Mistakes contractors make before they even start installing a roof

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Mistakes contractors make before they even start installing a roof

 

When I was contracting I lived in my own little bubble, I did things a certain way and I assumed everyone else did too. My assumption was that since I followed the manufacturer's instructions, everyone else did too. It made sense to me since they make the stuff why not install the way they say, right? As a matter of fact, the best advice I got starting out was from a friend of mine who pointed to a shingle wrapper and said: "the instructions are right there." Every manufacturer prints their instructions right on the packaging for all the materials they make, there is literally no excuse.

 
If you tweaked a few things in your business, you could give yourself a raise without getting a single new client. If you really work hard and turn those mistakes into lessons learned that become victories you will no doubt see a substantial increase in your business from word of mouth alone. 
 
Reading the instructions 
 
True story, I am on a roof and the installer is about staple synthetic underlayment "Hey don't do that" he said, "why not?" I said "you cant staple that kind of materials, look it says it right there" and I pointed to the LARGE BOLD text that said DO NOT USE STAPLES. This guy had installed a few hundred roofs like this one at least. Of course when I came back the next day he stapled it anyways! So the first mistake that I see time and time again, is that contractors are not taking the time to really understand how and why materials are supposed to be installed and training their workers appropriately. 
 
Contractors let the installers do whatever they want
 
May be its to keep the peace, or the fact that our industry is suffering a labor shortage or some combination of many variables. But, too often I will find one crew on one roof doing a very different job as to the other crew doing the same system install for the same contractor. The contractor owns the liability and the warranty on the roof, why would they NOT enforce some kind of standard. Which takes me back to the first mistake I see, they don't read the instructions or train their employees well. Imagine you are hiring a person whom you will pay THOUSANDS of dollars or more who can't seem to find the time to learn how to do the job in the first place? By the way "that's how we've always done it" is not a good workmanship standard.
 
Get that phone would ya"
 
Moving off the topic of standards, the next very common problem that I have and hear my clients complain about their roofers is that they don't answer their phone. They don't return calls timely if at all, and when they do they apologize for being busy. As if we are are not all busy right? It cost money to make a phone a ring, why wast it by not taking the call? Also, when a person calls you they are spending their time reaching out to you, they decided to use them from their life they will never get back to call you. When you as the contractor, drop the ball on the call, you are wasting your money, letting an opportunity slip through your fingers and showing a lack of consideration for the other person's time. 
 
Show up and play nice 
 
Another very common, too common complaint my clients have about roofers is that they are hard to get ahold of (not answering the phone), they should up late or not at all and often unprepared. Especially during the monsoon season, but guess what guys. The monsoon season is not a secret and I just don't understand why every roofer (a most) I always caught off guard. If it was still a roofing contractor, I would see the monsoon season as Christmas time, its when Id close ALL my deals for the next and start establishing long relationships with my new clients. Contractors, if you say you don't have this problem, you just don't know you do. 
 
Oh yeah, let's not forget the play nice part. My clients tell me story after story about how some roofer came along and made a mess. Did not clean it up, or not very well anyway. And WORST was rude! So before you say "I was not rude" does it matter? The person who is paying your thinks you were or your guys were anyways. Perception matters and as a roofer said me to just yesterday "If we keep pissing off our customers we won't have any." He was responding to a complaint about one of his workers being rude and of course arguing that he was not and the client was just stupid. SOOOOO YEAH  
 
Be professional
 
I get it, most roofing contractors are tradespersons who came out of some company they thought sucked and they could do it better. But the fact is that a roofing company is a business, like any other business. If you want to succeed, you need to not just be a professional in all ways. This means you might need to learn more about business, running and business and being in business means. But it also means that you HAVE TO BECOME the example of what a professional roofing contractor should be. 
 
To summarize
  • Read the instruction and train your people
  • Answer the phone
  • Show up on time and ready to get it done 
  • The monsoon season is roofers Christmas be ready to receive the bounty 
  • Be professional and treat your company like a business
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If you don't like what I have to say, feel free to reach out and correct me. As they say Iron sharpens Iron and a healthy discussion can be good for both of us. 
If you can say it better, by all means, please do. We are always open to new contributors to this site. 

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Henry Staggs
Roof Consultant and Roofing Industry Advocate
 
 
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