Provided by the ABC Supply Pro Council

Like nearly every business sector, the roofing industry is experiencing supply chain issues. The pandemic has affected production and shipping, creating a building materials shortage. At the same time, a homebuilding and remodeling boom has occurred as people have spent more time at home over the last two years. These challenges intensify during storm season, when extreme weather events drive the demand for timely repair jobs. Even if you’re not in a part of the country that’s affected by the expected above-average hurricane season this year, you may feel the supply shortage’s crunch. 

The supply shortage is likely to continue well into the busy roofing season, so it’s essential to consider how best to prepare to navigate these challenges. Consider these six recommendations. 

1. Plan Ahead

Backups in the construction supply chain mean that materials can sometimes be delayed by weeks or even months. That’s why it’s important to order materials as soon as possible. Also, use real-time weather websites and apps to stay informed about projected storms. The earlier you know a storm is coming, the earlier you can start preparing for the work to come. 

Roofing products aren’t the only materials that are in short supply. Consider what other supplies you might need for storm season and place orders ahead of time. This could include products like tarps and plywood that allow your crew to start taking care of immediate needs when they arrive at a jobsite. 

Also consider what marketing materials, like postcards or door hangers, you might need for storm season. You may want to have those designed ahead of time, so that you’re ready to order them right when a storm hits, or look for a targeted mail program that specializes in quick turnarounds for storm season. 

2. Learn About Materials

Ahead of storm season, take the time to learn from your supplier what comparable products are available from other manufacturers. Being knowledgeable about all the products available to you can help you quickly and confidently make product recommendations to your customers, especially when their first choice or your preferred manufacturer may be delayed or back-ordered. 

Also, do your research to find out if any new materials are available, especially if those products offer storm protection. In addition to your supplier, trade publications and industry associations are good resources for staying informed on the latest materials

3. Ensure Orders Are Accurate

The last thing you want to do with long lead times is redo an estimate or reorder materials because you didn’t have the most current pricing information or you mismeasured. Be prepared with tools, like drones, and software you’ll need to ensure you’re placing accurate orders. ABC Supply customers can use myABCsupply to request measurement services, check the latest pricing, build estimates and review order details for accuracy. Industry-leading software integrated with myABCsupply includes:

4. Lean on Suppliers for Support

Keep in close contact with your building material suppliers, who can keep you updated on what products they anticipate having in stock and when they’ll arrive. Suppliers with nationwide networks tend to offer more flexibility in finding materials, as they can sometimes move materials between locations. Your suppliers can also provide letters from manufacturers verifying price increases, which can help justify any additional costs you may need to pass on to your customers.

5. Update Contracts

Supply chain issues may delay your timeline, and rising material costs may mean that your initial estimates become outdated quickly. Adding a clause or language related to delays is crucial to ensure that you’re not in breach of your contract should the supply shortage affect when you can finish a project. Build flexible pricing into your contracts to pass any increased material costs on to the customer. Consult a lawyer to revise your contracts before storm season kicks off to avoid scrambling to update them when you’re busy with storm work. 

6. Adapt Your Processes

The past two years have demonstrated the importance of adaptability. Ahead of storm season, think through any processes or habits that might need to adapt to the challenges of the supply shortage. For example, instead of providing all possible materials to a customer when quoting a job, present only options that you’ll be able to access. Your supplier can help you determine ahead of time which products are most likely to be in stock, and you’ll avoid tough conversations with a customer down the road if their chosen product is back-ordered. 

While the building materials shortage isn’t something you can control, there are actions you can take to minimize its impact on your business. By making some changes in how you prepare for storm season, you’ll set yourself up for success.