Systematic selling

Educating homeowners about integrated roof systems can help grow your business

As an experienced roofing contractor, you know a new roof system offers homeowners enhanced protection, performance and comfort. However, if you don't take time to specifically explain these benefits to your customers, you may be overlooking additional opportunities for profitability.

Integrated roof system components specifically are designed to work together to protect the home they shelter. By educating homeowners about how and why these components combine to offer excellent protection for their homes, you position yourself as an expert and create the potential for greater business growth. The following tips will help maximize your roof system knowledge to secure more sales.

Perform a thorough inspection

Before providing an estimate and committing to a specific roof system, make certain you have thoroughly evaluated the current roof system. Diagnose problem areas, vet several solutions and, if necessary, take pictures before discussing your recommendation. Be sure to talk through your thought process with the homeowner so he or she understands the system's value.

Keep the following questions in mind to help determine the most effective components for a renovation or replacement roof system.

  • Is the current roof system failing, and if so, why? Once you identify the root of the issue, you can help prevent future problems by specifying system components that work to correct existing defects.
  • Is the roof deck in good shape? If no, repair or replace any failing or rotting roof deck materials and take note of what caused the roof deck to fail. Consider adding more self-adhering membranes or underlayment in critical areas to protect the deck from future damage and keep out moisture.
  • Are there moisture issues in the attic? If yes, additional ventilation may be needed to help mitigate moisture. Although ventilation is the most difficult roof system component to specify, it is one of the most important components. A lack of proper ventilation can invalidate a roof system's warranty, which means it's imperative to correctly determine the ventilation type and quantity required. For this reason, manufacturers such as Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt LLC, Toledo, Ohio, provide online ventilation calculators for contractors.
  • How complicated or "cut up" is the roof design? This will affect installation techniques and roof system component integration.

Integrate components

After performing a thorough inspection, determine the best integrated roof system. Be sure to consider how all the components will work together for desired performance and protection and relay this information to the homeowner. Discuss each component's function and potential issues that may occur if it's not included in the new roof system.

For example, an integrated roof system should include the following seven components that work to provide durability and aesthetics while allowing easy installation.

  • Self-adhering membrane. Self-adhering membranes provide a barrier in vulnerable roof areas where water and ice can do the most damage. All roof systems should include this component in eaves, valleys, dormers and skylights, no matter the climate.
  • Underlayment. Underlayments are a secondary defense against the elements. Adequate underlayment is a key part of a roof system's fire rating.
  • Starter strips. Starter strips are easy to install and less expensive than traditional three-tab shingles. Starter strips make for quick installation of the roof's outer components and provide a critical sealant line at the roof's eave.
  • Shingles. Shingles are a roof system's most visible element. Shingles should offer aesthetics to complement a home's exterior and surroundings while providing outstanding weather resistance.
  • Hip and ridge shingles. Hip and ridge shingles are specially designed to bend with the roof's contours of hips and ridges. In addition to being formulated to withstand the elements, hip and ridge shingles also help enhance a roof's beauty beyond what may be achieved by bending standard shingles.
  • Flashings. Galvanized steel flashings should be installed at intersections and roof projections to help prevent water seepage into the structure. Flashings should be constructed from 26-gauge galvanized or prefinished galvanized steel. Check local building codes for requirements.
  • Ventilation. Ventilation should be balanced and include intake and exhaust to help control airflow, prevent mold growth, manage attic temperatures and mitigate ice dams.

Use one manufacturer

Manufacturers specifically design system components to work together seamlessly—making it easy to specify a complete integrated roof system. Additionally, working with one trusted manufacturer also allows you to take advantage of several benefits such as enhanced warranty coverage.

Many manufacturers offer one warranty that covers all roof system components. These warranties are available if certain required components are specified from the same manufacturer. This allows homeowners to experience the confidence one warranty will cover multiple components of their roof systems versus collecting many individual product warranties.

Additionally, some manufacturers are taking the next step and offering extended limited lifetime warranties to preferred contractor network members. These warranties not only offer longer nonprorated periods, but they also can offer some warranties covering contractor workmanship. Whereas manufacturers' warranties typically protect against product defects, warranties that cover workmanship also offer protection against damage because of improper installation. These warranties offer excellent protection and peace of mind for the homeowner.

Working with one manufacturer also may provide benefits beyond the warranty. The opportunity to take advantage of special certifications and training can allow you to command a higher price for premium service. Establishing an ongoing relationship with a trusted brand will give you the security of knowing you're supported by a strong partner should an issue occur during or after installation.

Position yourself as an expert

The Internet provides homeowners with an abundance of information immediately available—including advice and tips for roofing replacement projects. Before reaching out to a roofing contractor, they most likely will conduct Internet research and learn about roof systems. You then can become a source for more in-depth explanations and recommendations.

Also, by touting the certifications you've earned or the special training you've received, you can position yourself as an expert and skilled partner helping homeowners through what seems like a daunting reroofing task.

Tout sustainable practices

It's important to talk about any material recycling programs your business participates in and be able to explain to homeowners how your recycling efforts help keep their old building materials out of landfills. As more homeowners specifically seek out contractors who are doing more to help the environment (supported by many manufacturers that give extra promotion to contractors involved in material recycling programs), getting involved in sustainable efforts such as shingle recycling can help differentiate your business from competitors and elevate you in the eyes of your customers.

Remain knowledgeable

A high-performance roof system is composed of more than just shingles. Being willing and able to explain the need for an integrated roof system and the latest trends in roofing benefits homeowners and you. To grow your business and your perceived expertise, remain knowledgeable about the latest innovations in roofing and hone your skills when communicating their value to your customers.

Roofing trade publications are excellent resources for news about the latest products, developing technology in roof system replacement and changes in national building codes every contractor needs to know. Subscribe to several industry publications and online newsletters to stay abreast of the technical information you'll need to educate your customers about what you're installing and why.

Finally, have a solid relationship with your manufacturer representative to ensure you're up to date on the latest products, features, warranty options, services and innovations in roof systems. Consider joining a manufacturer's preferred contractor program to take advantage of program benefits or promotions, which you can leverage to grow your business.

Bert Elliott is director of products and programs for Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt LLC, Toledo, Ohio.



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