Frank Farmer, president of American Metal Roofs, detailed his process for obtaining leads and converting them into sales in his METALCON presentation, “Building a Profitable Metal Roof Company While Others Struggle.”

Frank Farmer, president of American Metal Roofs, detailed his process for obtaining leads and converting them into sales in his METALCON presentation, “Building a Profitable Metal Roof Company While Others Struggle.” Farmer attended medical school, sold windows and built a franchise tax business before forming American Metal Roofs in Flint, Mich., in 2000. With 6.5 million in revenue despite Michigan’s struggling economy, American Metal Roofs has been recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.

When it comes to metal roofs, many homeowners do a lot of research before they make a decision to buy, noted Farmer, so it pays to market to people who visit the company’s Web site. “Twenty percent of our business is from old leads,” he said.

When it comes to lead generation, the Internet has changed everything, according to Farmer. “Customers now do their own research and at the end they are just picking a vendor,” he said. “The sale is made when value exceeds price.”

But all the marketing in the world won’t help a company if it’s not profitable. Farmer had some words of warning for contractors who are unsure of their pricing. “Effective marketing will only accelerate the inevitable,” he said. If you’re losing money on every job, effective marketing will only drive you out of business sooner. “You need to be profitable, and you can only be profitable if you have the proper margin.”

Farmer suggested using hot buttons to grab the audience’s attention. “Hot buttons are things that bring pleasure or irritation,” he said. “Irritation gets more attention. When people are upset, they take action.”

With roofing, hot buttons could be a shorter than expected life span from their existing roof system, excess heat or poor installation, stated Farmer. “If negative hot buttons get their attention, tell them how you’ll solve the problem and give a strong call to action based on greed. What’s the No. 1 thing people hate about roofs in your area? That’s the hot button, and you can craft your ad to get a response.”