By Ryan Groth.
Roofing Contractor Magazine’s Top 100 Roofing Contractors List is a really special honor to achieve that indicates several aspects of your roofing business are successful. When looking up and down the list each year, I recognize market leaders who I know are doing certain things better than everyone else. To be fair, the top 10 or top five isn’t everyone’s measure of success for building their roofing business. However, if you’re looking to become the best operator you can possibly be, just look at this list and attend a Best of Success conference. You’ll notice a group of professionals inspired by the others on the list and are driven to innovate and share what they’ve learned to grow — which helps the industry grow. It’s a great honor to be on that list if you’re a roofing contractor. So, if you’re looking to find a way on the list or want to find yourself higher on the list, here are five steps you can take to help you get there and stay there.
1. Find Your Leader
The first step your company should take is to designate a leader to oversee sales — after all, the list is about the bottom-line number: revenue. The “sales manager” is one of the roofing industry’s most under filled positions, however, when occupied by the right person it can be like switching out a four cylinder for a V-8 engine for your company. Finding a good sales manager can be difficult, but with using the right tools you can identify the right competencies for the job. From my experience working with several top 100 roofing contractors, grabbing a sales leader from a different industry can serve very well because they are used to more-developed sales structures, which translates very well in roofing. However, be sure to screen them by using tools like I recommend. Candidate assessment tools, for example, from Objective Management Group based in Boston, Mass., is a great way to identify sales competencies. The greatest skills you seek in a sales manager are: desire for sales success; commitment to do whatever it takes — morally and ethically; the right outlook about themselves and your company’s future; willingness to take responsibility (the opposite of excuse making), accountability, motivation, recruiting and coaching. Roofing technicalities are the easy part and they can learn that over time. Chances are, you as the owner or experienced roofing contractor have plenty of technical expertise, what you likely lack is the sales competency — which is where the sales manager comes in.
2. Serve and Maintain
The second step you should take is making service and preventative maintenance a top priority. The reason I say this is that service repairs take the least amount of time to close, which makes the sale easier. When you can more easily sell to someone it’s more likely you’ll sell to many more people, which means you have a low barrier to entry to build many relationships. You also have a chance to provide a great experience for the client.
It’s only when someone has worked with you that they can refer you, and it’s only when you have referrals and repeat business that you build more and more trust in your market. If you know me already you’ll know that I preach that the big work comes naturally when you’re consistently focusing on the small work. As service revenue goes, construction revenue should go accordingly. Make sure that when you focus on service, also lock them into a preventative maintenance plan so that they only see your truck arriving at their property for years to come. At this point, you’ll be their trusted advisor and will be able to develop the scope and perhaps cut right through any red tape that could cause you to get your bid shopped out and must compete more heavily on price.
3. Prime the Pipeline
The third step you should take is to get a grip on your sales pipeline. Too often do I see in the roofing industry a “bid-it and forget-it” mentality. First, they jump right into the presentation of the bid upon invitation without slowing the process down to ask great questions and listen. The only question that most roofers ask when they get to a lead is “where’s your leak?” They don’t learn the real problem that’s a compelling reason to buy. The best management of the sales opportunity is when there’s urgency discussed before gathering the real qualification questions, like what they think a roof costs and their decision criteria and timeline.
Too many times I see the roofing industry have “happy ears,” which describes contractors getting all excited about an opportunity and not having healthy skepticism. In fact, Objective Management Group has data of over 3,000 specialty contractor sales people and the findings say that we are in the bottom 11 percent in consultative selling and qualifying competencies out of 1.8 million sales people around the world. Our industry really stinks at managing the pipeline, but if worked on it can pay huge dividends. I’ve seen it myself while working with many of the top 100 roofers on the list.
4. Time for a CRM
The fourth step you should take is to get a sales pipeline CRM program. Did I just say a curse word, CRM? AH!!! Yes, you need to be able to see what’s going on in your future sales opportunities anytime you want. However, if you really want to see revenue grow then you should score each deal in the pipeline and hold everyone accountable to the appropriate expectations to drive more business into the pipeline. Each deal should be followed up on until a decision is made along with a status of when the decision will be made. There are some great tools out there.
5. Goal Set
The fifth and final step you should take to help you get on the Top 100 List is to set goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time sensitive. You should really consider what is it that you want to achieve and to reverse engineer what it’s going to take to achieve it. It would really help if you and your sales manager came up with a compensation plan that matched these goals and held your salespeople and estimators accountable for performance. I also want to be clear: just because you don’t have a true “salesperson” right now, doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate these things. One of my favorite lines from a mentor of mine — BEST Roofing President and CEO Gregg Wallick — is “on the way to perfect, you pass up a lot of good.” The principle that I take from this (and teach my clients) is to get started, and don’t expect perfection right away. Tiger Woods said recently in an interview when talking about Lebron James, “anyone can be great for a week, a month, a year. But can you be great for a decade, two decades? What Lebron is doing is unbelievable because he’s doing it for such a long time.” In closing, you should think about getting on the Top 100 and earning a spot with the top revenue-generating roofing contractors in the business. But do what Tiger says, be on there for a long time. Can you stay on there for five years, 10 years, 20 years? I hope you can.
Note: This article first published on Roofing Contractor magazine’s website and can be viewed here.