RC: How would you assess the state of the roofing industry in 2022?
Lynn Foster (LF): When you zoom out and look at 2021 from an industry perspective, there’s a couple different things we saw. First, it was a slower year in terms of storms meaning a lot of insurance restoration roofers were having to be more aggressive and agile in terms of their sales process, or they had to shift their focus more to retail sales. From what I’ve read online, it seems like we’re likely to see an increase in storms in 2022, similar to how the 2020 season was.
RC: How did the supply shortages of 2021 impact business and where did you find stability?
LF: As a company, AccuLynx wasn’t impacted by the global supply chain crisis in the same way our customers have been. Instead, we fielded a lot of questions and concerns from our customer base and focused on supporting them with key integrations that allowed them to have the most up-to-date product lists.
So, for us, a big thing was our direct integrations with ABC Supply and SRS Distribution. We’re able to show our customers real-time pricing and availability at each of these retailers so that they can create accurate estimates. These integrations also allow our customers to directly place orders through AccuLynx, eliminating the need to manually pick up the phone and place an order with their local branch.
RC: What do you think was learned and how will that impact the industry moving forward?
LF: I think one of the biggest things we’ve learned over the past two years is that we can conduct business remotely even in the contracting world — and that’s something we never thought was possible back in 2019. And while face-to-face interactions are ideal, not every customer interaction needs to be. We’ve actually even found that roofers can create more time and drive efficiency by taking some of these interactions digital.
RC: How did you help support contractors as their needs changed throughout the pandemic?
LF: For us, 2021 was really a continuation of 2020. We continued to face many of the challenges of 2020 throughout this year as our lives continued to be dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. And for AccuLynx, that meant that we continued to find ways to support roofing contractors while they worked remotely, or in a limited contact capacity.
With that, we saw a large amount of adoption in AccuLynx features that support remote work. We also saw roofers looking for new ways to sell. Unemployment rates were still high at the start of 2021, meaning that money was tight for many homeowners. Features like AccuFi take an expensive reroofing project and allow roofing contractors to offer homeowners financing options that fit into their monthly budget. Similarly, we saw many contractors take advantage of AccuPay or online payment processing tools that allow homeowners to pay by credit card, debit card, and e-check.
RC: What are you optimistic about in 2022?
LF: Looking ahead, I can say that I continue to worry about material and labor shortages. We’ve seen how these things affected our customers and the industry as a whole, and I am concerned that this will remain a trend in 2022. We’ve continued to see suppliers sending out notifications of price hikes. On the more positive side of things, I think we’ve learned to navigate living with coronavirus. So, moving into 2022, I’m looking forward to returning to an environment that more closely resembles normal. We’ve already seen in-person industry events pop back up. We just had IRE in August and we’re headed to New Orleans for the 2022 event. That definitely gives me hope.
RC: What are you proudest of as the industry tries to recover from the challenges of the past year or two?
LF: For me, I’m really proud of the fact that AccuLynx has created a phenomenal suite of products that allows contractors to grow and operate their businesses in a changing world. When I first joined AccuLynx nine years ago, I never would have thought that we’d become so reliant on technology in the face of a global pandemic. We’ve created these easy-to-use tools that can help any roofing business get organized and find efficiencies, leading to an increase in their own sales.