Since the coronavirus pandemic became a regular part of the daily headlines, we have seen lower-than-average numbers for the commercial roofing industry. Repairs, coatings, and full replacement orders are all taking a direct hit.
An industry downturn is always out of your control. What is within your direct control are the measures you can, or should, take to grab what business there is and, equally importantly, what steps you take to positively position your business within your local marketplace.
Though the coronavirus situation is certainly unparalleled in our country’s history, supply and demand ebb and flow annually. The practices we utilize during the leaner times will serve you well during this time too.
Streamlining your business basically means taking a repetitive process, then eliminating the unnecessary steps to make it more time-efficient, and therefore, more cost-efficient. For example, consider your process for producing a written estimate. If you don’t already use some form of templates for standard types of jobs, this may be way to streamline the time and energy it takes to generate that estimate.
Using software, with predetermined values reduces the amount of time necessary for the generation of the report, keeps terms consistent, reduces risk of error, and can be updated routinely as materials costs change.
A different example could be by reducing the amount of paper utilized within the company by moving to a more technology-based solution like group emails and online training to eliminate handouts and memos. Annual paper costs can get expensive, so by streamlining your communication process, you eliminate additional expense.
Though streamlining your business won’t immediately increase business revenue, it will reduce costs, which directly impacts your bottom line.
Clear, Concise Marketing
In spite of what you might think, the off season is definitely NOT the time to stop marketing your business. Too many commercial roofing contractors pull back on marketing during the off season to “save money”. However, it has been shown that customers call the business that is top of their mind first. If that’s your competition instead of you, your company will lose a bunch of business.
To maintain a top-of-mind presence, your company name, brand or logo needs to be kept in front of potential customers. To do so requires ongoing marketing.
To be effective, that marketing should be very clear, very concise and reflect the values of your business. Statistics show that almost 70% of consumers prefer to work with a company that reflects their own values. By sharing those corporate values within your marketing program, you speak directly to that segment of the public that shares those values with you.
If you aren’t currently working on building your company’s brand within social media, this is a good time to start. Social media branding takes significant time to get established and build a good following. The off season gives you more time to focus on this area.
Off seasons are also an excellent time to attend Chamber of Commerce mixers, and to establish membership with industry groups, both online and in person. This type of interaction positions you directly in front of potential customers and begins to establish the type of relationship most likely to result in both short-term and long-term future business.
Work with your existing customer base and offer “off season specials” on scheduled inspection and maintenance programs.
A good inspection/maintenance program benefits both your business and your customer. It reduces the risk of unexpected issues occurring in your customer’s roofing system, establishes proof of inspection needed by many roofing warranties and keeps their roof in tip-top condition.
For your business, it keeps a revenue stream open and reinforces the relationship between you and your customer. Your business is also the most likely to be used should a problem be identified during the inspection process. This, again, increases revenue.
Don’t consider only scheduled inspections; also offer special inspection programs after adverse weather events. Commercial roofs should be inspected after significant weather events like heavy wind, hailstorms, hurricane, tornado and so forth. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your customer base should one of these occur in your area.
Remember, lean times happen. Whether it’s an unexpected virus, seasonal fluctuation or country-wide recession, being prepared for decreased business demand is the responsibility of every business owner.