Financing Your Project With Empire Contractors | GreenSky Financing

Although many factors can affect the cost of a new or replacement roof project, we can all agree on one thing; Costs are on the rise.

As a consumer, how do you afford a new project on your home when costs rise as they do? Luckily Empire Contractors offers financing options that can help you pay for your roofing project without incurring hundreds of dollars in interest charges. At Empire, we believe it is important that your roof is replaced before it deteriorates to an unstable level (where it could possibly damage the interior of your home). Our relationship with GreenSky allows us to offer affordable financing plans that allow you to get your project completed on your schedule while being able to pay off the balance over time with no interest (Depending on the financing plan you choose).

Click HERE to PRE-QUALIFY for GreenSky financing!

Tons of Shingle Waste. And a Recycling Solution

In 2011 I was appointed to the newly formed National Shingle Recycling Committee. Its a collaboration of efforts and research from many different companies spanning many different industries to work on a solution for the ever growing amount of shingle waste going to landfills.

It has been a rewarding experience to get to join in on conference calls with people that are  experts in their respective areas, brainstorming different ideas, and really to be on the new frontier of innovation.  We’re really blazing the trail for the introduction and use of RAP (recycled asphalt shingles) in roadways.

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Im not as smart as the road engineers, the chemical engineers, or the D.O.T. specialists that we deal with. But I do know roofing and dumpsters. So thats what I contribute; how to coordinate dumpster and roofing companies, show how they can help recycle with minimum expense.  It can help them market themselves as green and responsible.

Really this post is just to say its a real privilege to be on the forefront of a new thing. I didn’t say idea, because this idea has been around for a while, but like some things it takes a while for the public opinion to change on this type of thing. But we can’t keep putting 11 million tons of shingles in the landfill every year.

5 Misconceptions About Metal Roofs

Metal has been a popular choice for roofing for some time, but has been gaining even more interest in the recent decade.  Metal roofs have been proven to withstand many climates for centuries. They are more durable, resilient, and eco-friendly than most any other systems.  Installing a metal roof can also enhance the aesthetic appearance of your home or business.  Even though there are many benefits, there are still many misconceptions in the market about metal roofs.  Relying on a professional roof contractor such as Empire Contractors can insure that you will get accurate information and avoid any pitfalls that may come with an inexperienced contractor. Let’s cover several of the myths that people have with metal roofing.

  • I will hear the rain on the metal. It will be loud.

This is a very common question, but Ive never had a customer actually hear the rain once the roof is finished. Metal roofs generally have underlayment, sheeting, and insulation under them, along with drywall or other wall covering. All these components work together and cancel out any if not all noise from the rain. This, however, does not mean you won’t hear acorns or hail.  An attic ventilation space also plays a part in sound deadening.

  • The metal will attract lightning

The probability of lightning striking depends on two factors : the chance of a strike, and its consequence.  Basically, no specific facts exist on “how to reduce the probability of a strike”.  One thing to remember when thinking of consequences of a lightning strike remember, metal is conductive. It offers low resistance to lightning and disperses it to the ground. Metal is also non-combustible in nature as opposed to wood and asphalt shingles. Metal won’t catch fire when struck.

  • A metal roof will mess with my phone signal

If you cell phone signal is good now, it won’t change with the addition of a meta roof. Most of us spend considerable time in businesses such as coffee shops, churches, and restaurants, which often have metal roofs.

  • A metal roof won’t add value to my home

Metal roofs are generally more expensive but more durable and resilient than asphalt shingles, which is people are favoring them more lately. According to Remodeling Magazine, homes renovated with standing seam metal roof systems offer a resale value of 1%-6% more than homes with asphalt shingles. Homes renovated with metal roofs help recapture almost 85.9% of their cost nationally, and 95.5% in eastern states.

CONCLUSION

Metal roofs are durable, resilient, beautiful, eco-friendly, safe, and perform much better than asphalt roofs.  If you are considering a new roof and wonder about the benefits of metal roofing, feel free to talk to a professional from Empire Contractors. Or call 231-861-7221.

No leaks!! For sure. But it should look good to!

Ive seen too many roofs lately that look, well, not that great. Just talking with a colleague yesterday about “proportions” on a metal roof.  Even though it is all the same color, gauge, part of the same system and all, the reveal lines and proportions should be consistent.

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For example: We are doing a 70 SQ house that is mostly a steep pitch. The ridge cap is 7″x7″ instead of the usual 6″. The drip edge has 4″ reveal instead of the usual 3″. The wall flashing is 6″ instead the traditional 4″. At first glance they look large. But when you look at the perspective of how large the house is, how long the panel runs are, its more consistent with the house.

All this just to say, we care more about how we install a roof than its “waterproofness”, “straight lines” or even speed of completion. What really matters is that the roof we install is a compliment to the overall house, functionally and aesthetically.  After all, the roof we install is in some sense “the icing on the cake”!

WE’RE ALL BUSY! But are you being productive?

Every roofer I talk to lately says they are booked out past Christmas and can’t even think about taking more work. And that’s great! Good problem to have, as they always say. But I can’t help but thinking ,”Are your paychecks or bank account reflecting you hard work?

A roofing friend of mine told me yesterday ,”It used to be 1000’s would come in and 1000’s would go out. Now its 10,000s come in and 10,000s go out.” I understand the feeling. When things get so busy, we just start scrambling. Just get to the next job, right?

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I have found a better way, and it kind of fell in my lap. I started using Conklin products as part of my line up. And had a group like Choice Roof Contractor Group help along every step of the way. Right here is where most guys stop reading. And thats fine.  But Ive had many times in my roofing career when I was like ,”I wish someone would show me an easier way!” You see, I didn’t want to wear a tool belt after I hit 40.  I started doing coatings 5 years ago and was able to take my tool bag off a year later (38 yrs old).

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Now a to of guys will argue ,”I like being on the roof!” or “I have to make sure my guys don’t mess it up!” or “Things won’t get done if Im not there!”  Yes, I had to work those things out (post for another day), but I didn’t want to be a crooked back roofer.

If you don’t want to be a crooked back roofer, reach to me. Message me, ill give you my phone number. Even do your research and check out my profile, company FB page, and Linkedin. A guy named Ed Brown helped me get started and I’d like to show someone else. Make it a great day guys!

Why just get certified? WHEN YOU CAN ALSO GAIN A NETWORK!

Even though roofers are one of the toughest breeds out there (eh hem masons,lol) we still get frustrated about some things. One of those is feeling like you have to go it alone when diving into a new market. How many of you:

A: Only shingle but want to do more
B. Do shingles and metal but want more
C. Do only residential but want more commercial
D. Or always sub, but you want to taste that real money the GC sees

I thought about all these at one time. Thats partly why I love this forum. Even though Ive been doing this for over 20 years, I still learn things from this page. But when I wanted to step into that next big role (years ago it was stepping into flat roofing with single ply) I only had my distributor to help me, and that help was limited and lacking.  Especially since my sales rep was not in the field so he couldn’t help me in the way that I needed.

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Ive been involved with Conklin for over a year now and can say thats not the case, because they don’t have traditional sales reps with no field experience.  When I signed on with Conklin I had the privilege of getting involved with the Choice Roof Contractor Group https://www.choiceroofcontractors.com

Even though I had several years experience with coating and commercial, I now had a knowledgable group that I could draw on for expertise, advice, and aid. Ive even had experienced contractors fly in to help train me on new projects where I had limited experience. What else does this group do for me?

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  • Sends me leads in my area. Since their site has some of the best SEO, thats alot.
  • Gives me access to their “invitation only”  FB page where I can network with over 100 other contractors about the same work, without competition.
  • Allows me to offer a “Lifetime Service Gaurantee” to the customer
  • Standards and Accountability that building owners can trust
  • Support from a nationwide group who share their trade secrets
  • Help on building a killer website

There are a lot of business opportunities out there and the roofing market changing everyday! But very few of these offer a support network like this. Believe me, I have benefitted from this group, as I am on the forum EVERY DAY.

However, you must get special training in order to join this group. I would love to show you how I did it (along with other stories and how they did it). The next training is November 16 and I will already be going to support some other new contractors.  It would be great to see you there.

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN! Why we wear uniforms.

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I see construction companies, and specifically roofing companies, all the time that don’t take their appearance seriously.  They send their guys out with mismatched shirts, clothes with holes in them, or worse yet, no uniform at all.  But I want to remind people, perception is crucial. The customer will create a perception, misguided or not, in their mind about you as soon as they see you. This will drive them to form an opinion about you. We do it all the time.

“So how do I get my customers perception of me match the truth?”

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If the salesman did a good job selling the job, then the customer already has a certain confidence in you and your company. He or she may be expecting a crew to show up looking like a NASCAR pit crew.  Or they may be expecting a bunch of guys looking like their going to head to the bar. So it starts with you pitch. In the pitch, or sale, you should dress professionally. I used to wear the same uniform as the crew when I sold, which is fine, but after a while I realized this wasn’t good enough. So I started wearing a polo or button up shirt with our logo on it. Note: You will be surprised at who takes notice when you start dressing like you are already successful. I used to have people say to me,”Well, it doesn’t look like your going on the roof today!” or “It doesn’t look like you work anymore!”

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My reply to them was just ,”I work, I just have a different job description now.” And after a while people start assimilating your nice dress habits with your business habits. If you are dressed clean and appropriate (and hip doesn’t hurt), they will see your business as efficient and professional.

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This then trickles down to the clothes that the employees or crews wear.  I remember a sales coach from Certainteed telling our class that out of the 12 of us, he only noticed about  4 of us wearing any shirt that carried the company name. He then proceeded to ask how many of us provided or required installers and crews to wear uniforms. Still many of them didn’t require workers to wear uniforms.  He then continued ,”You walk into this conference center, a very professional place I might add, and nobody even knows who you are. The business man in the parking lot doesn’t know. The lady behind the counter in the hotel doesn’t know. Even the other roofers that you are now rubbing shoulders with don’t know. Without a logo on your shirt, you just a “wannabe”.

I’ll leave you with a word picture. If you had a plumber show up at your house to do some repairs and looked like the pictures below. Would you get a better perception from A,B or C?

Say what you want, but you have a preconceived notion about each one of these pictures. What does your clothing style say about you?  Feel free to comment or chime in!

CHEAP MATERIALS NOT ALLOWED HERE.

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When preparing quotes for customers I always have to explain that our ice and water shield is a different grade than most of our competitors.  They usually look at me as if to say,”Well I didn’t think about that. I didn’t know there were different grades!”   Just like there are different grades of washers and dryers as well as shoes, there are also different grades of roofing product.

From drip edge, felts, ice and water shield, to ridge vent, and just about every other component on the roof, you can buy cheap or buy quality. But how is a homeowner to know what is what?

The easiest way is to just ask what brands of each component they are using and why they are high quality, or why there might be something better.  You might even ask,”So if “X” product is better, why aren’t you quoting that?” If the answer is because its cheaper, explore the price difference and what value you are compromising with it.

Most roofers will try to win your project with the “lowest price wins” mentality.  But going with the lowest bidder has more negative drawbacks than positive attributes.  Its very important for a customer to find out what “added value” will they get out the higher bids.  More experience? Longer track record? Better credentials?  Better warranty?  Presentable work crews? These are all value added items.  Be sure to explore all these factors when choosing your next roof contractor.

My office is going mobile!

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Quality has always been a top priority at Empire.  And safety is a huge priority too, followed by employee retention and training. However, one of the things I’ve never been consistently quick at was getting quotes back to customers. Scheduling to meet with people was a little bit of the problem, but most of it was just environment.  I would get back to the office and have 3-7 quotes with measurements and information, set them on my desk, and get inundated with other stuff.  Other customers, employees, office staff with questions, and on and on it goes.  A few days would go by, and I didn’t get those quotes out.

Well, we think we solved that issue with the mobile office.  Now I can meet with a customer, measure the house, take 15 minutes in the truck running the numbers, and give them the quote. With my mobile hotspot I can email it right to them, as well as look up product information they may want. With my printer I am able to print them out the estimate if they don’t have an email.

The quotes will take me a little bit longer (30-60 minutes as opposed to 15-30 minutes before) but will result in on the spot estimates in most cases. Some bigger jobs or more complicated jobs will still require that I take a day or two to gather more information or prices. But this will help about 80% of our jobs to get their estimates much faster.

How I saved Mr. Z over $6000 on his roof

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A few years ago the local varsity basketball coach asked me to quote the roof on his house. This was a simple ranch style home with a fairly low slope.  From the outset he wanted a standing seam panel roof (concealed fastener system). He had heard that these roofs were the best a homeowner could put on their roof. So that’s what I quoted him.

A couple days later I submitted a quote for about $22,000. And he was ready to pull the trigger. Then I asked a question that I didn’t normally ask. “Mr Z, Why do you want a standing seam roof? The pitch is fairly low, and doesn’t have a large appearance as far as curb appeal. Are you looking for longevity? Are you looking for the snow to shed off your roof? The low pitch most likely won’t let it shed. Is there a specific issue you’re trying to solve by installing a metal roof?”

He responded by saying, “For years I have had to get my snow rake out several times a week to pull the snow down from the eave. If I don’t, the snow will turn to ice, back up in the valley, and creates a leak that comes into the house. I don’t want to use the snow rake anymore. I don’t care about aesthetics as much, and don’t really care if the snow stays up there as long as it doesn’t come in the house.”

I then asked,”Would you be open to a recommendation? We could install you a metal roof and, if you don’t remedy you insulation or ventilation problem, it could still leak.  However, we could remove the shingles, remove the sheeting from over the foyer area along with the fiberglass insulation in it. We will fill the foyer ceiling with SPF (spray polyurethane foam), install sheeting back on, install ice and water shield to entire foyer area, along with 2 rows of ice and water shield to the bottom eaves, and install shingles to the house.  This would cost over $6000 less. He decided to go this route.

With completed this project in the middle of July, and Mr Z immediately noticed a result on my final visit. He noticed the air conditioner ran less and the foyer room was cooler. The roof in the foyer that created 2 valleys was very inefficient, and had sufficient heat loss.  And the following winter he had sufficiently reduced the ice on the eave.  Success!

I learned a very valuable lesson on that project. There is no cure all roof for everyone. Mr Z could have spent $22000 on a “cool” metal roof and still had an issue. He would have  not been happy with me. But by probing customers about why they are looking at a new roof (Mr Z’s was only 6 years old when I replaced it) I can help them pick the right roof for their needs.  Here are a few other questions i ask:

1. How old are you or the homeowner? This helps to determine what system works best for you. If you are 40-60 years, you might not want to be doing another roof project when you are 65 or 75. A very common phrase I hear from middle aged customers: “This is the last roof I want to put on here.” However, if you are 75, (Ill tread lightly here!) maybe a shingle roof will last long enough for you.

2. What king of history do you have with snow accumulation or ice build up on your roof? Tell me about the problems.

3. What system do you like the look of? Ive noticed men are very utilitarian and want something that will function and last a long time. Women, on the other hand, want it to look good. I had one couple that the husband wanted metal panels and the wife said indignantly, “I don’t want my house looking like a Pizza Hut!”  In this case I might recommend a metal shingle like Decra. Visually looks like a shingle, but is made of steel.

4. What is your budget? Sometimes this makes the decision for the customer. But remember that the roof protects everything else underneath it, not to mention your most valuable asset: your house. Since the is one of the most expensive home projects, it makes sense to do it right the first time.

5. What are your plans with the house in the future? It matters if you plan on moving in a few years.  Its important to some people if the house has been in the family for generations or has historical value. Or it could be a house you’re going to rent or flip. These factors all have bearing on what system best fits your needs.

Hopefully this information helps you on your next project.  For more information and other blog posts, visit me on my website www.roofsbyempire.com

Make it a great day!

3 Reasons You Should Visit The 2016 Homeshow

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The 2016 HBA Homeshow is coming up on March 18-20. But many people might wonder why it would interest them. Maybe you don’t like the “show atmoshpere”, or you don’t plan on doing any renovating this year. If you’ve never been to a show, I encourage you to try it out. Here are 3 great reasons why you’ll love it.

1. New Ideas! Of course this would be the first one. But its more than just new ideas, its new technology, new products, new companies with a fresh spin on their industry. It’s also new trends in home development, from poured basements to technology in the home to ventilation and solar on the roof. Today many customers research most of this online, and thats great. However, there is no substitute to talking to a professional representative that knows his industry.

2. Updated Information! Its 2016 and the building industry is now constantly changing. New codes are being introduced and its tough to keep up on them. Whether you are building new, remodeling existing, or are just maintaining an old farmhouse (been there!), complying with current codes is a must. There is plenty of information available at the show.

3. Opportunities: Businesses that are at the show are there for one reason. To showcase their business. Most are ready and able to book an appointment to look at your home right there. Some may be able to even offer you some type of free service. For example: I sometimes have my Mastic Siding Home Visualizer set up so that I can take a picture of your home, project it on my computer screen, outline windows, trims, roof, and other things, and actually change colors and product profiles right before your very eyes!

4.Bonus! Its just fun! Vendors are almost always handing out something free. And you won’t feel pressured by any salesman. This show is informative, and professional. Hope to see you there!

For more information, visit  http://www.hbawest.com

Roofers and fall protection

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We at Empire understand that the greatest assets we have are our skilled employees. The most critical injury on a roofing job site is falling. It is also the injury that the employee has the most exposure to since they are on the roof the majority of the project.  Empire uses safety equipment such as fall arrest equipment (harnesses), special underlayment with traction in mind, scaffolding, safe practices, and above all safety education.

How does this correlate to the customer? Empire has experienced both the joy of great employees and the trials of employess that are not team players, and this is the how it begins to make sense to a customer. Empire goes to great efforts to retain the Great ones, this means a multitude of offerings. Competetive wages, vacation time, friendly work environment, and most of all a safe work environment.  Employees even have direct input as to what could be more safe if the work environment changes.  The Great employees care about their customers, give tremendous effort and always look to go the extra mile for them. So, you can see the cycle turns back on its self quickly. We have to observe that all of these parts contribute to the whole of the Empire Experience and how we are the right company to choose when wondering who you should have take care of your roofing needs. The guy who doesn’t even know how to operate a safety harness or the company that makes safety a priority. It’s a question you should ask when hiring your next contractor.

Keeping a business presence in your community

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Roofers like warm weather. That’s just a fact. And around November in Michigan, the majority of roofing crews pack it up and hibernate until the spring thaw.

The problem with that is the community you live or work in doesn’t see you around for 3-4 months. If you have signs on your trucks and trailers and also use yard signs, thats basically free advertising you are forfeiting.

The other problem is customers still have roof problems that need addressed in the winter. Ice back ups, snow loads, wind damage, new builds.  They will not wait. They will call another company to come out and help them.

I get it. Production is slower. It’s just no fun working in the cold snow and ice. It’s harder on the tools. It’s less safe. However, I’ve found that keeping brand recognition as a priority, I can provide a better service to my customer year around.  And our employees appreciate having a full time job, even when colder.

Ventilation- What’s it all about?

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So everyone has been hearing about the benefits  of venting a roof. But a lot of people don’t understand how it works.  But this could be a major difference in prices when comparing roof contractors.  Some roofers are thorough and make sure that there is adequate air flow through the whole system, from bottom to top. But other roofers…no kidding, just slap it up and get paid and leave.

But why do you care if you have adequate ventilation?  Your roof may have never leaked, but there are things that are happening in the attic and with the shingles that you might not be aware of.

Note excessive heat. If it’s 90 degrees outside, the attic temperatures shouldn’t exceed 110, according to home inspector Jamison Brown of AmeriSpec Home Inspection Services in Poquoson. “However, more often than not, around here I find attic temperatures to be in excess of 125 on a 90-degree day,” he says. “This overworks the air-conditioning equipment, runs up the cooling cost and shortens the life of the roof covering, or shingles.”

Venting not only helps condensation and ice back up issues in the winter but also excessive heat build up in the summer.  A hot attic will make your air conditioner run more and bake the shingles from the inside as well the outside.

So how do I know that my contractor is doing it right?

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First of all get references  and make sure he has a good reputation. Then ask pointed questions about how he will vent the attic, from the bottom eave, through the attic, and out the ridge vent.  Look for words like intake (where the air enters the attic) and outtake (where it escapes the attic).  Ask about the square footage of exhaust that the products he is using can provide.  Gable end vents always seem to be a favorite with homeowners, but have been proven they provide very little square footage of exhaust.  A contractor should be knowledgeable about these product and where to use them.

Apples to Oranges: What am I really buying?

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When you get estimates for a new transmission on your car, do you ever wonder if the mechanic is quoting you the same quality product as the guy across town? Or when you sign up for a new phone plan, do you wonder if you are getting the same coverage and the same abilities with it that the other guy offered?

Unless you spent days brushing up on your mechanical knowledge or have a tech savvy nephew to help you, I’m sure the thought crossed your mind. But what is a consumer to do? Especially when looking to spend thousands of dollars on a new roof. How do you know that the ice and water shield is of the same quality across the board (if you even know what ice and water shield is). How do you know the ridge vent you choose is right. Or the installation method they are using is recommended or warrantied.

The good news is you can know. You just have to ask. But more than that, a good roofing company will have a representative that can help you look for what best fits your needs by helping you with what questions to ask. He will want to know the history of the roof, an idea of what budget your working with, the style you like, and what worries you might have going into a project. His quote also should be very detailed about the work they will be doing.

If you find the salesman is dodging your questions, or saying, “It’s not that big of deal”, probe a little further. If one company is offering a little better grade of product, ask the others my it’s different.

More often than not the customer doesn’t know what products are good or bad. So be sure to get the roofer to explain what he selling you and why.

Quality Is a Standard That Shouldn’t Be Compromised

Sometimes I get asked why our price is so much higher than another contractor or why we are doing the project a different way than another guy. The answer is always the same: “We are not that other guy.”

We have standards in our company that cannot be ignored or stepped around. That’s how we can be sure that we have a less than 2% call back rate. We use standards and methods that are proven and stick to them.

A good example is when a customer calls and wants us to quote a metal roof. Almost every time, our competition will quote it with the metal being installed over the shingles. No tear off. However, we always recommend tear off down to the wood on a home. We want to see the condition of the wood deck. The underlayments such as ice and water shield and synthetic felts are designed to be applied to the roof deck. And we are concerned on how the degradation of the shingles under the steel will affect the metal over time.

If I’m going to stand behind the systems we install for years to come, I have to be confident in the application methods we are using. And that means letting some jobs go to the competition because the customer doesn’t want to do it the right way.

In The Ring: Competing With The Truck and Ladder Guy

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Definition: Truck and ladder guy- AKA, Chuck in a truck. These are the guys that own a truck, ladder, and a couple of tools and run around the neighborhood installing roofs without a legitimate business or company in place. 

I’ve had my fair share of job revisits lately. Roof projects that I quoted 2 or 3 years ago that for one reason or another the customer went with another company. Losing a job has never really bothered me. I can’t win them all.

But when I go back to meet with a customer that hired the wrong guy, and they know they hired the wrong guy, I feel a bit guilty. I feel guilty that I might not have explained my product good enough. Our presented my company or staff in the right way. Or maybe I didn’t promise the customer the world, as some salesmen are in the habit of doing. I rub shoulders with a lot of straight out salesmen that will do just about anything to sell a job. Making promises that they may intend to keep, but don’t have the ability or connections to keep.

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CASE IN POINT: I met with a couple the other day that received quotes from me and a big box store that hires the work to sub contractors. I never asked the deciding factor, but they did struggle with who to choose, eventually choosing the big box store. Now this house needed a new standing seam metal roof. That in itself requires a skilled craftsman that has been trained in metal bending, and panel installation. But the garage was detached from the house, and they wanted it attached by building a foyer between the two, matching the roof planes, and installing the metal roof.

Now this requires a skilled framer that can establish a common plane between the 2 buildings. But the roof planes were at different heights. Only 2-3 inches, but enough that when joining the building it left a considerable wave in the roof. Athletically this left a curved and wavy look to a bright red metal roof that sticks out like a sore thumb.

After inspection of the roof we found that though this was a concealed fastener system (screws are underneath the system,not exposed) the installer had put in screws in all the ridge caps and up all the valleys. Clearly incorrect. Any many more errs too numerous to list here.

All this to say, please do your homework.  Not all contractors that work for the big box stores are bad, nor are the that don’t work for them are good.  But it has always seemed to me that if the contractor has enough work on his own reputation, then he wouldn’t need to get work from those stores, nor have the time to do them.  Call those references, go for a ride and look at those houses. It just might save you a lot of head ache, and probably thousands of $$.

WHY HAVING AN INNOVATIVE PARTNER IS A GOOD BUSINESS DECISION

Do you ever wonder why some companies see to be seamless in their service?  You call about the product or service and they get right back with you. The sales rep or technician shows up quickly or on time.  The shipping agent they used delivered when you expected.

I’m sorry to say, but that doesn’t happen by accident.  What you see on the surface of a successful brand is the result of much planning and learning from mistakes.  One of the best ways to do this is to choose the right companies to partner with. Vendors, subcontractors, volunteer organizations, General Contractors, distributors, and suppliers. They all play a crucial part in your success.

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For example we use ABC Supply Co and our main supplier for roofing. Without a doubt they have been a key component to our success and continued success.  I see other roofers bounce around from one supplier to the next looking for the cheapest product, price cut, or deal.  But you never forge a relationship that way.  We might not get the cheapest price on everything we buy, but we get superior service. Along with networking opportunities, referrals, training and education.

And you can’t ignore the fact that you are just more familiar with one another. That speaks volumes in a business relationship.  When you can anticipate your suppliers (or customers)  need or response, you can move more rapidly and be more flexible.  When I say to ABC, “Hey I forgot to tell you on that order yesterday to include OSI sealant instead of tar,” they reply, “Already taken care of.  We have a note to never send you tar.”  That’s knowing your customer. 

The Cheaper Bid: Is it a good choice?

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Oh yes the infamous “low bid” temptation. I have to address this in many discussions because we are not generally the lowest price. But if contractors are bidding on the same project, how is it that their prices differ so much?

Well I started my business in 1998 with one helper and I can tell you that my expenses then were a lot less than they are now. But a customer might say, “What does that have to do with MY roof?” Believe it or not, quite a bit.

1. We don’t ever pay our employees minimum wage. We try to hire employees for the long term so that means compensating to keep them. And a happy worker is a great worker!

2. We always have our insurance, certificates, licenses, and vendors current. It is common for smaller companies to not have appropriate insurance and licenses. But if you don’t ask, you may be asking for trouble. Insurance covers them and you in the event of an accident. And licenses prove you are hiring someone that is competent to do the job.

3. We provide our employees with off the job training. Manufacturers come in to train our crews so that we can stay at the top of our game. New products and installation techniques come out all the time. Some companies focus all their time on just getting the next job done.

4. We have office staff. That sounds obvious, but many contractors run their business out of their truck with a cell phone. That’s fine until they need records they don’t have with them. With an office you can be sure you will reach a representative that can assist you most any time.

5. We invest in new technology. This helps make things easier for the customer and our company. With tech changing everyday it seems like, it is very important that we adapt quickly. From new tools, to computer software, to equipment we try to make sure we aren’t caught in the past.

6. We honor or warranties. Now this is a touchy subject because almost all roofers will say, “I’ll be right out there if you ever have a problem!” But I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard the customer say, “I’ve called the guy to come out to check it out but he won’t return my calls!” Or they won’t show up. Or they can’t find the problem. In any case, honoring warranties cost money. But it’s essential if you want to establish a long term good reputation.

Summary: Although I’ve heard of a few people choosing the “low bid” and being very satisfied, they are few and far between. Basically, you are taking a gamble. A gamble that the guy you are hiring who is charging you less is operating fully licensed and insured, has good employees that are reputable too, is reachable when you need him, and will be there to take care of you after the job is complete.

Although a little more money, a contractor that has these things in place generally lowers your risk as a homeowner. This means no “buyers remorse” after the project is done. And that is a good thing.

Metal vs Shingles: The great debate

The most common question asked of me by a customer is which product is better for their roof; metal or shingles?  To answer that question I need to answer a series of other questions.  This will help determine what system is right for YOU.

1. Asthetics– What do you think looks good? Shingles have been the most common roof covering for decades.  However, in the last 10 years, many products have come out that offer the customer a wide range of profiles, colors, and material types. Men generally gravitate to the metal for the durability and resilience while women tend to like the shingle look because its more traditional and looks less commercial.  A contractor should present you with all the options available so you can make a good decision.

2. Budget– The cost is usually the most important factor a homeowner considers when choosing a roof system.  Depending on where you live, a metal roof can cost anywhere from 50% more than a base shingle system up to 2 times more.  However, metal roofs will often last 2-3 times longer than shingles. So not just the original cost should be taken in consideration but the the overall value.

3. How Long?     Another factor to consider is how long you plan to live in the house or your plans with the home long term. If you plan on selling or moving in less than 5 years it might not be worth the cost. But if you are going to be there longer, it might make sense.

A quality metal roof adds to the resale value of your home. According to one report, a metal roof will add back over half of the initial cost when it is time to sell. It stands to reason if two identical homes were for sale, and one of them had a metal roof, the home that would never need a new roof would sell for more money. Homeowners generally work hard to make their homes maintenance free and may be less inclined to buy a home that will require additional maintenance.

4. Snow and Ice–  Most people know that snow typically slides off of metal roofs but not from shingles. If you have a house thats hard to insulate or vent or you just cant get rid of the ice dams, sometimes metal can shed the snow and ice by gravity. But not always. If you have a lower pitch or multiple valleys and other details, the snow might hang up on it.

But on ranch houses, chalets, or other simple roofs, the snow slides off like a charm. This helps aleviate weight, ice dams, and worries.  But with the event of snow sliding off, it creates another issue. What will falling ice and snow damage?  Snow jacks and fences can help solve this problem.  They hold the snow, or can let it be released a little bit at a time.

5.  Shape of Roof- This effects the cost of a metal roof more than shingles. Details like valleys, dormers, chimneys, skylights, and hips slow down the labor and add to the cost due to the trims being an expensive part of metal roofs.

Metal roofs are becoming more and more popular, but they aren’t for everyone.  Be sure to ask your contractor what system will work for you.