Starting a roofing buisnes

Hello I am getting ready to start up a new roofing company. I am In Bc Canada, 27 years old about 5 years roofing experience. I dont pretend to know even close to everything about roofing but I do know the basics. My goal is to hire a experienced roofer to working foremen, a second experienced roofer and then a general labourer, I myself want to do the sales, estimating book keeping and be general all around gofer. Money isn’t too much of an issue as 75% of the wage i make right now will be continued for two years hopefully giving me enough time to get this company going. does anyone have some good advice for me other then OMG DONT DO IT!!! Thankyou in advance

present yourself in a proffessional manner. keep your stuff looking nice. answer calls in a timely fashion. remeber you need to spend money to make money (advertising). get a good accountant a.s.a.p.

I would like to thank you for awnsering so quickly nice to find a site where the pro’s actually have time for the new guys. like i said i have some experience doing the labour side of roofing but the business side i am a little lacking in. I don’t want to infringe on trade secrets but if you could explain what profit margin is fair in the business? ie. a house where materials and labour and other cost come to $5000 is there a set number on what profit you would like to make or are there other factors?? again if its secret i understand

you need to learn the pricing in your area. it differs greatly based on location. i try to profit $1,000 a day. but thats me. you may be comfortable with profiting $1000 a week. you need to learn what it costs you to do the job and stay in business (phones, ads, truck payments, insurances…etc) then add your profit

in your area is roofing a trade as in does it require a apreticship and license??? here it is so up in the air the cheap colleges are offering courses that say you can become a licensed roofer yet I and most other people i know just learnt on the job

Hey Marshall-- is that $1,000 above your pay? or does the $1,000 include your salary?

personally i would take that either way LOL 365 G a year sounds good you wouldn’t even have to pay me then . I am just the new guy on the block. done the military life for 5 years got a family now and time to stop traveling so much my only other experience is roofing I was just worker mainly did a few roofs on my own near the end I know how its done although not all the lil tricks that you guys do but i am willing and able and want to make a go of this …60 G a year sounds great to me LOL take care guys

$1000 includes me. and 365 does sound good…if thats how many days you worked. we ave. 5 days a week and it slows in the winter. so i shoot for 200

If you only have 5yrs experience I dont see how you’re going to be able to sell jobs. I would seriously consider adding an experienced salesman to you team and just worry about numbers. Five years experience isn’t enough time IMO unless you’re planning on surrounding yourself with experts for every facet while you delegate. Just my 2 cents.

I’ve been roofing for 10 years (laying shingles etc) and now I’m too busy to be on roofs daily. Selling is easy if you know what your talking about.

I tell my home owners, “I’m not a salesman but rather a roofer trying to sell a job”. Most say, “You sell yourself”.

It helps to be passionate about what your doing and talking about. Home owners see it in my eyes I guess.

Its an easy industry to get into but its also an easy indusrtry to loose quick. just check a phone book every 5 years. I have seen a lot come and go. It takes quality people, keeping good books and standing by your word.


me personally…im an average installer…i have watched the hell out of roofing and have studied every field guide known to man. so i can "explain the heck out of a roof…but im only average if you put the gun in my hand. so my advice if your somewhat of a novice would be, read every pro field guide out there, study everything. watch your crews and others. that way when the home owner asks…you answer without a hesitation. your best tool in selling is trust. if you can earn their trust, you can generally get any price you want.

Agreed with Marshall; you’re selling a relationship more than a roof. If the customer doesn’t believe in the relationship then you’re not doing any roof selling (i.e. they don’t believe in the roof over their biggest financial asset).

Additionally, if you ALWAYS take the angle of trying to put up the most bulletproof roof possible then there is a much better chance it will show through & so long as you’re honest about it & follow through on your intentions, you won’t get burned by a bad project.

That’s the end of the “emotional” answer. As for the “practical” answers (which is what I think your ? was more about), in no particular order:

–Understand that you won’t be super busy for @ least the first 2 or 3 years. Over time, you’ll get repeat business as your name gets out there, you have a customer who moves & wants an inspection on the new house or it’s identified as needing a replaced roof or @ least a repair… Realtors who for various reasons want a new roofer on their list of reccomended contractors, insurance adjusters who might put you on their list. Salespeople @ supply houses who get walk in traffic asking who they can reccomend to do a roof. The ways & places you get new customers will start to amaze you. & Then you’ll get P.O.'d when someone puts on a roof for a relative of someone you know & you’ll wonder why you never even got a call to check it out.
–Use SpellCheck every occasion possible. Yes, it can be petty for someone to base a job on one incorrectly spelled word, but what if that missed job had you working & profiting for a full week’s worth of roofing? What if that estimate somehow ended up in the hands of a project manager for some institutional builder who wants a new roofer for reasons unknown?
–Spellcheck part II: I have had 3 customers who did a web search for my co. name & they found postings by me here on Well reasoned posts certainly help better than crappy organization & bad spelling.
–If you happen to get a call from a local “Better Business Burea” type organization, respond ASAP & try to be as reasonable as possible. In a perfect world your name wouldn’t end up in their hands other than for them to ask you for membership, however if they DO call with a complaint, try to resolve it fast. A resolved case always looks better than an unresolved one, for sure.
–Make a checklist for inspections, that way you won’t forget to look over a particular area of concern on one house that you normally don’t forget. For insurance jobs, I don’t look exclusively @ the roof, I also look @ paint, gutters, windows, air conditioners, lawn furniture, bird feeders, BBQ grill covers, dog houses, etc. If a deductible is involved, the customer’s maximum exposure is the deductible & EVERYTHING ELSE is up to the insurance co. to pay fair value or total replacement cost for like quality. You might not be getting involved in all of these areas, but you’ll look better in your customers eyes if you can give them a copy of this checklist. Be fair, but be firm in what insurance should pay for (a lot of this idea relates to hail, high wind, hurricanes & tornadoes moreso than anything else).
–Constantly drill into your people these two ideas & you’ll neve go wrong:

  1. Safety FIRST.
  2. Never flip a coin; always pick the option that is in the customer’s favor. There are no 50-50 situations; tip the balance to the customer in relation to quality.
    –The biggest trick is to be consistent. Answer phone calls or Email as fast as you can. Take notes on conversations in an organized fashion & in the same way every time.
    Ever heard the joke about "So I goes to the doctor & tells him “Doc, it hurts when I do this.”
    So the doc says to me, he says “Well, then don’t do that.”
    The problem is, you’ll have to find out over time what hurts & what doesn’t. Experience is the cruelest & most efficient instructor out there.
    –Make a plan & work your plan. The fastest way from point A to point B is to not get side tracked. Learn to delegate… but for me, the hardest part is in who to trust when I DO delegate. After all, it’s YOUR name on the line when something goes ‘not as planned’ & if you’re in the mix on everything that happens, you can feel better about making sure things are done right. But that’s no way to make forward progress. Good money makers have a great setup under them & think of it like this: can you make money working ONE job @ a time or having 2 or 3 going on @ the same time?
    –Organization is the key to success. Don’t throw out a single estimate you have ever done. You may want it for a storm that rolls through a certain area & you’ve already got it measured so you can see if there’s a new resident there or maybe they weren’t happy with the one who actually got the job. Then again, if you’re in this business for a long time, there is a chance that years down line, you’ll find yourself driving down this street & recognize the house while noticing it needs help. You never know when you have to justify traveling or vehicle expenses to someone from the tax offices.
    –Organization: I made up a ‘fill in the blanks’ kind of form for doing inspections on roofing projects & can Email it to you (in Excel). I print this out & in the 2/3 of the page left blank, I sketch the roof. On the backside, I print out a map to the house. Then, I enter into a spreadsheet the name, phone #, address info on the customer whether it’s a repair or full estimate. That way if I see a hailstorm come through a particular area, I can do a ‘find’ on the zip code & it will pull info on everyone in this area.
    –I always give two business cards to customers; never know where the spare might end up.
    –I have a slap hammer / hammer tack & push pins in my truck. I stick business cards up in every possible area where I see other cards (recently did a 43 square with 23 of them @ 16:12 & he got my card @ the bulletin board @ Tractor Supply. Insurance job, so very tasty $$).
    –Never take off your game face. I actually enjoy it when people ask me roofer related questions in social settings. Become ‘that guy’ friends & family turn to for the “Say, do you know anyone who…” kind of questions.
    –Keep your truck clean (cab & exterior… hard to do with the bed). Nothing says “Redneck” quite like a grimy, beat up truck that looks like it’s been 3 years since a washing. Do your best to not drive a beater or one that has been in an accident.
    –Do the best you can to NOT get upside down with any vendors. Personally, when I take deposits I ONLY do it in the name of the supply house. If the parts come to $ 2,750.00, get a check to XYZ Roofing Supply for $ 2,600.00 & pay the rest out of pocket so any leftover stuff could be returned if you don’t want to sit on inventory (that wasn’t special order)… & YOU get the refund check, not the customer.
    –Vendors, Pt. II: I’d rather have to make up the $$ to labor than get stuck on parts AND labor; you never know when you’ll get a customer who slow pays or doesn’t like something you did on the roof, whether they have unreasonable expectations or not. Also, if the customer isn’t able to spend on a deposit, what makes you think they have $$ enough to pay for the whole roof when done?
    –Vendors, Pt. III: I don’t usually request a parts deposit for material under $ 350.00.
    – Be consistent with your customers. The one time you do something on a handshake or verbal OK is the one time you learn the hard way how some people can be jerks. Get it in writing where humanly possible.
    –Understand that ultimately, you’re in sales. Sell a positive attitude. Always speak well of the competition, or if it’s killing you to not spill the beans, try to go neutral :).
    –Even if you have a customer who pays full deductible on an insurance job & asks for nothing in the way of an upgrade, give them some kind of “floormats” bonus (a physical or product upgrade) that will keep 'em smiling. “Floormats” is a little freebie that auto dealers used to keep in reserve. A customer might be spending $ 35K on a vehicle, but they don’t really trust or like you unless you give away something “for free”.

You should also study & read every trade magazine or website you can; try to pick up new ideas often. Attend mini seminars or product demos if your local supply houses have them sponsored by manufacturers (a good way to get some free vittles, too).

Hopefully all of this will help you a bit here & there. In reality, you could bend a lot of this into good processes for a lot of businesses, not only construction related trades.

good god i cant read all that :shock:

Wholly Molley!! That was a mouthful Ranch hand… I am in my first year of my upstart company and think I could give some advice.

Number one thing is to advertise within you means and your expected growth. Dont over project your income and over stretch a budget that arent earning yet.

Keep your labor costs as low as possible. Hiring lead guys to do what you dont know will cause friction, as roofers wont want to work for you. If you can`t do what they do, they will dog you !!

Nothin sucks worse than working for a new boss who doesn`t jump in, Get Dirty, Bleeed, And pickup with your guys.

Dont bid jobs that you cant do! Guys will know and once your on it, they can get any price from you to do it or your F----D!!!

Most of all take it slow to start, keep your overhead down. Work within your means. Advertise well!! Good luck! The rewards come slowly as equipment purchases eat up a good bit of the dough at first, but I wouldn`t change a thing right now. PS If you have a signifigant other, keep her nose out of the biz!! They want you to play it safe, You have to gamble a little!!

I want to thank everyone who has posted a reply to this, its encouraging. I am worried about having a roofer hired who knows more then me my major issue is going to be the flashing work I just never had the opportunity to do very much of it in the past years. I am able to shingle at a reasonable pace with good results so i am not worried there, its just around brick chimneys that i am most lacking. I want to start off with one crew at first try to do a job at least every 2 days.(nice plain ranchers if possible) I plan on doing the sales, estimates and other business related stuff and stay out of the hair of my lead as much as possible. I know they need a watchful eye but i don’t wanna be right down his throat all the time…hey if anything i say is just BS someone call me on it this is what i want to do with my business not saying its right or not. hopefully get through the first two years where i have the supsidised income and only really need about 20 G a year and then into the coming years where i need about 60G a year to maintain what life i live now…more would always be better LOL one last question on my mind today if i am the only"Boss" to the company what would be a MAX number of crews to eventually get??? thanks again and keep the ideas coming I love this web site