For roofing contractors with a database of satisfied clients, the prospect of adding a new product or service is appealing. You replaced the roof; now what can you sell them?
For Holencik Roofing, in Clopay, Pa., the answer was obvious: “More and more people started asking us to do gutters,” says roof specialist Jesse Holencik. As the volume of requests grew, Holencik Roofing hired a full-time employee to install, then added the LeafProof gutter protection line. In 2004, the company hired a salesperson to sell only gutters and gutter protection.
MULTIFACETED Diversifying creates additional revenue, improves cash flow, and can boost profit margins. In the late '80s, for instance, Ray St. Clair Roofing, in Fairfield, Ohio, embarked on a diversification strategy that saw the then-100% residential re-roofer add siding, windows, gutters and gutter protection, and a host of roof repair services, such as flue correction and algae removal.
Three years ago, after interviewing vendors and installers, the company invested in a truck and crew so it could add blown-in cellulose insulation to its menu. The need, revealed through many an attic inspection, was obvious. But management also wanted to keep crews busy during winter months. Vice president Kevin St. Clair says that today roofing makes up 40% to 50% of company volume, with diversified products and services yielding higher profit margins. What does it take to pull it off? “Funding,” St. Clair says. “Finding the right people to install and manage it. And marketing. Just letting past customers know you also do this isn't enough. You have to start a marketing campaign.”
DESIGNATED EXPERT Bill Gentry, vice president of PI Roofing, in North Little Rock, Ark., says customer satisfaction, and requests, drove the company's expansion into interior and exterior painting, and window and siding replacement. In each case, he says, “we looked inside for any employees who had previous experience. And we designated one guy to become an expert.”
Of course, roofing companies can overextend themselves. They'll know if they're stretched too far, Gentry says, the same way they were alerted to the need for the product in the first place: “You'll start getting complaints,” he says.