By Heidi J. Ellsworth, HJE Consulting.
This issue of Western Roofing Magazine falls a couple of months after the society changing COVID-19 pandemic changed our world. It has been a crazy time with sheltering in, social distancing and questions about what the “New Normal” may be once we can all get back to the office, factory or on the road selling and roofing.
What is becoming apparent is that technology is going to play even a bigger role going forward in sales and marketing in all businesses not just roofing. Marketers and salespeople know that sales cannot stop. Even in times where business deals cannot happen in person and product information demos cannot happen live, we need to keep building and maintaining the all-important personal relationships while continuing to close sales.
So how can roofing contractors continue to sell roofing in the home and commercially? It is becoming very apparent that it is going to be a combination of good old fashion picking up the phone while using new communication and business technologies to stay in front of customers.
In talking to several roofing contractors, it is obvious that many have been preparing for this type of situation even if they did not know it would be something like this. But by moving their business to embrace technology, they have been able to transition their teams to working remotely rapidly staying in touch and in front of their customers. They have been able to keep crews working in the field and communicating with office personnel while keeping customers safe and dry by using technology that was already in place and functioning.
For those who have not embraced the use of technology in their roofing business it has been harder to keep business moving forward during this time of working and selling remotely. What we are finding is that the ability to stay connected with fellow employees and customers is more important than ever. It is paying dividends to contractors who have the processes and systems that utilize technology already in place. Here are some of the most popular technology solutions that contractors may want to look into if they are not already utilizing them:
There are a number of software options that contractors can look at for online conferencing with customers and employees including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoTo Meetings, Join.me and many others. The key is to find what works best for the company as a whole. It may be a couple of different platforms. For example, to communicate within your company you can look at software like Microsoft Teams, Slack or Zoom. I have found during this time that some of the software platforms do not work for your employees who do not have substantial bandwidth. It may be necessary to look at simpler communication tools like Facetime or Google Hangouts. Whatever you use, if it can include video, you will be able to not only hear but see each other, helping to keep the important connection.
In working with customers, Facetime is an easy alternative for most customers. For some it may need to be just picking up the phone if they do not use or have access to technology or smart phones. But most people can utilize Facetime, Google Hangouts or Zoom. Find out from your customers and prospects what works best for them up front. Many may say email or text is more than enough but when making that sales call and truly explaining the benefits of your company and roofing installation, seeing a face on the other side of the screen is important. It also sends a message that you want to keep them safe with social distancing but still want to create a personal relationship.
CRM and project management software
Making sure that all your employees have access to important customer and company data while working remotely is especially important. For roofing companies that have cloud-based software in place and employees trained to use it, they can continue to function no matter where they are working. This means having a good software stack and/or combination of software solutions that can deliver the information to keep current jobs moving while helping to close sales and keep the phone ringing. It also needs to have a strong cloud-based platform so the information can be obtained remotely. Most systems operate in the cloud today but if by chance you are using software that cannot be accessed by multiple employees you may run into problems keeping business moving.
Remote imagery, measurements, visualization and data
Through technology, roofing sales and marketing teams can stay in front of new and current customers with imagery and information about their roofs and how to keep them safe and sound along with delivering beautiful strong roofs. Technology companies are delivering imagery from the sky through aerial imagery and drones and contractors can also capture imagery from the street with smart devices keeping plenty of social distancing. The imagery can provide accurate measurements and conditional data about the roof and building to build estimates and bids. These software services also offer the opportunity to show how the property could look using visualization tools and online data that helps customers move forward with the project.
Whether your company is utilizing technology or not, there are still opportunities to start incorporating technology into your business. Software companies are open for business and looking to help the roofing industry modernize and function remotely. Manufacturers and distributors are offering education and implementation of technology solutions to not only help with remote selling but also support ordering and delivery of roofing products safely for crews and customers.
Some of the old ways of doing things are more important than ever, namely pick up the phone. Checking in on employees and customers during this time is more important than ever. Being there for them while also letting them know that you can help with whatever they may need. Weather and storms do not stop due to pandemics. Roofing customers want to know what and who they can depend on. However, you do it, be sure you and your team continue to be in front of your customers and potential customers taking care of them during this crazy time.
Learn more about the WSRCA in their RoofersCoffeeShop® Directory.
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