First, I want to thank you for being phenomenal representations of our industry. I have had the opportunity to visit many of you this summer, from Massachusetts to California and Wisconsin to Texas, and have relished the opportunity to learn from your success. We are blessed to serve and network with the best of our industry. Thank you.
In this issue of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report, we are concluding our series on Five Hallmarks of a Successful Metal Roofing Contractor. With how busy you are, this last hallmark is incredibly relevant: quality installations.
When companies are busy and trying to conquer continually growing backlogs, installation quality can quickly become compromised. As crews work long hours and are pushed to move faster than usual, corners are inevitably cut, inexperienced crew members are asked to perform beyond their capabilities, and details are missed.
Installation quality is always important. If homeowners are entrusting us with their home, they deserve a quality product installed to specifications. But it becomes all the more critical when selling a premium solution like specialty metal roofing. We are promising a lifetime solution and it must perform accordingly. We build incredible value in our sales presentations and ask for 3 – 4 times the cost of traditional roofing materials; homeowners will rightfully expect the quality of installation to support this value, both aesthetically and functionally.
If we come through and the installation fulfills all that was promised – a rarity in our industry –homeowners will never question their decision and become stark raving fans of our organizations. As leads continue to get more expensive, these fans become referral machines, allowing us to run our businesses more efficiently and profitably.
If we fail to live up to expectations, homeowners quickly begin doubting their decision to trust our products and organizations. Contrary to popular belief, homeowners purchasing specialty metal roofing are not the incredibly wealthy with money to spare, but rather hard working individuals who managed their money properly to have enough to invest in a permanent roofing system. They view their roofing decision as continued management of their finite resources and will lose confidence if their return appears compromised. These homeowners will often pay close attention to the installation, just as we pay close attention to our 401ks and life insurance policies. This is not a negative, and never an issue if we fulfill all our promises and install with care and attention, but we must be cognizant of these dynamics and manage our production accordingly. If we fail in this age of social media and consumer advocacy, rather than referral machines, these homeowners are cancers to our future.
In our experience, here are some things that the best organization do to maintain the highest level of installation quality:
The manager over production has a vested interest in the success of the organization. We have found that the owners of metal roofing companies are usually the sales and marketing champions and experts. We have seen many of these individuals succeed at generating leads and selling projects, but ultimately fail due to poor installation quality. Having a competent manager over production who is invested in the organization as a whole, will ensure all portions of the business perform optimally and support our success.
As we discussed in our Systems for Success issue, developing systems for measuring projects, ordering materials, and proper installation will maintain a high quality of installation. Properly measuring projects and ordering materials will ensure all the necessary materials arrive on time. If production team members are forced to improvise due to material shortages, quality is compromised. If a day of work is lost due to not ordering materials soon enough, your team is rushed and quality is compromised. Also, having systems for proper installation, will guarantee that details are handled the same way, the right way, every single time. Skylights, vent pipes, and other details should never be improvised or handled differently by different team members.
As we discussed in our Knowing Your Numbers issue, costing and analyzing every project will allow you to keep an eye on your installations and track quality. If a team is fast and it appears too good to be true, it probably is. Their installations warrant additional inspection to guarantee they are not rushing. If a team consistently uses more tubes of sealant than expected, it indicates they are relying on sealant as opposed to proper flashing. This information is only known if you are tracking your numbers and using the information at your disposal.
The most distinguishing characteristic of organizations who have exemplary quality records is how they treat their production team members. Many organizations in our industry view these team members as bottom-rung, minimum wage help that can be easily replaced. The best organizations treat these team members with the same respect as every other position and provide them a career opportunity. Competitive wages, benefits, and opportunities for advancement make team members feel valued and respected and they begin taking pride in their responsibilities. One company I know has a raise system directly tied skills learned. If they prove they can flash a vent pipe, they earn a raise. If they learn to bend a custom chimney apron, they earn a raise. These benefits and opportunities are not valued by every individual, but they are valued the ones that stay and become long term team members and they take pride in their valuable role in the organization.
If we can generate the cheapest of leads and sell the highest of value, but do not consistently provide homeowners with quality installations, we will not be successful. Over our 35 years of experience, we have had the unfortunate opportunity to learn from companies that have failed at selling specialty metal roofing and, more often than not, it was due to assuming that production would take care of itself. With proper management and care, we can provide quality installations that create stark raving fans and develop production team members who become some of our most valuable assets.
Thank you, as always, for participating in this discussion. Please feel free to contact me would like to continue the conversation. Do not ever hesitate to reach out if we can ever be of service.
I wish you all the best in the midst of this busy season. Thank you for representing our industry well.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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