Why Do I Need a Marketing Plan?

As marketing professionals who have worked in the roofing industry for more years than we like to admit, we are very aware of the challenge that contractors have in developing and implementing successful marketing programs. With the flurry of lead generation companies popping up seemingly every day, and the SEO companies who promise first page of Google results, how can you decide what to spend money on and how do you know what will work? 

It’s very tempting to fall victim to “spray and pray” marketing, where you throw some money to a bunch of different things, spray some marketing ads or mailers out there and pray that it works and the phone rings. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Success comes from having a plan in place that supports your business goals and provides consistent activities and messaging. 

We know that marketing for roofing contractors can be confusing, frustrating and elusive. Most roofing contractors are craftsmen and women who have started businesses by understanding and excelling at roofing, waterproofing and building envelope technology. They are not marketing professionals, so it is hard to change gears and figure out how to sell or promote their services while also running operations, estimating, sales and the business overall. A good marketing plan helps drive marketing without having to worry all the time.

Taking the time up front to strategize and plan on how to market your business successfully enables you to move on to other challenges of the day, week or month. A good plan can be the template for what needs to happen daily, weekly and monthly to keep marketing on task. It also eliminates daily questions or sales calls for additional marketing initiatives. By creating and sticking to a yearly plan, you are simplifying the day-to-day decisions that can stymie progress.

Fewer approvals and more action reduce the stress put on decision makers and puts the action into the hands of the marketing professionals. Whether it is a person in the office, an agency or a marketing coordinator implementing the marketing plan, by being prepared ahead of time you will reduce the stress of making reactive decisions or, worse, doing nothing due to lack of time and/or planning.

A good marketing plan will also save you money. Without a plan it is easy to say yes to that advertising salesperson from the local media or free coupon website; or that great new advertising concept for ad words or events that is purchased mid-year without planning or research. It can cost the company in lost time, low productivity and extra expense when you do not budget in advance. When you formulate a plan and establish a budget, you can still move money around if necessary, but there is a set allocation to work within.

Timing is important. Look at starting your yearly marketing plan in the fall if possible. It should be a planned exercise to review the past year and look at the upcoming year. Reviewing statistics, campaigns and lead/close ratio is important before starting on the tactical plans for advertising, PR and direct marketing. By organizing budgeting meetings or even off-site working retreats with your leadership team (ideally comprised of leadership from sales, operations, accounting and marketing), you can take the time to review past performance while setting new goals that reflect growth. By being conscious of past performance, you will set the stage for developing strong marketing programs for the next year.

Establish Your Goals

In fact, you should not even start looking at a marketing plan until you have your goals set. What are the company’s plans for growth next year? Will there be new services or products? Will there be any changes in overall company mission? Marketing supports the goals of the company and supports the sales team in attaining the revenue and profitability goals that make a company successful. If you do not have strong goals and plans, then marketing will most likely flounder.

Regarding sales, it is critical that marketing works hand-in-hand with sales. The marketing plan needs to reflect the goals of the sales team so that the marketing activities are nurturing and delivering the right types of leads for sales success. If the goal is to grow metal roofing but marketing is delivering asphalt shingle leads that are not upgradable, both teams will fail. 

By understanding the types of customers the sales team is looking for and the products and services they will be selling, a marketing plan can be created that will result in success for all departments as well as for the company.

By creating a marketing plan for your roofing business, you are taking the time to determine the ideal customer for your business and how you will attract, convert, close and delight that customer. A good marketing plan that is well thought out will address every stage of the sales and marketing process and detail how you will retain the attention of past customers while also gaining ongoing referrals.

So, let’s get back to that original question: how will you know where you should be spending your marketing dollars? Well, it depends. That’s the reason developing your marketing plan is so important. During the process you will have identified your goals and ideal customers. If your business goal is to focus on commercial roof restorations, then you want to invest dollars where your customers can be reached. You might consider joining your local chapter of a building owner or facility manager’s group, or implement an advertising program on LinkedIn that targets specific job titles in your area. 

On the other hand, if your business goal is to focus on residential roof replacements, you might consider a digital advertising program that is geofenced to target neighborhoods with homes that are 20 years or older and will soon need a new roof. The strategies that you use to reach your customers really depend on what you have determined in your marketing plan.

Your marketing plan serves as a guide for your business. It spells out your company’s positioning statement, the markets you will serve, your yearly goals, your brand promise, the tasks and timelines as well as the tools and technology needed to achieve your goals. It will also help you determine budget and resources needed to implement the tasks, campaigns and initiatives detailed in the plan. 

About the authors: Heidi J. Ellsworth and Karen L. Edwards specialize in the roofing industry, helping contractors, manufacturers and associations achieve their marketing, branding and sales goals. They have authored two books: “Sales and Marketing for Roofing Contractors” and “Building a Marketing Plan for Roofing Contractors.” Both are available in the NRCA Bookstore and on Amazon. 

Spring Forward, Fall Protect

Spring arrived late here in Michigan, and before the weather — and construction — began to heat up, I saw a press release from MIOSHA indicating the second year of its “Stop Falls. Save Lives.” safety awareness campaign would focus on the roofing industry. I called Nella Davis-Ray, Director of MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division in Lansing, to ask her why.

“Nationally and at the state level, we are pleased to see that overall, when you look at general industry and construction, there is a downward trend in work-related fatalities and injuries, and we like to think we play a part in that downward trend,” she said. “Even though we are seeing this downward trend, when you look at roofers’ fall-related incidents, and particularly when you look at roof-related fatalities, their rate is 10 times higher than the rate for construction workers as a whole. So, if there is any trade we can talk to about falls, the data shows the one group we should be focusing on is the roofers.”

The statistics were sobering, but the overall message was hopeful. “Our message is that all falls are preventable,” Davis-Ray said. “We really do believe that in MIOSHA.”

The key is making sure every employee is properly trained, has the proper safety equipment — and knows how to use it — and follows the jobsite-specific safety plan. According to Davis-Ray, the MIOSHA can help with all of those things — and the services are free.

The CET Division works independently of the Enforcement Division. It provides guidance to employers and employees through a variety of methods, including classroom training and educational materials including literature, videos, and a fall protection website, www.michigan.gov/stopfalls. The greatest tool of all, noted Davis-Ray, is a staff of consultants who can provide individualized training.

“I’m surprised how many employers, particularly contractors, are not aware that all they have to do is pick up the phone and call us,” she said. “At their request, we can schedule a time and location for one of our construction safety consultants to come out and work with them directly on safety and health issues.”

Consultants can review written requirements, explain interpretations of the standard, and answer specific questions about a project and whether or not a contractor might be in compliance. They can also help in crafting a comprehensive safety program. “We always try to look at the big picture,” Davis-Ray says. “The overarching issue is to have an effective system in place so that you ensure that safety is considered as a part of every contract.”

Davis urges contractors in every state to explore the free educational resources OSHA can provide. Michigan contractors can call 800-866-4674 or visit www.michigan.gov/miosha to learn more.

 

Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt Welcomes Four Contractors to Platinum Advisory Board

Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt, LLC is welcoming four roofing contractors to its Platinum Advisory Board. The prestigious honor is awarded to Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Preferred Contractors who have demonstrated a commitment to sustained excellence in all aspects of their business.

The newly announced Platinum Advisory Board members are: Levi Phillips, Idaho Roofing Contractors, Inc. (Boise, Idaho); Lenny Scarola, DreamHome Remodeling (Springfield, Va.); Wayne Holloway, Best Choice Roofing & Home Improvement (Hendersonville, Tenn.); and John Phillips, ARAC Roof It Forward (Kennesaw, Ga.). These new members join 13 existing members on the Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Advisory Board.

Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Advisory Board members provide in-the-field experience and business insights while collaborating with Owens Corning twice a year to offer perspective from the vantage point of leading contractors. Members of the Platinum Advisory Board also work with Owens Corning to evaluate products and provide suggestions for continuous improvement.

“We are excited to continue to grow our Platinum Advisory Board with roofing contractors who have demonstrated high levels of market leadership and customer service,” said Jason Lewinski, Owens Corning Roofing Contractor Network Leader. “Our Platinum Advisory Board members play an important role in keeping us connected to emerging issues and opportunities that impact both contractors and the homeowners they serve.”

For more information, visit www.owenscorning.com.

TAMKO Offering Exclusive Training for Pro Certified Contractors

TAMKO Building Products, Inc. is excited to offer new live webinar training exclusively for its Pro Certified Contractors. The training is available now and includes multiple webinars that cover business tools to help contractors increase and manage their business.

“We want success for our TAMKO Pro Certified Contractors,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing for TAMKO, Stephen McNally. “These webinars introduce TAMKO Pros to technology and business resources that are available to help them achieve more with their roofing business.”

TAMKO’s 2018 webinar series began in March and the lineup includes topics such as: home industry trends, led by HomeAdvisor; the basics of social media for businesses, led by Digital Fusion; how financing jobs can increase your business revenue, led by GreenSky; and the importance of roof measurement technology and how to use it, led by EagleView Technologies. Webinar host companies and topics will vary monthly.

A goal of the TAMKO Pro Certified Contractor program is to help contractors grow their business and assist them with finding the tools and services to help along the way. As part of the program, contractors are also eligible for Pro Rewards where they can earn cash back for qualifying purchases.

For more information, visit TAMKOpro.com.

 

MRA Predicts Major Demand for U.S. Metal Roofing Installers this Spring

With a hot U.S. housing market and still-favorable interest rates, the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) is predicting a heavier than usual demand for qualified metal roofing installers and contractors for spring 2018.

For homeowners planning improvement projects this season, that means the time to swing into action is now, says MRA’s Executive Director Renee Ramey. That’s especially true for metal roofing, which is booming in popularity thanks to its durability and exceptional performance in severe weather.

“Not only are we seeing greater demand in general, we’re also coming off a tough winter which leads to the need for more qualified re-roofing contractors,” said Ramey. “In many cases, homeowners should be aware that these factors can significantly increase the competition and the timeframe for being able to complete re-roofing projects.”

Even with the flurry of activity predicted for this spring, MRA is cautioning homeowners to take their time and do their homework to vet contractors thoroughly before embarking on any re-roofing job. Inexperienced installers may prey on homeowners’ impatience and the high market demand, using it as a means to overcharge or push sub-quality services and materials. Inadvertently or not, rushed contractors under pressure or anxious to get to their next job may cut corners or overlook key details, so it’s up to homeowners to make sure the job is done to their satisfaction each step of the way.

“No matter what the material, a new roof is a major investment, so homeowners will want to take the necessary steps now to ensure their home is protected, comfortable and will perform reliably for many years to come,” said Ramey.

MRA is reinforcing these tips for homeowners seeking quality metal roofing installers this year:

  1. Don’t assume all roofers are equally skilled

Some contractors push homeowners towards a certain roofing material, not because it’s the best or most appropriate for their home, but because it may simply be the option the installer is most familiar with.  Make sure your installer is properly trained, experienced and skilled in installing metal roofing. Ideally, look for a roofer that has been in business for at least five years; roofers who don’t do quality work usually don’t last that long.

  1. Get referrals

Reputable installers are typically involved in the industry and are committed to keeping abreast of the latest trends and techniques. Check to see if the prospective installer is a member of MRA and other reputable trade alliances. Be sure to ask for and contact recent references. When contacting references, ask if they were satisfied with the work, if the process went smoothly, if the installers were careful and courteous and they did what they promised, including sticking to the estimate and change orders.  Also, ask the installer to provide you with a few recent job locations so you can drive by and check out the work. While pictures may be helpful, there’s nothing like seeing how a roof looks first-hand.

  1. Do your own homework

With metal roofing alone, there are hundreds of different options, material types, finishes and installation techniques. Request the highest-rated, longest lasting material you can afford and always do your own research for whatever product recommendation your installer suggests, verifying it’s what you want for your home. For resources about metal roofing materials, styles and options, check out www.metalroofing.com or visit the manufacturer’s website directly.

  1. Protect yourself

Make sure that installers are licensed, insured and carry workers’ compensation coverage. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof-of-insurance certificates and the insurance agent’s name. A reputable installer won’t hesitate to provide you with that information. Don’t pay the full amount of a job upfront; ideally, pay one-third upfront for materials, and the remainder when roofing and clean up are completed to your satisfaction. It goes without saying that evaluating warranties is essential: make sure it covers not only materials and finishes, but leaks, flashing failures and other labor-related defects.

  1. Be thorough

Putting on a new roof is only part of the equation. Replacing eaves flashing, pipe boots and roof jacks is less complicated when reroofing, so consider having it done at the same time if needed. Be sure to have your contractor or HVAC provider verify proper attic ventilation. Poor ventilation can cause significant damage, high utility bills and worse case, can lead to serious safety issues.

“Metal roofs are one of the best and most reliable ways to protect a home for the long run,” said Ramey. “We’re encouraging homeowners to invest some time and effort upfront before their re-roofing project begins, and it will pay off with many years of loving their home’s roof.”

For more information, visit www.metalroofing.com.

 

KM Coatings Unveils New Website

KM Coatings, a manufacturer of quality roof coatings for roofing professionals, announced the launch of its new website. Introduced on Jan. 22, 2018, the new site is dynamic, searchable and improves the web experience for visitors.

The new design is modern with cleaner page layouts featuring hues of blue, gray and white to match the KM Coatings rebranding. From the website, contractors can sign up for the KM Academy, search and download content, and connect with roofing experts.

“We are pleased with the new website which allows for improved online access to our products, people and services,” said Brady Kolden, national coatings manager for KM Coatings. “The website was constructed with the needs of our customers in mind and reflects our dedication and commitment to them. We believe they will find what they need every time they come through our virtual doors.”

For more information visit kmcoatings.us.

 

Polyglass Launches New Q Rewards Website

Polyglass U.S.A., Inc. announced the launch of its newly revamped Q Rewards website. The new platform allows roofing contractors to quickly earn points for Polyglass purchases and redeem them for trips, event tickets and merchandise.

A leading manufacturer of roofing and waterproofing solutions, Polyglass introduced the Q Rewards program in 2013 as a way to say thank you to contractors. From the website, contractors can enroll in the Q Rewards program, manage points and redeem prizes. The newly designed website has improved navigation and functionality and is compatible with mobile devices. It features Snap2Claim Technology, enabling photo capture and faster upload of invoices.

“We are excited about the launch of the new Q Rewards website,” said Director of Strategic Marketing Scott Lelling. “The website has a cleaner design, is user-friendly and improves the overall customer experience. We value our customers and look forward to making more amazing rewards possible through the Q Rewards program.”

Contractors can sign up for Q Rewards now at www.polyglassqrewards.com and earn bonus points at the 2018 International Roofing Expo on Feb. 6-8 in New Orleans, LA.  Stop by booth 701 and play the Spin2Win game.

For more information, visit www.polyglass.us.

ABC Supply Co. Inc. Opens Branch in Valparaiso, Indiana

Building products distributor ABC Supply Co. Inc. has opened a new branch at 184 W. State Road 130 in Valparaiso, Indiana, that will benefit northwest Indiana contractors. The location will give local contractors access to roofing, siding and other exterior building products they need to run their businesses as well as business support and expertise from ABC Supply’s associates.

Jessie Vega will manage the new branch. Vega, who joined ABC Supply’s Tinley Park location in 1999, has worked as a delivery driver, inside sales associate and, most recently, a delivery service manager during his tenure with the company. He brings nearly two decades of experience and a passion for helping customers succeed to Valparaiso.

With the addition of the Valparaiso branch, ABC Supply now has 15 locations throughout Indiana. “The goal of every ABC Supply branch is to support contractors and make their jobs easier,” said Jim Welch, vice president of ABC Supply’s Midwest Region. “We’re looking forward to building relationships with customers in the area with our high-quality products and trusted expertise. Of course, we’re also excited to become part of the larger Valparaiso community.”

Branch hours are 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday. The phone number is (219) 286-8200.

For more information, visit www.abcsupply.com.

MRA Will Host Seminars for Metal Roofing Contractors at METALCON

The Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) has announced it will be hosting two seminars for metal roofing contractors at METALCON 2017.  Both are designed to help contractors grow their residential metal roofing businesses with advice and ideas that can make an impact. Led by metal roofing expert Frank Farmer, the MRA training sessions will be held on both Oct. 18 and 19, as follows:

Growing Your Residential Metal Roofing Company in the Age of Millennials

Hiring, Training and Turning Millennials into Rock Stars

  • While most companies are struggling with low productivity of a millennial workforce, your company can excel.  Understanding what the millennial generation wants and needs is the key to your growth and profitability. This seminar will share how to turn your company into a magnet that attracts people while developing a profitable company culture that millennials crave.
  • Presented Oct. 18, from 9:30 a.m – 10:30 a.m. and Oct. 19, from 10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Increasing your Residential Metal Roof Company’s Profitability

  • Learn how to create value and urgency without being the lowest bid.  Frank will share sales techniques specific to the metal roofing industry, including how to become your customer’s first choice and make the order on the first visit at the price you want.
  • Presented Oct. 18, from 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. and Oct. 19, from 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

For more information, and to register for the sessions, contractors can click here to review the conference schedule and choose a session.  MRA is also offering registration for the show floor at this link.   

ABC Supply Offers Building Products to Contractors at the Bowling Green Branch

ABC Supply Co. Inc. has opened a branch in Bowling Green, Ky., located at 125 Hunter Court. The location will offer steep-slope and low-slope roofing and other select building products that contractors need to run their businesses.

Jason Swigart will manage the branch. Prior to joining ABC Supply, Swigart worked for other building products distributors in the Louisville area in positions ranging from inside and outside sales to operations manager. In March 2016, he started at the Louisville branch located at 619 Industry Road as an outside sales associate. He graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing.

This is ABC Supply’s sixth location in Kentucky. “Our new location in Bowling Green will help contractors in south-central Kentucky have access to the products and services that they rely on for their businesses every day,” says Tom Kuchan, vice president of ABC Supply’s Northeast Region. “Whether it’s working with new or existing customers, Jason and his team look forward to continuing to build relationships with the area’s contractors.” 

Branch hours are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT, Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday. The phone number is (270) 782-8787.