Practically every building in the world needs a roof, and all roofs must be in good order to be functional. There’s a steady flow of work for contractors in this field, whether it’s repairs, maintenance, construction, or replacement. As such, entrepreneurs in the roofing industry are in high demand. Read on to discover how to start a roofing business, including equipment, licensing, insurance, and marketing tips such as roofing business cards and digital marketing.
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Types Of Roofing Business
Broadly speaking, there are two types of roofing businesses: commercial and residential. However, there are many subcategories, and depending on your location, skills, and experience, you might want to choose a particular niche. Let’s take a look at some popular roofing specialties:
- Roof inspection
- Gutter replacement
- Gutter clearing
- New construction
- Leak repair and water damage
- Roof replacement
- Roof service and maintenance
You can choose one specific specialty or be more of a generalist, although many companies simply choose between residential and commercial. By focusing on specific services, your marketing can home in on a more specific target market. On the other hand, being more of a generalist lets you appeal to a broader audience.
The choice is yours, but make sure you match your output to your and your team’s skill set.
How To Start A Roofing Business
Starting a roofing business is easier than you might think. You’ve already done the hard part of becoming a skilled roofing contractor. Now all you’ve got to do is learn a few processes, do some admin, and voila! You’ll be a high-flying roofing business owner in no time.
Step 1: Business Plan
The first step for any successful business is a long-term plan. Not only does it provide a road map for you to follow, but it also gives you the opportunity to consider potential pitfalls and problems. By being well-prepared, you save yourself a ton of stress and confusion down the line.
A business plan sounds very fancy, but in reality, it’s just a document that contains all your ideas, financial plans, and big problems you might encounter. You can use the business plan to attract investment from individuals or entities or state funding or simply as your own personal handbook.
Here are some key questions to help you develop your roofing business plan:
- What is the best name for your roofing business?
- How profitable can a roofing company be?
- What are you going to charge per job?
- What’s the minimum amount of revenue needed for your company to be viable?
- What are all the costs involved in opening a roofing business?
- How many ongoing expenses are there for roofing companies?
- How can you maximize profitability for your business?
- Do you plan on offering an affordable or premium service? What makes your brand premium if you choose this option?
- Who is your target market and how are you aligning your marketing offering with them?
Step 2: Business Structure And Tax
There are several different types of business entity to choose from, such as partnership, sole proprietorship, corporation, and Limited Liability Company. If you opt to start a legal entity such as a corporation or LLC, you’re protected from personal liability in case your roofing business is served with a lawsuit.
It’s possible to start a LLC by yourself and pay minimal state LLC costs, but you can also hire an LLC service.
The next step is to apply for an EIN and register for taxes, which is simple to do and completely free. Depending on the type of structure you select, you have different taxation options. For instance, certain LLCs benefit from S corporation taxation. Tax laws vary between states, so be sure to look into local as well as federal requirements.
Step 3: Finance
You’ll need to open a business bank account and get a company credit card so you can make purchases on behalf of your business. Dedicated accounts are essential so you can protect your assets. If you don’t separate your personal and business tax affairs, your home, automobile, and other valuables are at risk in case of a lawsuit.
Plus, building business credit will help you get credit in your business’s name with higher lines of credit and more favorable interest rates.
Next, you’ll need to set up roofing business accounting to record sources of income and expenses. Keeping an accurate account of everything day-to-day makes filing taxes and end-of-year admin much easier.
Step 4: Equipment
While starting a roofing company doesn’t have as much overhead as other businesses, you’ll need to invest in equipment. Some of the tools and equipment you might need include:
- Shingle removal tools and pry bar
- Utility knives, blades, and saws
- Air compressor
- Hammer and nail guns
- Measuring tools
- Brooms, rakes, and other cleaning tools
- Safety gear such as hard hats, hi vis vests, and steel-toed boots
Step 5: Permits, Licenses, And Insurance
Roofing is a heavily regulated industry, which means you’ll need to cover yourself by getting all the necessary licenses and permits. What’s more, because roofing poses a risk to your workers, you’ll need public liability insurance and additional licenses to ensure your customers, employees, and yourself are covered. Failure to do so could result in legislation, hefty fines, or even the closure of your business.
You can find information about local permits and licenses by speaking to your city, town, or county clerk’s office.
Like licenses and permits, you’ll need insurance to operate lawfully and safely. There are a range of different policies that help mitigate different risks. General liability insurance is a good place to start, with workers’ compensation insurance usually also required. Other considerations include trade organizations, service agreements, and a certificate of occupancy if you plan on operating out of a storefront.
Step 6: Branding And Marketing
Once you’ve got all the technicalities in order, it’s time to start implementing a marketing strategy. Generating a pipeline of leads and making sure they convert is going to be essential for your success. You’ve identified your target market in your business plan; now it’s time to align your output with your demographics’ needs.
Forming partnerships with HVAC professionals, plumbers, electricians, and other contractors is an essential step. By recommending each other to your respective audiences, you all expand your reach. Let’s take a look at a few more ways you’ll promote your roofing business.
Word of mouth is still a big deal for contractors. If you do a great job, customers will automatically recommend you to their friends and family. However, branding is more important than ever in today’s marketplace. Your website, leaflets, storefront, vehicle, and anything relating to your company should be chosen or designed with your customer base in mind.
Your business name and logo should be simple and memorable, and you should try to make sure it’s easily searchable on Google and other search engines.
Roofing Business Cards
Business cards, leaflets, decals, stickers, and door hangers are excellent marketing tools. When you complete a job, place door hangers on neighbors’ doors. When they see the great job you’ve done on their street, they’ll be more likely to keep you in mind for their own jobs.
Roofing business cards are essential because you can give them to anyone you meet. Liaise with fellow business owners, and don’t be shy about handing them out! Your personality and personal sales pitch will be crucial for growing your roofing business.
Digital Marketing And SEO
There’s no escaping the digital world anymore. In fact, as a business owner, there’s no way you’d want to. Your website acts as an online storefront, but it has even more functionality than simply attracting customers. By optimizing your site for search engines, you can climb up search engine results pages and attract more business.
You can create helpful blog posts and share them on social media to drum up business and offer your customers something extra. Website builder tools have made it easier than ever to build a website, and there are reams of advice about how to generate leads online.
Step 7: Hiring
Your team is going to be your biggest expense and your greatest asset. Not only are they ambassadors for your brand, doing the work customers will judge you on — they’re also the main point of contact for clients. If you take care of your workforce, your workforce will take care of your customers. As such, you shouldn’t cut any corners when it comes to hiring your team.
Create essential documents such as core values, mission statement, code of conduct, job descriptions, and job ads that sell your brand and attract the right people.
Step 8: Establish Trust
Now you’re ready to work! But you’re by no means finished with any of the above. Successful roofing businesses are constantly assessing their strategies to ensure they’re aligned with consumer demands. They also perform regular performance assessments to ensure output is in line with marketing materials. There’s nothing worse than overpromising and under-delivering, so make sure you’re always managing expectations.
Your most important marketing strategy is doing an excellent job every time and fixing any issues without fuss. Integrity, authenticity and hard work in combination with an excellent website and brand strategy are the cornerstones of any business.
Roofing Businesses Are In Demand
Now that you know how to start a roofing business, what are you waiting for? Banks and investors are keener than ever to help trustworthy professionals get started in business. Take full advantage of the digital world and traditional marketing methods and you’ll have a full roster of customers before you know it.