As the estimator's truck pulls away, the homeowner notices a slip of paper in the mail slot with a sentence or two and a figure penciled across it. Should he be surprised? Probably not. Many roofing companies are only too happy to accommodate the consumer who insists that he or she “just wants a price.”

Supplying that homeowner with a formal, written proposal is an opportunity to sell yourself and educate the customer. Mark David, vice president of sales for Joseph David Roofing, in Linden, N.J., says that the more face-to-face contact with a customer, the greater the likelihood of getting the job. Joseph David Roofing begins the estimating process with an attic inspection to check for moisture, proper ventilation, and the state of the roof deck. “I encourage homeowners to ask me as many questions as possible,” David says. His proposal is an itemized list of project materials and scope of work, issued on company letterhead.

What Metropolitan Contractors, in Fairfax, Va., creates for the homeowner is “not just a price, but a scope of work that turns into a contract when it's signed,” owner Jim Corridon says. For the last 10 years, Metropolitan Contractors has printed its proposals — which typically include three to six different prices, depending on scope of work — off a laptop.

Estimators for Legacy Roofing, in the Seattle area, also prepare a multipage document on a laptop and print it out in their company vans. The four- or five-page document, says sales manager Jack Kleinhaus, includes product and price information as well as installation and general specs. “We are one of the higher-priced roofing companies,” Kleinhaus notes, “and our customers know that. They're looking for more than a bid when they call us.”

ROOFING SYSTEM VS. SHINGLE JOB Jimmy Waller, director of development for Waller Construction, a central Florida family of companies that includes Goff-Waller Roofing, says the company leaves behind a two- to three-page proposal that includes specs, warranty information, and legal verbiage. This compares favorably with competitors who, he says, “might have something from Office Depot with some information scribbled on it and a price. ‘Re-roof house with 3-tab shingles. $5,000.'”

For Goff-Waller Roofing, the professionally prepared proposal is an opportunity to position. “Most of them are doing a shingle job. We're doing a roof system,” Waller says.