The last decade has seen a dramatic and sweeping change to the landscape of the construction industry and, in particular, the roofing business. Those still standing can recall the heady days when anyone with a truck, a few tools and access to some credit could launch themselves into any of the various sectors of construction, from home building or remodeling to roofing and siding. Those days are hard to remember now. However it’s not difficult to become an insurance restoration company today.
My company, Craftsmen Restoration & Remodeling, began almost 50 years ago. But in 2008 we were sidelined, irrelevant and nearly out of the business entirely. Fast forward to 2013. Homebuilding and remodeling will account for $2-3 million of our total business, but we will roof about $15 million in storm work, making us one of the premier restoration contractors in our area. It has been an amazing transition and I wanted to share the keys to our survival and success, specifically as we’ve gravitated from the construction aspect of our business to the roofing aspect. We’ve found a strategy to both successfully survive your first storm season and to create a restoration company that will stand the test of time.
Storm restoration gets a bad rap. The reason for this is the prevalence of a subpar, inferior work product. While this is tragic for the unlucky property owners who suffer at their hands, I believe that we all will eventually suffer even more for it. If we do not begin to do a better job of looking out for the consumer by providing them with excellence and service, history indicates that someone else will! And it won’t be pretty. In fact, as many of you know in states like Texas, Colorado and Minnesota… it has already begun.
I will assume that anyone pursuing storm work has competency in the actual trades, systems, and procedures of roofing that are required to perform any of the actual construction. But perhaps there is one thing you haven’t got - a roadmap to success. Here, then, are three keys that have put our company on the rocket sled growth curve we are now on. Like most great truths, they are simple, but effective:
Quality: Build with quality to last. Don’t cut corners. Do your best work - always. It is an intriguing reality that in this business, we cannot just wake up one morning and decide to raise our prices. We work for insurance proceeds. It is no wonder then that many have focused on minimizing costs. The two largest expenses are materials and labor, so here is the first place they cut. Do the exact opposite. Use the very best shingles you can find and employ the very best crews you can find (remember: only great crews perform great work). The same concept applies to every aspect of your business.
Find the best watchdog organizations and submit yourself to their scrutiny and review. If we can find an organization that will help us to be better and will hold our feet to the fire, we work with them, join them or contract with them. The best two examples are working with, not against the Better Business Bureau, and joining an industry organization that both promotes best practices and holds its members accountable. We turned to the United Association of Storm Restoration Contractors (UASRC).
- Embrace change, improvement and learning. Spend more time getting better and sharper than you do just plugging away. When we hear about an organization that can help us get better, we join it. From the Midwest Roofers Contractors Association to Toastmasters, from the Chamber of Commerce to the UASRC, we join, we listen, we learn, and we implement.