Table of Contents Hide
- Learning About Flat Roofing and Developing Your Skills
- Why Should You Offer Flat Roofing Systems?
- Which Place is Best for Learning Flat Roofing Skills?
- An Overview of Commercial Roofer Insurance and Licensing
- Is Commercial Roofing Subject to a Separate License?
- Is Commercial Roofing Insurance Necessary?
- Do you Know How to Find a Job in Commercial Roofing?
- Getting Your Name Out There as a Commercial Roofer
- Client Management for Commercial Roofers
- You will Need to Change Your Other Business Practices
- Skills in Organizational Management
- Terms and Conditions of Your Contract
- Maintaining a Balance Between Commercial and Residential Roofing
- Maintaining a Low Overhead
- Commercial Roofing: Making the Transition Easy
If you’re a home contractor, entering the commercial roofer industry could seem like an exciting but intimidating prospect. The rivalry for jobs in the commercial market may be less intense depending on your local economy.
Along with selling fewer jobs (since each is bigger), working with new roofing materials, and other significant business changes, transitioning to the commercial world may also entail several other factors.
Residential roofers might not know where to start when switching from residential to commercial work because of this. Commercial roofing differs from residential roofing in a number of ways, including client expectations, payment requirements, and insurance requirements. With our assistance, you should be able to plan your transfer and succeed better than before.
To gather his tips on how to become a commercial roofer, we spoke with Richard Skujins, director of Cambie Roofing Contractors Ltd. Residential roofing used to be the main focus of his firm.
He now works primarily on commercial projects while also pursuing some residential work to fill his time. Here are some tips on how he successfully made the change and what you need to know to prepare for your own journey.
Learning About Flat Roofing and Developing Your Skills
There’s a chance that residential roofers don’t know much about the many flat-roof systems frequently used on commercial structures. Even if you individually possess the necessary skills to complete the work, you will need to teach at least a small number of team members before beginning to complete commercial work. Choosing the kind of roofs, you will install and repair for your commercial clients is the first step in educating your crew.
Why Should You Offer Flat Roofing Systems?
Take client wants into account before choosing a particular style of flat roof. Before even requesting quotations, many commercial clients already know what kind of roof they want.
Skujins frequently works with engineering companies, roof consultants, and property managers who have special requirements for roof types, specifications, and even warranties.
While you might be able to advise certain business clients on which roof is appropriate for their needs, you might discover that you have to fulfill their requests more frequently.
To find out what roofing systems are being quoted for on current commercial roofing projects, search them up. Aside from that, think about what your rivals are selling. One-ply roofing material installation is provided by 91% of commercial roofing businesses, according to Roofing Contractor’s 2021 State of the Industry Report. This breakdown by type is more detailed:
- Commercial roofers offer 38% TPO.
- Commercial roofers offer EPDM to 30% of their clients.
- Commercial roofers offer PVC in 18% of cases.
When it comes to commercial structures, those that don’t offer single-ply membrane installation may deal with built-up roofing (BUR), modified bitumen roofing, shingle roofing, or metal roofing.
In fact, 68% of commercial roofing firms, according to the same survey, also do shingle roof installs. Starting up by only providing commercial work in asphalt shingles is feasible. It may also be of interest to you to offer green roofs for commercial buildings. The market for these roofs is growing, despite their rarity.
Which Place is Best for Learning Flat Roofing Skills?
Organizations that can assist you in preparing yourself and your team for the work fall into two basic categories. There is a lot to learn about everything from insulation requirements to using a propane torch for heat-welding. In order to receive the education, you require and locate options for assistance, Skujins advises you to collaborate with local roofing groups and roofing manufacturers.
Skujins contends that it is crucial to choose producers who have obtained certifications or have finished their courses. Manufacturers can advise you on how to install their products best, and when you’ve gone through their certification procedures, you could be able to provide stronger warranties.
Offering excellent limited warranties is crucial if you want to compete with other commercial roofing firms since many roofing jobs will specify what kind of warranty they want.
Investigating joining your local roofing group can also be very advantageous. Roofing Contractors Association of British Columbia is Skujins’ local association (RCABC). The organization, according to him, has been crucial to the expansion of his company. Through these groups, most commercial roofers in a specific area will be acquainted.
On our resource page for roofer licenses, you may locate your local roofing company. The majority of businesses offer instruction and training that may assist you in learning more about flat roofing as well as numerous other facets of managing a commercial roofing business.
Your affiliation with the regional roofing chapter may also aid in building client confidence and assisting you in breaking into the market. You might even need to be a member of your neighborhood association to submit a bid for some clients.
In order to train your current workforce to install and repair flat roofing, you can also rely on outside training and licensing programs. The good news is that, according to Skujins, residential roofers make excellent commercial roofers, despite the fact that training your team may take some time.
He has found that having to complete a home’s roof in a single day under duress is a great motivator for his team. Roofers who begin under this time constraint and move on to commercial employment frequently complete their tasks more quickly.
Additionally, you may try hiring regional roofers who have prior experience with commercial roofing. In many parts of North America, the labor pool for roofing is typically tiny, making the experience expensive. In fact, 90% of commercial roofing companies are dealing with rising labor expenses, according to Forbes. However, a skilled roofer may be of great assistance to you.
To finish bigger work quickly as a commercial roofer, you’ll likely need to hire more staff. According to Forbes, the average commercial company has between 10 and 50 people, compared to the average residential contractor’s less than 10 employees.
An Overview of Commercial Roofer Insurance and Licensing
It is advisable to confirm that your current company can legitimately operate as a commercial roofing company and that you have the necessary insurance to safeguard it in the event that something goes wrong before you put out a single bid. Working with a lawyer is essential to make sure all of your ducks are in a row before you start.
Is Commercial Roofing Subject to a Separate License?
For residential roofing work, your state or province may already have you registered, licensed, or certified. To work commercially, nevertheless, you might need to obtain extra credentials. In our resource on roofing licenses, you can get more details once more.
Is Commercial Roofing Insurance Necessary?
According to Skujins, obtaining proper insurance is the most crucial stage in becoming into a commercial roofer. As a residential roofer, you most certainly have general liability insurance; but you will need to raise your coverage to reflect the increased cost of commercial structures.
A commercial roofing contractor would require $10 million or more in general liability insurance, as opposed to residential roofers who might only need $1 or $2 million. Depending on the size and extent of the business tasks you take on, your specific requirements will change. Make sure your insurance policy will cover commercial work. If not, you’ll need to work with your insurer to set up a new policy.
It’s also essential to get worker’s compensation insurance. As a commercial roofer, you can have to cope with brand-new safety issues, so it’s critical to safeguard both your crew and your company from mishaps.
Do you Know How to Find a Job in Commercial Roofing?
In contrast to gaining residential roofing projects, winning commercial roofing work is a different process. First off, you have a large selection of commercial clients to pick from.
You could collaborate with governmental organizations that own buildings, such as school boards, police departments, or other governmental bodies. Some roofers prefer to collaborate with industrial developers, architectural offices, engineering consultancies, or roofing specialists.
Each may work on brand-new construction or roof replacements for pre-existing commercial buildings, industrial buildings, or huge residential structures like condominiums. When they require roofing work, many of these commercial roofing clients make announcements, frequently in public on so-called tenders or bid lists.
As an alternative, they might have a list of roofers they can contact privately to get quotations. The majority of your customers will have a small list of go-to roofers they contact for quotations. You can earn commercial roofing work by gaining access to as many of these lists as you can, or by establishing as many connections as you can with the people who maintain them.
Online, you might come across websites that host the bid lists for your state, province, or city. Although some may require a paid subscription to access the actual work, we advise starting out with the free sites wherever possible.
These websites are frequently operated by governmental or sizable private organizations. For instance, the Department of General Services (DGS) in California operates a webpage to promote their open bids. Ontario Construction News is a well-liked resource for provincial bids in Ontario in Canada.
You might also try to get in touch with regional businesses that could help with commercial roofing work. You can try to network at events for the building sector. Alternatively, you can get in touch with particular company employees personally and request that they think about working with you. Mention that you are only seeking a chance to submit a bid for jobs.
The local roofer’s association may potentially be able to provide you with some profitable leads. Some team members can be overloaded with tasks. When they have more work than their schedule can handle, commercial roofers frequently give each other jobs, according to Skujins.
Even if they are too busy to complete the work, the referring roofer must connect their client with a reputable roofer. Later on, this same client might provide them with numerous other roofs. If your roofers’ organization is active, members should be able to tell you where they get their work and which sites yield the best results.
Skujins suggests that you place bids on smaller contracts, to begin with. You have a better chance of winning these contracts than the bigger ones if you are a novice commercial roofer. From a liability standpoint, it is also safer.
As you advance, you will undoubtedly make mistakes, but it will be much simpler to recover financially from a mistake on a smaller, less valuable building than on a larger one where millions of dollars are on the line.
Additionally, you can discover that in order to be profitable and land jobs, you must initially change your margins and projections. Smaller sums will be simpler to recoup from if you do end up losing some of your early jobs.
Getting Your Name Out There as a Commercial Roofer
Commercial roofing might be a respite for those roofers who do not like the process of selling roofs. Since projects are bigger and take longer to complete, fewer sales are required each year to generate the same amount of revenue. You will employ extremely diverse sales strategies as well.
In order to persuade property owners to hire your roofing services, neither you nor your sales team will go door to the door nor employ conventional methods for generating residential leads.
Direct mail and social media marketing tactics could be completely useless. As many clients manage numerous buildings and will require roofing services frequently, maintaining a solid relationship with the client is particularly important.
Cost may even come second to connect. According to Skujins, the focus of tenders is nearly exclusively on pricing. He used the school board’s announcement of a request for proposals for one of their roofs as an illustration. They demand that all quotations come from organizations with the same credentials that offer roofing systems with the exact same components, requirements, and warranties.
When competing against other businesses in this situation, your availability, ability to do the task swiftly, and source of materials may be crucial considerations. Unless one roofer is available earlier than the others, the lowest bidder in these situations will typically prevail.
Nevertheless, the commercial roofing industry also has a little bit higher criteria for professionalism than the residential roofing industry. Presenting your business as successful, reputable, and competent will be more crucial than ever as you make the switch to commercial roofing.
Your website, vehicles, business cards, and employee uniforms are just a few of the many marketing elements that can help to project a professional brand image.
Client Management for Commercial Roofers
When switching from residential to commercial roofing, will you have to alter the way you handle your clients? True, but it might also be simpler. Compared to commercial clients, Skujins found that residential clients are more demanding. Commercial clients spend less time on minor aesthetics because they know that warranties will cover them.
A client’s worries regarding your work on the roof are frequently reduced by the distance between them and the property. It can be more difficult to work with a property owner than property management or roof specialist. It might be in part because these experts know more about roofing and hence have fewer queries and need for advice.
Even though they could make fewer demands, maintaining your relationship with your business clientele should come first. A single client can frequently give you access to numerous buildings or bid prospects. If property managers are not pleased with the caliber of their job, word will go around. To maintain this relationship, work must be completed promptly and according to specifications.
Strong relationships have additional advantages. Even though a lot of customers have a procedure where they contact numerous commercial roofers for any project, they want you to be the one they hire. If they do, they might inform you if your offer was uncompetitive or even the third most expensive.
If you are third on a quote but your relationship with the client is good enough, they will call you back, according to Skujins. Even though your bid was not the most competitive, you can then bargain with the client and end up winning the job.
Whether you can maintain that positive relationship will likely depend on how well you can understand the unique requirements of business clients. For instance, when working on a commercial project, you might need to accommodate tenants.
Having a single point of contact also makes managing your clients simpler. Skujins advises staying away from initiatives with numerous points of contact. If you do decide to take them, it’s crucial to carefully manage the situation.
“For instance, it’s typical that the property management to give out your number to many different parties while reroofing a high rise,” he explains. When he can, Skujins will prevent the property manager from giving out his phone number. Having a single point of contact simplifies and clarifies communication.
“The engineer or project manager will get my attention. They should handle the tenants’ issues as well as everyone else’s. He will express this clearly at his point of contact. He avoids working with conflicting directions and saves time by establishing this expectation.
You will Need to Change Your Other Business Practices
Once you start working for pay, you might find that many components of your present business need to change or you’ll quickly run into organizational and financial difficulties. You might find yourself unable to meet deadlines or lacking the money to purchase the supplies for your subsequent work.
Skills in Organizational Management
“Being a commercial roofer requires a high degree of organization and customer service,” says Skujins. Organizational difficulties might arise with large commercial projects.
It can take longer to gather materials, arrange containers, move equipment, and enlist more team members than it does for residential roofing. Any obstacle may delay the job, and your clients can be under time pressure.
For instance, if you begin work on a school’s roof in late August, you must complete it by the time classes resume in September. Failure to meet deadlines can result in your bids no longer being accepted.
Terms and Conditions of Your Contract
Your contract and payment conditions should vary once you begin working on commercial roofs to account for the various dangers you run into as well as the higher value of your contracts. Incorporate a contingency clause that addresses material price rises in your contract as soon as possible.
If your manufacturer raises pricing between the time you bid on the project and the time you purchase the materials, your profit margin can suffer. Only if the condition is in your contract can commercial clients fill this gap. This is an excellent time to speak with your attorney and find out what else needs to be changed in your contract to safeguard your company.
It’s likely that you will have to adjust your payment terms to comply with industry norms. Although you’ll get paid more than in residential roofing, you’ll have to wait longer to get your money.
You can understand how you can experience cash flow issues if you combine it with the fact that you’ll require more money to invest in your subsequent project. Keep an eye on your cash flow forecasts, take close notice of your profitability, and have fallback funding options available.
Maintaining a Balance Between Commercial and Residential Roofing
Many roofers who specialize in commercial roofing never completely abandon their home business. For instance, Skujins fills in the gaps in his schedule between the bigger commercial work by doing residential roofing.
From a business perspective, balancing the two types of work may be entirely fair because your margins may be the same in both commercial and residential projects.
Maintaining a Low Overhead
It’s crucial to keep your overhead low when first starting out in the commercial roofing industry. This can be done by renting equipment rather than buying it and by initially only providing certain commercial roofing systems so that you don’t have to make as many investments. Consider training only the employees you will need to complete your initial few jobs.
Commercial Roofing: Making the Transition Easy
The switch from residential to commercial roofing might be extremely difficult, but it also presents a fantastic chance for business expansion. Planning your transfer carefully and concentrating on developing solid business ties that will boost your chances of success are the two most crucial aspects. Visit the IKO commercial roofing blog to discover more about commercial roofing.