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Roofing Guide for Contractors

Being a roofing contractor is both difficult and rewarding. However, to be successful, you need to take care of so many things all at the same time, that it often becomes overwhelming. Between fierce competition from established roofing outfits and illegal / uninsured contractors, who drop the prices for everybody, rising materials’ prices, as well as other costs of doing business, you need to stay on top of things, and ahead of your competition.

Wondering how you keep on losing business, when your prices are more than fair than the competitions’? In this guide you will find many resources and information, which can make your everyday tasks of running a roofing company, easier and more streamlined, so you can actually do the roofing part. This guide will help you avoid spending all your time chasing dead leads, or getting a competitor’s quote shown to you, which is half your price.

Note – we recommend that you read the “Roofing Business Marketing Guide”, whether you are a seasoned contractor or just starting out in the business, as it contains information on how to generate your own leads without having to pay for them.

We have divided this guide into three sections (click on the link to jump to the desired section):

  • Technology for contractors – tools, software, social media, online marketing – these are all essential tools, that when implemented efficiently, will streamline your business and allow you to concentrate on installing roofs.
  • Info for a new roofing contractor – from establishing your company, to getting work, to running and managing the business – in this section you will find answers to many of your questions, which I had to learn through trial and error, and you shouldn’t repeat many of my mistakes.
  • Info for established contractors – though you’ve been roofing for many years, there are always new tricks you can learn to make your business more profitable, and for some old school roofers, rejuvenate your company from stagnation. As they say, an old dog can always learn new tricks 🙂


Technology For Roofing Contractors

To be a successful contractor in the 21st century, you need to be on top of technological developments that are actually created to simplify your work. I believe that every contractor should have a work laptop, a smartphone – iPhone / Android / BlackBerry, etc. for mobile email and web, and possibly a tablet (such as iPad, PlayBook* or XOOM, etc.) for doing in-home presentations to your clients.

Also, every roofing contractor absolutely NEEDS a well designed and search engine optimized website. Today, your website is your face and that is how most of your customers do and will find you.

Additionally, here, at RoofignCalculator.org, we have created a few tools that will improve your efficiency in roof estimating and help you sell more jobs, while spending less time. These tools are made for both your mobile devices, as well as your website.

Roofing Calculator app for mobile phones and other devices. The calculator helps you quickly price almost any roof, and generates lists of materials needed for the job, cost of those materials materials, your labor and total roof prices. This app has multiple settings, to make it work for nearly any roof, as simple or complicated as it is.

Image of Roofing Calculator app main screen Image of Roofing Calculator app results screen

The app will also improve your sales closing ratio, by enabling you to provide a roofing quote on the spot, without having to go to your truck or office, to work it out. This app works on all major mobile platforms – iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

Android Roofing Calculator – this is our original app, and developing it was both challenging and rewarding, and ultimately gave us inspiration to move onto other mobile platforms.


iPhone Roofing Calculator
– after releasing Roofing Calculator for the Android Platform, we began developing the iPhone version. From the technical perspective, this was the most difficult app to make, as the platforms are so different, and our goal was to maintain the same functionality, look and feel across these two mobile phone systems.

BlackBerry Roofing Calculator – at this time, the app will work only on BalckBerry PlayBook tablet, which runs the latest version of RIM o.s. We are hopeful that all future phones and tablets will run this new os, making our app available on all future smart phones made by RIM.

* Note that we will be porting our Android roofing calculator to BlackBerry system, and to run the roofing calculator app on PlayBook, RIM will be releasing special software layer that enable Android Apps to run seamlessly. This software will be released sometime in the summer of 2011. As soon as it’s available, we will release the roofing calculator into BlackBerry App World store.

In addition to the Calculator App, we also developed a system for you to quickly add our Free Online Roofing Calculator software to your website. This will help your customers estimate roofing prices right on your websites.

Install a roofing calculator software for your website in as little as 5 minutes.

The pros of this include filtering out most price shoppers / tire kickers, before they even call you. Imagine how much time you will save if you don’t have to meet with “clients” that will never buy form you – those who just want a quote, for whatever reason.

Potential cons of this include a seeming effect of getting fewer calls / roof estimate submissions through your website. However, our experience shows that having a roofing calculator on your website in fact attracts more site visitors, and for most homeowners it is important to know “how much”, and many are often too lazy to call. This way they find out the price and when they are ready to buy, they will call you, if your website convinced them to work with you.

Info For New Roofing Contractors

Starting a roofing company is not an easy task, and challenges that you will have to overcome can often be discouraging. Not only will you have to invest a decent sum of money into a new business that may not pay off, you will also have to protect your company from dishonest clients, competition that is out to get you, and uncle Sam’s all-grabbing hands. Below are some tips on how to make this process easier and to succeed in your new endeavor.

How To Start a Roofing Business Guide will walk you through the steps you will need to take to establish your new company, explain how to get your name out there and how to start getting leads.

Marketing a Roofing Business – this guide concentrates on acquiring work in this tough economy, with least expenses, and is centered around online marketing. It also covers why you will want to stay away from the 19th century marketing methods, such as local newspapers and yellow pages, why they are ineffective and too expensive.


Starting a Roofing Business With a Partner
– are you considering opening a roofing company with your buddy? Here is a list of pros and cons of having a partner in a roofing business, based on my personal experience, of working with a partner for a few years. While it’s easier to run a business when you can rely on your partner, there are many things you should consider and know, before you “marry” into a business.

Info For Established Roofing Contractors

Well – we have nothing to teach you because you already know it all 🙂 … Just kidding of course, but seriously – I will not even attempt to teach you. I just wanted to stretch a point that if you still do not have a website – you absolutely need to make one. Whether you will attempt to do it yourself or hire your nephew to do it, or actually go to an established web design firm to have them build it for you – here are a few things you should definitely know:

First and foremost – why you NEED a website (info for unbelievers):

Up until last year, my neighbor Mike, who has been a framing contractor for the last 20 years, has never had issues finding work. For the past few years, most of his work was from GC’s building new homes. However, this past year, work has dried out and competition reduced prices by almost 20%, while everyone’s costs went way up. He does not have a website, and does not even know how to send a text message from his phone (mind you he is only about 45) – even my dad who is 73 can send a text / email and uses an iPad on a regular basis. Mike does not believe in websites and hopes for the best – I wish him luck!

Now my other framer friend, whose work also dried up, had my other friend – a web-savvy roofing/siding contractor – built him a website. A rather simple site with just about 10 pages, half of which are pictures, and a decent, easy to navigate design. His crews are busy again! Now, about 75% of his work comes through his website, and directly from homeowners, so the GC is not collecting the markup.

The point is – even if you came to rely on word of mouth or GC’s giving you work, nothing is permanent, and you need to explore and develop other streams of getting leads, and finding work. In my opinion and experience, having a website is the best thing you can do for your business – it’s the least expensive investment into marketing that will keep on paying off for years to come.

Here is a link to Roofing Business Marketing Guide, which also walks you through the ins and outs of getting a website.

The main things you should avoid when getting a site built for you:

Always register your own domain name – the .COM or whatever you choose Domains are cheap and easy to register, but a well developed domain is worth much more than a design and hosting of your site. If an unscrupulous “web developer” gets a hold of your domain name – i.e. registers it “for you” and manages it – if things go south you loose your web site!

I know of TOO many examples when businesses lost their websites, which were well established, and tool a few years to develop. Don’t become a victim of such scams!

You can register a domain name for $7.99 per year with GoDaddy and get website hosting for $1.99 / month.

Another VERY important part of creating a successful website is having it show up in the search engine results, when homeowners are searching for a roofing contractor. This is called SEO or search engine optimization and it is the second, yet never ending step you will need to take, when building a site. Once again, this topic is also covered in the Roofing Marketing Guide. As part of your SEO efforts, you will want to list your site in as many online roofing resources and directories. One such resource is our own roofing & construction directory, in which you can list your site for free (though we will be very picky as to which sites we will list, until we expand the directory and add categories for states).

This pretty much covers the most important topics for roofing contractors, and will keep you busy for a while. Read our Roofing Blog to keep up with new developments, and new information for roofers.


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8 thoughts on “Roofing Guide for Contractors

  1. paul frascatore

    I have a few questions on how to use the product.

    Where do i enter dumspters and pricing?
    Where do i enter # of pipe flashing into a roof calc?
    etc.

    THanks

    Reply
    1. Leo - roofer with a vision Post author

      Hi Paul,

      Both items can be added into Misc. filed at the bottom of main screen. Second item (pipe flashing) can be priced into Misc items in Roofing Materials profile.
      Tear-off dump fees can be optionally added into tear-off price per sq. in Roof Settings.

      There are many ways to do it. Just choose the one you like better.

      Reply
  2. Sture Forsell

    I am sure you all worked hard to improve the app. If this going to work in all 50 States, there is a glitch under “settings, Company Profile, License” you made the “License” input numeric only. I am sure the all the regulations in different States and you try your best to comply. In the great State of Minnesota, they change our License Numbers to Alphanumeric. All “Building Contractors” begins with “BC” followed by their number.

    Reply
    1. Leo - roofer with a vision Post author

      Hi Sture,

      I will get this fixed asap. There are few other things I noticed only after release that I wanted to change. Working on it right now.

      I wanted to get this out to you guys and ladies as soon as possible because this update was already delayed, so i missed a couple of small things while testing.

      Besides the license # thing – how is the app working out for you?

      Let me know if you are using iPhone or Android version.

      Also if you have any other suggestions about usability / accuracy, etc., and if you want to see some additional features – let me know.

      Additionally, if you can leave comments / rating on App Store or Android Market (depends on your platform), I would really appreciate it. We get very few comments from roofers, and don’t know what YOU guys want to see in this app. Some feedback would be great, and will help us make the app better for everyone.

      PS – if you register the app – first 100 people who register will get a creative (funny) Roofing Calculator t-shirt. This will actually be a very nice shirt (not one of those $3 ones), and a cool/funny graphics on it!

      Thanks.

      Reply
  3. steven tamplin

    im from Australia , and own a roofing business in brisbane we do commercial metal roofing and rhienzinc works mainly for teir one builders and government, i like the app but i was wondering is there any way of changing it to metric system as i can not use it this way
    thanks for your time
    Steven Tamplin
    (Director )0410698802

    Reply
    1. Leo - roofer with a vision Post author

      Hi Steven

      First – thank you for purchasing Roofing Calculator app and registering it! 🙂

      As for metric system – I am planning to implement it in near future, as well as many other useful things – we are not done with V2.0 … and since you registered your copy you will one of the first to know.

      Now I have certain issues with implementing metric system, and was hoping you (or someone else who deals with metric every day) could help me find answers.

      Here is the thing – the way our algorithm works – all calculations a tied to FEET, so I need to know exactly every aspect of roofing in metric:

      Namely:

      Length of drip edge
      Typical Length and Width of Ice & Water shield and most common underlayment (whatever you use in Australia, and also England / Europe).

      I assume roof is calculated in Sq. M. so that can be taken car of.

      Coverage / Exposure of Ridge Cap for asphalt shingles / per bundle

      Typical length of Ridge vent

      Plywood sheet sizes

      Roof Pitch – do you use degrees or pitch? Here we use X over 12 inches to calculate pitch – what is used in AU / UK / Europe?

      Anything also you can think of when it comes to metric system specifics.

      I know you mostly install metal roofing – I will try to build in some metal roof functionality into calculator – but there are so many nuances with panel widths – especially on Hip roofs, that it will take a while until I have a working model – I already had some attempts, but hip roofs were the issue that me and my programmer got stuck on…

      Once again – thanks for buying our app. We will keep improving it!

      Also – could you leave a rating / feedback for the app on App Store please – I would appreciate it.

      Leo.

      PS – I’m also sending this to you by email.

      Reply
      1. Maxime

        I live in the Falmouth Maine area. I recently puaehrscd a home with a low sloped roof and it is leaking. I was hoping to get some advice on how to repair the leak myself. Here is the situation: The roof is a low sloped dormer with a shed roof. It only leaks in winter when snow is present and the days are warm and nights are cold. I assume the ice is backing up under the the three tab shingles. I was hoping I could tear the three tabs off and Grace Ice and Water Shield the entire roof deck and use architectural shingles instead of rolled roofing. I really don’t like the looks of rolled roofing and the roof is seen often, as it downhill of the road. Please give me your comments on the pros and cons of what I would like to do. ThanksMark

        Reply