
“I’m still kind of old-school and not very technologically savvy. But I’ve gotten the hang of it and like the fact that it’s automated and keeps all my records,” he said of using Beacon’s PRO+ for ordering and tracking. “I don’t have to do that myself anymore.”
In March, SRS Distribution launched a strategic agreement with AccuLynx to enhance its Roof Hub desktop ordering and materials management system, just introduced in 2020 after the success of the mobile app. Launched at the 2019 International Roofing Expo, the perception could have been that it was too soon to add improvements, but the drivers behind the deal thought otherwise. Roofing contractors that use AccuLynx will now be able to access SRS products, see specific material pricing and place digital orders for materials directly from AccuLynx without the need to log into another system to see material costs or place orders.
One pre-pandemic partnership that’s enhancing the work lives of roofing contractors right now is Beacon’s implementation of JobNimbus, which allows customers to place orders without the need for a phone call or an additional app. The contractor’s Beacon account is automatically linked to JobNimbus and covers pricing to make the experience as quick and convenient as possible.
Company leaders at JobNimbus also took the opportunity to pivot during the pandemic, announcing in May a new integration with Xactware, a leading provider of technology for the property insurance, remodeling, and restoration industries.
The collaboration allows roofing contractors to import Xactimate data into JobNimbus with one click, eliminating duplicate entries and the potential for data-entry errors.
“At the end of the day, what this is going to do is save them about 30 to 35 minutes of data entry for each restoration assignment they get or each estimate that they’re trying to process,” explained Mark Olson, vice president of marketing at JobNimbus. “We’re all about trying to make people more organized, trying to make them more efficient, try to make them more profitable and more professional, and if we can save somebody 35 minutes once a day, twice a day, four times a day, we’re giving them a piece of their life back.”
That’s time available to reinvest in their business or break away from the office a little bit early to enhance their quality of life.
Improving work/life balance and providing a great, comprehensive customer experience were what Leap and its sales platform for contractors was designed for. The home services software company grew its business during the pandemic by giving contractor clients idled by lockdowns an opportunity to build their business infrastructure. With digital estimates, contracts, online follow ups and a secure payment process available within a single app, roofing contractors well-versed in its operations were ready when essential businesses opened up.
Yet, when the pandemic converted many home and property owners into a digital mindset, it also drove demand toward a need that the platform couldn’t cover on its own. Leap’s customers — and roofing contractors in particular — consistently need to deliver fast and accurate project quotes, which require quick, but reliable estimates for materials.
Leap CEO Patrick Fingles said they recognized the sharp increase in remote selling and estimating during the pandemic, which created a real need for accurate measurement. Scope Technologies has a system for capturing satellite measurements of the entire building envelope with fast turnaround times. The two companies announced a partnership in April that allows roofing contractors to import Scope measurements into Leap and build digital project estimates.
“Simply put, we knew that tapping into Scope Technologies’ data capabilities would strengthen our digital platform and help give home service professionals a competitive advantage,” said Fingles. “Especially in times like these when home improvement projects are increasing, time is of the essence, and we believe this partnership will help contractors be more efficient and further exceed customer expectations.”
Leap also took the steps to revamp its own product during the “pandemic pause,” launching a new version with an updated user interface, automated estimates, custom pricing and more. The platform now digitizes every stage of the roofing sales process, including measuring, estimating, financing and contracting, and goes a step further with real-time homeowner communication, inventory look-up, pricing, and contact management.
The tech explosion is also spreading into the financing arena. In June, Roofr and PowerPay, one of the country’s fastest-growing financing technology companies in the home improvement space, announced a deal that provides consumer financing program with low rates and 0% dealer fees.
Roofing is one of PowerPay's largest financing categories, with a total of $475 million provided in loans for roofing projects.
"We’re excited to welcome Roofr to our growing list of integrated partners,” said PowerPay Co-founder David Haas in a written statement. “It's a perfect partnership of like-minded companies that focus on using technology to increase the speed and reduce the cost of doing business.”
From customer communications and business operations to tracking and financing, the industry is moving fast toward total digitization. The experts don’t see that stopping, whether roofing is ready or not.
“Homeowners have been steadily moving toward digital experiences. Digitizing the entire process of measuring, quoting, and delivering estimates to customers not only improves safety and efficiency for home service providers, but also decreases project turn-around time,” Fingles said. “Reducing wasted time means more satisfied customers and more revenue in a home service providers’ pockets.”