By Jay Butch, Director of Contractor Programs, CertainTeed Roofing.
When it comes to warranties and explaining them to homeowners, let’s deal with the elephant in the room: shingles with lifetime warranties sound really strong, but what does that actually mean? In my travels this year, I’ve thrown that question out to contractors, and as expected, the answers are all over the map.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe contractors are trying to mislead homeowners. There is just genuine confusion out there as to what lifetime means and hence, it’s difficult to explain to prospective customers. In fact, one contractor recently told me this when asked what he liked about our warranties: “Everything is lifetime and that’s where the confusion begins.” Not a resounding vote of confidence! Sure, we all simplified warranties…..or did we?
Two issues bubble to the surface. What does lifetime really mean? And, how can you differentiate products and your business if the lifetime warranties are all the same?
In the shingle world, lifetime simply means “as long as that homeowner owns that house.” It doesn’t mean the life of the home or that the shingles will last a lifetime. And, once the shingles are installed, manufacturers include a “full coverage” period, which varies by company, to cover manufacturing defects during the early years after installation. Typically that period is 10 years and covers tear off, disposal, new material and installation. Again, this varies by company, but you get the idea.
Once that initial “full coverage” period is over, you get into proration. This is where a homeowner’s eyes start to glaze over. In year 11 and for as long as the homeowner owns that home, only the shingles are covered. And, as the roof gets older, the “payout” gradually decreases each month. The homeowner is on the hook for the rest. This is where the homeowners’ expectations crash with the reality of the warranty coverage.
Here’s how you can avoid the collision. Simply build into your proposal an extended warranty which can take that initial 10-year full coverage period and extend it up to 50 years. That’s 50 years of full coverage for labor, tear-off, material and disposal—peace of mind to the homeowner.
That peace of mind helps differentiate your proposal from that of the other guy. Say something does go wrong and it’s determined it’s a manufacturing defect. If you dig into the fine print of manufacturers’ warranties, you’ll discover that all but one company covers defects if the roof leaks. CertainTeed covers those defects even if the roof isn’t leaking. A key differentiation point when you’re selling against your competition and a sign of confidence that CertainTeed will back you. – peace of mind for you.
Making sense? We’re just scratching the surface here. More to come next week! Let me know what you think about shingle warranties.
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Jay Butch joined CertainTeed Roofing in 1998 and is responsible for all contractor programs and marketing. By developing the Shingle Master credential, an enhanced SureStart PLUS warranty and Roofers’ Rewards, he strengthened the Contractor’s EDGE offering. Jay adds valuable insight from his extensive interactions with contractors across the country. Prior to joining CertainTeed, he spent 19 years with Prudential and held a variety of progressive management responsibilities. During this time, he also operated a remodeling contractor business. Jay is a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and earned a MBA degree from DeSales University.