If you only had one piece of advice for the new guy starting out. The most important thing is...?
Find someone like Mike Hicks in Ohio or Mike in New Zealand that is really good at what they do and work for them for a year or so and ask questions and watch and see what is going on. Learn it FIRST, and then go out on your own. If you are sharp, you will learn how to do things right. THEN, wash, rinse, repeat!!!!
Truly assess yourself - Make sure you have passion for what your're about to do - money aside.
In general, roofers tend to do what is easiest for them to do at the time. I'm not necessarily referring just to physical exertion, lots of time someone will be doing something strenuous, but resist stopping to go get the tool or part needed. When you install tile it is important to finish as you go, as you lay tile consider the laid tile to be the edge of the roof. STAY OFF OF IT.
..is to wake up and go to work.50% of this job is just showing up.
A new guy should understand from the start that it's not about how many jobs you can sell but rather how profitable those jobs are. ;)
My best advise it to be pick the brains of your peers and other professionals in the industry. Ask questions, lots of them! Listen well, work hard and be patient. This is a great industry when you really submerge yourself in it.
Keep a good eye on cash flow, many new businesses fail because they don't have enough coming in to cover outgoings. It can get pretty hard when you have to wait a month for your money and then they don't pay you on time. In other words, don't take on more than you can handle, don't over stretch your resources. And don't forget to factor in the Taxman, don't spend what you have to pay them on keeping yourself floating above water, they will be down on you like a ton of bricks if don't pay your taxes when they are due. IRD (your IRS) has first dibbs at whatever money is there when a company goes under. Banks are next.
That simple act of showing a genuine interest in what you're doing, caring that it's done right and not just waiting for someone to TELL you what to do next will get you started up the ladder quickly. This kind of person is getting harder and harder to find.
If nothing else, simply be observant, and if you are done with something, and an experienced guy is doing a task you are capable of, go take his task and tell him "Go do something more in line with your skill level".
YOU WILL GET NOTICED! Quickly.
The most important thing is to learn the WHY something is done- not just the HOW. First thing you do is read the directions.
Mike H; - Sooo true! ..... Reminds me of what an older fella told me when I first entered the workforce some 40 years ago - Something along the lines of "If there's only one thing I can tell you - Is to do something - But for God's sake, don't stand there waiting to be told what to do..... Would rather have you do something a bit wrong than nothing at all....." Don't be a zero.....
Yep, in the roofing trade there is always something to do until the job is completely finished and everything loaded up and ready to go.
I use to constantly joke with the guys saying "well the only thing we like now is finishing". I said that all day long even just before starting. lol
When you are going in, plan on being the best. When you think you have gotten there, start over. When you think you have gotten there, check your ego. When you think you have gotten there, check your heart. When you think you have gotten there, ask yourself, "Am I helping anybody? Am I making a difference?"
Anybody remember lanny from Seattle? Something he posted here that I found worth saving and am now happy to add in his behalf. Maybe he'll check in and tell us how he's doing these days. I miss his posts.
"---I have a friend who is a good salesman. He also had about 5 years of roofing experience, mostly basic residential. He partnered with a BUR foreman who ran the crew. He did all the paperwork and foreman and crew did all the roofing. They got along well which is a must! Today he is easily a millionaire several times over. The foreman is retired and very well off. I believe they both made over 10k/ month for over 20 years. He stayed within his expertise with mostly residential and small commercial. Roofing 20 years and seldom any problems adds up to some real money ---The main issue I see is your relationship with whatever crew you use. Everyone needs to be on the same page as far as expectations and pay. ---I would strongly recommend you work with the crew as a laborer 1-2 days a week. Get the feel for roofing and what goes on. Then learn installation...and increase your knowledge bit by bit. What you will learn is the time and headaches involved with the many issues that come up regularly. Then when you bid those headaches you know what it takes to get the job done. We call them nuisance issues. Here is a short list that others could add to: 1) roof pitch...steep...how steep...2)low-slope...how low...comp or torch? or ? 3) access...driveway too steep for delivery?...no driveway at all...4) ground protection & issues...beautiful new deck right under a 12/12 tear off?...prized roses?...we did a tear off over a greenhouse with lots of glass...5) patio roof bolted into roofdeck...always a headache...remove supports & jack up patio or flash existing or black mammy existing and go back when it leaks...5) bad brick chimneys that leach and then make you look like a bad roofer...always better to discuss up front and recommend proper repairs NOW rather then 2 years from now when it leaks. 6) all kinds of wood repair, rot, ants, termites, you name it...bees...Tree branches and bushes laying on a leaky roof is almost a sure sign of major bugs. You need permission to prune people's trees and some people would rather not prune and keep their ants. A nuisance issue is a problem that makes the job take more time than normal. That adds to the cost. I have learned the hard way over many years that I want to get paid for solving those problems and the only way to get paid is to recognize them BEFORE I bid the job. ---Starting out you want to keep the crew busy. That will take most of your time. But there will still be time to work on the crew at least part time. Besides you will lower overhead by moving the job along. As for me I work on the roof at least 50% of every job. I set the pace. When I am tearing off a roof in a cloud of dust everyone else is moving at top speed. I only have one speed and that is as fast as I can go. Everyone else either moves just as fast or wonders how I can do things 2x as fast as they can. They catch on quick. That was the way I was trained and it is normal to me. The purpose of learning how to install is to lesson your dependancy upon someone else. Things change...people come and go...whatever...but sooner or later you will need to work on the roof or train someone else. Obviously you will make more money by having others work for you. But still there are times when you may need to fill in. Versatility is the key that gives you more options. ---One other point that is unclear to me. You mention the delay in pay. Would that also be true as a contractor getting paid by the insurance company? That could be a problem as crews must be paid weekly. If you get paid in 60 days you need the cashflow to pay others while waiting for an insurance company to settle. I don't do insurance work so I don't know. ---Good luck...I have always liked roofing. Outdoors...I like physical work...often great views...my own boss...set own hours...jobs change often so always moving on... Lanny"
Then there is this all-time great from Woody:
Would have to agree with egg on plan on being the best when you start out. Reputation is number 1 in this business. You may be slow getting out of the gate but in the end work will find you and you can almost eliminate your advertising costs. My number 2 would be "the price I quoted is not negotiable" which comes back to reputation. People will tell their friends about how you dropped the price on what you quoted. If anyone asked for a price reduction I would say the only way I could come down maybe a hundred bucks is if there was no warranty and no paperwork on the job as I won't change my method of install as your neighbors are watching and they may well be my future customer. Usually the end of the discussion.