We asked roofers to name the one product or practice that has made the greatest difference in their business over the last three years. The response:

  • Getting metal right. Lorin Miller, president of Miller Custom Exteriors, in Ohio, says that his local supplier put him on to a great crew to do metal roofing. Before that, salespeople weren’t completely confident in the installation so they didn’t push metal. “We are so picky,” Miller says. “You don’t just sell stuff and throw it out there.”
  • Solar back-up. At Joseph David Roofing, in New Jersey, re-roofing around solar jobs provided “a lot of the work that kept us busy in 2010 and 2011,” vice president of sales Mark David says. Joseph David Roofing partnered with local solar companies, which, David says, understand you can’t just install a solar array over an aging roof. But a local bowling alley owner wasn’t convinced. “I saw somebody up there after a heavy rain tippy-toe around the solar panel with a can of Karnak.”
  • New product for new weather. In the central U.S. massive hailstorms are now so common that homeowners want an impact-resistant roofing material. Doug Fry, owner of Douglas Fry Roofing, in Wichita, Kan., took on a synthetic slate by DaVinci a few years ago that has since been expanded into shingle configurations and makes up 30% of his company’s sales. “In our market, we’re generally replacing wood roofs,” Fry explains.
  • Certification works. At selling more business, that is. Hailstorms gave Jeff Head’s Evansville, Ind., company, Head’s Construction, plenty to do. But the company’s certification as a GAF Master Elite installer and the manufacturer’s lifetime warranties have made Head Construction the dominant roofing company in the area.
  • Installation accountability. Baltimore roofer Atlantic Remodeling set up a flag system for installers. A first-time violation, say for being late to the jobsite, merits mention. A second flag results in a formal warning. Subsequent flags in a 90-day period will result in a fine. Installers with no flags receive an award and a bonus. “This has us all working with each other toward the common goal of perfection and customer satisfaction on every job,” company president Bert Lebhar says.