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Marketing Metal Roofing

marketing_metal_roofing_oneEvery year, there are 7 million new roofs installed. During the past decade, the number of homes with metal roofs has more than tripled, moving metal from 3 percent market share in 1998 to more than 10 percent today, making residential metal roofing a $13 billion industry.

Bill Hippard, president of the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) notes that while new roofs going up across the country may look the same as the shingles they're replacing, the market for roofing has changed substantially over the past 10 years. "New eco-friendly products are rapidly replacing petroleum-based asphalt shingles," he notes.

"With an overall market share of 10 percent in the reroofing market, metal roofing is gaining quickly on competitors' products," Hippard adds. And, in the smaller new construction market, metal now accounts for 5.5 percent of all roofing. Metal is the clear second choice in the reroofing market, and in 2011, 650,000 tons of steel were used for residential metal roofing.

Research and audience segmentation studies by the MRA shows that 47 percent of all households are ready to consider metal roofing. With statistics like that, now is the time to boost your marketing tactics to make sure you are reaching the customers most likely to buy.


Educating Consumers

Dave Yoho, president of Dave Yoho Associates, Fairfax, Va., a business consulting company within the building products and home improvement industry, says that metal roofing has to be taught as a specialty. "It isn't something that you're going to treat as a commodity; you're going to use it as a specialty. Therefore, people have to understand the major benefits of metal roofing. Otherwise, they're going to go with the simplest option they have: putting on what they already have. And as such, metal roofing will compete on an uneven playing field."

One way to even the playing field is to make sure that homeowners have all of the information that they need, not just the cost of installing a metal roof system. "This consumer doesn't just buy a product," Yoho notes. "They have to think in terms of what the product will do for them."

"We are rarely selling on price, because if we do, we're not going to get many jobs," says Steve Hildreth, managing director at C.O. Beck & Sons Inc., Waterville, Maine. Instead, he says, they aim to sell based on information and quality. "Our philosophy is to try and educate customers. We don't like to think of ourselves as selling. More educating homeowners about what the product is and what they're going to get."

Frank Istueta, president of Istueta Roofing Corp., Miami, Fla., says their website helps educate homeowners on the benefits of having a metal roof in South Florida. "We're creating a lot of great content-blogs, videos, photo galleries, etc.-for our website, social media and other marketing efforts. We also have many testimonial videos from clients who had metal roofs installed on their homes. The education we provide and the testimonial videos really help to give homeowners confidence and peace of mind when choosing a metal roof for their home."

The key, Yoho says, is understanding the consumer- understanding what the consumer wants and then trying to identify what they need. One way to do that is to get the homeowner to open up about their value system. Yoho recommends asking questions such as how long they've lived in the house, what they like about the neighborhood they are in, what other work they've had done to the house in the past.

It's also important to build rapport with perspective buyers. "Rapport is a necessary ingredient in the transmission of information," Yoho explains. "If people give you credibility; if they believe you are interested in them, then there's a better chance they'll listen to you for a longer period of time."

One of the challenges, Hildreth notes, is that consumers are now coming to them already knowing a lot of information, but that they tend to have a lot of misinformation too. "These are intelligent individuals that we are dealing with, but it's not their expertise," Hildreth adds. "But if you talk to them in a sensible way, it comes all back to information and being honest."


Cost Discussions marketing_metal_roofing_two

Armed with what they believe is all the information they need, many homeowners' main concern will be the cost of a new metal roof system. The MRA and Yoho recommend addressing this issue from the very beginning of the sales process. "A contractor needs to explain that because metal roofing is a premium home product, you can expect a new roof to cost roughly two to three times what an asphalt shingle roof costs," Hippard explains. "You can expect a metal roof to last at least two to three times longer than a regular roof. In general terms, count on a metal roof lasting 40 to 60 years and beyond."

On the flip side, the average life span of an asphalt roof is 12 to 20 years, and can be shorter depending on the pitch of the roof and the climate. "Made of oil impregnated paper or fiberglass, asphalt begins to deteriorate as soon as you expose it to normal weather," Hippard explains. "A metal roof, however, will never decompose."

Istueta explains that they tell homeowners that the benefits of having a metal roof outweigh the difference in cost and will actually save them money in the long run. "A metal roof provides homeowners the strongest wind resistance, the highest durability to the elements, the longest lifespan, the lowest maintenance costs, and the most energy savings of any type of roof. It gives the homeowner the greatest peace of mind."

When discussing the lifetime qualities of a metal roof, Hildreth will point out that a lot of the projects they have done in recent years is where asphalt shingle roofs have failed in eight to 12 years, yet he can show them roofs that they put on in the 1920s that are still on buildings today.

Additionally, Hippard notes that a metal roof will add to the home's resale value, saving the homeowner money on energy bills, and give them the piece of mind that they'll likely never have to reroof again.

Hildreth says the fact that this is likely the last time a homeowner will have to replace their roof is the biggest selling point for many of his customers. Most customers are comforted by the thought they will never have to worry about replacing a roof again.

"The strength, durability and return on investment of a metal roof really help to give homeowners the peace of mind that they're looking for," adds Istueta.


Set Yourself Apart

Once you've spent time educating potential clients about the benefits of metal roofing, then set yourself apart from your competition. It's important to highlight what makes you different from every Tom, Dick and Harry who are installing roofs.

For C.O. Beck, it's their experience and history of selling and installing metal roofing since 1920. "We have a lot of heritage and tradition, history with existing clients, and reputation in our area," Hildreth says

When discussing cost, Hildreth says that he'll explain to homeowners that when comparing strictly material to material, there's not a huge price difference as the cost of asphalt shingles have gone up tremendously the past few years while the cost of metal has remained fairly stable. He notes that the difference lies in the required workmanship and know-how, along with the overhead costs of the machinery and tools, to put on a metal roof system. "I always focus throughout that we are putting on a custom metal roof system," he says. "We make all our panels on-site, we don't buy panels from the manufacturer, we buy coil stock. So I'm really emphasizing the point that we're going to custom-fabricate a metal roof system in their front yard, or in their driveway, that's going to fit their roof lines and their home."

Yoho says that it's important for homeowners to know more than just the cost and benefits of a new metal roof. For instance, contractors should also be explaining the installation process, how they'll protect the homeowner's property, whether they have workers" compensation insurance, in addition to answering any questions about the product's warranty. If a person is going to spend a lot of money to replace their roof, then they're not going to make a frivolous decision, he notes.

Hildreth will discuss labor rates and the fact that they pay their workers a living wage. Their employees also have health insurance and 401K benefits. Since many of their customers are in professional fields or have owned their own businesses, Hildreth notes that this is something that really hits home with people. "It really shows that we are responsible with our employees, that we retain our employees," he adds. "I really talk about what [the homeowner's] getting, what their benefits are from working with us and from working with a 'lifetime product.'"


Marketing Efforts

Having a website is one way to make sure you are reaching out to homeowners with correct information on metal roofing. Istueta notes that his company's best marketing tools are its website and client testimonials/referrals. "Through search engine optimization (SEO), many client testimonials, and the education content we provide homeowners, we're attracting homeowners looking to invest in a metal roof for their home and who want a professional contractor they can trust."

According to Hildreth, most of their cold leads come through the website, but more than anything, they get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals through neighbors, architects or even local building suppliers. He notes that the company has resources and links on its website to help educate consumers.

While marketing is important to your business, Istueta says the contractor and homeowner relationship is even more important. "The relationship between contractor and homeowner should be based on trust, integrity, professionalism and respect."

If you are looking for more sales training, Dave Yoho Associates offers a web-based program called Super Sales Training, which provides training videos on in-home selling techniques.

Additionally, the MRA also focuses its attention on educating consumers and roofing contractors about the many benefits of residential metal roofing. "The MRA offers contractors a number of sales and marketing tools to help them grow their business," Hippard says. "For example, the MRA Online University is a great tool that focuses on metal roofing installation, metal roofing business, and marketing and sales. The best way to sell a product is to know everything about the product."