Customers are the lifeblood of our industry and yet roofing is rarely on the radar of most homeowners. Planning for the replacement of their roof is far from their minds. The exception is perhaps when a board of directors happens to be involved, or for a larger company that owns their building. Overall, they’re blissfully blind to their roof, until an issue arises.
So, when our customers need us, the need is typically immediate and they’re essentially vulnerable. It is also difficult to disseminate information to learn about our work, thus they need those of us who are ethical, to help to protect them.
Ways that we educate our customer:
Contractor Qualification: Our website and literature give information on how to evaluate a qualified contractor. We provide links for people and explain the process of insurance and bonding. We want our customers to have the ability to see if a contractor is burdened with fines, showing that they put the customer at greater risk than others. We educate during our estimates also, on what questions are good to ask, if they have bidders following us.
Professional Advice: We participate in forums locally and regionally where neighborhoods discuss their concerns. We’re there to offer free professional advice. We speak whenever possible at events with homeowners, business owners and Realtors. Part of this is establishing ourselves as an expert in our field, the other part is meant to protect people from falling prey or from doing something that will damage their roof (like using Tide detergent as a moss killer).
Estimate Education: An area to tread carefully, in my opinion, is customer education during an estimate. Customers can easily be overwhelmed during our bid processes. They also don’t speak our language which may lead to misunderstandings. We offer a “consultative” approach to selling. We take the time to answer any questions. We give them time to think as well. We also provide things to touch and see in our showroom. How customer learn is individual for each. Ultimately, the needs of our customer, outweigh the sales we’re trying to make. By selling in this manner, we build trust. Trust is the CORE of our business’s success.
Community Participation: Our company is a member of many local business associations. This promotes the company name, but it also gives us a chance to be on the minds of people should questions arise. Weekly, business associates send emails asking questions for themselves or for family or friends. We respond with honest information, giving them websites to look up. We sometimes even receive an opportunity to bid (see what happened there??).
Customer education is about caring. Caring for your customer. Caring for your community. Caring that our industry often is seen as predatory, taking advantage of people. When you give, you receive. By working for free, in the manners mentioned above, we have successfully turned our customers into the greatest marketing tools possible. Is it free? No. Is it successful? After 13 years in business, I’d say yes. Give it a try and see what you can build in your own community.
Wendy Marvin is CEO of Matrix Roofing. See her full bio here.
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