Commercial roofing can be a very fulfilling and profitable business. If you’re thinking of reaching for that gold ring by launching your own business as a roofing contractor, there are a few things you need to know about. Here are some of the most important roof management tips you should live by as a new contractor:
1. Comply with Legal and Regulatory Requirements
All facets of commercial construction are regulated by OSHA; you can check the OSHA website to find the contact information for your regional office. In addition, you’ll need to consider local laws and regulations, such as being licensed and bonded. And then there are codes, such as when you have to haul away your construction debris, where you can take it, and how you have to handle any hazardous materials. Save yourself trouble down the road by making sure you understand and are in compliance with any laws and regulations affecting your business.
2. Know How to Find Customers
Lengthy meet-and-greet sales meetings are becoming a thing of the past. Now, prospective clients expect to find almost all of the information they need on your website. The good news is that they’ll be well on their way through the sales funnel by the time they call you. The challenge is to get them to call you rather than another contractor.
Check out your competitors’ websites. If theirs are more informative than yours, they’re likely to attract more customers. Make it easy for facility managers to decide they’re interested in doing business with you. And remember that most customers are highly influenced by referrals, so make sure your website includes several referrals from satisfied customers, preferably across different industries.
3. Know How to Write a Work Agreement
One of the main reasons for an unhappy customer is miscommunication. Make sure you and your customer both thoroughly understand and agree on the details of the project: when it will start, when it will be completed, how much it will cost, whether and how any extra charges may be incurred, and any other foreseeable facets of the project.
4. Comply with Labor Laws
Commercial roofing isn’t work you can do solo; you’ll need to hire a crew. One thing you’ll need to find out right away is whether your state requires you to use union labor. As of now, 25 states require union labor, and 25 don’t. Beyond union laws, you’ll be responsible for complying with any other regulations, such as number of hours worked, safety requirements, etc. The U.S. Department of Labor website is a good place to start when beginning your roof management process for a new client.
5. Understand the Difference Between Roof Work and Roof Management
If you’re thinking of becoming a roofing contractor, you’ve probably been working in the business for years and are very familiar with “how-to” part of the job. What you may not be so familiar with is what goes on before work begins. Not only will you need to know where to buy supplies and how long it will take to get them once you place the order, you’ll also need to understand which supplies to buy – and how much of them you’re going to need. You’ll need to thoroughly understand what’s required for each roof installation, and you can’t depend on the customer to know what to ask for – that’s your responsibility now that you’re in charge of roof management.
Another important part of running the business is optimizing your resources so that you can operate at a profit. For instance, did you know that your vendors can teach you about their products, how to install them, and what applications they’re designed for? Don’t use your own resources to do something your vendors or someone else will be happy to do for you. And, if you’re not sure, ask!
The key to success as a new commercial roofing contractor is to realize that it’s not just an extension of your work as a commercial roofer. No matter how good you are at doing the job, roof management is an entirely different skill set. The more you understand that difference and work to close any gaps in your skills, the more successful your new venture will be.