Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with April Hall. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.
Speaker 1: Welcome to Roofing Road Trips with Heidi. Explore the roofing industry through the eyes of a long-term professional within the trade. Listen for insights, interviews, and exciting news in the roofing industry today.
Heidi Ellsworth: Hello and welcome to another Roofing Road Trips from RoofersCoffeeShop. This is Heidi Ellsworth and I am here today road tripping down towards Texas to meet with a very dear friend of mine, April Hall, to talk about her upcoming conference. April, welcome to the show.
April Hall: Thank you so much Heidi for having me. This is so much fun. I appreciate being on here. Thank you.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love it, I love it. And I love these podcasts, it gives you and I an opportunity to talk, I get all caught up. Because you've just been putting on one of the premier shows around restoration for the roofing industry for years now. But before we get started, let's start with your introduction. So if you could introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about yourself, and then we'll talk a little bit about Storm Consultants.
April Hall: Okay. My name's April Hall like Heidi just said and I've been in the construction industry really all my life. Family did custom-built homes. In college, I transitioned into roofing. So actually I met my business partner, we opened up our first roofing and construction company while I was in college. We did a lot of hail work but also a lot of retail. And I got into commercial retail at the time and been in it really ever since. Worked in different areas, other storms, and we saw that there was a huge need for a standardized training for the industry and it hadn't been created. We started doing insurance restoration sales training back in 2011 in Dallas and then it just grew really, really fast so I started to scale it. There hadn't been really a conference design for the industry yet around storm restoration, hail, wind, hurricane, stuff like that so I said, "Hey, we need to have a conference for this industry." Back in 2013 is when it started.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. You were ahead of your time.
April Hall: Well, nobody was doing it in the space then. It has changed a lot.
Heidi Ellsworth: It really has. I mean, I know when I started with EagleView about the same time, 2010, I mean, I was just like "Wow, what is restoration?" I didn't even know, and you were already bringing it to the forefront. Plus, an original woman in roofing starting your own business in college doing roofing, that is so cool, April.
April Hall: Thanks. It's been a neat journey. Being in the industry for so long, it's really, really changed. I mean, the technology we have today. I learned how to measure a roof before EagleView.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's right.
April Hall: People who come into it now, they have all these different apps and it's just so much easier. And the industry's change, it's gotten better too.
Heidi Ellsworth: I think so. I think so too. Technology has actually helped lift everyone but we don't want people to forget about the craftsmanship and really understanding it like you did when you were there. You have the SRC Summit but you also have your company Storm Consultants. And I know you just said a little bit there what inspired you, but I'd love for you to go a little bit deeper into that. What really inspired you to bring training to the contractors, to bring this to the market?
April Hall: There really just was a lack of training. I mean, contractors still do it today too who haven't really stepped up to really hone on their skills with all the other trainings that we have available nowadays. I work at different markets and basically, training was "Hey, go ride in a car with so and so for three days and now you're ready to go restore somebody's house." I saw that all over the place. I'm like "Oh my gosh." Unless you're on multi, multi-millionaire, your home's going to be your biggest investment, your biggest asset so you really should have trained quality people who know what they're doing in order to restore your home. That's really why we started. And then also, contractors across the US have had a bad name, right, it's just being fraudulent and whatever. So my whole goal was to bring integrity back to the industry by showing them how to have longevity in the industry but by doing it. Not cutting any corners, not eating deductibles, so forth and so on.
Heidi Ellsworth: I mean, when I think about even Xactimate and all of the things that haven't been around that long ... I mean, I know for a while, but there's just so much to learn to do it the right way and with integrity. And I also know that what you just said, having the highest level of integrity, working with insurance, and doing it the right way. Talk a little bit more about that because you were really committed on that front and it inspires me.
April Hall: Oh, thank you. There just should be protocols for everything, right? We have insurance, we have Xactimate. As long as you know how to do it right you should be charging for those line items if you actually do the work, right? That's opposed to others. You do the work you can charge for those line items. I think with SRC and things, I do like that. We like to stay on top of what's happening in the industry. We've had the different laws in Texas even change. And so if contractors don't stay up on that type of knowledge they could get in hot water for just not knowing. And so education, and going to events, and being part of the community online is very important if you want to have longevity in the industry, especially doing it the right way. If you're eating deductibles and you're not doing things the way you should be, you're not going to be in business that long.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right, right. Contractors are calling other contractors out on it too because they know the right way to do it. And so there's so many really great restoration contractors out there who are following the laws, following the licensing, doing what they need to do. Not everybody, but there's a lot of people who are of that mind of let's all play on the same level playing field.
April Hall: Yes, I agree. We have so many different Facebook and closed groups that have great people in there. You ask a question and your competitor's going to give you an answer, right?
Heidi Ellsworth: Right.
April Hall: So we've formed a better community over the years with social and just events in general. People coming together and wanting to help each other succeed. I really like that aspect of it.
Heidi Ellsworth: Me too. That's one of my favorites. Okay. Let's talk about the summit, the SRC Summit. Why don't you just start at the beginning? When is it? What can people expect when they come to your summit?
April Hall: It's a new venue, I'm really excited about it. There's new speakers, new networking opportunities that all the contractors usually say, "Hey, they're blown away by the knowledge that they gain from the speakers but also from each other." I'm really big on that. But also the networking. It's a time to meet new people, see ones that you know, make new acquaintances, meet a vendor, meet somebody who you can grow with, who can help your business succeed. January 29th is when we kick it off. For attendees, it's a travel day because it's not going to be until later that afternoon.
Vendors get to come in and we're going to open her up around 2:30. Vendor trade show attendees can come in, meet all the vendors followed by a welcome mixer. That's just a way to kick it off to where you can start meeting people before the main event even starts. Monday, Tuesday we're doing two full days of main stage events. All main stage speakers, panels. I've got some really good ones I'm excited about. The venue's awesome. It's Embassy Suites in Denton, Texas and it's an all-in-one convention center. So there's only four four-star Embassy Suites in the United States, this is one of them. And it's just really, really elegant, it's nice, there's plenty of space, you don't have to walk so far everything is right there.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's nice, that's nice. And the dates so we have those up there?
April Hall: January 29th through the 31st is the main event. And then February 1st is breakouts, I call this implementation day. This past year I did a breakout day only and everybody said it was just phenomenal. They loved how it was just dedicated to one day. Because in the past what I have done is I've had breakouts happen maybe before the conference started, really early, some during the lunch hour. People eat, and then they have to hurry to do a breakout, and then they follow into the main stage event. It doesn't take away from main stage, it doesn't take away from when people are wanting to maybe sleep in until at least 7:00 because they [inaudible 00:08:27], or take away from their lunch. So it's one day and people can pick and choose to who they want to see, and it's really a more hands-on type of workshop atmosphere. I'm excited about it.
Heidi Ellsworth: Talk a little bit more about that. So in the breakouts they go in and who ... What are some of the breakouts? Is it by region, is it by on topic? How does that work?
April Hall: Different topics. John Senac is my emcee this year, he's excellent. He's really done a lot of trainings for ... If you're recognizing his name, that's shingle. So he's great at finding the discontinued shingles. I've sold that way in Colorado years ago. I mean, there's one missing guess what? You have to replace the roof. It's a great way to sell. He's going to be doing a special workshop on one of those days. Gosh, there's so many. From marketing, from legal, from implementation with Xactimate. There's just a lot of different things that we go over. Tech structure. Anything that's going to evolve with your business.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's cool. I love that. We talked about some of the speakers and panelists, but what I really like too is ... You talked about the contractors giving you feedback. You're really taking that feedback and every year you're taking and implementing it. I know you just said it about the breakouts, but can you give us some other examples? What are some of the things that you continually start growing from the contractor feedback?
April Hall: I always like to stay on top of things as to what are happening in the industry but also creating new things. I have something that's super exciting, and you may have seen it a little bit online, but I'm working with Dave and a few other people in the industry. And what we've actually been doing is doing smoke claims from fire. All the reconstruction people I know for fires they go directly to the fire and they restore that property while we are actually helping homeowners, business owners return their properties back to pre-smoke condition. We're going to be talking about that at SRC.
But really what most people don't understand is that it's a huge health concern. There are so many combustion byproducts that get into people's homes, and some of them are microscopic, you're breathing them in and it causes a lot of problems. We use science for it. We actually have patented smoke maps, we know where it's going in and we use hygienist to give us LAPS, to give us reports to identify if it's there or not. It's very, very interesting and I don't know anybody else who's doing it. We're going to share about it at SRC so that's going to be a big topic and I'm excited to share about it. That's one of them.
Heidi Ellsworth: I like the fact that you're going beyond the roof. That's cool. This opens up business opportunities for all the contractors.
April Hall: It does. I mean, especially if contractors are used to working hail and they have to wait for a hail storm. There's actually way more fires each year than there is hail storms and the smoke travels pretty far. So it's very interesting and I'm really surprised that this concept hasn't taken on over the years. I mean, you look at California, it's never not on fire, right?
Heidi Ellsworth: Right. I know. And Oregon's not far behind.
April Hall: So it's something that we're going to bring to the marketplace and really it's ... When you step back and you look at it and we share the dynamics of what it is, it's really like we created a brand new industry.
Heidi Ellsworth: Wow, that's very exciting. So what else? What other new things do you have coming?
April Hall: Oh my goodness. I have different people who are going to be sharing main stage presentations but also panels. I'm bringing on Ron White. He's a two-time USA memory champion. I actually had him speak several years ago and he did such an excellent job. But it's something that people struggle with as remembering names and faces, especially when you meet somebody at a conference for the first time so he teaches you how to do that. He also is pretty entertaining. He'll have most of the audience stand up and he'll memorize everybody's name and when he calls your name, you sit down.
Heidi Ellsworth: Oh my gosh.
April Hall: It's fascinating, it really is. But I took one of his programs a few years ago and it's very cool to know that your mind and brain work this way. Within an hour and a half, I taught my son, who was five years old at the time, how to memorize the president's one through 45 in order by using his techniques.
Heidi Ellsworth: Wow.
April Hall: It's like you take it back and you're like "Wow, I wish I would've known some of this stuff when I was going to school to help me with a test and things like that." So it's very interesting. I like to bring different type of people in for SRC.
Heidi Ellsworth: What I like about that is that doesn't have anything to do specifically with roofing or even restoration but it has everything to do with the sales call, and working with vendors, and putting all that together. Okay. Main speakers, are they out there yet as in-
April Hall: Yeah. There's a lot on the website. Oh my gosh, there's so many. Let's see, who do we have? I mean, there's several panels that we have. The women's leadership, and I'm super excited so welcome, Heidi.
Heidi Ellsworth: Thank you.
April Hall: You're going to be on it this year.
Heidi Ellsworth: I'm so excited.
April Hall: We do the women's leadership panel, we have the commercial panel. I started this a few years ago because contractors are always asking me "Hey April, how do I break into commercial? How do I secure commercial jobs?" So I've got a great panel of commercial contractors who are really going to share just that. And maybe also some ins and outs of what not to do. I think that's equally as important as what to do. So we got our commercial panel, we've got a panel of industry experts. One panel that's brand new this year that I haven't done before is ... Steve Badger has been asking me to speak at my conference for a while. Most people are like "Oh gosh, it's Steve Badger," right? It's not going to be any type of debate or whatever. Contractors really have some great questions for him so I put together a panel of contractors that ... Real contractors asking real questions that they can get answered. That's something you won't see anywhere else.
Heidi Ellsworth: No, that's great.
April Hall: So I'm going to give him the voice. I mean, he's got some really good valid points, I've seen him speak a couple times. Contractors have questions so they'll be able to get their questions answered on stage which I'm excited about. It's good.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's good.
April Hall: Lots of new things for SRC. Gosh, lots of networking. We have the welcome mixer the first night. Then Monday night after the main event I rented out the facility next door, it's this huge place, a big restaurant slash bar area so we'll have a lot of networking, food, et cetera. And then on Tuesday evening ... I haven't announced this yet but I will say, we're going to have a comedy night.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. Fun.
April Hall: More networking. I like to laugh so I think it'll be fun to do something that I've never done before. Bring in a couple comedians and we'll have a good time.
Heidi Ellsworth: I think everyone loves that. That's always a crowd-pleaser. As the contractors are getting ready to come to this, what are some of the things that you really recommend that they prepare, right? How are they preparing themselves to come to this conference to get the most out of it, to really be able to take their business to the next level?
April Hall: I say mindset's everything. When you go to a conference, the best thing you can do is say, "You know what? I see all the speakers up here, I want to gain knowledge in whatever areas." I mean, be present, be there, take notes. If you're not as outgoing say, "You know what? I'm going to meet X number amount of people." If they're a speaker on stage, or maybe they're a vendor and you're like "Okay, my goal is to meet this many number of vendors, meet this many number of speakers, meet attendees," and then take notes and go back. And before you really go to sleep the night after you get back, you go through those notes and you start implementing. The people who have done that and really had intention about going to the conferences in the past and taking those notes, they've had a lot of success because they're not forgetting as soon as they get back, they're starting to implement all that.
Heidi Ellsworth: It's easy too because I mean, there's so much going on. Contractors are so busy that it's easy to ... If you don't do it right away you're just going to get sucked back up into the everyday. I find the same thing. You've got to do it, you've got to pay attention to it. The contractors helping each other, I love that part of it. When contractors are there with similar mindsets, intentionalness, I love that. What's some of the feedback you get from the contractors about the other contractors they meet?
April Hall: You know what? They love that just as much as learning from the speakers because they ... The feedback is really cool. They're like "Oh I met so and so from another state, or we talked with each other and they helped me solve a problem." Like being a counselor. I always say, "You're going to learn from the speakers but you're equally going to learn from other contractors that you meet." It's really a powerhouse of networking and knowledge. If you want to be in the right room with the right people at the right time and really have some intent of hey, this is what I want to get out of it, it happens at SRC. One of my contractors are like "Oh it's the magic, the best SRC." I'm like "Well, okay." You get in what you put out. I'm really big on bringing education to the industry and bringing everybody together in a safe place where they can network and get to meet, and grow, and know each other.
Heidi Ellsworth: And it's not just with contractor to contractor, but you're bringing vendors in and people who can help make their life better and building those relationships. So I mean, I think that's really key too.
April Hall: Oh, for sure. It's not hundreds of different vendors there so it's like if you want to go and talk with somebody one-on-one, you're not competing with 500 vendors or whatever, it's a small amount so you get a lot of good traffic from a vendor perspective. And a lot of them are owners from roofing companies. Like-minded people, decision-makers. That's really what it's all about.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's so cool. You really have your finger on the pulse of the industry. I'd like to just also ask you, what are some of the things you're seeing in the insurance restoration market, right? I know you're going to cover a lot of it through your speakers, but what are some of the hot topics or some of the things that as a restoration contractor you should really be aware of and bringing into your company?
April Hall: Always staying on top of policy. I mean, it changes all the time. Insurance companies are getting harder to work with as the years go on. More denying, delaying, underpaying. Especially if you're looking at Florida where we just had that hurricane, the smaller ones probably won't be in business too much longer because of all the loss there. To answer your question with that is, really SRC is about knowing your craft. Even for the longest time, so many years, I didn't know what reinsurance is. And after I've talked with lots of contractors I'm going to tell you, probably about 95% of them don't know what it is. So I brought a gentleman in from the reinsurance companies who's going to explain how they actually insure the big companies against losses.
Heidi Ellsworth: Oh, great. That's a great topic.
April Hall: Yes. I just talked with a contractor today who'd been in business for 20 years and he had never heard of reinsurance before. All the big carriers have reinsurance.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right. And you got to figure out where that money's coming from.
April Hall: It's very interesting. And I'm going to tell you, it's going to be pretty shocking once contractors really understand how it all works.
Heidi Ellsworth: But you know what? There's power in that. Instead of just well, this is just what we have to do, but to really understand the whole market overall and to be able to start implementing ... I mean, that could start changing how you deal with insurance companies, the relationships you build, how you work with your homeowners or building owners. I mean, that's a lot.
April Hall: It is. I'm excited about this. There's several new speakers. Some of the things that you're going to hear at SRC you'll not hear anywhere else. So that's where we're going to stand out more is that "Hey, we're about education and these speakers are going to really blow you away with the knowledge that they have."
Heidi Ellsworth: That's great. And we've already said it, but it's hard for contractors to take time away and especially now. I mean, since post-COVID it seems like there's just so much going on.
April Hall: Yes.
Heidi Ellsworth: I know you've already said it but say it again. Why should the contractors right now be taking time ... Making the reservations, blocking off the time, and really giving back to themselves and their company through SRC Summit?
April Hall: So it's in January, it's the first big event of the year, so it's really there to set your year up for success. Get that first quarter role in, meet the people that you need to meet, gain the knowledge that you need to gain, and implement. It's the beginning of the year, it's a brand new horizon to start 2023 outright so that's one reason to get there. It's funny because I laugh. A lot of people from the north they're like "Oh yes, Texas, it's going to be so warm, right? They may not be able to be doing any contracting right now with snow everywhere.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right. You really do have the perfect time.
April Hall: So the first of the years is really the right time to set your goals up, really implement them, and know your direction for the rest of the year.
Heidi Ellsworth: Everyone needs to take their time now and get registered, get their hotels, put together ... So let's talk a little bit about logistics. How do they register and also, how do they get their hotels? What should they be doing right now?
April Hall: Everything's on the website. I secured a really awesome hotel right on site. I know there's not enough rooms there to hold everybody so I have a few other ones available as well on the site. It's only $149 per night to secure a room. It comes with an amazing breakfast, you walk right down you're in the convention center. Right now we're going through early bird rates, as we get closer they go up. There's three different tickets. There's a general admission, a VIP, a VIP platinum so they come with different things. So something for everybody. They can pick what they like. But it gives them all the main stage, the breakouts, and the vendors as well. Just a little bit more detailed on SRCsummit.com. Dallas is a major hub so DFW International really get here from anywhere. Everything's 30 minutes away from DFW. Get into DFW, you go straight north it's 25 or 30 minutes away so it's right there.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's cool. Just real quick. I'm curious, and for those out there listening. VIP to VIP Platinum, what are some of the special perks?
April Hall: Well, VIP Platinum is your ultimate best ticket, right? You're going to sit in the front rows.
Heidi Ellsworth: Nice.
April Hall: It comes with some other VIP stuff. VIP goody bag. It comes with the lunches, some drink tickets. So there's a whole bunch of different things there that's lined up. So it's really a package.
Heidi Ellsworth: Check it out, check it out. You can also find SRC Summit on RoofersCoffeeShop in their directory so we have that going up there along with this podcast and tons of articles. You can go back and look at past years and what April has done just bringing such a gem to the industry. I have to say again, April, I love your 100% focus on education because I think that's what we need more than anything, right?
April Hall: Yes. You can never stop learning. I mean, just to look at where I was in the industry back when there was no apps, EagleView wasn't invented, it has changed so much.
Heidi Ellsworth: It really has. I can't believe it when I look back too. But I also want to say just a thank you too because I know how involved you are with the National Women in Roofing Dallas Council, how much you all do. You bring in a lot of women-owned businesses to this summit also.
April Hall: So I have a full women's leadership panel as mentioned before. We also do a women's networking lunch. I'm always big about bringing women in because we are still a minority in this industry and so it's women supporting women. And we're able to all get together and meet at SRC each year and some other event that I do too.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's awesome.
April Hall: I love doing that. When I first started this, I mean, there was hardly any women at events so I was like I got to change this. So it's growing each and every year, we have more and more women attendees.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. We see that across the board. That is perfect. Okay. SRCsummit.com, get signed up. You can check out and you can find past articles and the directory on RoofersCoffeeShop. And make your plans now because this is really ... I can't believe January's just around the corner but it's a great way to start your year. April, thank you so much.
April Hall: Thank you, Heidi.
Heidi Ellsworth: Thank you. I'll see you in Denton, Texas on my in-person road trip.
April Hall: I can't wait, it's going to be a blast.
Heidi Ellsworth: I know. It's going to be awesome. And thank all of you. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. Be sure to get all the information on the SRC Summit and everything that April does throughout the year. You can find all that on RoofersCoffeeShop and on SRCsummit.com. And thank you so much for listening. Please check out all of our podcasts under the read, listen, watch initiative under Roofing Road Trips or on your favorite podcasts channel. Be sure to subscribe and hit those notifications so you don't miss a single episode. And we will be seeing you on the next Roofing Road Trips.
Speaker 1: Make sure to subscribe to our channel and leave a review. Thanks for listening. This has been Roofing Road Trips with Heidi from the rooferscoffeeshop.com.
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