Leads Are Critical
In this issue of the Executive Report, we will continue our series on “What Does It Take To Be Successful?” Throughout 2018, this series will take a look at core attributes of successful home improvement contractors and, in particular, successful residential metal roofing contractors. In previous issues, we have looked at Business Systemization, Professionalism, Commitment, Knowing Your Numbers, and Leadership. In this issue, we will look at the importance of Marketing and Lead Generation to residential metal roofing contractors.
“It all starts with the lead” is one of my favorite sayings. Once you have the lead, then you can begin to build a relationship, and help them discover what they really want to accomplish with their upcoming home improvement project. But, you have to have the lead!
A common pitfall I see for contractors is underestimating the number of leads they will need to be successful. And, sometimes we even fool ourselves. We get a few of leads from referrals or things we stumble across and sell a deal or two and then think “Wow, this is easy!” Eventually, though, reality sets in.
In any given year, about 5 – 6% of all homes will be re-roofed. And industry statistics show us that 10 – 14% of those will choose metal. So, if you’re marketing residential metal roofing, you’re going after your local market share of the 10% of the 5%. To get there, most contractors report they need at least 20 “interested” leads for every one sale.
So, let’s work out the numbers. Let’s say there are 20,000 single family homes in your area. 5% of those will be re-roofed – 1,000 homes. 10% of those will be metal – 100 roofs. Let’s say you hope for a 20% market share – that is 20 roofs. To get those 20 roofs, you will need at least 400 “interested” leads. Most successful contractors today run a Marketing cost of 13 – 15% to generate the leads they need.
Successful contractors undertake a wide variety of advertising and marketing efforts from shows and fairs to radio, direct mail, and sometimes even television. Oh, and internet. Internet marketing is critical because all of your other marketing will push people to your website. Your whole business must be based upon a great website. But you must also look for as many methods as possible to get in front of people.
So, what messages attract folks the most to a metal roof? There again, there is no “one size fits all”. You must manage your marketing messages so that you reach people in ways that are personally relevant to them. Advertising to an older crowd? Talk a lot about never having to go through the re-roofing process again. Even husbands in their 80s will spend money now in order to leave their wife with a worry-free roof. Talking to younger people? Oftentimes they may be attracted to the green benefits of metal roofing but think about this as well – younger folks are more likely to have older homes and more likely to be interested in DIY installation. So, you can attract them by talking about the unique needs of older homes. You can tout how metal roofs are very low weight to help protect older structures and also how they can provide additional energy efficiency. You can talk about installation process to folks who might be DIY customers. Many of the most successful metal roofing contractors have a DIY side of their business where they sell materials only along with installation training to ambitious homeowners.
Do not underestimate the number of leads you will need to have in order to run a successful business. It probably shocked you when I said to not expect to sell more than 5% of the “interested” leads you receive. So, if you want to sell 30 roofs next year, you need to generate 600 leads. What you will find is that, over time, some of your older leads can be cultivated to become sales in future years, and that will benefit your business a great deal. But, getting started, don’t expect to sell more than 1 in 20 of the “interested” people who approach your business.
While we talked earlier about how to generate leads through Marketing, look for other ways as well. Align yourself with a manufacturer who can provide you with leads. Join the Metal Roofing Alliance and tap into the leads they generate each year. These are very low cost leads that will help your overall numbers.
Now, I am going to challenge you here … in my experience, even the most successful metal roofing salesperson may have about 20 in-home presentations before they sell their first roof. Eventually their closing ratio should reach one in five or better but it will take them awhile to get to that level. Some of you probably don’t believe what I just said. You’re probably thinking that this statistic of 20 presentations before your first deal wasn’t the case for you. Okay, first of all, if you’re the owner of the business, you will probably sell some jobs sooner than that just because of your passion and implied credibility as a business owner. Next, though, if you have a salesperson who sells jobs sooner than that, I congratulate you but I also warn you … they are probably selling at too low of a dollar to create a long term profitable and sustainable business.
Also, I will warn everyone, the fastest way to go out of business may be to sell to the homeowners who have roofs that are so complicated that no other contractor will even bid them. You may wear selling and installing particularly difficult roofs as a badge of honor but I caution you on that. Have you ever run into the homeowner who tells you they have had several contractors out to their home but none of them got back with them with a proposal? I’m here to tell you that there’s usually a reason for that. There are jobs out there that are virtually impossible to make money on. Learn how to recognize them and leave them to your competition.
Let me know if you’d like to discuss Marketing and Lead Generation. One thing we love doing is helping contractors discover even greater success by brainstorming, thinking things through, and networking. As always, thank you for being a loyal reader of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report. Please feel free to contact me anytime to talk about what’s working well in your business, and also those areas where you may feel that improvement is necessary.
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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