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Are You Listening to Your Customers?

Heidi Ellsworth Diversifying Business
October 15, 2019

RCS Influencer Heidi J. Ellsworth says that you may need to be diversifying your business with new products or initiatives.

We are on our way to METALCON in Pittsburgh, PA.  It is a great show and a great chance to check in on what is happening in metal.  This month we are talking about ways to diversify your roofing business and one of the ways to consider diversifying is adding metal.  Business is good in the metal industry and I consistently hear how the metal market is growing.  It is a way for roofing contractors to think about diversifying to keep up with market demands that are changing due to economics, environment, technology and overall consumer demand.

The Metal Roofing Alliance, a nonprofit association dedicated to educating consumers and roofing contractors to the many benefits of residential metal roofing, commissioned a study in 2017 with interesting results.  According to their 2017 release, “As consumer demand for sustainable building products continues to grow, the Metal Roofing Alliance reports another market share gain for metal in the residential retrofit market. New independent research conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics on behalf of the MRA shows the total market share of metal roofing gained another 3 points in 2016, growing from 11% market share in 2015 to 14% in 2016.  Between 2015 and 2016, the total demand for metal roofing increased from 17.7 million squares to 19.4 million squares.  Metal roofing is second only to asphalt shingle roofing in the remodeling market.”

In fact, the MRA has set a goal of having metal comprise 20% of the residential roofing market by 2020.  According to the Western Roofing magazine Sept/Oct 2018 Steep-Slope residential market share report, in the west, metal architectural has a 10.5% share with metal structural holding 2.3% for a total of 12.8%.  In comparison to fiberglass shingles at 60.5% there is a lot of room for growth but there are many reasons that contractors should be looking at their product offerings.

Asphalt shingles are an excellent residential product offering but when looking at your overall marketing plan, contractors should also be looking at how diversified they are or can be.  Homeowners are growing in sophistication and being able to address their questions while offering several options is key to the success of roofing sales teams.  The demand for different types of roofing is growing and you do not want to be left behind.

I believe it is even more than just the types of roofing but also the additional rooftop or building envelope products that roofing contractors could offer.  Gutters are just one product line that many overlook often leaving it to other contractors to provide.  The same can be said for the metal on the roof, commercial and residential, that could be produced in metal shops onsite or in contractor’s facilities.  It is about looking at your total product line and production to understand how you can bring important products or services under your roof to improve margins, marketing and customer satisfaction.

On the commercial side, I consistently hear about the growth of coatings and the ability to offer roof restoration instead of replacement.  For some, that may be unthinkable, but looking at the current backlogs many have met the increased demand by developing systems and services that are maintaining roofs until they can be repaired or replaced.  A strong maintenance programs is a sustainable business that both commercial and residential roofing contractors can add to their offerings.

It is a changing world and good marketing means truly understanding your customers and their needs.  As you look at diversifying your business, think outside the box.  Think about new products like metal and solar along with new services including seasonal needs, service and maintenance.  Times are changing, and a good company and great marketing plan stays in tune with changing tides.

Heidi J. Ellsworth is owner of HJE Consulting Group and a partner in RoofersCoffeeShop.com. See her full bio here.



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