As it turns out extension cords can teach us a great deal about how to run a roofing company, and now is the time to learn because, finally, there’s some business out there.
Strength in multi-family building when the year began stayed strong. In fact, 9% more multi-family projects earned permits this year than last, and we may be looking at an even better year in 2015.
But roofers participating in this long-overdue uptick face something of a conundrum in two areas of their business:
- Efficiency vs. effectiveness when building the roof.
- Efficiency vs. effectiveness when protecting their revenue.
First the Roof
With 62% of multi-family builders believing that going green enhances their corporate image and 67% reporting that their clients want green buildings, successful roofing companies learn how to deliver.
And this trend isn’t going anywhere because the business case LEED-certified multi-family buildings have lower vacancy rates, higher rents and higher resale values, so the percentage of developers moving to green construction continues to spiral upwards,
Several emerging technologies in the roofing industry, such as vegetative roofs or surface tiles that change color depending on temperature, seem to generate more buzz than business.
But one technology’s expanding market share moves it to the top of the list for most roofing companies: metal.
The Metal Construction Association makes a strong case for metal roofs in most multi-family, commercial and even residential markets – and they’re all about LEED points and environmental responsibility.
The Association conducted an elaborate, long-term, nationwide study and found that a properly installed and maintained metal roof can last for a full sixty years – the entire lifespan of many commercial structures. Even the spots where we usually expect oxidation to collect, such as folds, corners and joints, remained fully functional and delivered superior energy efficiency which, even for multi-family buildings, eventually repays the greater up-front cost and the need for annual maintenance to clear debris and inspect it.
Metal has environmental advantages beyond longevity. Even today you can find metal roofing made out of 95% recycled material, which earns LEED points and creates demand in a sustainable recycling industry. Even better, 100% of it can be recycled when it’s worn out.
Which brings us to extension cords.
When installing a metal roof, much of the welding must take place after the components have been lifted and placed atop the trusses.
According to Roofing Contractor magazine, many roofers simply run a series of extension cords from a generator on the ground up to the roof, giving their welder plenty of slack to move around.
That’s efficient, right?
Well, since ninety percent of welding problems arise from low power, the problem in this scheme arises from the extension cord.
Cords longer than 100 feet – and you’d need a lot more than that for a typical multi-family project – reduce the voltage available to the welder. Lower voltage automatically increases the amperage, and that can impact your business in two ways: First, it can wear our or even burn out your equipment.
And second, it can force your welder to do sub-standard work, which might reduce the roof’s quality. You may end up coming back to do repairs or replacements that could dramatically damage your profitability and reputation.
What’s the solution? There’s only one: you have to put the generator on the roof or on the top floor of the building so your welder has the voltage it needs.
And this can’t be a homeowner’s generator bought at a hardware store, either, because those generators are not built to deliver the quality power you need for the long period of time you’ll need it.
In fact, the magazine suggests that you include a voltmeter in your tool set so you can make sure your welding equipment powers up to full force and delivers the smooth operation you need to do the job right. Each flat hot line lead on the cord going to the welder needs to register 120 volts for a total of 240 going into the device; less than that, and you’re compromising your equipment and your work.
That may seem like a lot of hassle, but that’s what it takes to be effective. And if you’re going to expand your business in this way, you need to do it right the first time.
Now the Revenue
And the main reason you would want to expand your business is, of course, to generate more revenue.
But you know how it goes. There’s always a balancing act between bidding on new contracts and billing for those that you’ve completed.
Sometimes it seems like your cash flow generator is several stories below you, delivering all sorts of amperage in the form of excuses but way too little voltage in the form of actual cash.
Receivables are usually the culprit, and this is where a lot of CEOs start acting like extension cords.
They make the collection calls themselves because they want to preserve the relationship. In other words, they plug another cord into the long series leading to their bank account.
They may even have their estimators and salespeople make the calls for the same reason. Another cord in the series, and still nothing but amperage.
And why do they do this?
Because it’s efficient – or seems like it at first.
How To Lift Your Cash Generator to the Roof
We deal with a lot of roofing contractors and we understand what you’re going through. You need that 240 connection, but you’re drawing a tepid 75 or 80 and it seems like all you can do is deal with it.
But there’s a far more effective method available to you. Two, in fact – one that requires a little upfront investment on your part but that has produced significant voltage for a number of our clients. And one that doesn’t require anything up front but has delivered plenty of voltage to contractors who choose it.
Either one is far more effective than trying to handle it all on your own. We’re happy to give you the details.