Should I Work Hurricane Sandy?

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After a major storm disaster like Hurricane Sandy, it takes awhile for things to get going.

You have to remember that a lot of people are homeless, powerless and hopeless. It isn’t going to be a positive, happy place. Even the folks who don’t seem to have it so bad know somebody whose life was completely devastated.

Enthusiasm sells… but after a hurricane, it will get you run out of town.

What’s The Trick?

With that said, the trick in roofing sales after a hurricane is to find a place to work where the roofs are blown off, but the infrastructure (e.g. roads, power, water, etc.) is still securely in place. You want the people who know they’ll have more damage if they don’t get their roofs replaced, but aren’t in life & limb peril.

You want to find an area where life is going on as normal… with the exception of major roof damage due to high winds. It can’t be a little bit of damage though because you’ll starve waiting for the adjuster’s checkbook to show up. You have to find the major wind damage.

If there’s not enough wind damage, and you can wait for the money to start flowing, you’ll find yourself selling slope repairs instead of entire roofs. Remember that “big” hurricane that hit the East Coast last year? Well, a lot of adjusters went out there with a major adjuster’s service working for a major insurance company and were told not to write anything more than slope repairs without significant proof of extensive damage.

Learn From Adjusters

Independent adjusters lost their butt on that one, but they did get paid for their files. Can you imagine what the roofing sales people went through going out there hoping to replace roofs and only getting slopes bought?

High School Algebra Tests and Hurricane Damage are both judged on a Bell Curve. There is also a limited amount of resources. Insurance companies are not bottomless pits of wealth. If the highest grade in class is a B, that gets bumped to an A and everybody moves up a grade. Likewise, if a greater proportion of money goes to the people who have lost everything, the Bell Curve moves up and leaves the people with a few shingles blown off outside the curve. Everything is relative.

You have to find the right area to work quickly… and it is a balancing act… and you’re up against the clock.

Double, Triple or Quadruple Expenses

Working a hurricane is expensive. It is expensive for roofing companies, it is expensive for roofers, it is expensive for insurance companies, adjusters, and salesmen too. Eventually, all of these people are going to run out of money. Some, sooner than later.

If you think you’ve got enough money to last a few weeks, you really only have enough to last one week. You better find the right roofing company, working in the right area, where the adjusters are already writing checks… and you better find it now.

If a salesman sells a bunch of roofs right after a hurricane, he expects to get paid before Christmas. That’s all there is to it. Bottom line is if you do the work, you should get paid. You don’t want to wait around for the roofing company to pay you. If you’re going to go, work for a financially strong roofing company with a good credit line.

Now, if you are personally willing to do the work now and get paid for it several months later, that’s all on you. Personally, I would never do that because the money NEVER shows up later or it gets eaten by expenses waiting around for it to show up.

Quick Money in Tarps

If a roofing company is tarping roofs for quick money, they are going to have at least a small cash flow. That money may not be immediate, but it shows up a lot quicker than 2-3 months down the road. If you’re going to sell tarps, you should expect to get paid sooner rather than later.

After all, there’s only 1 way that a roofing company attracts and keeps a good salesman, THEY PAY THEM!

If they don’t have the finances to pay you, don’t work for them. If the roofing company owners aren’t willing to sacrifice their pay now in order to pay you now, don’t work for them. They can wait on their profits if they are financially stable. If they’re not, you don’t want to work for them anyway.

If you think the best time to start a new roofing company is right after Hurricane Sandy, I feel very sorry for you. You don’t even know what you’re up against. As Alborz Nick Barzegar said over on the Facebook Fan Page, “Goodluck getting licensed.”

Where To Work

Maybe you’re a good roofing salesman and you’re willing to take the risk to go out there and try to find a good spot. Unfortunately, the roofing companies that have found their honey hole aren’t going to broadcast it to everybody on the planet. Normally, roofing companies are falling all over themselves to recruit sales people. Think about it, why would they tell everybody on Craigslist where the best places to work are this early in the storm?

This brings up another point, if you think working in the Mid-West or the South is tough because you’re from “Out-Of-Town”, you can’t even begin to understand how difficult it will be to work in the North-East when you’re an “Out-Of-Town”, Non-Union, Storm Chaser. I’m not saying that it will be impossible. I’m just saying that you’re in for a rude awakening.

Remember, it takes some time for the adjusters to hit the streets and start writing checks. Are these homeowners going to want to hand over their checks to a storm chaser or somebody out of the local yellow pages. Being local is going to be extremely important.

This Is Serious

You can pick up jobs as an out-of-towner, if you’re a really, really, really strong salesperson. If you’re just starting out in roofing sales, and you’re not from the area, forget about it. I’m serious. You guys know I don’t mess around when I’m talking about people making a living.

How long the work lasts is a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables. You also have to remember that the initial momentum will be severely hampered by the weather.

What About The Weather?

About the time money starts flowing, the weather could keep anything from getting done. It is hard to roof with 4″ of fresh snow on the roof. As one of our Twitter followers said yesterday, there’s 4″ of snow, but it should melt off by later in the day because the sun is coming out. Do you really want to fight the weather?

My best guess is that there will be work for a couple of years, but the majority of the roof replacement work will be finished inside of 12 months.

I probably have a lot more to say about this… and you probably have a lot more questions. Why don’t you leave a comment below, email me, or join the conversation about working Hurricane Sandy on our Facebook page.

Peace,
Mike

P.S. This isn’t a normal article. I want to apologize that it isn’t as structured as the other articles. Things are moving quick and so many people have reached out to me for my thoughts. I just wanted to get something live asap.

P.P.S. Hurricane Sandy picture from NOAA.

About The Author

Mike Coday

Mike Coday is a retired youth pastor turned serial entrepreneur, roofing marketing consultant, author, speaker, sales trainer, and sentimental family man.

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