The Differences Of Selling Specialty Products
I hope this finds you well. Once again, I want to remind you to register for the 2019 Metal Roofing Summit. This FREE CONFERENCE takes place April 15 – 17 near Dayton, Ohio. This is the only annual national conference committed to helping contractors operate successful residential metal roofing businesses. Registration is filling quickly with some of our country’s most successful specialty contractors.
If you’re a contractor seeking to learn more about state-of-the-art practices in marketing, appointment setting, sales, installation management and other topics, this is the one conference you want to attend – and it’s free. We have top-name speakers and will also be deep-diving into the future of construction and how it will impact tour business. Register today!
With metal now being the second most widely used residential roofing material, more and more contractors are offering it both for retrofit and new projects. In fact, it’s hard anymore to find a roofing or home improvement contractor who doesn’t at least give mention to metal roofing on their websites or in their advertising.
Some of those contractors starting to offer metal will be successful and some will not. Some will make money, some won’t. Some will put up jobs that perform perfectly, others will put up jobs that leak. Some will be of benefit to our growing industry, and some will not. Some will stay in business, some will not.
So, what are the things that are necessary to growing and thriving in one of the fastest-growing areas of home improvement? Let’s take a look.
First, if you’re going to enter the world of residential metal roofing, you must realize that you are a Specialty Replacement Contractor. Yours is not a “Commodity” item and, therefore, you must look at all areas of your company differently than you would if you were selling a commodity item such as the industry-leading asphalt shingles. If you could offer homeowners a quality metal roof at the same cost as asphalt shingles (which is impossible for all the reasons we will look at below), and do nothing to promote it differently, most homeowners would still opt for asphalt shingles – because that is what they know and see all the time. Ever wonder why the guys selling at the lowest prices don’t ever reach high levels of volume in the home improvement industry? Because you still have to promote and sell the value of any Specialty Product, not just throw it out there in front of consumers and assume they will choose it!
To be successful in marketing a Specialty Product, you have to realize that more marketing will be required. With metal having about a 12% market share nationally, that means that you must reach the 12% of the approximately 7% of all homeowners who will consider re-roofing their homes this year. That is far more costly in terms of marketing effort than trying to reach 88% of the 7%! And it must be figured into your selling price.
TAKE LEADS SERIOUSLY
Going back to the amount of Marketing you must do, your Lead Cost will be higher with a Specialty Product than with a Commodity. Therefore, you must handle all leads in a systematized method, taking them all seriously. It doesn’t make any difference whether your backlog and pipeline are full or empty – all leads must be handled with the same degree of tenacity. Also, metal roofing customers are often researchers – so leads may have a life of 2 – 3 years rather than 2 – 3 months.
INVEST IN YOUR PEOPLE
When running a specialty company, you will quickly realize the cruciality of having well-trained team members in all areas of your country. Therefore, you want to get them trained quickly and then hang onto them. Take advantage of training offered by manufacturers and distributors. Make sure that your key leaders are consistently holding “refresher” training in areas such as Appointment Setting, Sales, and Installation. Do not assume that, just because you trained someone once, they are still following those methods a month later!
INSTALLATION QUALITY AND COST
This goes along with “Invest In Your People,” but proper installation is critical to a successful metal roofing project. You are not installing something to last for 15 years but instead to last for 50 years. Metal roofing is a premium Specialty Product and it won’t be inexpensive to install. The question of “employee crews” or “sub-contract crews” is a valid one and both methods can work. You just must have people who care, are properly trained and experienced, and have a vested interest in doing things right. This boils down to the fact that you will pay them more than other crews and workers. The highest volume Specialty Contractors who enjoy long term success are typically paying more for installation than their competitors. And that’s okay because the overall system makes it work.
It’s all about selling the value of what you have. Like I mentioned earlier, a homeowner who is offered a Specialty Product at the same price as “Standard Technology” will choose the Standard Technology nearly every time unless the benefits and value of the Specialty Product are explained to them. That also includes having to help the consumer see why the benefits and value of the Specialty Product are meaningful and important to them as a homeowner. The most successful residential metal roofing contractors are consistently doing 2 – 3 hour in-home sales presentations. Selling high-end Specialty Products is never about price – it is about guiding the consumer to the right decision for them and their home.
Specialty Contractors must be absolutely fanatical about Customer Satisfaction. You must be 100% committed to your customer. One unhappy customer, in today’s culture of Social Media and Customer Reviews can convince the entire world that your Specialty Product is not worth the investment. Never ever give them a reason to try to do that!
One big difference with Specialty Products compared to Commodities is that you will find a wide range of qualities among competing products. With Commodity Products, it is always the proverbial “race to the bottom” so the quality of all products ends up about the same. With Specialty Products, though, you will find wide differences, with various manufacturers having different opinions of what makes a quality product. You will also find that certain manufacturers are “disrupters,” introducing low quality “me too” product options. Be sure to fully understand the product you’re offering, and its warranty.
BE ON THE CUTTING EDGE
With a Specialty Product, you are on the cutting edge of your industry. It’s important to maintain that position. So, you must seek to learn from your colleagues and work to develop and experiment with new ideas in marketing, sales, and installation. One thing we will discuss at the Metal Roofing Summit is the idea of online sales – yes, some folks are already doing it and it’s not something to ignore. Another cutting-edge thing to stay on top of are Speed Trims developed to help expedite the installation process, working around the shortage of skilled labor.
As always, please contact me whenever you’d like to discuss residential metal roofing. My entire career has been spent in this industry and I enjoy nothing more than helping contractors institute this Specialty Product into their businesses. I can be reached at 1-800-543-8938, ext. 201.
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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