Roofing Success Secrets
There’s three things you need to succeed and take your roofing business to the next level.
I’ve named them “Success Secrets” because they were hidden from me when I first started in this business, or maybe I wasn’t paying attention.
Either way, these “Success Secrets” have been made crystal clear to me through the years. You might say they’ve been beaten into me from my repeated ignorance to their universal truths.
You’ve got two choices about what you’ll do with these “Success Secrets.”
You can either learn them from somebody else, like me, and try to figure out how to leverage yourself to align with these unmovable principles.
Or you can ignore these “Success Secrets” and get beaten up like I did for so long.
Just because you say you don’t believe in gravity doesn’t make gravity go away. You can stand in front of a speeding Mack Truck, fervently and sincerely whispering, “I don’t believe in Mack Trucks” all you want, but you’re going to get whacked just the same if you don’t get out of the way.
I’m about to give you the secrets.
What you do with them is entirely up to you.
Success Secret #1: Talent
It doesn’t matter how hard you work.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not going to get much done.
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You have to have some kind of sales talent in order to make money in roofing sales. Whether you’re a salesperson on the ground, knocking door-to-door, or you’re a sales manager trying to train and motivate a sales force, or you’re a roofing company owner wanting to grow your business, you’re going to need some amount of talent.
If you’re a salesperson, constantly develop your personal selling skills. The more valuable you can become to your prospect, customer, and roofing company, the more valuable your commission paycheck will be to you. If you want to make a lot of money, be worth a lot of money. There are no shortcuts.
If you’re a sales manager, constantly develop your management and motivation skills. The more valuable you are to the people you serve, the more valuable your paycheck will be to you. Do your job. Do your job better than anybody else could do your job. Be so valuable that losing you would cost your salespeople and your roofing company a lot of money. There are no shortcuts. If you want to be valuable, be valuable. Period.
If you’re the owner, you already know how important it is to have talent surrounding you at all levels. The richest people in the world aren’t always the most talented themselves, but they’re smart enough to surround themselves with the most talented people. Even if your strength is in one of the other success secrets, you can’t afford to skip the talent. They are the gas in your engine. Without them, there’s no place to go.
The more talent you have, either as a salesperson, sales manager, or owner, the easier it should be for you to leverage the other two success secrets.
The less talent you have, the harder you’ll need to lean on the other two success secrets.
Success Secret #2: Structure
I’ve seen a lot of wasted talent.
Believe it or not, there are those rare few salespeople who, by themselves, can sell circles around ten, twenty, even thirty or more salespeople.
Unfortunately, all the talent in the world is worthless if that talent doesn’t have a structured environment in which to operate. Somebody has to do the behind the scenes work, keep everything juggling, producing, and moving forward in order for the talent, and everybody else, to get paid.
Sure, nothing happens until somebody sells something, but once it does get sold, there’s a mountain of other things that have to happen behind the scenes before anybody makes a dime.
All the talent in the world is worthless without a structure to support it.
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You’ve heard the old saying about people’s talent taking them places where their character couldn’t keep them?
Well, the same thing can be said about talent.
If your structure isn’t up to par, it’s surprisingly easy for the talent to outkick their coverage.
Talent can sell you straight out of business if you’re structure isn’t strong enough to support the sales. It’s true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I promise you.
If you’re a salesperson with sales talent, make sure the company you’re working with can support you – make sure they can produce your jobs, pay you, train you, advance you, support your paperwork, keep good installation talent around, fix leaks, honor their warranties, help you keep promises made to homeowners, intelligently answer your questions, etc, etc. etc., If you’re working in a bad structure now, it isn’t likely to get better soon.
By the way, roofing companies with bad structure have a tendency to fix their structural problems by throwing money at the problem, money they got from somebody else — sometimes you!
If you’re a sales manager, as fair warning, the same thing should be said to you: the way roofing companies with bad structure fix their never-ending problems is by taking money from somebody else — sometimes you!
If you’re the owner, you probably already know where your structure is weak. There are places in your business that you need to shore up right away. If you want to attract and keep solid sales talent, you have to start preparing a structure now that is strong enough to hold them. You can’t be losing receipts, guessing on material and labor charges, double paying labor or talent, handing out draws and advances without writing them down, running up disproportionate advertising bills, “forgetting” to pay creditors, etc.
You have to take care of your business if you want your business to take care of you!
What I’m about to say to owners isn’t a condemnation, it’s more like a reminder: It is impossible to build a strong business with a weak structure.
It just makes sense; the stronger your structure, the bigger you can build your business.
The Final Success Secret
I almost wish this final success secret wasn’t true.
If you’ll read the story below word-for-word, I promise to tell you Success Secret #3.
Do we have a deal? Good, keep reading…
Imagine you’re a highly recruited football player out of high school.
All the national scouts and big-time coaches have been out to see you play several times. You’re a big deal in all the recruiting magazines and newsletters. Your name is on the lips of every major booster. They want you to play for them. As a matter of fact, your family has been inundated with recruiting calls, letters, and more for as long as you can remember.
Talent? You’ve got more talent than the thousands of other athletes coming out of high school who played your position. You’re literally among the best of the best in your recruiting class. Talent isn’t an issue. You’re talented.
Your family wants you to choose a good school. Sure, they want a good football program, but they’re honestly more concerned about your academic opportunities. And you let them think you agree about wanting to go to a good football school and get a great education. But deep down inside, the only thing you can think about is going pro and getting paid!
You’ve had a few minor problems with your knees in the past, but there’s no problem now… at least, as far as anybody knows. You know you want to play for a great team, with great coaches, in a great structure, because you’re secretly worried your health. You want to be surrounded by greatness because you may need to lean on them more than you want to admit.
Fortunately, because of your talent, you basically have your pick of where you’ll play college ball. You just want to play for a great organization – a structure that will support your climb toward success. You’ve always dreamed of playing for your State University. You’ve seen a lot of guys make the jump to the pros from there, but you’ve got just one major, undeniable problem…
Before I tell you the rest of the story, I want you to focus on the facts of the story.
You have plenty of talent (Success Secret #1) and you’ll get to play ball in a great structure (Success Secret #2), but you’re missing the most important, the most vital of the three success secrets.
Have you figured it out yet?
Here’s the rest of the story…
State University is your #1 Pick because that’s where you think you’ll have the best shot of going pro. The academic program isn’t great, but the school is close enough to home that you know your family will like being able to see you occasionally. Besides, your girlfriend got a full-ride academic scholarship to State University and you both have a bunch of friends going there in the Fall.
The problem is that State University is loaded at your position. They’ve snagged the top recruits for four out of the last five years. Right now, today, they’ve got at least three guys ahead of you who’ve already proven their talent to the coaches and the rest of the team. Sure, you’ve been promised a chance to compete, but doesn’t everybody get that chance? You know there are no guarantees.
You know these guys, they’re good! You still need a little time for your knees to heal up before you’ll be in tip-top shape. You’ve never been afraid of the competition, but that’s some seriously stiff competition you’ll be facing.
You know if you sign that letter of intent with State University, you probably aren’t going to have a lot of opportunity to showcase your talent.
You could sign with one of the best football structures in the nation. They have the best coaches, the best weight room, the best team, in the best conference, and even an above-average academic program to make your family happy. You have more more talent at your position than almost everybody else in the nation from your recruiting class. You’re good, real good, but there’s just not a lot of opportunity for you at State University.
Success Secret #3: Opportunity
Talent and Structure are worthless without Opportunity.
This business of roofing sales, for the vast majority, is primarily driven by insurance claims.
The business of insurance claims is primarily driven by catastrophic events (e.g. hail, hurricane, wind, and fire).
That’s not to say that there isn’t some roofing business that happens outside of insurance claims and catastrophic events, but those opportunities are extremely limited in comparison. As a result, most of the roofing business that happens outside of the opportunity of insurance claims and catastrophic events will tend to be commodity driven.
You don’t want to spend your life fighting for scraps in the roofing commodity business… where the price per square is beaten down to the bleeding last penny of what the lowest bidder is willing to survive on so they can stay alive long enough to fight for the next bottom-of-the-barrel roofing job.
There are amazingly talented salespeople doing absolutely nothing right now because they don’t have a good opportunity. They’re talented, but without an opportunity to showcase their talent, they may as well not have any talent at all. You’re like the highly recruited athlete; you’re buried on the depth chart, stuck on the sidelines, riding the bench. You’re virtually invisible.
All the talent in the world won’t help you without a good opportunity to go along with it.
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Similarly, there are roofing companies lying dormant, lifeless, because there isn’t a good enough opportunity to breathe life into their once great, now lifeless, structure. Given the right opportunity, they’ll spring to life again, like a child who never forgot how to ride a bike. They get up to speed quick, but right now, they’re dead in the water.
For the talented salesperson wanting to go to the next level, there’s not a lot you can do to get there when you’re flailing along in a bad opportunity. The same is true for a talented sales manager; without a good opportunity to build, motivate, and train a team of salespeople, you’re also dead in the water.
Roofing companies wanting to go to the next level should also pay attention. Unlike most of your salespeople, managers, and staff, you just might be able to survive on scraps, working the commodity market, while you wait for your next good opportunity, but the most you can do right now is prepare.
Prepare for the day when the world turns your way once again — when opportunity has another chance to meet talent and structure.
Invest all you can in becoming better. Strengthen your structure. You know where you’re weak, don’t you?
Do your very best to retain your talent. Although extremely difficult at times, it is still infinitely easier to keep them than it is to find them again. If you believe you’ll have another opportunity, put your money where your mouth is and invest in your salespeople. Give up some of your money so they can make money too.
Loyalty always comes with a price.
There’s been more than a few times when my opportunity wasn’t good enough to feed my family.
What did I do?
I’ve chased more than a few storms. Going out of town is always more difficult for a family man, and more expensive. I’m older now. I prefer to sleep in my own bed.
I’ve gone broke. Not the best way to deal with a lack of opportunity, but it took a few times of me getting run over to realize that I’m not invincible. There’s nothing more defeating than a string of rejections at the end of a storm, and fighting for scraps in the commodity market is a tough way to make a living.
I’ve gone back to work. There are worse things than a nice, steady paycheck, free health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance, 401k, travel, company credit card, a nice title, a great team, and the respect of your peers for a job well done. My last back to work gig was a middle-management opportunity with a Fortune 500 advertising and publishing company – 50 advertising reps under me, 17k accounts, and millions of dollars in monthly billing.
I still miss the people like crazy, and the benefits, but there was one thing that tortured me endlessly.
What got me was the cube. That stupid, little, restraining, never ending cube where I was forced to spend my corporate days.
Even with a generous supply of sick days, personal days, and lots of vacation days, opportunities to travel, train, and attend conferences, there was only one place to return… the cube. I hated the cube. I also hated the traffic, but not near as bad as the cube. Life in the cube is no life at all in my opinion.
I would rather never go back if at all possible, but I would if it meant taking care of my family. Never say never, but I’ve decided to do everything possible to stay involved in the roofing business even when the opportunities aren’t great around here.
Maybe you’ve bought some of my sales training or you’ve signed up for my Sales Domination System.
If you have, I want to say a sincere and very personal, “Thank you!”
P.S. If you’re not already a customer of mine, and you want to strengthen your grip on the three success secrets, I would love the opportunity to help you, too. Check out my basic sales training or my popular sales domination system to help develop your sales talent to the next level.
Mike CodayMike started selling roofs in '95 while working as a youth pastor at a small church in North Texas. A decade later he transitioned to speaking at industry conferences and training outside sales teams. Today, he works exclusively as the premier consultant to roofing company owners who are driven for growth.
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