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.
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.