Customer Service Tips for Roofing Contractos

In a highly competitive, customer driven residential roofing market, the difference between getting the job or not can come down to the factor you may least expect: outstanding customer service. The way you treat your clients is becoming increasingly important in the age of social internet marketing, where perceived trustworthiness, reviews and references play a critical role in ensuring your business success. As a mostly residential and light commercial roofing company in MA (CoolFlatRoof.com), serving a niche IB flat roofing and metal roofing market, we have had many “oops” and “aha!” moments with our own clients that have shaped our customer service philosophy. Here are 6 of our best customer service practices that we swear by:

Leave the Job Site Clean

roof tear-off mess

Roofing can get real messy, and keeping the site clean is integral to customer satisfaction. The logic is simple: your client may not be able to appreciate the fine craftsmanship of your roof repair or installation, but she sure will notice if her property is a mess after you are done. Ideally, you clients should be left feeling like they have come home to a “white glove service”. A thorough clean up only takes an extra 30 minutes, but it will pay tremendous dividends in terms of customer appreciation and referrals.

Befriend the Neighbors

Meeting your new neighborsSurely, most of your time will be spent working on your client’s roof, but you will do yourself a great favor by making connections with the neighbors. When it comes to roofing, neighbors can be a pain, complaining about the noise, mess, etc, but they can also be a blessing in disguise, because they can potentially be your next clients. You can start building a positive relationship with the neighbors while doing some marketing along the way, by handing out letters letting them know that your crew will be a presence for the next few days/weeks. In the letter, include your contact information so that they can call or email you if they have any complaints, or if they want a roofing estimate. You can take it even a step further and include a discount coupon for your services. It is also a good idea to have a display sign on the front yard of your client’s home with your company’s name, contact info and a Free Estimate offer.



Have a Zero-Defects Guarantee and Stick to It

qualityCompetition in the residential roofing market is pretty stiff, and thanks to the internet, homeowners are lot more savvy and informed about roofing. Many homeowners go to roofing forum websites to get other contractors’ opinions on whether their roof was installed correctly. So there is a good chance your work will be judged by a jury of other roofers, and those guys hold no punches. Because homeowners do so much research, when they choose to contact your company, chances are it means they are expecting you to be better than the 10 other companies they checked-out. This means that you should build on this initial vote of confidence and go above and beyond in your service to prove that you are THE BEST roofing contractor in your area. This zero-defects guarantee also means that if your customer complains about a job you have done, or if something is not installed correctly, you must fix it. Clients who are confident that you are not cutting corners and have their best interests in mind, will reward you with positive online reviews and referrals to their friends.

Manage Expectations and Over-deliver

To avoid client complaints and dissatisfaction, it is critical to manage expectations from the onset and to set the bar at a reasonable level. However, this is just the first part of the success recipe. The second is that your crew should always strive to over-deliver and surpass the client’s initial expectations. Obviously, it is not possible to impress a client in all areas, but if you pick a couple of things that homeowners tend to focus on, such as communication, timeliness, explaining what you are doing every step of the way, your extra effort will definitely be noticed.

Respond Quickly

Questions and Answers - Magnifying Glass on WordsGood communication is the key to keeping your clients happy and it should start right from the first point of contact-the estimate. When a client fills out an estimate form or calls to get a quote, be sure to get back to them within 2 hours. Why not 24 hours? Because in 24 hours your prospective client could already have a signed contract with another roofing company.

The same 2-hour response time should be standard for existing customers, who are calling with questions or issues regarding your work. Your clients should feel that you are accessible, attentive to their needs and can answer their questions in a knowledgeable, professional manner. The more information you provide your clients when answering their questions, the more they will be inclined to view you as an expert to whom they can entrust their roofing project.

High Maintenance Clients

We have all dealt with really difficult, high maintenance clients, whose complaints keep us up at night. This type of a client can typically be panged right off the bat, from the first conversation. Some companies have an unwritten policy of walking away from such clients and sparing themselves the headache. Obviously, if someone is a nut case, you should not waste your time, but many high maintenance clients may be worth the extra effort. Why? Because if you go the extra mile to please them, their reviews and references will have a lot more weight. You can be sure that this client will tell their friends about you, and they will be super impressed, knowing how difficult it is to please Mr/Ms X. Winning over a few difficult clients and posting their reviews on your site can be a great way to establish a stellar reputation and attract more customers.

Resources for Roofing Contractors

Roofing Estimator App – mobile roof estimating software (iPhone and Android) for roofers – this tool will help you calculate any steep slope roof in less than a minute, and will produce a detailed report, listing all roof sizes, breakdown cost of all materials needed for the job, and all prices, including Material Totals, Labor Costs, and the Total Roof Price. All results can be saved and exported. The estimator has full access to change all material prices and labor costs.

Art of Roofing Sales – how contractors can improve their roof selling skills.

Roofing Contractor Marketing Guide – how contractors can improve marketing online, and crush the competition with much smaller advertising budgets.



Best Phone for Roofing Contractors (no, it's not iPhone – it's Samsung Galaxy Note)

The best phone for roofers is Samsung Galaxy Note – it has 5.3″ screen, stylus (S-pen) note taking, great camera, and it’s super fast! Watch this “quick” video to see how Galaxy Note stacks up against iPhone and HTC Inspire 4G, and how I use it in my daily roofing work (video is 10 minutes long):

Updated Jan 25, 2012 – Galaxy Note will be available on AT&T on Feb. 18 (rumored release date) for $299 + tax, with 2-years contract. Your monthly bill on AT&T will be over $100.

However, I recommend getting the unlocked European version, and using Galaxy Note on Straight Talk with a $45 Unlimited plan – unlimited minutes, 4G web and SMS text messages!

Straight Talk (ST) is essentially an AT&T network, so you get the same coverage and save at least $50 / month. To get Galaxy Note to work on Straight Talk, basically all you do is buy an ST Nokia e71 phone for $49, pull out the SIM card and put it into the UNLOCKED (European) Galaxy Note – and enjoy great cell coverage, speed and savings!

Read more details about this at the end of this article.

Why Roofing Contractors need Smart Phones:

In the 21 century, if you as a contractor cannot communicate with your clients, suppliers and employees in real time – and I don’t just mean phone calls – you are behind the curve, and your competition is beating you. You NEED a smart phone!

As for me, I felt the need for a true smart-phone ever since I became a roofer (no – not those ridiculous and useless HP / Compaq PDAs or Windows 6 phones). Since I am a geek and a roofer, I look at smart phones from a perspective of both – a roofing contractor and a phone geek. Three years ago I felt a real need for a smart phone.
Following a friend’s advice, I got a Nokia E71 on AT&T. Unfortunately, AT&T really crippled this phone and also the small non-touch screen limited it’s internet capabilities, making it rather useless for what I was looking for – an ultimate phone for full internet access, easy email communication, ability to send and receive pictures, PDF and DOC files (to review the roof blue prints and photos of roofs).

Two months later I got rid of Nokia and got an iPhone 3GS, which at the time met ALL my requirements and had REAL competition. Existing Android devices (at the time – summer 2009) were not ready for me. Later that year, when Nexus one came out, it pretty much matched the iPhone 3GS and surpassed it in some areas, but I was already under contract, and did not want/need to switch.

My iPhone 3GS and Inspire 4G side-by-side (both running our Roofing Calculator App)

image of Roofing calculator iphone & android - side by side

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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 🙂


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How to Market a Roofing Business Online

Marketing-for roofing contractorsThis is a general overview of how to successfully market a roofing business online, how to create a website that will convert your local homeowners into customers, bringing you free business in the form of online leads for virtually an unlimited period of time, and can completely change the way you acquire work.

By comparison, you can run an advertising budget, which can easily exceed $10000 per year, between $2000-5000 yellow pages ads, $75-100 roofing leads from online construction lead generators (which by the way are typically sold to at least 3 contractors, and are not exclusive to you), and paying anywhere from $2-9+ for PPC (pay per click) ads in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing ($3-4 is the typical cost of a roofing “click” in Boston, MA area, with the Google AdWords PPC program).

Just to let you know, this guide is part of a new series of articles on how to run and manage a roofing business. Check out the first part of this series – a guide on how to start a roofing business.

Why Should You Market Your Roofing Business Online?

Today, over 70% of residential construction work originates online*. The truth is soon enough all print media will be a ghost of the past, and only a few publications will still publish using paper. The same goes for advertising. Google made it’s 100s of billions of dollars in online advertising, and the trend is growing. To be successful, you need to utilize online advertising and marketing for your roofing business (and actually, pretty much any type of business).

I do not have a physical copy of the yellow pages at home, and every time they deliver it, it goes straight to the recycling bin. I’m sure I’m not alone here, and most roofing contractors I talk to have stopped using any type of yellow pages, and other types of print advertisement for that matter.

The internet offers SO many great tools to reach your potential customers, much more efficiently and far cheaper than print advertising, that it’s simply a waste of time and money to be old fashioned. For a relatively low one time investment, you can get a full roofing website up and running, describing everything your company does, showing off your work, and making it easy for your potential customers to reach you. This method will generate you a significantly greater number of customers than a $3000 / year half page ad in the yellow pages ever could! Then it’s only $7.49 per year for a .COM domain name and perhaps $6 per month to host your website.

However, just having a website will not get you work. You need actual homeowners or other interested people to visit your website, and you also need your website to convert these visitors into clients. So we now have two things that need to be done. Get site visitors (website traffic) and turn your site into a selling machine (visitor conversion).

Before You Begin – What You Should Expect From Marketing Your Business Online

You need to understand this one simple concept, which will save you a ton of aggravation and anxiety. Online marketing DOES NOT happen overnight, and you should not expect to get 100% of your business from your website for the first 6 months in the very least (assuming you put tremendous efforts into your web marketing campaign), and in the first year, realistically. However you need to do it yesterday, and soon enough your website should bring you most of your business.

However, in the mean time you will need to rely on your existing sources of getting work, and always do good work to get the free “word of mouth” work. Once you get your website running and your online marketing in place, it very well may become an never-ending fountain of roofing work for your business, as roofs ALWAYS leak!

What You Need To Know To Create a Successful Website

First, you will need to decide who will actually build your website. Most roofing contractors do not have enough knowledge of the internet and website building to do it themselves. However, there is enough information on the internet to learn how to do it.

For maximum efficiency, I would recommend hiring a web-designer (you can find one on Craigs List for about $300 – $500). If you would rather do it yourself, there are a number of free and fairly easy to use platforms for building websites with tutorials and different design themes to choose from. One of the most popular ones and the one that I personally use is WordPress. Others, which may not be as user friendly to novices are Drupal and Joomla.

Note, in building your website – make sure you first grasp the basics of SEO and then find a web designer who incorporates SEO concepts into the website (on-site SEO). Once your website is complete, start working on your off-site SEO campaign.

It is very important that you hire a web designer who understands SEO and specify to him / her the following: Meta Tags for each page on your site (Title, Description, Keywords), SEO friendly URLs (web page addresses), and tell them NOT to add their own links anywhere on your site – you are paying them for the work, and do not need to give them credit, unless you are OK with it, but I still recommend they don’t.

Next, you will need to go and buy a Domain Name and hosting for your website – preferably with same company. Check out GoDaddy $7.49 .COM Domain Name Sale. GoDaddy.com also provides Website Hosting Plans from $1.99 per month, with unlimited bandwidth.

Also, make sure your webmaster DOES NOT buy your domain name for you and DOES NOT host your website, unless you want to buy it from them for thousands of dollars a couple of years later. Many “prick” webmasters will tell you it’s easier to do it that way, but it does not benefit you in any way, and there are too many scammers out there.

Once your website is complete, YOU will need to write original (new) content for it – that is useful guides for your potential customers about roof leaks, how to choose a contractor (everybody’s doing this one 🙂 and so on. One of our most popular guides for homeowners is a flat roof repair guide. We get an average of 200 visits per day to this page alone!

How To Get Visitors To Your Website

Most homeowners with roof leaks (those that don’t live in the stone age of yellow pages and local newspapers) will go to Google or Yahoo or Bing, to search for information on how to solve a roof leak, or to find a contractor to do it for them.  Therefore, you want these homeowners to find your company at the top of their search results – this will drive the most traffic to your website. But how do you do it? Well, you need to optimize your website for search engines like Google, using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Landing Page Optimization (LPO). While you can hire a professional to manage your SEO campaign and in some cases it is worth it, you can also do a lot of the basics yourself, because learning SEO is not rocket science.

If you decide to outsource the SEO work, you will still NEED to know about it and know how to do it in order to make sure that you are getting your money worth and that your SEO efforts work. Also it is rather difficult and expensive to find a good SEO person / company, and most small businesses either can’t afford it or work with scammers and / or unqualified “professionals”.

In the end you can choose to both do it yourself and outsource it at the same time. However, if you master the skill, you will have most success doing it yourself, especially that most roofing businesses will rely on local SEO, which is not as involved as general (organic) SEO. However, with new algorithm changes in how Google displays local search results, you will still need strong general SEO to rank well in local searches.

Make sure this domain name is Local SEO friendly – for example “CantonMAroofingcontractor.com” – this will tell search engines that you are a local roofing contractor and increase the chances of you getting more local traffic in your city. We will discuss issues with large metropolitan areas in later articles, or you can always find better information on specific Local SEO sites.

We will not teach you all the Jedi tricks of SEO – there are plenty of sources on the internet for you to read. We will introduce you to major aspects of online marketing that you will need to complete in order to get work online – and trust me on this one – there is plenty of work and most of it you can have with ZERO advertising costs, for free that is!

Specifying Your Marketing Goals and Expectations

Most roofing companies install one roof per day (assuming you install mostly asphalt shingles) and to achieve that kind of work flow from your website, you will need to put a lot of time and effort into your website and SEO efforts. I also recommend that in the beginning, you set your expectations low, so when success comes unexpectedly, you will more than notice it.

Basically, an average conversion rate of a contractor’s website is between 2 and 4 % of your local traffic, and let’s assume you will not create a kick-ass website right off the bat, and your conversion will be about 2%. Therefore you will need to have 50 local visitors – mostly homeowners – per day (these visitors need to be ready and willing to install a new roof) to sell one job per day. Because you actually work about 4 out of 7 days per week, we will reduce that number to about 35 visitors per day. This is not difficult to achieve, but not easy either.

Additional SEO and Marketing Resources

Here is a list of very helpful roofing directories, where you can list your business website.

Our own RoofingCalculator.org roofing directory.

CoolFlatRoof.com green building directory, which features a general roofing category, as well as metal roofing, and green roofing categories.

NewEnglandMetalRoof.com construction directory with multiple category options.

AllConstructionDirectory.com – general purpose contractors directory.

HomeImprovementDir.com – another general purpose construction and roofing directory.

We will be updating the above list with new roofing and construction resources for contractors, as well as posting new guides related to roofing business marketing.