Starting A Roofing Company? 4 Tips To Be Great

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roofing nottinghamWe’ve written four things you can do to ensure you are going to have a brilliant roofing career.

The advice in this article is written from the mistakes and successes we have had.

For sure we know that if you follow these 4 steps, you will have no problem running a roofing firm and can will be able to grow a team to help loads of people and their roofs.

Everything is covered from the way you should act on a day to day basis and how to build a great team. There is also an honourable mentions part at the end for other things you should be doing to enhance your roofing firm and ensure success. Success is going to be defined through helping and serving people so the article generally focuses on how you can help people through roofing.

Whether you’re roofing Nottingham, Mansfield, Derby, Leicester or anywhere else in the UK, these principles will set you in good stead to do well. Here goes!

1. Be Communicative and Punctual

A big problem in the trade world, and roofers are no different, is that a lot of them fail to stick to their word, keep their promises and respect other people’s schedules/ time.

If you want to be a great roofer, you can’t mess with people’s most important asset: their time. Respect it.

In the short term, if you say you’re going to quote for a garage roof replacement in Derby on Thursday at 1pm, show up to The property in Derby… at 1pm!

The truth is, a lot of tradesman run late and it’s not because they’re dodgy or bad people. They just underestimate how long their tasks are going to take then and then struggle to keep time-based promises to customers.

Being late and not sticking to your word give the impression you don’t care or lack care – this could destroy a potential deal as a roofer as you need to be conveying EXACTLY an excess of care and efficiency as you’re building the main shelter of their home!

Should you convey enough professionalism and trust that you’re lucky enough to work on someone’s roof, the second aspect of time you’re going to have to respect is the long term – how long have you estimated the job will take?

Plenty of roofers and tradesman in general get this part wrong. They think it’s better to underestimate timescales to impress the customer and make them happy that the job will be done really soon. Don’t do this.

If you’ve given a low estimate on how long a job will take and you have completed the job, the deadline will be approaching, your customer is going to have expectstions that the job should be done soon and you might start to do a big “no-no” in the roofing trade – rush.

Safety is a priority over time expectations over competition of a roofing job, whether that be a brand new roof, roof repairs, conservatory roof repairs… anything!

So, in order to stay punctual, you need to become a great estimator of time.

Let’s look at the short term.

If you think you can get to a customers’ house in a little village in Nottingham for 9:35am, confidently, don’t tell the customer you’ll be there for 9:30am ish.

Instead say: I’ll be there for 10am, but if I get there say 20 minutes early would you be ready for me to check your conservatory out then?

See the difference? Control time, it’s not your enemy!

Similarly, say you’ve got a garage roof replacement job in Nottingham that you think you can do in 2.5 days. You know you have another Job going on in derby which could take a bit of time too.

Why say you can do it in 3-4 days? Say it will take about 5-7 days.

The customer is actually going to be happier with the overall experience when the job gets completed seemingly quicker than expected rather than later than expected. It also means they can account for all the time you’re MEANT to be there and you don’t disrupt any of their plans (family visiting, party, using the conservatory etc.)

Now for the long term, just do something similar. Think a new roof job is going to take 2 weeks? Say it will take 3 and possibly 4 weeks to complete. The same thing happens. The customer can plan around you. You’ll probably get it completed sooner than expected and everyone is happy.

This guide isn’t to say we’ve never been late because a lot of what you’re reading is about the mistakes we’ve made in our roofing careers. You learn the most from your mistakes

What can you always do when emergencies and things like that inevitably happen?

Stay in Communication

You said you’re going to quote in West Bridgford for 11am but your kid has injured themselves at school and needs to be taken to the doctors. You can’t get anyone else to take your kid and you want to be there for them.

Do you have a network of roofers yet, where someone can go and make the most of the time slot the customer has given for you? That would be the best result. If not, you just have to stay in communication with the customer.

Always try to call in situations like this. It shows much greater care and effort on your end.

The customer will appreciate you contacting them over just thinking “I don’t have time I have to get to the school”. Of course you have time. Call them on loudspeaker on the way. If they don’t answer, drop them a quick text explaining your situation and that you can get back to them soon with a solution.

In short, don’t risk your reputation by disrespecting people’s time – you can always do something to stay punctual – become a great ‘over-estimator’ of time and stay in communication with your customer.

2. Get and Be Skilled

There’s no two ways about it, to be a great roofer you’re going to need a load of traits and thus seems obvious but it’s totally true – you need to get skilled-up at roofing.

If you’re just starting, there’s plenty of courses out there for roofing and learning the basics, like how to lay slates, working with pvc, tiling and all sorts.

Everyone’s going to need to start somewhere and if you know you want to be a roofer, you might as well take a course on specifically roofing as there’s a lot to know.

Alternatively, if you want to go for something that’s a bit more applicable to all similar trades, you could take a construction course and use the skills you learn and join a roofing team when you’ve finished – most of your practical skills should cross over well.

Do we have roofing apprenticeships at the moment?

We currently aren’t taking apprentices but this is a great option. You get to be paid on the job as you learn, hopefully from a seasoned roofing expert. Contact us if you would like to be considered for an apprenticeship after the Summer.

College

You also get to mix in college life and have a social life at the same time. College is obviously an opportunity not only to learn but to also have fun, party and do whatever else you need to do at that ripe age.

Don’t think of college as one big social though.

One thing we didn’t do but regretted it later as it added a lot of time onto our growth was not building a network of like minded tradesman.

Why? Well, a lot of trade skills cross over and you never know when you’re going to need someone else’s help.

Let’s say you’re a roofer and your company is growing. You want to now offer more services to your clientele to fulfil the demand and make more money. You decide to branch out to loft conversions as you’re familiar with that space.

Now you’re faced with the issue of: what if someone wants a bathroom in their loft conversion? If you’ve met people at college that are specialising in bathrooms and kitchens etc., this will be no problem. You might know 2/3 that you could potentially subcontract the work out to (if you know they’re quality and can put your name to their work) and you CAN add loft conversions to your services list.

What if you don’t know anyone that does bathrooms? Not a lot really, it’s going to be tricky finding someone you know does an excellent job and that you can trust having them associated with you and your company. You might have to pick up the phone and start dialling or reach out to your current network and see if someone knows someone that can help you.

You can draw a similar comparison here with almost any trades. Let’s say a customer really likes you and they want you to fix their conservatory but you don’t have much glass experience… it’s going to be really, really, really useful to know a glass and window expert right now.

And where would you find a bathroom or glass expert? Where they all go to learn, all in one place! College!

By the time you get working you probably won’t have time to go looking for sub contractors and new members of the team – so use college as an opportunity to grow your network. Speak to people. Exchange numbers and ideas.

Who do you do your apprenticeship with?

Try not to just go for any old roofer and look around for a great option as you’re going to be working with this person or this team for quite some time.

If you have zero practical education and haven’t been in any sort of trade job, your best bet of increasing skills is to join a team and work your way up. Even if you’re just passing the tools and being the handy guy, you’re going to quickly need to be used for more advanced tasks like sawing wood and developing your practical skills.

Soon enough you’ll have learnt the ins and outs of roofing and you can be taking on more complex jobs actually working on the structure of the roof.

In short, get educated, get an apprenticeship and it get experience from another roofing contractor.

One day you’ll be able to take everything you’ve learnt and apply it to your own roofing firm. The best part about starting for someone else is that you can see what they do well and what they don’t do well for future reference in your own venture.

Maybe you’ll even also have a network of like-minded tradesman that you can confidently know will do a great job for you should you need their services for your company.

3. Be a Good Person… To People

In the trade industry you’re going to be meeting with a lot of people – especially if it’s your own roofing repair and replacement firm you’re running.

It’s going to mean meeting new customers and potential customers all the time as well as working with a team and setting the example.

If you aren’t a decent human-being you’re going to get sniffed out really quick and no one is going to do business with you. Especially with the help of the internet where word of mouth travels instantaneously, your company is going to literally live and die through its and your reputation.

Here are some great principles to follow that you should already be carrying out anyway:

Be honest

If you get caught in any sort of lie, even just a small white lie (like “yeah I’ve done loads of garage roof replacements before!” But you’ve never done any…) something clicks in the person’s brain that you might not be an honest person.

It’s hard to be 100% honest at all times ever, but make sure to not lie… this is especially true when giving professional roofing advice where you’re the authority and on pricing. Greed won’t take you far and lying about the price of something is only going to hinder you.

At best it might help in the short term but never in the long term. That’s not to say you can’t price how you want to, but don’t price high and tell a customer that “this is the lowest price you’ll get on a shed roof replacement” when you know it not to be true. Bye bye that contact, that chance for referral and that chance for work!

Be respectful

Often you’re going to be on someone’s roof or in and around their property. They’ve poured their time and energy into this property so respect that through treating it with care and dignity. Also make sure to leave the property clean at the end of the day and try to minimise mess while you’re working

Be polite

Manners go a long way. If you are not polite, you’ll probably lose a lot of roofing jobs over the years which will add up and set you back. Just be well mannered from the get go. Say your pleases and thank you’s, tell the customer you appreciate the opportunity to serve them, shake hands with people you come into contact with and treat everyone around you like they’re worth a lot – because they probably are.

Be positive

No one is going to refer you if you did a good roofing repair job but were mopey and negative. People want to be around positive people as it makes them feel positive in turn. A positive attitude might be remembered more than a job well done (especially if it’s something or that noticeable like fixing an emergency roof leak or some simple roof repairs in general)

It doesn’t take a lot to be a good person. Have the right mindset, have the right attitude and it will come naturally to you. Your team and customers will feel your good energy and it will help them out too.

4. Always Pick Quality

Quality will always set you in good stead and a lack of quality is always going to bite you later.

This goes for everything you do within roofing.

Firstly is people. As discussed before, you need a good network but more importantly, you’re going to want a quality team. The sooner you can get more trustworthy and quality hands on deck, the sooner you can take on more projects and help more people.

You aren’t going to be able to do this alone (mostly) so the sooner you can find good quality people the better.

Good quality basically means the three factors discussed above. Skilled, a good people person and punctual/communicative.

You’re also going to need quality tools equipment and materials.

You don’t want to buy or rent a rickety old van that collapses on you after a week, or a saw that snaps on week 3 or roofing materials that collapse on a customer.

It’s never a sacrifice for quality and set a minimum standard of quality in tools, materials and equipment that you won’t go lower on.

Sure, the initial price is usually higher for quality but that’s because it lasts much much longer – meaning the price IS NOT higher because you’re getting the tools/materials for a longer time! Pay a bit more now so you don’t have to pay a lot later.

Your customers are going to thank you when their roof is still strong and stable after 6 months because you didn’t sacrifice on quality to make some quick money from them. Quality always wins. Especially in the roofing trade where safety is probably the most significant factor for this trade industry to exist (to create shelter).

There’s a lot to being a roofer but we picked these out as 4 key components if you want to become a roofing contractors Nottingham, Mansfield, Derby or Leicester.

Feel free to get in touch if you want to find out anything more about being a roofing contractor and how you can start and advance your career in this rewarding work!

Honourable Mentions

These are more things you should be doing when starting a roofing business. Adding any of these to the way you conduct yourselves is going to be really, really beneficial for you moving forward.

Go wide with your skills 

We mentioned getting skilled up. One thing you’ll notice happen is that customers see you do a great job and want you to do more things for them in and around their property. We recommend going wide with your construction skills so you can get involved with other tasks like conservatory repairs, thatched roof repairs, asbestos removal and other tasks that will set you apart from other guys and generate more work in the future.

Write about your work on your website

Write about what you do online to show your knowledge and expertise in the field to customers and hopefully employees. It’s also a way of you documenting what you’re learning and websites make for a great reference point should anyone want to research you before calling you.

Collect reviews 

The internet enhances word of mouth. Every time you do a good job for someone, ask them for a review either on Google or a website like trust pilot so people can hear about how you’re skilled, a people person and timely.

Go the extra mile 

Let’s say you’re working on a roof repair Nottingham or Derby and you see a little issue with the customer’s chimney. It will take you 30 minutes to fix. Sure, you could let the customer know and remind them of your hourly or you could fix the issue, show them and say that’s fine that was on me, I just did it at the end of the job as a favour… this leads to the next mention.

Service will set you apart

Ultimately, people are exchanging money with you for you to give them a service. This means you should serve them! Be a great server and you will always have gleaming reviews and never be short of work. People won’t be able to stop talking about you!

That’s all for now.

Until next time,
Ed from Roofer-In Group

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