Roofing Business Headaches… and How Tech Tools can Help

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Close to 5,000 roofers are active in a group on Reddit — reddit.com/r/Roofing/. In early February, the group posted the question, “What are the biggest problems you face in your business.”

We looked at some of the responses and thought about how technology can serve to alleviate some of these problems posted on Reddit.

Reddit user ZigZagZugZen wrote

PROBLEM: “Homeowners looking for free handouts and reasons not to pay or being difficult about things out of our control.”

RESPONSE: If you’ve ever had the problems that ZigZagZugZen shared on Reddit, we strongly suggest the following measures before any roof work begins:

  • Have all your project documentation buttoned up before the work begins. The client should clearly understand the complex job you are about to perform. We recommend outlining your overall process with them both in face-to-face meetings and in any digital or printed presentation you share with them.
  • Brief your clients about the crew that will be on-site each day. How many workers and how they will be supervised.
  • Tell clients about the time, materials, and even the tools you’ll be using during each stage of the project —  the roof removal and disposal of old shingles; the inspection and prepping of roof decking; installation of the underlayment and flashing; shingle installation and sealing, and even the steps you’ll take to protect flower beds and shrubbery that flanks the home or building.
  • Explain what the waste factor is for and why it’s so important.
  • It is also important and let clients know that you intend to leave their property pristine upon completion of the project.
  • Have your agreement signed by the client… no handshake deals if you can help it!  An educated customer is an appreciative customer and one who is less inclined to haggle with you over costs. If unforeseen problems do arise, don’t deflect blame.

Nothing is completely “out of your control” because you have the power to prepare thoroughly, discuss contingencies, and manage the expectations of your client before work ever begins.

Reddit user jarc1 wrote…

PROBLEM: Our industry is burdened with a low cost of entry in a high margin market which attracts bad talent and then makes owners constantly suspicious.”

RESPONSE: Digital roof measurement, estimating and simulation technology can’t help you decide who, or who not, to hire, but it can play a role in making property owners less “suspicious.”  Let’s face it, roofers are among the most mischaracterized workers on the planet. Few property owners realize the skill and precision that go into the job. Nothing works better than showing clients that your job not only involves brawn but brains! Hi-tech roofers who show up to meet clients prepared and looking spiffy in their branded vehicles and apparel, and who carry a mobile device with a roof report and estimate ready for presentation, attract a lot less suspicion then a sweat-stained cowhand with a dented pickup truck and a clipboard.

Contractors who use do-it-yourself roofing software can earn customers’ confidence almost immediately. The use of technology will convey a level of care and dependability that can even transcend labor-strapped roofers who sometimes must put new, untested crew members on a project

Reddit user Justsmurfythanx wrote…

PROBLEM: “My biggest issue is finding quality help  —   people that will show up on time. My company pays well above the local standard and so we expect efficient quality work. Right now I’m booked through the end of March and have a crew of five.”

RESPONSE: What is happening to our workforce?  Good ol’ hard-working young men and women are difficult to find these days, especially when it comes to tough jobs like roofing and construction. New workers have arrived from other countries to help fortify the workforce, but there is still a shortage of good dependable labor and the long term prognosis isn’t great because young people aren’t enticed by roofing and construction jobs. 

Technology is addressing the workforce dilemma in a couple of ways…

  • Technology adds efficiency to many roofing processes. Imagine being able to create 20 or more roof takeoffs in one day, from your home or office. Then, turn each one into an estimate instantly?  By, single-handedly doing all this, you save the time and expense of sending team members out into the field to battle traffic, climb roofs and spend half-a-day on each roof takeoff. If you systematically leverage  technology it’s not farfetched to suggest that you can operate with a smaller crew. Of course as technology grows your business, you’ll be needing more workers. But now you’ll have the benefit of better projecting the work in your pipeline, offering competitive wage, and adding the prestige of being a hi-tech roofer to your company benefits!
  • The common perception of the roofing business is not something that appeals to the up-and-coming generation. These days, young people aspire to be in tech-related fields. You’ll find some of them working at Starbucks or hustling tables at a local Tap House while they  pursue their dream of working for Google or Amazon. These able workers don’t know that tech opportunities are developing quickly within the construction industry.

Think of how fulfilling it would be to help grow a business by maximizing the use of roofing technology for measurements, estimates, roof simulations, and superb digital sales presentations. Add to that the thrill of seeing a construction project unfold before your eyes. What young person, stuck in a job handing overpriced cups of coffee to techies they wish they could be, wouldn’t see a job in the emerging field of construction technology as a dream come true? The future of the roofing workforce is here and hi-tech contractors are driving it!

Reddit user Zforce17 simply wrote…

PROBLEM: “Gravity.”

RESPONSE: Ah, gravity. Now, that’s an obstacle that roofing software easily gets around! No longer does a roofing contractor need to climb a roof to take measurements. iRoofing does all that remotely with satellite, aerial, drone, and blueprints images. This eliminates at least one unnecessary and hazardous rooftop expedition. Detailed roof inspection reports are also made possible with remote roof measurement software. Coupled with a drone to capture closeup images of a damaged roof, iRoofing generates professional roof inspection reports suitable for backing up any insurance claim.

Gravity has met its match at least in the pre-installation phase, but technology can’t rip up or lay down roof shingles! Please be careful up there.

Reddit user dyamosbreed42 wrote…

PROBLEM: “The homeowner tries to get a price drop after you’re done or tries to hold back on paying for the job once completed.”

RESPONSE: With well prepared digital roof reports and equally thorough estimates, there really shouldn’t be a legitimate basis for a customer to withhold payment or justify a price adjustment. Roofing software guides contractors through the process of including every aspect of a roofing project bid. With iRoofing, every needed measurement, materials and accessories are included in a professional roof presentation, along with the contracting company’s custom labor costs and product mark-up as part of the project estimate. A built-in Roof Visualizer can show the property owner exactly what their new roof will look like, too. This mitigates any buyer’s remorse over their material choice and it further adds to a contractor’s proper due diligence.  All this amounts to a more satisfying buying experience for the customer. As long as you put similar care and detail into proper roof installation, there is no reason to expect anything but your full price for the job.

Reddit user sickert wrote…

ROBLEM: “Just my co-workers, boss and clients.”

RESPONSE: Okay sickert, we can see right through you! You’re being funny but beneath the surface of your humor lies a bit of truth. Running a business is not a bed of roses and there are always dust-ups with co-workers, aggravations with el jefe, and difficult clients changing their mind or nitpicking over this or that. The best way to battle life’s everyday realities is to just do your best.

Roofing software like iRoofing helps you set a great example with co-workers and supervisors, while impressing clients who usually don’t expect their roofing contractor to be so tech-savvy.

Reddit user Tosinone wrote…

PROBLEM: “I have a customer who still hasn’t paid me for a small flat roof and a few weeks ago she sent me a picture asking me why is there ice in the gutter.”

RESPONSE: Tosinone, whoever you are, you have a tricky one on your hands! If you installed the gutters, perhaps a quick visit to the property to check on things (and collect your money!) would be a good idea, but what do we know? We’re just software developers!  Nevertheless, we understand how critical slope calculation is to proper gutter installation. Naturally, a rain gutter needs to be on a slight incline while appearing to be parallel to the roof line for aesthetic purposes. This requires exact measuring so that the descent to the downspout is about ¼ inch per 10 feet. Even with proper installation, gutters can still get backed up with leaf debris. This clogs downspouts and presents other obstacles to efficient water runoff. Obstructed gutters left unattended into the freezing winter months will result in a trough of ice. That’s not the installer’s fault, it’s the homeowners.

Try using street views and Clearoof™ on the iRoofing app to illustrate to property owners how clogged and frozen gutters are creating potential damaging roof conditions. A high-resolution image from Clearoof™, accessed by selecting a recent date in the dead of winter, can reveal proof-positive that issues are due to neglected gutter maintenance not improper installation.

Reddit user Puppiessssss wrote…

PROBLEM: “Keeping the pipeline full. Quality Control. Paperwork. Not starving in November & December.”

RESPONSE: We feel you, Puppiessssss and we have a solution for you! With unlimited, do-it-yourself roof measurement reports you can stay ahead of the game. In our recent blog article entitled A Roofer’s Guide to Offseason Success  you can pick up tips on how roofing software can help keep your pipeline full. While the article focuses on making the best of your time during the low season, many ideas are applicable year-round.

For example, using iRoofing’s mobile app, you can pull up a satellite or aerial image of a property address at which you recently performed a roof replacement. Now, take a look at the overhead images of homes in the same vicinity. When you spot a home that appears to have an aging or damaged roof, create a quick measurement report. It takes only minutes. Next time you’re driving through that neighborhood, drop that roof report in the mailbox with a note to the homeowner. Advise them to get their roof inspected soon, due to the wear and tear you were able to observe. Make sure you let them know you’ve recently done roofing work in the neighborhood, too. By personalizing an inspection recommendation using images and roof sketches specific to a prospect’s home or building, your odds of landing them as a new client skyrockets!

iRoofing alleviates the headache of keeping up with paperwork, too. All documents are digital and stored in the app’s customer management tool. Every image, every report, every estimate, the entire contact history with your clients, and all contracts and permits are instantly accessible. With iRoofing’s new iRoofConnect™ cloud solution, everything is safely and securely backed-up, as well. Never again will you feel unorganized when it comes to customer data.

And finally, again from Reddit user ZigZagZugZen

PROBLEM: “Being blamed for unrelated things years later. Example, “we have mice in our basement and never had mice in our basement before the roof was replaced.”

RESPONSE: Well, ZigZagZugZen, as software developers, iRoofing is always working on a “better mousetrap.” Wait until you discover our newest enhancements, including parapet wall measurements, project synchronization in the cloud, roof inspection reports and comprehensive device compatibility across Android and iOS mobile devices!

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