Tag: <span>Heidi Ellsworth</span>

The important questions to ask when selecting roofing software

By Heidi Ellsworth, RCS Partner.

The question is – are you asking the right questions about potential roofing software?  Every day contractors encounter companies selling the next best thing to grow their roofing business. Sure, it can sound great, but it’s so easy to get lost in the minutiae of choosing a software and end up going down several trails that really do not pay dividends for the big picture – a stronger, more profitable company. The right software can relieve many of your pain points, like labor tracking, productivity, diversification, job profitability and more.  But, you need to ask the right questions to ensure you choose the right product.

As roofing companies are looking for the right software there are many questions to consider. Here are 7 tips and questions to help:

1. Labor Tracking
You will want your roofing software to include labor tracking features. This will not only help with getting invoices out faster, but it will assist you with having a clearer understanding of your job ROIs.
Question – Does the software track labor?

2. Customer Data
There are several Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and many of them integrate with project management software. Some systems offer customer portals where you can share data, photos, job progress, inspections and invoices with customers at their convenience.
Question – Does the software offer a customer portal?

3. Mobile and Table Use
It does not seem possible to survive in today’s world without a smart device and that is especially true when it comes to business. Smart phones allow contractors to be in touch with their customers immediately – giving them a clear edge when it comes to customer service.
Question – Does the software work on all mobile and desktop platforms?

4. Cloud-based Access
Today, it’s all about communication.  Progressive contractors can operate and communicate with customers and employees from anywhere, anytime. This is only possible with cloud-based solutions. Every step of the process is at the fingertips of management, crews and the sales team. The ability to communicate across numerous, if not all employees, allows for strong communications that correlates into a great customer experience.
Question – Is it cloud-based and available to all employees, anywhere, on any device?

5. Aerial Measurements
Aerial technology has been in place since 2008 and it just keeps getting better. Gathering roof measurements traditionally was a time-consuming process prone to mistakes such as mathematical errors or simple human error, but has now become a quick, easy and reliable technology.
Question – Does the software integrate or include aerial measurement technology?

6. Estimating
Advancements in estimating software, as well as the introduction of cloud-based access, enables strong estimating technology for virtually any size roofing contractor. Not every solution will fit every business right out of the box so it’s important to understand your company’s needs, how the technology fits into your existing processes and what new efficiencies can be realized through the implementation of an estimating tool.
Question – Does the estimating software fit the business needs?

7. Implementation
The most important thing you can do before purchasing any new technology is to take the time to do your research. Talk to other contractors you find through roofing associations or networks and see what has worked for them. You can also look at online reviews and utilize free trials to try out and get a full understanding of the options that are out there and how they are implemented.
Question – How will this work for the company/employees and how easy will it be to implement?

Jobba Trade Technologies and many other technology companies are also members of Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), an organization, which RCS is a part of, that helps roofing contractors understand  important questions to ask about technology.

Stay up to date on the latest roofing industry trends when you sign up for the RT3 Smart Brief e-newsletter. 

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop.

Finding the right combination of tech for your business is an ongoing process

RCS Influencer Heidi J. Ellsworth says to take the time to constantly evaluate your company’s software.

What is our technology stack at the Coffee Shop? Well let me tell you, it has changed a lot in the last three years. First of all, when we asked our RCS Influencers what their technology stack is, we wanted to know what software they were using for their business and how it all works together. For Vickie and me, it has been a challenging road to find and utilize the right combination of software for our business and we are still working on it.

I share that because we are technically a technology company, but we are also a publishing company and, in the end, Vickie and I always say, we are in the roofing industry. So, as you look at the multiple hats that all companies in roofing wear it means finding several solutions to get the right fit. For contractors, as many of our RCS Influencers have noted, it takes time.

One of the interesting challenges we have is working with the dual systems of Microsoft and Apple. It is so frustrating when they do not communicate well – especially with meeting notices. So, then someone says “just use Google calendars” but now that is three systems. Where does it end?

RoofersCoffeeShop® is a virtual company with our team living across the United States so we have to look at how we can all communicate without going crazy. We have adapted to make it work for both Microsoft and Apple, focusing on cloud-based systems like Basecamp (project management), Google Docs and Dropbox. That stack is just about communication and projects.

Then we look at the website and a whole new stack of software comes into play including our new custom website software, Google Analytics, Mail Chimp and Survey Monkey. It is a lot to manage and we have an amazing team that keeps it going in the right direction under the leadership of Vickie Sharples. But it has taken three years to find the right combination and we are still tweaking it.

My advice overall is to constantly look at what is working and what is not working. If software systems do not play well together, figure out how to make a change so it works. We can waste an incredible amount of time trying to put a square software in a round hole. Taking the time to make changes to your stack to make it work for your employees is critical for your business and sanity.

Heidi Ellsworth is owner of HJE Consulting Group and a partner in RoofersCoffeeShop.com.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop.

RT3 Makes an Impact at the International Roofing Expo

The group’s activities featured a meetup at Vanderbilt and moderating a contractor technology panel.

Members of the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for the 2019 International Roofing Expo (IRE). They began the week by attending a live meetup held at Vanderbilt University and hosted by professor Larry Bridgesmith. After conducting a brief business meeting, the group was introduced to Robert Grajewski, Executive Director at the Wond’ry.

The Wond’ry is the ‘epicenter for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Vanderbilt University.’ RT3 members were given a tour of the three-story, 13,000 square foot center that facilitates innovation between students and faculty from all courses of study, whether that be engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs or artists.

The RT3 team heard stories of innovation and creativity to solve problems and develop new and unique solutions using technology. One psychology PHD candidate used the Wond’ry to develop a never-before-heard-of treatment using virtual reality goggles to transport patients to another world to help them feel safe while dealing with their issues. It’s now being written about in medical journals and being adopted by more psychologists. The team was so impressed with what was happening at the facility that some even went back the next day to share the experience with some of their co-workers who were not able to attend the first time.

On the last day of the IRE, five contractor members of RT3 were featured on a contractor panel to discuss the technologies they are using in their businesses. Ken Kelly of Kelly Roofing, Steve Little of National Roofing Partners and KPost Roofing, Josey Parks of J Wales Enterprises, Michelle Boykin of Rackley Roofing and Gregg Wallick of Best Roofing participated. The panel was moderated by RT3 board member and RoofersCoffeeShop® partner, Heidi J. Ellsworth.

Discussions focused on how augmented reality will change field service, how robotics and automation both on the roof and in the air will impact the industry, how GPS and other tracking can save thousands and how technology will change the way the industry interacts with home and building owners as well as with insurance companies.

A question and answer period followed which enabled contractors in attendance to ask questions and learn further about how the technologies available today can have an immediate impact on their businesses. The room and the hallway were buzzing with curiosity and the desire to learn more about advancing their companies through the use of technology.

Stay on top of the latest roofing and technology news when you sign up for the Rt3 Smart Brief newsletter.

Imagine what the future of roofing will be with the latest emerging technologies

By Heidi J. Ellsworth, RoofersCoffeeShop®

The need for technology advancement in the roofing industry is apparent.  It is a movement that continues to gain strength, not just in roofing but in construction and society overall.  Being a part of bringing new and disruptive services to the roofing industry is important to RoofersCoffeeShop.  We are committed to be the leader in providing a digital network that helps educate, entertain and build the roofing industry.  The Coffee Shop has been delivering digital information since 2002 and the growth we have seen in the last three years is phenomenal.

Working and learning from roofing contractors across the country, it has become obvious that we need to help lead the adoption of technology in the roofing industry.  We are committed to working across the industry to learn more about new and existing technologies that can help roofing contractors in their business processes and operations.  RoofersCoffeeShop.com was one of the founders of a new group of industry thought leaders that recently came together to form the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3).

The think tank includes a wide range of manufacturers, distributors, roofing contractors and technology companies, that are leading the initiative to bring as much information about technology into the industry as possible.  It is not an association but a think tank that is dedicated to learning and then implementing innovative solutions that will make the roofing industry safer, smarter and more productive.

As contractors look at incorporating more technology into their business, I would recommend thinking big.  Follow both the Coffee Shop and RT3 as they deliver articles and research on innovative programs, tools, equipment and cloud-based solutions that can evolve your business.  It is easy to just think about cloud-based software or mobile devices but there is a lot out there that can help with the labor shortage and overall improvements in productivity and profitability.  Here are top areas that I currently see stirring a lot of excitement around technology and roofing.

Artificial Intelligence

Imagine if a computer could look at an aerial image of a building and without any human help, create measurements and assess damage within seconds.  It is very close to becoming a reality with companies that are utilizing artificial intelligence.  According to Wikipedia, AI is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.  Remember when aerial imagery measurement reports changed the industry? This is the next level and it will re-define the speed that we are able to evaluate and quote roofing jobs.  Customer expectations will rise to all new levels, especially when this is combined with websites that support an independent customer experience.

AI is also going to make an enormous difference in safety regulations.  There are companies right now who can capture video on jobsites that detect when employees are not in safety compliance and alert supervisors.  AI is constantly monitoring and looking for pre-defined rules of what employees should be wearing (hard hat), where they should or should not be (restricted areas) and what they are doing (productivity). It will offer eyes on the site that will save lives and increase productivity.


Imagine that AI measurement and damage report being sent to roofing contractors minutes after natural disasters.  Companies are currently working on pre-arranged flight programs for drones that will deliver imagery as soon as drones can begin flying.  With pilots and drone networks appearing every day, the ability to get imagery faster and at higher resolution is a reality that is right around the corner.


Imagine the next generation of roofing crews being trained not only on quality roofing installations but also on the ability to operate the robots that are doing the hardest parts of the job.  The next generation will be experts in running and repairing robots that are laying membrane and hammering shingles.  It may seem very futuristic, but companies are already selling equipment for roofing installation that is more like robots then traditional equipment.  Check out Soprema’s MINI-MACADEN®, a machine for laying bituminous membranes and you will see what I mean.


Imagine customers watching their phone as your roofing trucks pull up and their materials are delivered.  We do it now with Uber, we watch the car on our phone until it pulls up to pick us up.  It is already happening with some contractors who communicate through portals and mobile, to show their customers the material delivery and crew travel details with pictures of little roofing trucks making their way to the job.  And in the home office, operations and dispatch is watching too.  Along with GPS enabled fleets, watch for GPS enabled tools.  DeWalt and others are doing amazing work to help stop theft from jobsites with GPS enabled tools that have auto kill switches when taken out of range.

Virtual Reality

Imagine picking out the color and style of your roof while standing in your front yard with goggles.  VR goggles are being actively used in architecture and city planning.  Customers step into a new world looking at what could be while relating it to what they are seeing in front of them.  Soprema once again is leading the way with sopremavr.com.  Check out the future of how customers will be making decisions and watching job progress.

Cloud-Based Solutions

Some of the earliest adoption of technology has been cloud-based software.  The cloud has changed our world and cloud-based solutions are changing the way roofing contractors handle sales, marketing and production planning and execution. The Coffee Shop partners with great software companies including Nearmap, FCS, Contractors Cloud, JobNimbus, AccuLynx and Harness.  These companies have taken excel sheets and manual activities and created easy-to-use applications that make your business work better.  It is worth the time to see what they offer.

The key to understanding what the technology can do for your company is communication.  Use the network offered on the Coffee Shop.  Ask questions in the forum, explore the technology blog and research the directory.  Information is key and the fact that you are reading this is the first step to finding amazing solutions to grow your business.

Note: This article first published on RoofersCoffeeShop and can be viewed here

Using social media to market your roofing business

By Heidi J. Ellsworth.
As roofing professionals, many contractors look at Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as something from another planet. But contractors are finding that going forward social media will be one of the most important tools in their marketing program.

Upfront, don’t try to conquer all social media at once. There are some trends that are helping contractors decide where to start. It really depends on your type of business. For residential contractors, Facebook continues to grow in popularity. It is a great referral tool, letting your customers speak for you.

There are some great partners already on social media that can help jump start your efforts. One organization for residential contractors that has taken a unique and altruistic approach to social media is No Roof Left Behind (NRLB). This organization was started by Jay and Dena Elie of Ridgecon Construction with the vision that by working to provide help to those in need they would be able to help their business too.

“It is really about everyone winning,” stated Jay Elie, president of No Roof Left Behind. “We wanted to understand social media but we also wanted to help our community. Living in Detroit there is a lot of need. We were able to combine the two and have seen extreme success.”

Now, NRLB has been sharing their success with contractors across the country teaching them how to leverage the promotional value while also helping their local communities. And for the residential roofing contractors, that is the true power of social media, creating buzz and interest in your own community. Facebook continues to drive that success.

For commercial contractors, many have found better opportunities on Linked In. Linked In is a professional, networking website that allows contractors to connect with other businesses, facility managers and property owners. It is a great way to offer educational articles from manufacturers, technology providers and distribution. Showcasing successful and difficult projects along with awards will only verify and build a strong reputation.

The site is also an amazing research tool. Take the time to look through Linked In locally and see who can become a contact. Read the articles that are being posted. Join the same groups that your potential customers are a part of. It is just the type of business intelligence that can make a huge difference for that next commercial bid.

As noted, don’t leap into too many social avenues at first. In all honesty, depending on your business there are several that you may never be involved in. But, one medium that is becoming critical for not only social media success but for website search engine optimization is Google+. Google+ is a social networking site owned and operated by Google, Inc. Google is giving Google+ content a higher ranking than the websites that have similar content. Google+ is indexed immediately for search. So whatever avenue you choose – Facebook or LinkedIn – take a few extra minutes and post your content in Google+ also. It will also help to register your business with Google+ Local in addition to other online directories.

“Google Plus is imperative,” says Vickie Sharples, owner of Roofers Coffee Shop, an online community for roofing professionals. “It is amazing for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, when you post in Google Plus you are hitting the top of Google searches. Creating strong content is the key.”

“You need to do a couple key things every day,” continued Sharples. “A great practice is to get your sales team to take pictures with happy customers, with approval of course, and post it. It makes it personal. If the homeowner is willing to let you post to their Facebook you have instant referrals.”

Sharples, who has seen great success with www.rooferscoffeeshop.com and supporting the site through social media, has gathered some key items that can make a large difference when it comes to social media success.

  • You need interesting content and the best content a contractor can find is in the everyday things their company already does. First, think about the questions people ask when they phone in or write a post on that question. Just as you answered a question to your caller you are answering a question for your social friends.
  • Among the most interesting things are photos and the king of all content is video. You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg and please don’t make it long, but almost anyone can shoot a video with today’s technology. Send your employees to work with a camera.
  • Use a photo or video to show how you put paper under your truck to prevent oil leaking on a client’s driveway. Show how you care about your client’s safety by putting cones behind your trucks. Show a unique item from a roof that your team worked on and what is causing leaks. This is your chance to talk about your company values through photos.
  • Remember that people don’t want to hear from “You” on how great your business is, they want to hear from past customers. They want to hear from others that your company offers high quality that it stands behind. Post testimonials and encourage happy customers to give the company a nice review and then share it.

These are all good content ideas that you generate every day without realizing it. Interactive content to spur active responses is key but it is also important to let current and past customers know you are on social media. As they “Like” your company, word spreads that, in turn, not only makes the telephone ring but increases your social media presence.

Social media is all about sharing what you already are doing well. Traditional marketing can be very expensive. Social media offers the opportunity to send a message out to the public in a new way that is currently highly regarded. Social media marketing brings them to you and all it costs is a little time.

Photo by Freestock.org on Unsplash.

Roofing Technology Think Tank Elects Board of Directors

The newly elected board of directors will serve terms that range from one to three years in length.

Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), a group of progressive roofing professionals focused on technology solutions for the roofing industry, announced that it has elected six directors of the board at its May 9 virtual meetup.


RT3 was formed to act as a conduit for curating knowledge on technologies that can help roofing contractors and the roofing industry overall.  Formed in July of 2017, the group has grown from twenty founding members to over sixty.  The think tank was officially incorporated in 2018 and now is proud to announce its new board of directors.


Heidi J. Ellsworth, Partner, RoofersCoffeeShop.com and Karen Inman, Chief Operating Officer, Antis Roofing and Waterproofing, will serve three-year terms on the board. Steve Little, Head Coach at KPost Roofing & Waterproofing and Ken Kelly, President of Kelly Roofing will serve two-year terms while Trent Cotney, Cotney Construction Law and Tom Whitaker, President of Harness Software will serve one-year terms.


The board will support the RT3 mission statement and work to successfully accomplish its objectives to support and advance the adoption of technology within the roofing industry.  According to its mission statement, “Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), is a consortium of thought leaders exploring emerging technology solutions for the roofing industry, striving to inform contractors by bringing together progressive and disruptive solutions that help build the professionalism and appeal of the roofing industry,”


The think tank meets six times a year, four virtual and two live.  Past live meetings included tours of Georgia Tech, BuiltWorlds and the U.S. Capitol.  Future meetings will continue to be held at innovative locations that will help enlighten the group on progressive technologies that can make a difference in the roofing industry.


“It is about education and the initiative to understand and then disseminate innovative technologies into the roofing industry,” stated Heidi J. Ellsworth.  “One of the ways to attract the new generation and a diversified labor force is to incorporate the use of technology including robotics, drones, software, cloud solutions and cutting-edge technologies that we are not even aware of yet.”


For more information about RT3, visit www.rt3thinktank.test.

Marketing Technology Tools for Contractors – Part 2

By Heidi J. Ellsworth, HJE Consulting.

For residential and commercial roofing contractors, there is an ongoing need to not only attract customers but to sustain them over long periods of time.  Marketing automation provides contractors with a way to nurture leads and customer to ensure their business stays top of mind.

There are multiple buzzwords in the marketing world and currently one of the biggest is Marketing Automation.  The question many are asking is “What is it?”  Marketing Automation Times, http://marketingautomationtimes.com, an online publication states that marketing automation is a subset of customer relationship management (CRM) that focuses on the definition, scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been performed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible.

That definition is just the tip of the iceberg.  Yes, it is about automating processes such as email, blog, and web tracking but it is also about building relationships with customers and potential customers that change the dynamic from chasing leads to attracting leads.

For residential and commercial roofing contractors, there is an ongoing need to not only attract customers but to sustain them over long periods of time.  Whether it is homeowners or building owners, they need to be nurtured to stay top of mind when customers have roofing needs or referral opportunities.  A strong, up-to-date list of customers maintained through software automation is critical.  Contact information including emails that are sitting in filing cabinets and not in an up-to-date CRM are useless.

Once a CRM program is in place and information, past and present has been loaded it is time to begin thinking about marketing automation.  What needs to be communicated to customers?  What are the profiles of customers, i.e. residential, exteriors, commercial?  If both residential and commercial services are provided by the roofing company it is important to segment the customers.  For example, a commercial-oriented newsletter needs to go to building owners and will most likely be wasted on a homeowner.  It could even be labeled spam by that homeowner, hurting communication efforts.  In reviewing the communications plan, it becomes increasingly important to make sure the company is sharing information the customer cares about.


Social Media

The groundwork is crucial before starting any marketing automation project.  One popular tool for communications is social media.  Different social media works best for specific audiences.  Facebook has a stronger following amongst homeowners while LinkedIn is preferred by business.  Remembering that a building owner most likely is also a homeowner creates dual opportunities for exposure at both the home and business.

There are cloud-based software systems available such as Hootsuite where all social media can be controlled from one dashboard.  This type of automation is being used by businesses, non-profits and large enterprises to manage messaging and timing.  Time management is important when managing social media.  With one dashboard, multiple social mediums can receive company messaging, cutting down on the time that it would take to update each medium separately.


Marketing Automation Software

Online companies such as HubSpot, Marketo or Act-On are just a few of the companies that offer a full software solution for tracking activity on websites, sending emails and linking it all with social media.  In looking at this type of technology, be sure the company is ready for new processes and increased lead generation.  There is a learning curve to connect the CRM to the marketing automation system and understand how to correlate the content that is being sent out through email, social media or web to sales efforts.  Leads will increase with this type of marketing so it is important to put time and resources in place to handle the return.

There are agencies who offer marketing automation services.  Again, make time to vet their services and ensure they understand the roofing business.  Often marketing organizations outside of the construction industry do not understand the difference in marketing between homeowners and building owners, residential or commercial.  In talking to other contractors, associations or vendors, contractors can get recommendations for good service providers that have delivered results for other companies.

Marketing automation is a strong software tool to communicate with customers electronically.  But, it is just one part of building good relationships through sales and marketing.  Some companies have allowed technology to swing the pendulum too far away from personal relationships.  Marketing electronically is about staying top of mind but it is only a small part of building strong relationships of trust with customers.  Combining electronic communication with person-to-person communications can create exceptional customer satisfaction, referrals and highly sustainable business for roofing companies.  Using marketing automation as one of the tools in a marketing program and linking it to the overall goals and strategies is the winning combination.


Customer Portals

For current customers, it is important to continually delight them by creating exceptional customer experiences.  Leading contractors are using CRM programs that offer customer portals where they share data, photos, job progress, inspections and invoices with customers at their convenience.  This type of CRM can be used for initial customer contact and sales along with the ability to track customers over time while storing all projects and related data.

Customer portals create an excellent user experience for customers.  Innovative, web-based software systems are utilizing relational database programs to efficiently help contractors manage everything from project data, work order/invoicing processes and most importantly customer communication and document storage.

Many facility managers are asking for this type of communication.  It offers a 24/7 ability to see what is happening with service, maintenance, and reroofing projects.  Maintenance portals play a significant role for facility managers, allowing them to see exactly what is happening on their roofs.  Understanding that very few managers will have the opportunity to walk all their roofs, portals provide a view of the roof that inspires confidence through ongoing communications, documentation and visual review.  Data storage and the ability to upload unlimited photos or video to the portal is essential in providing real-time documentation for customers.

Portals are also used for more than review.  Facility managers can report a service request through the portal and track the status of the work.  Email alerts can be used to help to keep all parties aware of updates or repair requirements.  As noted earlier, the future is in the speed of delivery using mobile solutions.  Mobile devices on the roof provide expedited communication, the ability to send succinct inspection reports and easy service reporting when linked with the right CRM.

By utilizing custom inspection checklists, roof service teams can quickly communicate roof issues or concerns along with the progress of the repairs.  Custom inspection reports include photos from the roof that correlate with early imagery or even satellite imagery to create a visual timeline for the facility manager.  All of this is shared through the online portal providing an easy way to distribute information to management, purchasing agents or building supervisors.  It creates an ongoing customer experience that leads to referrals and long-term relationships.

There is a strong opportunity for residential contractors to offer the same portals to homeowners.  By making home repair information available 24/7 to homeowners they can be active with the contractor and their home improvements.  Implementing technology that retains all data on a property over time provides an excellent means of retaining homeowner business with ongoing repairs, yearly inspections and potential upgrades.


Take the Time

The most important part of incorporating any technology is to take the time to evaluate.  Talk to other contractors through roofing associations or networks and see what has worked for them.  Look at online reviews and utilize free trials to try out and understand the technology.  There is a large commitment in time whenever there is a change or adoption of new technology, so be sure it matches the goals of the company.

Also, be aware that many types of software adoption will have a cultural effect on the company.  Processes will need to be updated, personnel trained and data uploaded.  It is not easy to change software, so create a relationship with the software provider upfront, and develop a high degree of comfort and confidence when initiating the new technology and processes with employees.

It is worth the time to find the right systems to not only grow your company but improve productivity and profitability.

Marketing Technology Tools for Contractors – Part 1

By Heidi J. Ellsworth, HJE Consulting.


In today’s world where efficiency and precision take precedence, technology is a key component when it comes to doing business within the contracting community. Technology comes in many shapes and sizes but leading contractors are realizing that if they are not progressive in their use of technology they are going to be left behind.


Technology is not just software, it is using services and cloud-based solutions to help increase productivity for the company and employees.  Exploring multiple types of technology and evaluating their effectiveness for a roofing company, no matter the size or type can play an important part in the growth of a business.  In this technological age, it is essential to incorporate technology into the business’ processes and culture.  In fact, contractors are finding that they can get more done, faster by using technology while staying ahead of the competition.

New technologies and applications are introduced literally every day.  Understanding what is beneficial for a roofing business and more importantly, the best technology for the size of the business is critical for success.  Here are a few important sales and marketing technologies that can make a difference in growing sales and profitability in 2017.



The number one, most important marketing technology is a website.  It needs to provide enough information about the company so potential customers will act by requesting estimates or additional information for projects.   A customer wants to feel confident in the vendor’s experience and professionalism.  By validating the company’s expertise concerning high-quality work, long-term service and excellent responsiveness along with strong knowledge of the latest products and technologies, customers will be enticed to respond.  This can all happen on a website.  The quality of information will speak to the customers long before they pick up the phone.

A website should be dynamic, meaning that the content is fresh and always up to date.  It should feature a section or blog on the site that provides short articles and information that customers will find interesting.  Press releases and other news should be shared regularly on the site.  A good website will have a prominent button or link on every page that a visitor can click on to request an estimate.  Ask them to complete a form that captures their contact information (name, address, phone, and email) but also use the opportunity to try to gather some basic qualifying information.

Finding a good website developer can be challenging but there are several options.  Everything from do-it-yourself, to leasing a website, to finding a knowledgeable internet marketing agency are available.  Before hiring a company to update or develop a website, take the time to look at other websites and note what is impressive.  Often the name of the company that developed the site is noted at the bottom of the homepage.  By pulling information together ahead of meeting with developers, it will save time and money when working with a new web development company.  Lastly, look internally first.  Often there are employees who can create websites or work on marketing projects who are already on the payroll.


Smart Devices

It does not seem possible to survive in today’s world without a smart device and that is especially true when it comes to business.  Smartphones allow contractors to be in touch immediately with their customers giving them the edge when it comes to customer service.  The agility of utilizing smartphones makes sense for communication with other employees while providing the overall benefit of informed customers.

It is important to use phones in a way that works with customers, so knowing their preferences concerning email, text or phone usage is beneficial for creating enhanced communications.  As part of the sales process, ask how the customer would prefer to receive their project communications.  A critical part of utilizing technology is understanding how customers want to interact with that technology.

Smartphones and or tablets make day-to-day business easier on the road, hopefully eliminating some of the late-night work.  Asking vendors, such as manufacturers and distributors, about their technology offerings and especially finding out which apps make working with them easier helps both businesses.  To be able to order materials, reports or services through the phone or tablet can lead to efficiency and time savings.

In deciding which smart device to use, take the time to coordinate the company’s phones, tablets, and computer system with cloud-based software in a way that all devices can speak to each other.  This creates an easy, efficient means of transferring data and documents while also documenting customer discussions.


Customer Relationship Management

There are several Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems designed for roofing professionals.  CRM systems have evolved significantly over the years from server-based systems such as ACT to simple contact management solutions such as Microsoft Outlook or Excel to cloud-based, enterprise-level software like Salesforce.  In the roofing world, there are many contractor CRM software systems that help manage customers.  They are often also connected to project management and/or accounting software.

Questions to ask when looking for a CRM system include how the program works for residential vs. commercial business. Ideally, will it handle both.  There are companies that are very focused on residential projects with functionalities that track canvassing, sales and overall leads.  Commercial roofing software may focus more on inspections, service, and maintenance and may feature a customer portal that allows property owners to access service records and to request maintenance online.  Depending on the business model of the roofing company, residential, commercial or both, the CRM needs to fit the business.  As roofing companies continue to grow and gain sophistication, an important element for any CRM systems is the ability to track customer’s overall data and retain that data for long-term use.

No matter the CRM chosen, the key is to maintain a strong, up-to-date customer database that becomes not only a historical view of customers and projects but also a strong database for future sales and marketing.  By using a CRM software instead of an Excel document or a Rolodex, customer contact can be automated and shared including notes, past correspondence, property data, material preferences and/or potential future projects.