Starting a roofing business is a difficult endeavor. It requires having a keen understanding of how to run and market a roofing business, as well as the ability to recognize your shortcomings so you can outsource your weaknesses and hire employees.
Also, it is worth mentioning that just because you are a successful salesman or installer, that doesn’t inherently give you the requisite skills that are needed to maintain a profitable roofing company.
As the former owner of a successful roofing company, Roofing Insights founder Dmitry Lipinskiy knows what it takes to keep a business operating smoothly and efficiently.
Lipinskiy will also be the first person to tell you that you don’t need to be a seasoned installer or technician to understand the finer points of running a roofing business.
Simply put, having experience in the roofing industry is great, but it does not mean you automatically will have success as a business owner, especially if you are lacking the business aptitude needed for running a company.
“Here’s the deal,”
“Sometimes when roofers and/or installers start a business, they don’t know how to run a business.”
The same can be said for salespeople, which is why so many salespeople ultimately go bankrupt when they branch off on their own because they do not possess the knowledge and experience needed to adequately maintain a roofing company.
“The reality is that if an installer wants to start a business, he needs to learn business. If a sales guy starts a business, he needs to learn the installation aspect of it too,”
“It goes both ways, but I’ve seen very successful business owners who have sales experience.”
The same concept applies to other industries.
David Carroll is the CEO of Dope Marketing, and for years Carroll has also run a profitable cleaning company.
For as skilled as Carroll is as a businessman, he also understands that there are a lot of components to running a company that go beyond his area of expertise.
That isn’t to suggest that Carroll is incapable of learning how every aspect of his business is run. Rather, it means he instead focuses his time on what he is good at and outsources his weaknesses so that his overall business can prosper.
“When you go get your EIN, the E stands for ego,”
“A lot of times we have to learn to put that aside because when you go get a tax ID, there has to be a level of self-awareness, which is understanding what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.”
For context, when Carroll first began his cleaning company years ago, he and a few friends needed help hauling a ladder out of Home Depot.
But fast forward a few years and Carroll learned to master not only the equipment his company was using, but also how to grow and scale his business because he invested in his education.
“At first, we had no clue what we were doing, but you get into the trade, you learn how to provide a service, and then you get to decide what part of your business you’re going to be good at,”
While there are some roofing business owners who fear ceding control because of what may then happen to their business, Carroll advises individuals to move past that fear, as it will only inhibit the trajectory your company may be on.
He also says that when a company breaks into the unknown, that’s when real growth has the chance to occur.
“I’m impressed with people that get into things where they don’t know what they’re doing and they differentiate themselves by education,”
says Carroll, who then references roofing business owners who may not yet understand how to shingle a roof.
Even though some roofing business owners have never shingled a roof or knocked a door, it doesn’t mean they can’t run a successful business, or empower their employees in the process.
In these cases, Carroll recommends that business owners exercise a bit of humility, not only to mitigate their egos, but also so that their businesses can flourish.
“Understand why you started your business, what problem you were trying to solve, and where are you bringing the most value to the table,”
While many people would agree with Carroll on these points, there are some who are less convinced.
Shane McGuire is one of those people. As the owner of Northeast Roofing Contractors in Massachusetts, McGuire abides by different principles when it comes to running a roofing business.
In McGuire’s opinion, installers make for the best owners because they know what it takes to properly deliver a service to a homeowner, unlike sales guys.
“Sales guys can’t do what we do,”
McGuire says, much to the chagrin of both Dmitry Lipinskiy and David Carroll.
“I would not put all sales guys under one umbrella. You don’t know their experience or background. Sales guys come from different walks of life, so not every sales guy is the same.”
In spite of Lipinskiy’s rebuttal, McGuire still doesn’t believe that salespeople make for successful roofing business owners.
“Sales guys do not deserve the revenue over someone that has put in the time and hard work,”
Once again, Lipinskiy has a response.
“Here is why sales guys deserve the money,”
“They take more risk. Most of the time they don’t get paid [a salary]. A good sales guy also invests in his education. To sell $1 million per year for ten years in a row takes skill and discipline.”
“If you want to work with your hands and make $50-$75 an hour, that’s still good. It’s a great living, but you’re only being paid for the work that you do.”
Lipinskiy then reveals the darker side of sales and a part of the industry that is less talked about.
“Sales is as mentally difficult as the physicality of labor. I’ve done both and the lifestyle of an installer is easier. You don’t have the same headaches. I’ve seen sales guys take their lives, but I have not seen that among installers and laborers because labor is satisfying,”
Ultimately, both Lipinskiy and Carroll believe that the free market should determine how much sales guys get paid.
Carroll also insists that the disconnect between the two shouldn’t be so controversial, considering both installers and roofing salespeople have different goals and that they need each other to remain in business.
“There is a ceiling to the financial reward of an installer, but an installer better understands his life and his family. He might not need the shiny objects, whereas the sales guy is more into moving and shaking. Either way, there is equal value. It would be nice if there wasn’t as much resentment between the two because it takes one to have the other,”
There is also the reality that being an installer or salesperson is a less risky venture than being an owner and absorbing the entire responsibility of the company.
This is another thing that many salespeople and installers don’t understand when they start new companies.
“Sometimes owners lose the most. You have sales guys who are pretty good. You have installers who can go work for any company, but owners sometimes get paid less than installers and sales guys,”
Regardless of your perspective, the reality is that there will always be positives and negatives to owning a roofing business.
In some cases, owners will profit the most, but in other instances it will be the installers or salespeople who truly capitalize.
Regardless, the roofing industry has a niche for everyone, and if you’re willing to work hard and be open to learning, it’s possible that you will achieve the success you have always craved.
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