You’ve probably got a few funny stories about trying to talk to potential customers who really don’t understand what it is that you do. You might find yourself answering the same question 20 times, offering an in-depth explanation of a detail that is totally irrelevant to the success of the project, or offering reassurances that your recommendations aren’t just an attempt to drive up the price tag. Commercial roofers are no different.
Most customers who need a new commercial roof or who are considering installing pipe supports don’t understand the ins and outs of roof management, so roofers spend a lot of time explaining the basics or trying to save time by just skimming the surface of the information. Any reputable roofer, however, will enthusiastically answer substantive questions – the kind of questions that really highlight their ability to do the job. Here are six questions that will earn you the respect of roofers who are reputable – and weed out the ones who aren’t.
1. How do You Train Your Workers?
No matter how long a company has been in the roof management business, or how good their reputation is, it doesn’t do you any good if the crew they send to your project doesn’t know what they’re doing. Sure, everybody has to start somewhere, but you don’t want your project to serve as a preschool for new workers – which is exactly what will happen if they just have the new guys follow the older guys around. On-the-job training has its place, but not on your roof! Look for a roofer who has a solid protocol for bringing new employees up to speed that has little impact on your final product.
2. What was Your Toughest Project and How Did You Handle it?
This question gets at a couple of important pieces of information. The first is in regards to expertise. If a roofer’s “toughest project” sounds suspiciously like your own, that might be a red flag. The other factor is work ethic and accountability. You want a roofer who researched best practices to find out how other people handled the problem, not somebody who just winged it with a cobbled-together solution.
3. What’s Your Approach to Installing Rooftop Pipe Supports?
Different manufactures have different installation requirements, and an improper installation could invalidate the warranties for both your pipe supports and the roof itself. The answer that you really, really don’t want to hear is that every crew has their own way of designing and installing pipe supports. You want to hire a roofer that has standardized procedures in place, and, ideally, those procedures should come straight from the manufacturer.
4. How Did You Choose Your Suppliers?
You’ve heard the old adage of “follow the money.” Sometimes suppliers and roofers have mutually beneficial arrangements in place. That’s not necessarily bad, but you don’t want to hire a roofer who says their supplier is the one that gave them the best deal (or offered them a trip to the Bahamas). You want to hire a roofer who chose a supplier or suppliers based on quality and reputation.
5. What Local Codes do You Have to Take Into Consideration?
The last thing you want is a roof or pipe supports that aren’t compliant with local codes. A good roofer should be able to easily rattle off the codes that apply, tell you why those codes are in place, and explain how they will meet them.
6. What Trade Associations do You Belong to and How do They Vet Their Members?
Licensing and code requirements can vary a great deal from state to state. But even if your state has strict requirements, they are, after all, requirements. A roofer who voluntarily joins an organization that holds its members to high standards is demonstrating a commitment to doing more than the bare minimum.
While some answers to these questions are better than others – and there are a few that should send you running for the door – the way they’re answered is important, too. Look for somebody who can answer enthusiastically and confidently – and who can do so without constantly referring to notes or calling to check with someone in the office. Those are good signs that you’ve found a roofer who will take pride in doing the job right.