Preparing For Life After COVID-19: Part 3
I hope this finds you well and figuring out ways to “jive and thrive” during these unusual times. We are seeing things really “heat up” in terms of inquiries, quotes, and, yes, orders. (We especially love orders as they give us great things to do!)
As a manufacturer of specialty residential metal roofing systems, Isaiah Industries has remained open as an essential business. While our sales have never “tanked,” they have slowed down. April looked more like a typical February, and May will also be similar to a February. We developed www.metalnosebridge.com as our proactive response to the COVID-19 crisis and, in the past few weeks, it has helped keep us busy! We have supplied nearly 1 million flexible aluminum strips to those who are making face masks across the country. We originally provided these at no cost but then, a couple of weeks ago, we had to start charging a minimal amount for shipping.
However, the interest in our products has been as strong as ever. We are convinced that three things bode well for quality residential metal roofing in the coming months:
- Homeowners, intent on remaining in their existing homes, will invest in those homes for comfort, energy efficiency (lower operating costs), and long-term value including restored home value.
- Professional contractors will look for specialty products to differentiate themselves from all of their new “start-up” competitors – you know the out-of-work guys with old pick-up trucks who are now contractors!
- Higher-end homeowners will seek significant (yet necessary) investments they can make to help re-start the economy, paying particular attention to USA-made products and services where 50% or more of their investment stays in their local community and state.
As you consider your business and life after COVID-19, thinking of the above things should help you position yourself for growth and success. Beyond that, though, I want to talk about one additional key thing – Protecting Your Reputation.
Those of you who know me, know that I am a bit of an old-timer in this industry – nearly 40 years when I go back to the time I first spent working summers in our manufacturing operation. So, needless to say, I have seen a great deal. There is one thing that, over those years, has become painfully apparent to me:
Homeowner and Contractor relationships are extremely fragile during tough economic times.
What this means is that it is easier than ever to get “crosswise” with customers. I could go into my guesses as far as the reasons for this but, really, they do not make any difference. It is much more likely for relationships to sour and even turn into litigation during tough times than good times. And, sadly, in today’s age of social media and online reviews, your reputation can be irreparably harmed if a homeowner wishes to make it so. You do not want to do that to all of your years of hard work!
Here are 8 ways to protect your reputation during this critical time.
- Do what you say you’re going to do. Make sure that your contracts are explicitly clear, and perfectly understood by your customers – leave no room for them to later say “But I thought you were going to do X.”
- Invest in manufacturer training for your crews. Ultimately, installing per manufacturer specifications is your best protection against legal claims. Make sure that your crews know what that entails.
- Make sure that all change orders are specific and signed.
- Hold mandatory daily check-ins with customers to review their projects. They are reviewing your work each day regardless – far better that you be there to answer questions and make sure they have a complete understanding of what is being done to their home.
- Develop solid relationships with your customers – turn them into your friends, not your adversaries.
- Settle disputes immediately. If problems arise, do not let them fester but jump on them immediately and ensure your customer’s satisfaction. Always refer back to your contract and change orders to help determine “right” and “wrong”.
- Be active on your social media accounts – show customers the great things your company is doing.
- Monitor your online reviews closely and make sure that you are collecting positive reviews.
- Plan for profit in your company and ensure that you run profitably. Companies losing money start a downward spiral of not meeting customer expectations.
Coming out of difficult times such as this virus crisis, there will be companies that prosper or “jive and thrive” as I say … and other companies that just “dive.” Leadership and paying attention to details will keep you in the former group. I hope that these “After COVID-19” issues of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report keep your business “jiving and thriving.” Please contact me anytime I can be of help.
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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