To stay viable in business, every roofing contractor must have a good sense of what their local customers want and need. But, once in a while it pays to step back and take a look at some of the broader trends in the industry.

Each quarter, we interview thousands of homeowners to better understand the perspectives, drivers and barriers they experience throughout their process for making decisions about home improvement projects in roofing, solar, windows and HVAC. 

Looking at the results from our latest wave of interviews, especially prospects interested in roofing, we found three take-aways that would specifically benefit roofing contractors.

1. For Many Homeowners, Collecting Quotes is the Only Research They Do

When homeowners were asked how they primarily researched their roofing project, “online articles” were the most frequent answer at 43 percent. However, a full 33 percent of respondents request calls from contractors without doing any research at all — more so than in any of the other trades we cover. Further, only 31 percent said they expect to spend at least 10 hours researching their project.

The takeaway? Be ready to educate your customers, and don’t assume they are informed about the choices they’ll need to make. By becoming an educational resource for your homeowner customers, you can earn their trust and ultimately, their business.

2. Homeowners Don’t Know How to Budget for a New Roof

Since many homeowners don’t research their potential roofing project, they don’t know what it should cost them. A full 75 percent of respondents said they didn’t have a budget when they started requesting quotes. 

In cases where the homeowner immediately needed a roof to prevent rain from entering their home, they might not have a budget due to their need for rapid installation. In less time-sensitive cases, the lack of a budget means they’ll need more education about costs. The earlier that’s addressed, the less time and effort is wasted. 

Among the survey group was a cohort who considered, but ultimately did not move forward on, a roofing project. Of those, more than 50 percent reported halting due to cost.  

The takeaway? You might be able to gain a competitive edge by offering discounts or rebates. If rebates or coupons don’t work for your business, consider helping with financing. More than 50 percent of respondents said they would like to finance at least half of their roofing project. Consider partnering with a financing solution. That’s exactly why Modernize recently entered into a partnership with Renovate America. 

3. The Top Drivers of Winning Bids: References and Value Pricing

This point probably does not come as a surprise. Our data shows that the top two reasons homeowners chose the roofing contractor they ultimately worked with were personal references and the price quoted, each accounting for about one quarter of the responses.  

For references, part of the solution is keeping up your digital presence with solid online ratings and reviews, engaged social media profiles, and a clean, modern website. However, there still is no replacement for the hard-won praise a homeowner hears from their neighbors, friends and family. Doing great work and delivering professional service are still the most important factors in obtaining more business.  

Not too far behind is doing so at a reasonable price. But how do they know the price is right if, as stated above, they don’t do much research? Most homeowners report expecting to get quotes from two (47 percent) or three (27 percent) contractors. Only 11 percent said they would only obtain a single quote. So, while a great reputation can get you to the table, you will likely be competitively bidding most of the time. Be sure to spoon-feed homeowners a clear price with detailed line items because our homeowners reported “unclear pricing” as the second-largest deterrent to hiring a roofing contractor. 

The takeaway? The easiest way to lose bids would be unclear communication. That means breaking down the elements, and delivering email and text responses that are succinct, logical, and timely.  

There is no one single silver bullet to success in the competitive roofing industry. But our research reinforces the importance of some key fundamentals: Get references based on doing great work, empathize with and educate homeowners on their upcoming projects, and give them a path to financial assistance where necessary. Then enjoy the success of turning more leads into completed projects.

Jason Polka is the CEO of Modernize, a company that uses business intelligence software to connect homeowners with contractors. The company’s business model is designed to simplify and remove any friction from the process of hiring a contractor.