These are some interesting times. In the world of business and roofing we are in the midst of change (as usual), and the secret to success always seems to be knowing what that change will bring. We all must plan for our future without really knowing what that future brings.
I tend to oversimplify things, and my view of the future is greatly influenced by my past experiences. So this little rant (which arguably will have little value for anything much more than my own entertainment) appears in the form of this blog instead of the more formal editor’s note.
It is fairly clear to me that the economy and markets are on the upswing. They all went so far down a few years back and stayed down so long that everything looks like up. The feeling that things are looking up has been around for several years now, but 2013 seems to have brought most consumers and investors to the point where they are not afraid of their own shadows. Finally.
The June issue of Roofing Contractor is going to cover maintenance, repair, and restoration along with retrofit roofing. The slant with maintenance, repair, and restoration will have a decidedly commercial spin. This has been the silver lining for the roofing industry in the cloud known as the Great Recession. So that was something good that came from something not-so-good.
So here’s the question: If the economy is on the upswing and we are headed for some exceptionally good times, how do you configure your roofing business to take the greatest advantage of it?
I think the answer for roofing contractors is the same as it is in all businesses: people. The people you employ, the people you do business with, and anyone who influences these folks (like spouses and circles of friends and associates). Recruiting, selecting, training, managing, and motivating the right people will bring your business success. The team that makes up your roofing business in this up cycle will clearly define how well you are going to do.
Of course there is a lot more to it than that, but everything begins and ends with people — their ability to understand your mission along with their ability and willingness to execute. I would rather have a poorly-financed business in a tough market with good people than a well-financed business in a good market staffed by losers. It is not as much fun and by the end of the cycle the “well-financed” roles will have reversed themselves in these two scenarios.
Now you combine a great team of people with a well-financed and sound business plan and you can really have some fun in the roof-contracting business.
The season is upon us. Business prospects seem to be improving each and every day. These are all good things. As this cycle plays itself out, try and remember that economies and markets are all cyclical things. “Up” never lasts forever. And, thankfully, neither does “down.”
Why not leverage this up cycle to be better prepared for the coming down cycle? No, I do not see one coming, but I know it will eventually. Do whatever it takes to set aside the capital it will take to operate your roofing business through some lean times (even years). Do whatever it takes to make sure your best people will be around through this cycle so your business can take advantage of the investments you have made finding them, hiring them, training them, and rewarding them for their good work in your business.
One of my mentors in business, Julien Benjamin, used to talk about recessions in the best of times. Years in business taught him that while the good times are rolling, the tough times are constantly lurking around the corner. He operated his family business for around 30 years, always making a profit, and always growing. We, those of us who worked with him, always thought his fears were unfounded, but we were always relieved when a recession would hit and our finances remained in good order.