If you’re a roofer in a saturated market struggling to distinguish your business from the pack, this tip is for you.
With homeowners, flashing counts. In fact, it counts 85 percent of the time. (And I’m pretty sure the other 15 percent don’t even know the color of their roof.)
According to a 2012 homeowner survey done by Roofing Contractor magazine, contractors who discuss flashing with homeowners win the job 85 percent of the time. Flashing has become an enduring point of differentiation for top contractors.
Custom flashing remains low-lying fruit for contractors who want to distinguish themselves in a saturated market. Where field fabrication of metal roof flashing is the industry standard, custom shop fabrication is the exquisite exception.
Let’s distill this tip down to one word: aesthetics.
Aesthetics can have an immense visual impact on a roof, setting you apart from the competition. Not only is a roof one of the most noticeable exterior elements of a house, it is something that endures for decades. And flashing can be exceptionally attractive. Unlike remodeling inside a home, roofing work will be seen by thousands of people over the span of many years. Your work may not only impress the homeowner, but also others who seek a similar degree of craftsmanship.
In my job, I travel the country and train roofing contractors, suppliers, and related professionals. One aspect I enjoy most about training others may seem counterintuitive: I relish learning innovative tips from those who are most successful. Learning is my favorite part about training. We’re all in this together, and I am committed to helping those contractors who are trying to do all of the right things, by sharing what I learn. I’ve been in your shoes.
Now I’ll walk you through the options, as custom shop fabrication can occur in one of two ways. First, consider opening your own shop.
Jim Lane, with A-Best Roofing, in Tulsa, Okla., opened his own roofing company with a metal fabrication department in 1988, after he’d endured years of headaches with leaks around chimneys, skylights, and roof-to-wall areas with another company. He hired a true metal craftsman to prefabricate copper and galvanized custom flashing for all of his roofing projects. “I wanted the home-owner to like the look,” Lane says. “I wanted my crew to be able to install it quickly, and I wanted to be able to sleep at night knowing that the chimney wouldn’t leak because we rely on solder instead of caulk.” Since Lane implemented this approach, callbacks for leaks and cosmetic issues have been virtually nonexistent.
Or, consider removing the capital investment associated with ownership, and instead partner with a sheet metal contractor. Steve Sanders, with Town & Country Sheet Metal, in Shawnee, Kan., provides custom metal flashing for more than a dozen smaller roofing companies. “We go to the job, measure the area of the roof where we’ll be providing metal, and custom-make a beautiful flashing piece,” he says. “We can install the product or the roofer can install it themselves.”