As a roofing professional, you probably already know there can be a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to repairs and replacements. Most homeowners don’t think much about the surfaces protecting their homes until a leak or a hike in their insurance gives them a little wake-up call.
That means much of your job becomes about serving as an educational resource for clients—especially those reeling from an unhappy surprise. There are a few questions in particular that come up time and time again, so having the right client-focused responses will serve your business and your business relationships for years to come.
“My roof is leaking—do I need to have the whole thing replaced?”
Sometimes the scariest thing is not knowing, and for homeowners who’ve sprung a leak, it’s hard to beat back visions of the whole roof collapsing before their very eyes. Thankfully, this is one place where you may be able to deliver some good news to your clients—depending on the size and the location, they may be able to get away without a new roof. You don’t want to have to dash your client’s hopes, however, so make sure you don’t give the false impression that their roof work will be a breeze before you’ve had a chance to make an inspection.
“Why do I need to hire you? Can’t I do this work myself?”
Ah, the question every roofer loathes. But the truth is, due to the poor overall reputation of the profession (the Better Business Bureau reports that a shocking 73 percent of homeowners feel home repair and improvement contractors can’t be trusted), you’ll have to defend your worth at every turn—especially for those homeowners who have a little bit of repair work under their belt. Here are a few points you can use to sway them:
- They may seriously damage their roof. At their most innocuous, improperly nailed roofs can result in ripples, lifted shingles, and leaks. On the more serious side, there is potential for roof collapse and even bodily harm. A DIYer may have replaced a few shingles here and there, but they need to understand that roof work is a whole different animal.
- It may not even be legal. Depending on the home’s location, local jurisdiction may forbid the homeowner from doing roofing work on their homes by themselves, and certainly without a license.
- They may void a manufacturer’s warranty. Improper installations result in so many roofing replacements that manufacturers often won’t cover a roof that isn’t installed by a licensed contractor.
“Can you roof over my existing shingles?”
Clients asking this question may fall into two camps: those who are hoping to save a buck by reducing the workload required by a project, and cautious homeowners who would prefer to not be stuck talking to another roofer in a few months. While there are many opinions on the subject, there are obviously cases where no professional would argue for reroofing. Still, convincing a stubborn client may take just a little bit of finesse. Usually these clients respond most strongly to facts, so knowing the basic information below may help them come around:
- Shingles must be laid as flat as possible to be effective. Show the client where old shingles are lifted or curling, making a reroof inadvisable.
- Shingles add weight to roofs. Here’s a factoid to remember: every 100 square feet of quality roofing adds 350 to 450 pounds of weight. That will be helpful for a client who’s asking about a second reroof.
- A tear-off will allow you to inspect the underlayment and decking. Does your client have a leak? Then you know the problem may not be as simple as repairing the shingles. Make the client aware of the risks of a reroofing—namely, if there are additional problems with the roof, they may find themselves back here again in a few months.
- Reroofing may void warranties or create problems come inspection time. Is your client planning on selling soon? They may be trying to replace their roof for the lowest price possible. But inspectors are wise to this kind of behavior, and will report it to any potential buyers who have an inspection performed.
“How much will it cost?”
Money obviously talks with clients, so your ability to describe costs completely and fully will go a long way. Tell your clients about material differences that can affect project costs, and be clear about any site factors that may make you want to hike up your estimates—like charging more for steeper roofs, remote locations, or heavier materials. Creating a consistent policy will do a lot to create trust, while your transparency will ultimately improve your overall relationships with clients—for many years to come.