How Roofers Can Win More Jobs -- A Home Owner's Perspective

I originally wrote this article in the forum on for roofers to gain the perspective from the customer side (here's the link to the original article), but decided I'd like to have it on my blog site too. I think a lot of this information works for any home service type business, so it's not only for roofers. I hope google won't penalize me for duplicate content.

Leaky roof, before shot. (Note: click on photos to enlarge them)

I recently had a our 100 year old New Englander reroofed. I'm in marketing (a graphic designer for a large software company) and have some tips that SOME might find helpful. Consider this a report from the customers side, that will make you stand apart from the rest, and will land you tons of work. (Somewhat in order of how I selected our roofer, and how my recent job went). I've just finished writing the whole piece and it's a long one (whooowaa), but one I hope you will find useful. I'm not a writer, so please excuse my long winded/repetitive posting. Take what you like and blast me for what you don't like. Oh, yes, the fact that you are on this site, reading this, probably means you don't need most of this feedback. The guys that are out there that aren't on sites like this, really do need this information.

So if you don't need/want more work, or don't need help with marketing, customer service or insight form a customer, this posting is not for you. My intention is to help. I like helping people. Thanks--Peter

From the customers (my side) roofs are a commodity (meaning a roof is a roof is a roof). So what makes the difference between getting the job and not? You, customer service, follow up, etc. About everything that doesn't have to do with physically putting a roof on a house. I assume you all can do that. What I don't assume is that you all will give me a fair deal, a professional job, a done on time, or a job to code, etc.

I'm 41, male, first time homeowner, recently moved to smaller town (~26,000 pop.). First thing I would have done to find a roofer was ask around, but I'm new here, so I searched, searched the Internet.

1. Generational Shift
My dad uses the yellow pages, I don't. I use the Internet only. First thing I do is: Google > "Roofers MyTown, MyState". So, have a website that returns in Google's first page (hard to achieve these days), so instead be sure you are listed on the first couple of major site Google lists (superpages, or whatever) On those sites that list mulitple local roofers, you must have more than your address/phone/services, YOU MUST HAVE A COMPANY WEBSITE LINK THERE TOO). If I see you listed with links to your site in multiple sites, you will: 1. make my short list, 2. I will consider you smart, organized, and up on current marketing (smart). That's the kind of roofer I want, Smart, and Organized.

After not finding much on the internet, I used the yellow pages (this old tool did not occur to me until a week after my initial, almost fruitless search). I then only used the yellow pages to narrow my short list. If they had a yellow page ad (half page or quarter, full size looks like you might be overly expensive, smaller than a quarter, I'm kinda thinking you are not a real player), AND A WEBSITE. They made the short list, well almost.

2. Get a Website
Your site must convey at a minimum, a semi professional looking design. I don't want an aesthetic part of my house (my roof) put on by someone that has no, or bad, design sense. So you are a roofer, not a designer, fine, understood. Have the best designer you can find/afford make your website. I used to make websites and one thing I would tell my clients when they ask why THEY shouldn't make their site themselves, is "you wouldn't roof your house would you, even though you might understand the basics". Truly I would use the roof analogy. Kinda funny here now.

So unless you are a web designer too, don't make your own site, OR have your sister, mother, brother, friend do it. Hire a professional and pay $1000-$3000. Included in this price must be search engine optimization (SEO) work. If they can't explain what that is to you, how they do it, and show you results they have achieved for others, don't hire them. No sense in having a site nobody can find. Of course you will be listed on those others sites (mentioned above) if your SEO doesn't work.

Here's an example of a single page listing by a web service. I would not call this business.

Here's an example of a single page site (not helpful), that also needs design help.

3. What I Want to See on Your Site:
A. Good, clean, organized design and good usability

B. Include things that lets me know you are an expert, and use your own voice, not one of "We are dedicated to quality work" Tell me that YOU and your team are dedicated to quality work. The point is to show that YOU are a knowledge leader. So don't simply copy and paste other articles about shingles. Write from the heart and from your experiences about certain materials, techniques, and so on. I assume you are human, so write like one. My mine goal in deciding whether to call you or not is deciding if you are honest, knowledgeable, and care about all roofs, including mine. So don't try to look bigger than you are if you are a smaller group. Be honest, be an expert.

This could be a thorough list of common Q&As, explanations about shingle types, roof types, a checklist of what you should ask your roofer for (insurance, references, license, warranty, etc.) Put as much as you can on there that shows me you know your stuff, and, that you are going to use all of that expert knowledge when installing my roof. The more the better, but break it out over a pages (no scrolling miles down a page). Write an article. Write multiple articles! Give me "homeowner does and don'ts". Give me "common homeowner mistakes". Tell me what I can expect before, during and after the job. Tell me how to prepare for you. Tell me how to spot bad and good roofers. Tell me that you have liability insurance, workers comp., are bonded (whatever that is), licensed, and that you provide a warranty. Tell me that you use written contracts with job specific details, are a member of this and that organization (chamber, bbb,, etc.)

I don't care if you are family owned, and have been in business for 35 years. Quite frankly that tells me: 1. you might be out of touch with the latest roofing materials and techniques. 2. You might be so old and jaded that you are going to be grumpy and not too excited to do my work.

BE HONEST. Tell me you are a new business, if you are. But back that up with expert knowledge, letting me know you are still an expert. I'd rather hire someone newish AND up on the latest and greatest knowledge and know-how, rather than some old fart with "years of experience" that hasn't read the manufacturers installation requirements since 1983.

C. GOOD photos of your work (in focus, not washed out, not old...). Get a good camera, take 100 pictures, pick the best 3 for the site per job. Before, During, After shoots are good. Small houses, big house, commercial buildings, include them all, when I see a project that's similar to my project, I'll think "yeah, they are right for my job".

A group shot of you and your team would be good, or workers on site working (hey I'd rather see them than not). Even better would be everyone in a company shirt or sweatshirt. I would be wowed. Nobody has that kind of organization to actually get guys in a row in clean shirts. If you did, wow! I don't care if you are 2 guys or 30. I want a expert roofing job and I want to see your faces: 1. to see that you look like someone reasonable and that you are not going to take my deposit and run to Florida. It's a credibility reinforcement thing.

Tell me you are honest, fair, proud of your work and your craft. Tell me you will do a good job for me. Tell me that even if you don't go with me here are some things you should know as a homeowner (I'll pick you anyway). Tell me your rates are in line with industry standards. Tell me to throw out the lowest (bottom feeding) bidders, tell me to compare apples to apples on quotes and how I can start to know what apples I'm interested in prior to you showing up, meaning help me make my job description accurate/complete, so that all can bidders do so apples to apples.

Tell me that the materials I select will determine the cost and why certain materials are better than others. Tell me why 30lb felt paper isn't better than 15lb, or is. Tell me why I shouldn't do my whole house in ice-shield, or should. Tell me what shingles brands you work with, so I can research their sites on the web. Tell me what colors, styles might be right for various houses/buildings (architecture, age, region), but tell me it's up to me in the end. Let me know if new shingles add value to my home. Tell me if they will help insulate, or not. Tell me everything you have been asked and then some.

Give me more, more, more info. One page websites are not websites. They are nothing more than a larger business card. I learn nothing about you and most likely, will not call you. I want an expert. Nough Said! lol

Example of a Very Good Site

Example of a nice clean design for a roofing site

Great gallery of photos with before and after shots

Customer testimonials in their own hand, which can be clicked on to read

Goes into roofing "systems" and educates the audience and looks great

Even has a few videos

Using web tools supplied by GAF

Warranty comparison table

Examples of roof issues to look for

Nice site. I did a random search and found the site above at

4. Your Answering Machine:
No: "Hi this is Becky and Rob and you have reached New Haven Roofing, please leave a message"
Yes: "You have reach New Haven Roofing. We are sorry we missed your call. Please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Your business is important to us. Thank you.

5. Call Me Back:
If I only leave a home number and not work. Call me at that night, not the next day when I'm not there. I'd much rather get a call at 8:00 pm than have to wait a day and wonder if you ever got or cared about the message. I want to get moving on my job. I understand you are on the road all day. I understand why you can't call back till 8:00 pm. Call and say, "I know it's late, but I wanted to return your call, if this is not a good time, let me know when a better time would be."

Even better, give me your cell phone number as well as your office number on your website. Answer the cell and say "I'm on a job right now, but I wanted to get back to you, and I'll do so as soon as possible." Your voicemail message should say something similar.

6. The First Visit Arrival Time:
Be 5-10 minutes early. I figure you will be timely with your work too. If you get delayed or know you can't make it, call me ASAP. I will understand you are busy and things happen, reschedule. No big deal. Communicate. If you are really early, park in the driveway and do some work/calls. That way I know, that you know you are there too early, and that you are waiting, not wanting to bother me yet. I'll of course come out, and won't be put off that you are 20 minutes early and I'm still eating lunch.

7. Your Vehicle:
First thing I did was check out the truck.
1. Best: Newish, organized, cleanish, logo on side (if it's too nice though, I might think your going to be expensive, as you seem to make too much money, but don't over thing that comment).
2. Worst: 1983 Conversion van, missing headlight, ugly, dashboard filled with paper, wrappers, old sandwiches, etc. One of my guys came bye like this. Actually he came by 4 times. The first time invited, the other 3 times not (bad).

7.5. What You Look Like:
Fairly straightforward, I didn't care for the buy with the Panama Jack tank top. I liked the guys who looked like any one of the This Old House guys. You don't have to be clean. I know you are working, but have classic builder type clothes. And a shirt with a logo is even better (clean or not). If it matches your truck (the logo), your business card, and your website, even better. Details count. But if you pull up in pleated pants and nice leather shoes, I'll know you not hands on, and that you are only the sales/money guy. Jeans, work shirt, measuring tape, metal box note pad (to note my job as we go), cell phone, workboots, digital camera (maybe), folder as a leave behind, perfect.

7.75. What you Act Like:
Very obvious, be friendly, smart, interested, tell me you like my place, say hi to the dog. Tell my wife you will be sure to clean up the nails and debris as you know we have young kids. Tell me that you'll be sure the gardens will not get damaged. Tell me what might get damaged. Don't ask me what I do. I think you are sizing me up for my budget. As soon as I say I work for a software company, I'm thinking "cha-ching" my bill just went up $2,000. Besides, I hate talking about work outside of work. Talk about my house, my garden, my barn, my garage, my deck, my cat. And assure me that I can trust you to take care of me with a quality job.

I need you to be the boss on the job. Tell me you will do the job as it should be done. Tell me you will do it to code and nothing less, because you have ethics, and that some guys don't have my best interest at hand. Tell me you are going to take care of me, and I'll, in-turn, take care of you. The whole selection process isn't about price, it's about finding the right roofer, that thinks like I do, will be my partner, and then I'll pay them what they say I should be paying for a job like this.

Here's something that works. Tell me that "even if you don't get the job, that you want me to promise that I will have XXX fixed/done, otherwise I'll have a problem down the road. That way I know that you care more about work done right, and a house done right, than you do about getting a check. The guy I hired in the end won me over when he mentioned that "even if you don't hire me, will you let me replace those blow-offs on the barn? I did that work 15 years ago, and I hate to see work I did go bad" HIRED!

8. Inspection of the Job:
Get on a ladder, get on the roof! 2 out of 5 guys did this and that narrowed the field for me. Sure you might not need to get up there to see, but to me, I'm thinking, "here's someone that really wants to see what is going on with the current roof, wants to see details, is smart, thorough, hands-on, ready to work. I've never had a ladder up to the roof, so I'm impressed already, when you are up there in seconds. If you walk around from the ground only, I'm thinking, okay, but the other guy actually checked it out up close. Whether you need to or not, get up there. One guy invited me up to see some issues. Very impressive. I wanted to see what he was seeing, and he explained what he was seeing, and it was stuff I would have never known, or thought about. He must be an expert!

Tell me other things about my house. This lets me know that you are more than a roofer, you understand whole house systems and have building experience. I don't want a roofer, I want a contractor/home expert/roofing expert/someone that will make sure my house is the best it can be.

Tell me that the framing around the windows has potential for issues down the road. Tell me that my chimney is in good shape or not. Tell me that my house has balloon framing and what that is. Tell me why I have mold over an unvented bathroom exhaust fan. Tell me someone used the wrong grade of cedar shake on my siding. Show me the pin holes in my rubber membrane. Tell me how you'll find those with careful inspection over every inch. Tell me that half my roof was redone at some point. Tell me why it is leaking. Tell me all you know. Boy, you are an expert. Stay for an hour, but not longer. Too long, I figure you have no other work, too short, and I figure I'm just a dollar sign to you.

9. What to Bring With You:
So I've already done my home work and know that there are certain things I want on paper from you. The internet tells me I must ask for these things. So have them ready for me in a simple folder that you leave behind (not in order):

1. References: phone number, address, state of job, scope of job, date, and if you dear... price.

2. A list of any organizations you belong to: BBB, Chamber, NRCA, NHBA, Roofers associations, etc.

3. What I can expect before, during and after the work. What I can do to prepare if anything. How long work takes (you can say it depends), How long it will take before you get to my job (you can say it depends on the weather, other jobs, etc.) Have it all in writing so when I compare your folder with another contractor's, I think, this guy is on his game. I'm thinking he is the front runner.

4. What's the warranty? What is the difference between the shingle manufacturers warranty and the roofers. Will they install the shingles to meet to the manufacturers installation specifications.

5. Tell me about payment schedules, deposits, etc.

6. Tell me you will, or will not get the permit. I'd of course prefer that you get it. Tell me how some roofers have you get it.

7. Tell me what happens when there's damage to my property, broken window, etc.

8. Tell me about clean up, including gutters (not done by my roofers yet). I have to call them.

9. Tell me if you will be on the job or not, or just in the morning. I don't care, I would just like to know and it shows me honesty. I understand that you have other pitches to make, other jobs to visit, other obligations.

10. Tell me when to expect a quote and how it will be delivered. (By the way, I'd much rather get it by e-mail, than wait 2-3 for snail mail. What a waste of everyone's time and a waste of a stamp. Check first though on how they want it delivered and set expectations. "I can't get you a quote for 3 days, because I've got 4 jobs going and I must do those first" is fine with me. I'm glad you are busy, you must be in demand by other people that thought you were the best, so they hired you. Hmmmm, maybe I should too.

11. A sample quote, a sample contract, a sample warranty, "too learn more, visit my website, read my articles..."

12. Marketing materials from the shingle manufacturers. I want to know I'm getting something good. I know they are all good, but hey, the more the better, for me anyway.

14. Customer quotes. "Harry did an outstanding job with our roof..."

15. Most important... A copy of your liability insurance and workers compensation insurance, proof of license if needed (if not say so), something saying your business has a great track record, we are a member of the bbb, and so on. Check the web for all the things I'm going to ask you to provide.

Not one of my contractors came with enough materials. Some had a shingle brochure only, some had one page of references only, some wrote down address on the spot, others had only a card. I then had to make phone calls/e-mail to get this information out of them, that I knew could have been provided to me up front. What a waste of my time and yours. The contractor I went with took 3 weeks to get me a copy of his insurance. Bad. Also, if you don't have all of these items in digital form, do so. I work through e-mail not snail mail. Don't make me wait, send me PDFs of this stuff if you don't have it printed and ready. Enough already!!! lol

Well almost, one last thought about your folder. Make it clean and neat. What does that mean? All pages should have your logo and contact info in the same place, the type sizes throughout should match, as well as the fonts you use. Don't use more then 3 fonts max. Keep it simple, and professional. If you really don't know what that means, hire a graphic designer. Your web designer might be a good candidate, but ask first to see samples of their printed work. Web designers are not print designers, and vise versa, but some do both well. Ask them to create template for you in Word. Keep all your marketing materials consistent.

10. The quote:
Ask me how I want to get it. I want it e-mailed as a PDF. I want to see detail, not just "rip and replace $11,000" Break out the items. You don't need a dollar amount on it all, I just want a complete list of services, (example: bullet one: "underlayment: 15lb brand name, installed 3ft all drip edges and valleys", or whatever. You all have the quote layout and formats fairly well down, so I won't belabor it.

11. Quoted Price:
I received quotes from $6,500 to $13,000. So I'm going to aim for the upper middle. Why? The bottom I know to throw out, you told me to do so on your website. The highest, must be for people that have too much money, or I'm getting ripped off. If you think you might be the highest, back it up. Tell me why it's higher and I might go for it.

In my case I really didn't care $3,000 either way. The only thing I wanted was a contractor who would give me a roof that was what I needed, done the right way, that wouldn't rip me off, was trustworthy, complete, detailed, and a master at his/her craft. Convince me you are that person, and I will pay you want, YOU TELL ME what the right amount is for the job. Your the expert, I don't know what I should pay you. Tell me, and tell me why, and I'll sign the check.

11.25. I Gather Intelligence on YOU
So I'm about to drop $11,000 on this project, so I want to know as much as I can about you. If I was shopping for a used car, I'd test drive them, kick the tires, research the maintenance records, check the resale value, and lots of other stuff. So now, what can I do to research you! HA! And you thought I wouldn't. Of course I'm going to.

First I'll Google you, and your company name to see what comes up. Then (and I did this) I check you with the BBB website for complaints. I'll drive by the closest addresses on your completed projects sheet. I'm not going to call them. I figure if they are references they will say good things. I just want to see how the work came out, what size the project was, etc. If they are all rubber membrane mobile home jobs, you are off the short list. If current projects homes have "Action Roofer" signs in front of them for weeks with no action, you are off the list.

And then finally, and this might surprise you, and I'm sure most people won't do this, but I did. I drove by each of your properties to see what kind of places you lived in. HA! If it's in need of obvious repair with crap everywhere, your off the list (one of mine was like that). Mostly you passed, but it was a way for me to gather more info on who I might be dealing with. When I have little to go on to pick a roofer, as you'll remember, all roofs seem the same to me, well I'm going to look for whatever differentiators I can. I'm going to check out your home. All where withing 10 miles, why wouldn't I, if I was heading that way anyway. No stalking, just a quick look at the property... lol

11.5. Calling me Back
Wait 3 business days then call me back and ask if I have any questions about the quote. Not a sales call, just a follow up to see that I got the quote and if I had any further questions. If you've done everything above well, you'll get my job. If I call you back with a question, get back to me as soon as is possible. My original front-runner I dropped because we played phone tag for 3-4 weeks. Goodbye. If you drive by my place, and happen to see me, stop in. Give a quick chat, ask me if I have any questions. But do this only once, not 3 times like one guy did (once during an outside party, I told my friend to get rid of him).

11. The Job:
I had to call my roofer a few times to get updates as to when they where going to start. I understand that schedules depend on weather, other jobs, etc. So I wasn't concerned about the when, I was really just wanted an update. I never got a call from them. It was always me having to call, every 3 weeks or so. Should be the other way around. Call me and tell me "because of the rain this summer we are now pushed back 1.5 months". I understand that. No worries.

If you don't update me, I'm starting to think, did I pick the right contractor? They told me work would begin in 4-6 weeks and it's now be 2 months and then more. Keep communications up and delays will be understood. Don't communicate, and start going into the "crappy company" file. Even tell me you don't have the foggiest when you can get to me, but that you have not forgotten my job, and that you are working hard on other jobs right now, and that you will call me when you have a better picture on a window of time. That's understandable. When they did finally come they called the night before and left a message... hey I was just happy they were going to finally do the work.

12. Doing the Job:
Most likely the job/work is much of what you all think about. But to me, the home owner, I saw the trucks, workers came, and I left to go to work. I came home at night all looked clean and organized (great!). Second day. Hey it's done (cool). That's about I'll I thought. It was dark when I got home too so I couldn't really inspect work in progress. I look up the next morning, yep, it's a new roof (cool). That's done. So do whatever you want during the day if nobody is there, but leave the site cleaned up, and organized each day, because I'm going to snoop around.

13. Post Job:
For me "Joe home owner" this was a BIG event. I spent weeks/months researching you, learning about soffit vents, ridge vents, shingles types, felt paper, ice and water shield, etc. Talking with the wife about which guy was right a few times, whether we had the money to do this job now, and so on. Cleaned out the attic, pruned all the bushes close to the house for easy access, left notes to you on the kitchen table, created notes on fence doors so you didn't let the dog out. AND GAVE YOU A CHECK FOR $11,000. Sure that is fair, but the point is, THIS IS A BIG EXPENSIVE EVENT FOR A HOME OWNER. And now what's my real point...

Don't leave the job after 2 days with not a single follow up note, phone call, leave behind. That's what happened to me 5 days ago. The roof looks fine, the yard is totally clean but I felt like the roofers swarmed in, slammed the roof on, and left. Okay, fair enough, that is business, there is more work to do. BUT one simple leave behind letter would have made a world of difference, and would have made a roofing job complete. Instead I got nothing. What I wanted was a simple letter. Something like, "Thank you ________ for your business. It was a pleasure working with you. As you know we value you as a customer and were pleased that you selected us as your roofers. We know you have a lot of choices and in this competitive market having a happy customer is not only necessary, it's part of our company values. So in closing, please feel free to call us/me at__________ should you have any follow up questions or concerns. Thank you--Joe the roofer.

Now that would have been great. But here's what would have been really great. A folder with:
- That letter above (a thank you for your business letter)
- A customer satisfaction survey with stamped envelope, including whether or not you can use me as a reference, or for quotes on your website, ask me if there's anything you could do to improve the experience, ask me if there's any issue I had with the workmanship, etc.
- A card
- Your warranty
- Marketing materials about any, or all of the materials used on my project. "Hey look honey, the shingles they used are algae and mold resistant, cool. They used top quality products. I can be proud of my new roof and not wonder if I spent too much when people asked me what the job cost. I want to say, I spent a lot, but I had the best roofers and the great materials for my needs. The roof is going to last for years. It was a great investment.
- Manufacturers warranties
- Answers to commonly asked questions. Like: Why are my singles not laying flat... This will avoid calls back to you too.
- Cards to give my neighbors.
- A fridge magnet (I'll use it, and remember you when someone asks who did the work 3 years from now)
- A $75 check to me if I refer a friend/neighbor
- How to care for my new roof. Car come with this, so should roofs.
- Too much to ask for, but icing on the cake would be a follow up walk though. Is that too much to ask for?

Why all this stuff? I just spent $11,000 with you. McDonald's thanks you when you buy a coffee. Any other item for that price would come with a folder of stuff. I want stuff that validates what I paid for. And I choose you when, I could have chosen dozens of roofers, so thank me, even if you only made $100 in the end. From my end I forked over $11,000.

Do everything above and I'll be talking about you for years to come. My roofing job was just a roofing job. I stare at the new roof and it looks fine, perhaps even a stellar job, I don't know, I'm not a roofer, but what I do know is that somehow I fell cheated. And it's all to do with a few simple customer service items. My main points: Make a up front, first visit folder. That gets my job. Make a closing folder. That makes me tell others you were great. Leave me hanging and you were only so so, or worse.

Actually, in my case, there was a small issue after they were gone. A storm window was broken next to our side (main) door. You couldn't miss it. There was no note about it, or phone call about it. So I figured, things happen, no big deal, they will call in a day or so to say they are fixing it, or they will just stop by while I'm at work and fix it. No such thing so far. So, I'm a good guy so I figure, someone broke it, didn't fess up and the contractor never knew about it. Fine, but they would know if they followed up with a phone call to me.

So now I'm going to have to call, hoping the conversation doesn't get awkward. I'm not mad, just want to see if they will fix it, or deduct it from the final bill. But before I call them I'm going to now do a thorough examination of all of the work, what else might I find that was not mentioned. I only want to make one call with my complete punch list. So I go up to the attic it's a mess (but I knew that would be the case, as the contract said please cover everything). In my case, my attic was completely empty and all parts are very easy to access. I know it's not the norm, but more icing on the cake would have been to shop vac it. One guy's time for 15 minutes would have WOWed me. Instead the attic has a layer of debris. Yeah, I know roofers don't clean this up, but if it takes 15 minutes for one guy and I was a roofer I think I would do that.

So I open up the attic windows and look down at the gutters, a total mess, 5"-10" long wood scraps, 1/4" of shingle grit, shingle pieces, wrappers, nails, etc. Now I'm getting out the camera... And thinking is this normal? Now I look really closely at the leaky chimney. I can see some daylight. Okay, now I need to find out more, so I get online, find this site and ask these questions to you all. Two other small items: they forgot to install an under eave bathroom vent specifically put into the contract (I bought the vent, they would install as they are up there, for a price) I left that with notes on the kitchen table it was pushed aside, and never installed (simple oversight, but just one more thing I have to call them about. I also bought black spray paint for them to paint the older style roof vents (also in the contract), but instead of painting them, they put in new black ones. That's great. I'm sure they thought so, but I would have liked to have known in advance they were going to do that, instead of finding the spray paint untouched and something added to my roof that I didn't pick out. And they could have made this a huge positive, by simply calling me at work and saying, "look we really want to give you new vents rather than paint the old ones, it will look much better, and they are a better design for weather, do want us to do that?" I would have been WOWed, instead I was kinda like "what the hell are those things, why did I run around this morning getting spray paint and cleaning solvent from HD, making me an hour late for work that morning".

I've posted pictures of the chimney flashing, and have a few comments back from you all (thanks for those responses). So right now, I don't have any real problems with the roofers, I just have to call and ask them about those issues. I'm not looking forward to this call, either are they. I'm not looking forward to justifying that the gutters should have been cleaned. I'm not looking forward to telling them about the chimney gaps, or the forgotten roof vent. All of this awkwardness could and should have been avoided by one follow up call with them, or a note inviting me to follow up with any issues.

So in the end my star/expert roofer I selected could have been an "A" over-all but they have dropped to a "yeah, they did an okay job, but it's not over", and if things don't go well they will drop to a "I wouldn't recommend these people" rating.

I can hear you now... This guy is nuts he wants use to run our business, make sales, install roofs, etc. etc. AND all the rest of this kissing the clients *** stuff.

Well my answer to you would be to print out this posting out and highlight the key ideas. Do the key things and you will be golden. And I can tell you none of my 5 guys that I had give quotes did even a quarter of these customer service type things, so I'm guessing if you do, you will get every new job. And that is the real intent of this "note" to you all. I want to help your business, and your customers in these hard economic times--Peter

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  1. Peter,

    Some very good suggestions for any roofing company looking to satisfy their customers.

    A great roofing company will act professional, be courteous and listen to the customers needs (all while completing a great roofing job).


  2. Peter,

    Yes, great suggestions, but finding roofing contractors that do half that stuff is rare.

    We have found some that are quality and value driven, but it isn't easy.
    Seems that there is an inverse relationship between a full page ad in the yellow pages and the quality of work performed.

    Would you mind if I used some of the above article as guidelines and referance. With appropriate credit and links back of course.

  3. Fine with me. Please link back somewhere, thanks.--Peter

  4. Peter,
    This is great. In fact it could be used by any home repair company. (Or any service company) Substitute,"remodeler" "plumber" etc for "roofer."

    I have a design business, and even I got some ideas!
    BTW I saw a lot of spelling errors.- buy for guy, etc... :)

    Thanks for your site. It's very useful!


  5. I'm a building (not roofing) contractor in northern New England, and this post was linked from a contractor's forum I frequent. It's great that you took the time to put your thoughts down, and I found it very helpful. But as someone who hires far more roofers than the average homeowner ever will, I hope I can offer my differing perspective. And I realize this thread is almost a year old.

    My first comment is a general one. The absolute best single way to find a contractor of any sort is to ask your friends, neighbors, family etc for referrals. I have a website, and a nice one at that, but very few of my customers come to me through it. Someone who finds me thru a search has no way to know if I even did the work in my photos - they could be stock photos, jobs I was only a small part of, etc.

    Roofing contractors in specific - the big companies who can afford large ads in the Yellow Pages and a sophisticated web presence often get that way by subbing out a lot of their work. I know several regional companies like that, I've seen their work, I know what they pay their guys. From their websites and TV ads you'd think the owner was there on your roof making sure everything was done well. From having cleaned up after them I can tell you their work is often incompetent, they pay their subs rates guaranteed to attract people who have no other options, etc. And since most people lack the ability or desire to climb on their roof, it's easy to get away with mediocre or worse work.

    I think all your other comments are right on. Keeping in touch before the job starts, checking in later, etc - all signs of a contractor who knows the difference between just doing the work and actually running a company.

    I guess my one question to you is - how much more are you willing to spend to hire someone who behaves professionally? With a beat up pickup, a few friends, and $1000 worth of tools, anyone can get set up to be a roofer. If the guy with the pickup was $400 per square (100 sf) and the professional was $500 on a 20-30 square job, who would you hire? Roofing in particular is a brutal business.

  6. Anonymous: You are right, this article could be used for any service company. I should have rewritten and retitled it that way. My original, off-the-cuff posting was in a roofing forum. As for the spelling. I have no excuses! Must go back and edit. Not only that, but I'm sure I should, and could, cut this article down to about 1/4 of the original article, shown here! Thanks for your nice comments.--Peter

  7. Dan,
    First, thanks for taking the time for the additional insights from a pro. Very informative. Thank you.

    To answer your question, and I realize it is also a statement on buyers behavior (low-baller gets the job), I personally would be willing AND want to pay the right amount. I want the job done right and professionally. It's up to the professionals to tell me what is the right amount and why. In the article I mention throwing out the high and low bids, but that of course isn't a great way to pick a contractor. Help me do better than that when you meet with me. Tell me flat out, that you know I will receive lower, and perhaps higher quotes, but that what your are going to quote me is correct for a great professional job, that is fair to both you and me. I understand too you are a business and need to make a decent profit (of course). How can you convince me, so that I don't go with a lower-baller? Well when you come prepared and do a few of the things mentioned above, I will already know you are a professional and I will trust you to tell me the truth. Be my partner, guide me, help me decide.--Peter

  8. Great post, BUT... you say you could care less about the other
    $3,000. Well, most homeowners DO care about the total cost.
    They want the SAME service you want, but for $3,000 less.

    That's just not realistic. The poor subs get hammered on price, so they have to make cuts in service somewhere else. Very few people paying top dollar for top service nowadays.

  9. Peter,
    I'm a Superintendent with 35 years in construction and right off I must say that I agree with most of what you advise the hypothetical roofer to do to get your business. Unfortunately, the residential market isn't filled with guys with your forthright desire to get a good job by paying what it is worth. That's probably that market doesn't see more of the more cooperative approaches used in some commercial construction: cost plus a fee and other forms of so-called negotiated work. True, there are administrative costs involved; sometimes owner's rep to pay, testing co to confirm quality, but I've seen many projects where the owner's faith is placed in the contractor - generally predicated on reputation and track record - and the results are mutually satisfactory. Not enough of that in residential work. BTW, nice work on the barn foundation job. Unorthodox approach, but I've moved a wall or similarly with great success.

  10. Mike,
    Thanks for taking the time to read and weigh-in. And glad to hear that the foundation (agreed unorthodox) will hopefully stay put! Always wondering if I'm going to see foundation movement there.... So far so good. Have a great weekend!--Peter

  11. NEW!!! DOVER PROJECTS ON FACEBOOK! Join in with your DIY spirit! Click on the BIG blue box for "Facebook, Dover Projects" in the right column above! See you there!--Peter

  12. Peter-- I am compleely smitten with you! Your intelligence, generosity and expertise won me over. Then I saw you were darling too! Your Paint Department, Budget office is very, very fortunate to have you on the team.
    Thanks-- and all the best.

    Your Fan,

  13. Anonymous, Thanks so much for the very kind words!--Peter


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