After being crippled by the recession due to a lack of construction and re-roofing projects, the roofing industry is once again experiencing a period of growth. Nevertheless, there are numerous challenges plaguing the industry and preventing roofing companies from performing at their best. In this post, we’ll explore some of these problems and discuss affordable, practical solutions for them.
Competition remains an issue to overcome in any industry, yet roofing companies can stand out from the crowd by providing outstanding customer service. In the words of R. Adams Roofing Inc. CEO Randy Adams, “Customer service has to be exemplary; quick turnaround times for estimates are critical; and fast, consistent, quality installations are important to our customers." One way roofing contractors can gain a competitive edge and provide exceptional customer service is by utilizing roofing software. According to EagleView Technology Corporation CEO and President Chris Barrow, “Consumers are looking for companies that use technology to communicate accurately, strongly and technically...Contractors that set their companies up with these tools can use the proficiencies created to differentiate their businesses, increasing closing rates and improving profits.”
So how exactly does technology enhance customer service? Some roofing software suites provide a client history feature which lets roofing contractors pull up key customer-specific information directly from their mobile devices. This is advantageous because roofers will arrive on-site with the knowledge they need to get the job done and exceed customers’ expectations. Roofers can use this function to collect and recall data about customers’ unique preferences, regular services, etc. Being able to instantly access client data also helps roofing contractors easily identify cross-selling and up-selling opportunities that they may have otherwise overlooked. Some roofing software lets employees send geo-tagged “before” and “after” photos along with invoices to customers and their managers as proof of service. Managers can ensure that their roofers never arrive late or accidentally skip an appointment if they are using a software equipped with visit scheduling. This is important because tardiness or absence can be damaging to customer relationships and a roofing company’s reputation.
Simply put, operational inefficiencies hurt roofing contractors’ bottom line. Moreover, competitors are in a position to outperform companies that are bogged down by inefficiencies. This point has been echoed by Jay Thomas, Vice President of Marketing at Sika Corporation, who advises that, “The speed of technology change is driving improvements in efficiency at an unprecedented pace.” He goes on to say, “Contractors need to make an effort to be aware of technologies that can change the dynamics in the roofing business and invest a portion of their time to learn how they could use them as a competitive advantage. If they don’t, then they eventually will be competing at a disadvantage against those that do.”
One such dynamic that is changing the roofing business and boosting efficiency is GPS tracking. Having the capability to see employees’ geographic location throughout the workday helps managers to devise more strategic routes for their teams. This practice saves time spent on the road and money spent on fuel costs. Some roofing software suites include a reporting feature which allows roofers to create neat, easy-to-read reports of their completed field activities for a given date range straight from their mobile devices. These reports can be immediately emailed to back office managers for instant analysis, allowing them to find and correct inefficiencies in the field faster than ever before. Not only does becoming more agile and efficient help roofing businesses surpass the competition, but the money saved from operational improvements can be redistributed to employees.
Another area that trade contractors must be adept in is compliance with government codes and regulations; inefficiency in this category causes safety concerns and can even put a company out of business. Managers can rest assured that their employees are up-to-date on the most recent guidelines in one of two ways using roofing software. Managers can create custom digital forms with required fields that roofers must fill out before they leave appointments. This way, employees will be forced to verify their compliance while they are still on-site. Alternately, managers can post announcements to a virtual billboard so that employees will always be knowledgeable about the most current regulations.
Finding qualified labor remains an issue in the roofing industry. Because of this, it’s crucial that companies use the tools at their disposal to retain their competent employees. Brian Lambert, Director of Products and Systems at The Garland Company, Inc., explains, “Workers want to be valued by their employers; they want a safe, challenging environment; they want to be supported and trained by their supervisors; and they want to be recognized for their contributions to the success of the organization. Those contractors who create this environment have an easier time finding and keeping good talented workers.”
Managers can act on all of Lambert’s recommendations using roofing software. The GPS tracking described above helps managers recognize when employees aren’t where they need to be. In this case, they can reach out to team members to make sure see if they’ve run into a problem in the field and can send backup if necessary. The reporting feature increases employee engagement levels by letting roofing contractors keep track of their own progress in real-time. Engagement also rises when roofers aren’t bothered with administrative tasks and can focus on their primary interests. Time and mileage tracking eliminate the need for manual documentation of hours worked and miles traveled which is susceptible to human error. Digital forms also reduce the amount of time employees spend doing paperwork. Finally, managers can use instant messaging to administer targeted feedback and praise for a job well done to roofers frequently. Having this ability is vital for employee communication, morale, and retention, especially for managers of field teams who have little face-to-face interaction with their employees.
Roofing sub-contractors cannot afford to ignore up and coming technologies that are disrupting their industry. Doing so is detrimental to their bottom line and gives competitors a chance to outshine them. For this reason, roofing companies should consider employing a software solution that will help them streamline operations and engage their employees.
Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.