Picture this: you've hired between one and five employees, and have several more subcontractors. You're accepting around five jobs each week, and you're worried about cash flow. Will you have enough for payroll this month? What about other expenses? How can you stand out against other roofing companies? How do you know what to tell your potential customer?
Despite these uncertainties, commercial roofing companies, and residential roofing companies can use a predictable pattern of growth. A systemic process that roofing businesses experience as they develop. At each stage, new opportunities open up and new challenges emerge.
That's what we at AMSI discovered after countless conversations with roofing contractors and other home improvement pros across the nation.
Stage 1: Starting Out
Growth is the name of the game at this juncture. You need more roofing jobs in order to achieve this. The threat of failure is real, as your business is barely off the ground. Finding new customers is imperative, which means marketing is imperative.
These early marketing efforts are greatly assisted by positive word-of-mouth, which means that production and installation quality are considerable factors as well. Balancing marketing efforts with attention to production and installation quality can be a handful.
Luckily, there are many technologies designed to help you maintain such a balance without compromising quality. Applications like Quickbooks assist with taxes, invoices, and payroll. Platforms such as Google Analytics track marketing efforts and offer a one-stop-shop to track flash, video, and social networking initiatives.
It's also important to realize that you aren't alone. Many entrepreneurial roofing professionals have been where you are. While many have failed, some have succeeded.
Asking questions of your roofing peers is wise, and there are many resources to connect you with other roofing business owners. The forums at roofing.io as well as reddit.com/r/roofing are good places to start.
Stage 2: Established and Growing
At this point, you've grown a successful roofing business! You generate a few million in annual revenue and take on five to 10 jobs per day in peak season.
You now employ anywhere from six to 50 people and 20 to 80 subcontractors. You also have middle-managers and business-critical departments like sales and operations.
Production and installation quality is not the same concern it was in stage one--you now have the middle management and on-site supervisors to ensure that the job is done well.
Your business has grown substantially. But in order to maintain and continue this growth, your business must scale. Investing in your team, solidifying relationships with material suppliers, and investing in technologies that facilitate growth is essential to ensure that growth is not impeded.
It's important to ensure that your current supplier will be able to handle your growth. If they aren't able to facilitate larger and more frequent orders, it's time to find another supplier. If your current supplier can handle your growth, stick with them.
Your loyalty will be rewarded with credits and flexible payment terms. Flexibility will come in handy during multiple jobs with overlapping timelines.
Investing in your team is an important part of scaling your business. Internal hiring allows you to move team members around as needed, without outsourcing or hunting for someone to fill a vacancy.
Investing in technology can be done to the same end as investing in personnel--some technologies can do the job of several employees. When it comes to converting leads into customers and keeping up with existing customers, platforms such as SalesForce and JobNimbus can be of much use. The latter automates aerial measurements, photos, and estimates as well.
At this stage in your business, more sophisticated and efficient marketing methods are affordable and prudent. Referrals are still important, but digital marketing has the potential to be much more efficient and effective. Google Analytics can be used to track advertising return on investment, as well as flash, video, and social media interaction.
Stage 3: Maintaining Market Share
Now you know what you're doing, and you're doing a great job. You are running 10 to 15 jobs per day in peak season. You employ over 50 people and maybe over 80 subcontractors.
You've invested in digital marketing, business-critical technologies, HR functions, and perhaps even call centers to help with customer service.
Now that your business has matured, maintenance and stability are the goals. In order to maintain your hard-won market share, it's important to stay on top of new innovations and trends. As in earlier stages of your business, keeping in touch with your roofing peers is wise.
Not only does this keep you alert to new developments in the industry, it also gives you a sounding board off of which to bounce concerns and ideas.
While maintenance and stability are now the focus, you're also looking ahead. How can business be streamlined to become even more efficient and stable? A strong management team and well-chosen department heads make it easy to maintain your market share and take on new business as it emerges.
Although enterprise-level software is critical for business functions, have scrutiny when deciding which applications to adopt and which to overlook. As your business is now highly layered and stratified, adopting any new software can expensive, and entail a lengthy learning curve for several different departments and functions.
Your investment in digital marketing is paying off. Your social media presence receives a healthy influx of interaction, and your online content is referenced and linked to consistently.
You're now something of an industry expert--an ambassador for the roofing industry with a success story to learn from. Consider regular newsletters and blog posts as mediums through which to share this story. You know what it's like to get into the roofing business and come out strong on the other side.
Periodicals and blog posts are also important marketing campaigns. They build trust in you and your business. They empower your online presence to spread rapidly and elicit attention.
Growing and scaling your roofing business is a long and winding road. Early marketing efforts and high-quality production and installation will get your business off the ground. Customers will note the great job your business did and spread the good word.
Scaling your roofing business is the next step, to ensure your business can handle the influx of new work and customers. Investing in your team, business-critical technologies, and online marketing are all necessary to maintain the growth of your business.
Once matured, your roofing business is highly efficient and layered. A diverse set of departments and personnel comprise your business. Your roofing business is flying high and you've become quite the pilot. We look forward to learning from you, seeing your success, and reading your story.